4 Natural Treatments for SIBO
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) goes hand in hand with digestive issues. A diagnosis of SIBO most likely means you’ve exhibited symptoms of digestive problems like bloating, excessive gas, diarrhea, and constipation, to name a few, to a point where it has become disruptive to your day-to-day activities.
Identifying the root cause of SIBO is crucial to your healing. As SIBO is commonly a result of some other underlying condition, resolving the trigger first will help curb the severity of your symptoms. Common treatments such as antibiotics can only do so much to consistently control the overgrowth of bacteria in your small intestine.
Natural remedies, on the other hand, have long-term benefits that help keep SIBO symptoms at bay. Diet changes, herbal therapies, taking probiotics, and stress management are some natural treatments you can try.
The fastest way to get your SIBO symptoms under control is through dietary changes. SIBO diets like the Low-FODMAP, Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), and elemental diet all have the singular goal of restoring or maintaining gut bacterial balance. In turn, this encourages friendly bacterial growth and builds gut health.
If you want a short-term elimination diet, the low-FODMAP diet might be the one for you. It involves reducing and eventually reintroducing certain carbohydrate groups into your diet to help you determine which ones trigger your SIBO symptoms. FODMAP is an acronym for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols, which are the carb groups that encourage bacterial growth. Here, you’ll need to limit certain vegetables, dairy products, fruits, and artificial sweeteners during the elimination phase, and then incorporate them back during the reintroduction phase.
Specific Carbohydrate Diet
The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) involves limiting common carbohydrates while still consuming balanced meals. It typically lasts for a month and continues if the SIBO symptoms improve. The diet’s core premise is that through limited consumption of carbohydrates, there won’t be enough undigested carbs left to cause an overgrowth of bacteria. On its face, it overlaps with the low-FODMAP diet. But a study comparing the two established a clear distinction– SCD allows carbohydrate foods consisting of monosaccharides only and excludes disaccharides and most polysaccharides–whereas you can eat all these in the low-FODMAP diet, albeit in low amounts.
If you’d like to “starve” the bacteria in your small intestine, the best way to do it is by feeding yourself with easily digestible nutrients already in liquid or powder form. Elemental diets deprive the bacteria in your gut of its job of extracting the nutrients from your food because you’re already consuming predigested formulas. This diet contains no dietary fiber or probiotics that stimulate the gut. Similar to all the other diets, this should only be attempted for a few weeks.
If you want to try SIBO natural treatments to manage your symptoms, herbal therapy is a good option. This is especially true if your body doesn’t respond well to rifaximin, the most common antibiotic medication for SIBO. One study found that herbal therapy is on par with triple antibiotic therapy as an alternative to rifaximin non-responders. You can lean on herbal supplements with Allicin, Neem extract, Peppermint oil, and Thyme oil, to name a few, to support your gut health.
Probiotics, when incorporated well into your diet, can help improve your gut health. While it’s consumption may seem counterintuitive, it’s found to be effective in curbing SIBO symptoms. A study revealed that probiotics supplementation could effectively decontaminate SIBO and ease stomach pains. In fact, some probiotics can replace SIBO-inducing bacteria and encourage better gastrointestinal motility.
When you frequently experience stress, digestive problems immediately follow as the stress response is closely linked to the gut microbiome. Under stress, gut bacteria and the central nervous system get stuck in a negative feedback loop that upsets the stomach and produces hormones that enhance microbial growth. Because of this, stress management is an important part of treating SIBO. Some stress-relieving activities you can try include spending time with nature, meditating, and doing yoga regularly.
SIBO symptoms vary from one person to another, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to manage them. Because of this, many turn to SIBO natural treatments to curb their digestive problems. As numerous studies have revealed, natural methods such as diet changes, herbal therapies, taking probiotics, and stress management are equally as effective in managing SIBO symptoms.
To effectively manage SIBO, it’s essential to identify the root cause of the problem and treat it. As the severity of symptoms varies, it would be best to have an individualized treatment plan created just for you and your specific circumstances by consulting a dietitian or a physician to get an accurate diagnosis of your condition.