If you have been diagnosed with SIBO you may be suffering with digestive system issues such as abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and more. And like many others, you want to find out the best ways to treat this condition.
SIBO is often treated with antibiotics, however not everyone is comfortable with the frequent use of antibiotics due to the potential adverse side effects. In addition, it can be challenging to get a prescription and/or insurance coverage for these medications. This is where an herbal treatment for SIBO comes in!
If you want to look for SIBO natural treatments, this is the article for you!
SIBO stands for small intestine bacterial overgrowth. As the name suggests, this condition occurs when there is an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. The small intestine should have a low bacterial count. Bacteria come into play in the large intestine, where they help to break down food further. Having too much bacteria in the small intestine causes issues such as bloating, gas, sometimes abdominal cramps and pain.
Everyone is different and you should work with your health care team to determine if you have SIBO and if so, what the best treatment is.
However, here are the most common signs and symptoms related to SIBO
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling of fullness
- Brain fog
- Joint pain
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal distension
SIBO can be diagnosed with a hydrogen or methane breath test or small intestine fluid culture. However, as results from the breath tests are less specific and the fluid culture is invasive, many doctors are treating or addressing SIBO based on a patient’s symptoms and presentation rather than testing. This is another reason that herbal treatment for SIBO is a good option for many people.
Before we explore herbal treatments for SIBO, let’s discuss how antibiotics are used for SIBO aso we can better understand the differences and similarities between these options.
Antibiotics for SIBO
One of the primary medical treatments for SIBO involves the use of antibiotics to knock down the bacterial count in a person’s small intestine. By far the most common antibiotic prescribed for SIBO is Rifaximin. However, other options include: Ciprofloxacin, Norfloxacin, Metronidazole, and Amoxicillin.
Although in many cases there should be no issues with typical medical treatment of SIBO, like with all medication, there still runs the risk of side effects and risks.
When using antibiotics as a treatment for SIBO a person may experience a “Die-Off” reaction as a result of the bacteria being killed off quickly. This Die-Off reaction is related to the toxins being released from all the bacteria being killed off by antibiotic treatment, and may lead to conditions such as increased abdominal pain/discomfort, muscle aches, and even a fever due to the body’s natural inflammatory response.
Another potential issue with typical medicated treatment of SIBO comes from the possibility of side effects from the medication. One common antibiotic that is used to treat SIBO is Rifaximin which contains some unwanted side effects such as dizziness, muscle spasms, shortness of breath, and trouble sleeping.
Due to the potential of side effects and over effectiveness of such antibiotics, herbal antimicrobials for SIBO may be a path that is more suitable for you!
SIBO Herbal Treatments
When thinking about how to treat SIBO naturally, we need to consider the antimicrobial properties of herbs, which is outlined below. Antimicrobial agents, such as herbs, work in a similar way to antibiotics, except their action is more broad, than antibiotics, which are designed to kill off very specific bacteria. Antimicrobial agents are generally less harsh. While treating SIBO naturally may sound difficult to believe, there is a growing body of literature that is backing it up [1, 2]!
Below are the herbs with the most evidence behind them and the ones that I use in my practice.
Oil of Oregano
The active antimicrobial components of oil of oregano include thymol and carvacrol. These components suppress a wide range of bacteria, in particular harmful bacillus species. Oil or oregano is widely available, safe to consume and generally well tolerated.
It may come as no surprise that one of the active components in thyme is thymol, which inhibits enterobacteria and coco bacteria. In addition to these antimicrobial compounds, there is also some research in the anti-inflammatory properties in thyme . This anti-inflammatory usage may help in suppressing gut inflammation that accompanies SIBO.
Cinnamon contains its own antimicrobial agents: cinnamaldehyde and eugenol, as well as anti-inflammatory elements which are helpful in reducing SIBO related inflammation. In addition to anti-inflammatory properties, cinnamon may assist in reducing bloating and gas, which are commonly associated with SIBO.
Now that we discussed some of the various herbs used in treatment of SIBO, let’s dive into what you can expect when using these herbs to treat SIBO.
What to Expect When Treating SIBO with Herbs
When treating SIBO naturally it is important to monitor the signs and symptoms in order to see if the treatment is effective. Some ways you may be able to tell if herbal treatment of SIBO is working for you is if there are improvements in your symptoms of SIBO.
Keep in mind the signs of symptoms of SIBO which you may have experienced, such as abdominal pain, bloating, and/or gas. Track these symptoms and see if there has been any improvements over time.
You may consider re-testing for SIBO after an herbal treatment, especially if you were diagnosed via a breath test initially.
Herbal treatments for SIBO often come with a lower price tag and few side effects than antibiotic treatments. However, treatment can take longer. Depending on what herbal treatment is used and the severity of SIBO for an individual, it can be expected to take anywhere from 4 – 8 weeks for treatment typically . However, treatment may take a longer period of time.
Always work with your health care team when treating SIBO. You will want to be of aware of potential interactions with medication that you are currently taking.
SIBO Herbal Treatment Recommendations
My recommendation for SIBO Herbal Treatment is a protocol containing some of my favorite digestive supports, including Microcidin AF for treatment of SIBO.
The use of herbs to treat SIBO is safe and effective. Just keep in mind that treatment can take a little longer than standard antibiotics. And as always, check with your doctor before starting any new supplement.
For more SIBO-related information check out: