What is SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth)?

What is SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth)?

Have Your Doctors Looked Into SIBO?

If you suffer abdominal pain, gas/bloating, diarrhea, constipation and food intolerance for years, or if you have ever been diagnosed with IBS but had no relief from treatment, SIBO is a condition that you want to look into.  

What is SIBO?

Most of the bacteria in our body reside in the colon.  Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) occurs when normal bacteria from the colon are found in high amounts in the small intestine, and the overgrowth can cause a constellation of chronic symptoms.  

How does SIBO affect you?

When there is food left for the bacteria to ferment, one of the by products it produces is gas, and they are typically hydrogen, methane and hydrogen Sulfate. These gases can destroy cells that line the small intestine and cause local inflammation which leads to bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea or constipation and fragments of foods or toxins leaking into the blood.  

Once the toxins move into the blood, they can be carried to all parts of the body and cause other symptoms, like heartburn, migraine, fatigue, mood swing, rash and joint and muscular pain.

The damaged cells can also impair digestion and cause malabsorption of nutrients. 

What Common Conditions are associated with SIBO?

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome – strong correlation
  • Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome 
  • Chronic constipation 
  • Acid Reflux
  • Celiac disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease or diverticulitis
  • Acne and Rosacea
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Hypothyroidism

How is SIBO diagnosed?

SIBO is diagnosed by a breath test.  It is important that the test is ordered by a trained professional as there are different versions of test, such as 2 hr vs 3 hr and lactulose, glucose vs fructose, and there is variation of interpretation among laboratories.  

How is SIBO treated?

Current available treatment options are diet, antimicrobial herbs and antibiotics.  One is not necessarily superior than the other, and sometimes a combination of different treatment options is needed.  

Treatment length can range from 3 months to 6 months since SIBO has a high recurrence rate.  It is important that one seeks a trained professional for proper treatment.

Dr. Sherry Su
Naturopathic Doctor San Jose


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