Curing SIBO is a long and difficult journey. I have put together some information on how I was able to cure my SIBO and IBS. Note: this is what worked for me, consult with your doctor before trying anything in this post.
I struggled with abdominal pain and bloating for years. I have had colonoscopies, CT scans, upper endoscopies, ultrasounds, and many other tests performed. This is what worked for me and what ultimately allowed me to cure myself of IBS and Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth (SIBO).
The cause of IBS is often misdiagnosed because when the colon and intestines are examined in tests such as a colonoscopy, no signs of intestinal damage are visible. As you know, patients are often told that their condition is “all in their head” and are prescribed pain medication, antispasmodics, or antidepressants with the expectation that these drugs will somehow help their bowel.
The following study by Dr. Mark Pimentel was published in his book A New IBS Solution, Bacteria-The Missing Link in Treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Dr. Pimental noticed that many of his IBS patients had bacterial overgrowth as well. Many of his patients reported significant improvement during antibiotic treatments. He began to suspect that not only was bacterial overgrowth a potential cause of IBS, but that a proper course of antibiotic treatment might be effective in treating it. He began to notice how many IBS patients tested positive for elevated levels of bacteria during hydrogen breath tests (HBT) at his center, and also how many of those patients reported that their IBS symptoms improved when they used antibiotics.
Based on that information, Dr. Pimental decided to study the IBS patients who came in for breath tests to determine how many tested positive for bacterial overgrowth. In the first study, he screened over 200 patients and a whopping 76% tested positive for bacterial overgrowth. These patients were then treated with antibiotics, and afterwards returned for follow up breath tests. Much of the patients bacterial overgrowth either significantly reduced or returned to normal levels, and in each case there was also a remarkable improvement in their IBS symptoms.
If you have been dealing with abdominal pain for years with no explanation, have your Doctor prescribe a hydrogen breath test. Dr. Pimental has proved that there is a clear link between bacterial overgrowth and IBS. I found this to be the case with my symptoms as well. Many IBS sufferers experience immediate relief when taking antifungal supplements (which also fights Candida Overgrowth which comes hand in hand with bacterial overgrowth. I am not a big fan of antibiotics and depending on how bad your overgrowth may be, you may be able to take a natural approach avoiding antibiotics.
Below I detail the steps I took to get my IBS/SIBO healed for good. It won’t happen overnight as it is a very slow process and depending on your condition may take years, but there is hope and remember its not all in your head!!
LOW FOODMAP DIET/LOW RESIDUE DIET
Many patients dealing with abdominal bloating, excessive gas, chronic diarrhea or constipation, diagnosed with IBS or any bowel disease cannot tolerate certain short-chained carbohydrates called FODMAPs. This diet limits many FODMAPs and is recommended to be followed for 2-3 months or until digestion improves. If FODMAPs are the cause of your symptoms, you should feel considerably better within the first few days of the diet. Additional weeks on the diet allow your intestine to heal and rest, and will likely reduce bacteria levels in your small intestines. After 2-3 months, some foods can be reintroduced back into your diet, one type of food every few days. Your diet should consist of 65% organic vegetables, 20% organic proteins, 10% complex carbohydrates, and 5% organic fruit.
ORGANIC VEGETABLES (65%):
Green Beans, Bok Choy, Broccoli (may be troublesome), Carrots, Celery, Chives, Corn (may be troublesome), Cucumber, Eggplant (may be troublesome), Ginger, Lettuce (may be troublesome), Olives, Parsley, Potatoes (white and pealed), Pumpkin, Spinach, Squash (may be troublesome), Tomato (avoid cherry tomatoes), Turnips, Zucchini (this may be troublesome).
ORGANIC PROTEIN (20%):
Beef, Chicken, Eggs, Fish (especially oily fish such as sardines and salmon).
COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES (10 %):
Rice (white is better than brown rice, no wild rice), Potatoes (white and pealed), Tapioca, Quinoa, Gluten free bread, 100% Spelt Bread, Buckwheat, Gluten free pasta, rice noodles, corn flakes, Gluten free cereals and crackers.
ORGANIC FRUIT (5% Gradually add to diet): Apples/Apple sauce, Banana, Blueberries, Cranberry, Grapes, Grapefruit, Kiwi, Lemon, Lime, Oranges, Pineapple, Raspberry, Strawberry. (Limit intake of fruits to one serving per sitting, and try to eat fruit by itself in between meals)
THINGS TO AVIOD
• Limit alcohol intake (clear spirits such as Vodka & Gin with water/soda, flavored with fresh fruit in moderation is acceptable if tolerated).
• Avoid onion (one of the greatest contributors to IBS), leeks, shallots, and garlic.
• Avoid all sugars and sweeteners as much as possible (Corn syrup, fructose, Mannitol, Sorbitol, Sucralose (Splenda), Lactose, Lactulose. Stevia is acceptable and a great healthy alternative.
• Avoid large salads full of raw vegetables, as this can lead to too much residue. Do not eat raw vegetables exclusively as they are hard to digest.
• Avoid wheat and products containing wheat as much as possible. Those diagnosed with Celiac disease should eliminate gluten from their diet completely.
THINGS TO DO
• Take anti-fungal supplements 30 minutes before every meal (to kill the bad bacteria and yeast so you feed yourself when you eat and not the bacteria). Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE), Olive Leaf Extract, Coconut Oil, Peppermint Oil Capsules, Oil of Oregano, Garlic (if tolerated), ect.
• Drink plenty of water (At least 8 glasses a day).
• Chew your food well and don’t over eat. Eat in a relaxing environment and don’t rush yourself.
• Limit yourself to 3 meals a day to allow your migrating motor complex (the cleansing action of your intestines) to sweep out bacteria and waste. The MMC works in the third phase of your small intestine and occurs in between meals when you are not eating.
• Take a fiber supplement such as Citrucel (to keep your system moving) and also Bentonite clay mixed with water (this will absorb excess toxins and bacteria and detox your system) Fiber and Bentonite should be taken once in the morning and once before bed.
• Cook or steam your vegetables. This is preferable to raw vegetables, because they are easier to digest. Have 3-5 servings of cooked vegetables every day.
• Many IBS sufferers have chronic low stomach acid. Betaine HCL with pepsin taken 45 minutes after meals can dramatically improve digestion in many.
• L-glutamine (essential to heal leaky gut, 2-3 times a day on empty stomach)
• Fish Oil (2-3 daily with meals)
• Chlorella (2-3 daily before meals)
• Zinc (1 daily with meals)
• Magnesium (1-2 daily with meals)
• Calcium (1 daily with meals)
• Vitamin B Complex (1-2 daily with meals)
• Vitamin C (up to 4000 mg 2-3 times a day)
• Whey protein (Take only if tolerated. Contains Glutathione which is a natural body detoxifier. Whey protein has amino acids (building blocks of the body) which can heal the intestinal tract and improve your immune system. All immune cells in your body are made from poly-peptides of amino acids. The protein must be protein isolate 99% un-denatured whey)
Many cases of IBS have an underlying emotional stress or anxiety associated; having a positive outlook and reducing stress can really help.
Keep your thoughts and your emotions as uplifted and positive as you possibly can, all of the time.
Do your very best to stay grateful about things. This will help keep you in a positive, uplifted state.
Practice forgiveness. This places you in a position of power and compassion. It is much better than allowing yourself to feel like a victim, which always leads to a fight-or-flight response.
You can beat IBS. It is a long and difficult journey, but with the proper diet, supplements, and supportive friends and family it can be done. If you take your health in your own hands and not rely on the medical community, you will soon be feeling better than you have in years.