Front Range Functional Medicine

SIBO – Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth

SIBO – Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth

SIBO, which stands for “small intestinal bacterial overgrowth,” is a condition where one has an excess amount of bacteria in the small intestine.

There are bacteria present throughout the entire intestinal tract. These bacteria are very important and play an integral role in our health. They help break down foods, absorb nutrients, protect us from potentially dangerous microbes, and even make vitamins and neurotransmitters. The largest amount of bacteria is in our large intestine or colon. A healthy small intestine typically contains low levels of bacteria.

If the bacteria from the large intestine travel up into the small intestine and proliferate then SIBO can result. These bacterial, now in the small intestine, start to break down food particles and in doing so release gas, mainly hydrogen. These bacteria and their gas production interfere with normal microbial function, with intestinal motility and with proper nutrient absorption. To further complicate things some of us have a group of organisms called archaea living in the small intestine and when exposed to hydrogen these organisms make another gas methane.

Symptoms of SIBO include bloating, cramping, nausea, diarrhea or constipation. SIBO can be eradicated but it is often very challenging. Treatments may include specialized diets, herbal and or prescription antimicrobials, testing for and treatment of low stomach acid, digestive enzyme support, and promotility agents.