(Photo Credit: Delphine Hourlay)
I am rewriting this on 11/30/19. I’ve had SIBO for 14 months, since October 2018. I now understand much more of the healing journey—and it has been quite the journey. Anyone who lives with this knows!
SIBO is a recently identified phenomenon, as in the past 10-15 years.
Many people get SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) as either a result of taking too many antibiotics or from poor diet. I earned my splendid case as a result of having undiagnosed parasites, which began summer of 2017. I was in my vegan glory at the time, and I ate two consecutive nights at the same NYC restaurant, eating from the same batch of beet-based-falafel. It was likely contaminated with bacteria—hands are used when making falafel. I suspect unwashed hands or simply bacteria accumulation was at the root of it. I was a little sick the first night, and very sick the second night, and then fine for a month. And then..
I won’t explore the 8-month nightmare of having parasites here, but it was Joseph Strickland who literally saved me, my kinesiologist nutritionist in Austin, Texas. (You can read about Joseph and his wizardry in my blog post here.)
For all you SIBO sufferers out there, I am on the road to recovery, and probably like you all, it has been a long journey of non-answers. Chia seeds, at one point, were a breakthrough, but they did not turn out to be the complete antidote I thought they were at first.
Long story short: There are trillions of cells in your gut. These are bugs, not of human genes. They are visitors, and they create a digestive ecosystem—together, they work as an organ. When the bacteria that should stay in the colon make their way to the small intestine, they wreak havoc when you eat anything that easily ferments to carbohydrates.
The trouble is getting them back to where they belong. Even when quiet for a while—because you starve them of the foods they like—they can still hide in small pockets in the small intestine, happily awake when you eat bread or a parsnip or potato or rice.
The steps for clearing SIBO can vary from person to person, because no two people have the exact same universe in their bellies. There is an excellent two-part webinar made by natural medicine practitioner, master yogi, and Ayurvedic expert KP Khalsa– called Give Yourself a Healthy Gut.
I’m grateful I invested in the webinar—as KP is very much the wise professor, giving great background and overview, before providing multiple options, recommended products (after seeing success with patients) and pathways. My intuition and experience now align with what appears to be a potential protocol for many SIBO sufferers:
- For six weeks, eliminate everything from your diet that causes symptoms. This can leave you with little to eat; I lost almost 15 pounds. (Not good for a thin hypoglycemic like me.) My diet boiled down to zucchini, tomato, squash, lettuce, tomato, chicken, beef, and lettuce. Everyone is different—but figure out your foods—get your symptoms as quiet as possible.
- Then decide, perhaps with the help of a naturopathic professional, For the next six weeks on a course of anti-biotics. I CHOSE HERBAL ANTIBIOTICS. Biotics Research brand protocol helped me at first—products ADP, Dyscbiocide, and FC-Cidal. Like prescription antibiotics, they helped me at first, but the SIBO came back—with slightly less vengeance. (This product was the turning point of the long-term war.) During this phase, test one new food at a time.
- Either sooner or later you will want a quality PRObiotic. Essentially you are trying to rebalance the bacteria, and it is not an exact science. You may want to experiment with PREbiotic foods, such as jicama, sunchokes, chia seeds, and so on. Probiotics are the “good guys”—prebiotics are food for the good guys. I had BAD reactions to probiotics when I was early in my SIBO—be careful with these! When you are a bit more healed, then you can try them, hopefully with guidance of a professional.
Personally, I tried many doctors, and ended up winging it with my intuition and the internet. 14 months later, I am not fully recovered, but on my way.
I’m in the phase where my symptoms are sometimes quiet, sometimes not. I am experimenting one new food at a time, with a good new probiotic, and a bottle of berberine on the way. Some days I win; some I lose. The Biotics Research products were too strong of a blend for me the second time I tried them. So I continue to experiment. I gained my pounds back too. 🙂
There are many ways to approach SIBO—what was your experience? What did you try? How did it turn out? Did you have anyone tell you “I don’t believe in SIBO”? (Clearly they never had it themselves…)
Sending supportive vibes to all my fellow sufferers!!