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What Is SIBO? Could It Be Contributing To Your Digestive Issues?

What is SIBO?

Do you suffer from digestive issues? Are you chronically constipated or suffer from diarrhea? Do you always feel bloated? Well, SIBO may be to blame.

SIBO stands for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth and is defined as an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine.

While our digestive systems are supposed to contain a plethora of bacteria, most of those bacteria are located in the large intestine and colon. When bacteria--good or bad--from the large intestine travel up into the small intestine SIBO results.

Symptoms of SIBO

Symptoms of SIBO vary in severity and manifest differently from patient-to-patient. They can include, but are not limited to:

  • Bloating

  • Abdominal pain and/or distention

  • Diarrhea and/or constipation

  • Excessive gas

  • Belching

  • Food intolerances

  • Weight loss

  • Malabsorption

  • Rosacea and other skin rashes

Long Term Effects

Left untreated, SIBO can cause issues with digestion and food absorption. SIBO also has the potential to cause leaky gut which can lead to food sensitivities and, even worse, autoimmune conditions.

Food sensitivities from SIBO can result when the bacteria present in the small intestine consume the food we eat before our body is able to absorb the nutrients it contains. SIBO may also interfere with fat absorption. Patients with SIBO frequently experience low levels of the nutrients iron and B12 and Vitamins A, D, and K.

The bacteria in the small intestine may also excrete acids that can lead to brain fog and, potentially, autism.

Are You At Risk?

Both Celiac and Crohn’s Disease put one at risk for developing SIBO. Other potential risk factors include: bowel surgery, multiple rounds of antibiotics, and food poisoning.


Unfortunately, SIBO is under-diagnosed because many people accept their digestive issues as “normal.” Additionally, many doctors fail to recognize how prevalent SIBO is and criteria for diagnosis varies from doctor to doctor. The most common methods of testing for SIBO also have high rates of false positives.

The most accurate method of testing for SIBO is a breath test in which a patient drinks a sugar solution, then blows into different tubes over the course of a few hours. This test measures the amount of gas in one’s breath.


While diet can help manage one’s symptoms, it alone cannot cure SIBO.

Antibiotics, such as Rifaximin, can help target the bacteria in the small intestine. Another route of treatment is antimicrobial herbs--though they may take longer to work.

One of the most effective treatments is the Elemental Diet (ED)--a liquid diet in which one consumes a powdered drink consisting of pre-digested amino acids, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. This is thought to starve the bacteria because the pre-digested nutrients are absorbed high in the small intestine, before they reach the bacteria

The Takeaway

It’s important to note that chronic constipation and diarrhea are not normal. And any degree of bloating is a sign of intestinal inflammation.

If you suffer from these and other digestive issues and think SIBO may be to blame, at Total Body Health we can help. Give us a call today for your FREE consultation.

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