What is Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)?
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) is the overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. The gastrointestinal (GI) tract normally contains many different species of bacteria and other microorganisms (collectively known as the gut microbiome). The largest numbers of bacteria are found in the colon (end part of the large intestine) while small amounts are present in the small intestine.
Our gut houses more than 500 different species of microbes and our gut bacteria regulate many of our bodily functions. Gut bacteria are critical to our long-term health. Imbalances in the gut ecosystem often trigger or exacerbate small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), along with many other issues.
Is Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) Alone The Underlying Cause of Your Current Health Concerns?
Rarely does Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth Occurs On Its Own.
Microbiome trains our immune system. Immune system identifies the antigenic materials from the bacteria. When we alter the gut immunity, we create inflammation in the body. We start breaking down the membrane or the tight junctions in the intestines, which is responsible for opening and closing, letting the good nutrients in and keeping the bad contents out. So when this membrane breaks down, we get a Leaky Gut.
Are you suddenly experiencing allergic reactions or food intolerance to your everyday food?
All of a sudden, your immune system starts to see that the proteins are not completely processed down to the peptide level that it is accustomed to and starts making antibodies against the commonly eaten foods. So, the person with SIBO becomes sensitive to the foods that they eat everyday. You might not be allergic to those foods but end up becoming sensitive to them.
Hence you have to stop eating those foods because you start showing all these symptoms, which gets exacerbated by everything in your diet. It’s because your immune system has been triggered, so you're getting joint pains, muscle aches, brain fog, fatigue.
SIBO secondary to other chronic illnesses
SIBO is closely related to neuropsychiatric disorders e.g. OCD, AD/HD, memory loss, brain fog, autism. When SIBO is treated, the patient shows significant changes within the first 6 weeks e.g. behavior changes in AD/HD or verbal abilities in autistic children.
Decreased Gut motility
When there is paralysis and dysfunction of the migratory motor complex, peristalsis of the intestine declines which means that the intestine won’t move, giving the chance to bacteria's to stay there and populate. Sometimes SIBO is not just the culprit alone, there can be conditions which are contributing to SIBO.
Stress starts every disease. It impacts hormones and creates some neurochemical changes in the brain and there is a communication between the brain and gut microbiome.
Gut is the first brain. Vagus nerve (aka Relaxation nerve)= Superhighway from the gut to the brain. Once we establish the gut brain connection, we understand that-
The brain can communicate anxiety and stress to your gut microbiome & can change the makeup of the gut microbiome and nervous system.
Certain chronic conditions and diseases are associated with a higher risk of having SIBO due to their effect on the GI tract.
Connective tissue disorders
Short or excess bowel
Structural abnormalities of the Gut
Dietary & Nutritional changes
Bacteria's which should have been in the large intestine migrate to the small intestine due to various reasons causing an imbalance in there, that leads to breakdown of the intestinal barrier system causing Leaky Gut. A large variety of exogenous substances colonise the gut such as microorganisms, toxins and antigens. All these foreign proteins & bacterium components leak into the system. The immune system gets triggered and creates an immune response and that’s why you get muscle ache, brain fog, skin rashes, fatigue, eczema, acne & joint pain.
Functional Medicine Approach to treating SIBO
Functional Medicine recognizes that disease doesn't occur in isolation.If one part of the body is compromised, the entire body is thrown out of balance. SIBO is a great example of this. It never occurs on its own, but often paired with a number of other issues. There can be a number of issues contributing to SIBO-Lyme disease/ Mercury poisoning/ Lifestyle/ Sleep/ Emotional well being/ Stress/ Lack of Physical Exercise.
We work on the signs and symptoms, do a Root Cause Analysis to treat the underlying causes contributing to SIBO. If you are struggling with symptoms of SIBO, reach out to us to help you address the root causes.
Kau, A., Ahern, P., Griffin, N. et al. Human nutrition, the gut microbiome and the immune system. Nature 474, 327–336 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature10213
Camilleri M. Leaky gut: mechanisms, measurement and clinical implications in humans. Gut. 2019;68(8):1516-1526. doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2019-318427
Mu, Q., Kirby, J., Reilly, C. M., & Luo, X. M. (2017). Leaky Gut As a Danger Signal for Autoimmune Diseases. Frontiers in Immunology, 8. https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2017.00598