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Is this Common but Frequently Undiagnosed Bug Causing Your Health Problems?

by Emma Lane(more info)

listed in colon health, originally published in issue 244 - February 2018


Do you suffer from bloating, belching, abdominal distention or discomfort when you eat?

Do you hear yourself saying things like?

“I can only eat a few bites, then I feel full.”
“It doesn’t matter what I eat, I never feel good.”
“I have bad gas and it’s worse at night.”
“Sometimes I eat something and I’m fine, and then the next time I eat it, I feel terrible.
“Fermented foods and probiotics are supposed to be really good for digestion but when I’ve tried them I feel awful and the bloating and gas gets worse.”

You are probably confused by the symptoms that you are experiencing and may have visited your GP or Health Care Practitioner for guidance and help but have unfortunately been unable to find little resolution to your plight. If you are someone who has tried many different things to try and resolve your ongoing life affecting symptoms in order to get well. You’ve taken probiotics, prebiotics, tried numerous supplements, you’ve gone sugar-free, grain-free, eaten fermented foods, you’ve tried juice fasts, taken supplements to heal Leaky Gut Syndrome, and I hope out of all that, you have found at least a little temporary relief. Unfortunately, you may be one the many who is still searching and suffering.

There are many things that can cause or contribute to the above symptoms and obviously each person’s experience, situation and symptomology is different and needs to be assessed individually.

Bacteria 1 Large

Are you aware Pathogens could be creating your discomfort?

This is what I’d like to introduce to you in this article. In previous articles I have talked about parasites and how they can cause a myriad of problems for you and your digestive system, however for today I am going to focus on a condition that is very common and unfortunately is infrequently recognized or treated effectively - this is known as SIBO ((Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth).

If you are concerned about parasites or fungal problems my advice would always be to get tested by a reputable lab that specialises in pathogen testing the lab I personally use for clients is . Then follow the appropriate approach to deal with the found parasite etc.

SIBO is our focus for today and is a condition defined by an increase in and/or an alteration in the type of bacteria present in the small intestine.

Common symptoms of SIBO - what to look out for?

Common indications and symptoms are bloating, belching, abdominal distention, pain, motility issues, nausea, diarrhoea and/or constipation, especially following the ingestion of sugars, starches, fibre, probiotics, and other specific foods.

These reactions typically occur around 30 minutes to a few hours after eating sugars, starches, grains, and certain fruits and vegetables.

How SIBO affects our intestine

The small intestine is essentially pretty sterile, meaning the bacterial content should be fairly low. That is in contrast to the colon, where bacterial counts are relatively high. But in the SIBO patient, bacteria count abnormally increases in the small intestine, causing a myriad of complex problems.

Bacteria 2 Large

The extra bacteria interrupts the normal digestive processes, which leads to the bloating, distention and pain the SIBO patient suffers from.  The altered environment makes it difficult for the body to absorb all the nutrients it should, further perpetuating the problem because now the body doesn’t have the nutrients it needs to heal and this becomes a vicious cycle.

It should be noted that the ‘friendly’ bacteria normally present in the small intestine are there, at least in part, to support digestion and assimilation of nutrients. The problems arise when introducing the ‘problematic’ bacteria, as is present in the SIBO patient’s small intestine, which causes a complex cascade of health issues.

As I mentioned earlier SIBO is frequently misdiagnosed and or not treated optimally, this leads to people suffering unnecessarily for extended periods of times.

How to address your SIBO health challenges

Consider the following if you feel you have any symptoms:

  • Seek out an appropriately trained and experienced SIBO Practitioner;
  • Get tested- Hydrogen and Methane Breath Test;
  • Follow the guidelines given by the experienced SIBO Practitioner in regards to diet and herbal removal protocols;
  • Retest regularly throughout the treatment process;
  • Address motility challenges (refers to the muscular contractions that coordinate the mixing and movement of the intestinal contents);
  • Stimulate the MMC (Migrating Motor Complex).

There is no gold standard for definitively diagnosing SIBO; typical diagnosis is made by asking the appropriate questions in regards to onset, causative factors, symptoms and associations in symptomology and by using a reliable specialist lab for the Hydrogen and Methane Breath Test.

Unfortunately, SIBO is also something that is not straightforward to treat either and therefore it is essential you work with a professional who can guide you through the SIBO journey to create the outcome you desire.

Understanding the quality and effectiveness of the digestive system

From a practitioner’s point of view, I have to consider how my client got SIBO in the first place in order to properly address the situation from all angles, identify any underlying causes as well as to determine prognosis.  Here are some of the more basic things that need consideration with regards to the quality and effectiveness of the digestive system:

1. Effective Digestion: Many people do not pay much attention to how they eat their food and if you aren't paying attention to your food before you begin to eat, if you are not fully aware of what, how and when you are eating, it stands to reason that you are not provoking the full beneficial digestive response. This is something called cephalic response which is a physiological process that basically turns on the digestive processes and as such stimulates digestive secretions such as HCL and enzyme production, it is estimated that as much as 30 - 40% of the total digestive response to any meal is due to the cephalic phase;

2. Hydrochloric Acid: Hydrochloric Acid (HCl) is the gastric juice made by the stomach. It works to acidify the stomach contents enough to where it triggers emptying into the small intestine for nutrient absorption and assimilation. It also activates pepsin, an enzyme that breaks down proteins in food.
Unfortunately, many things can alter HCl production for example chronic stress, Proton Pump Inhibitors, low nutrient levels such as zinc and vitamin B6, food intolerances, hypothyroidism. It is important to note that in order to address the hypochlorhydria, (low HCL levels) you must identify and address the underlying cause;

3.  Anatomical: Also the possibility of anatomical disturbances needs to be considered, this may be due to chronic constipation or ileocecal valve issues, patients can develop fistulas or diverticula in the intestines that harbour bacteria. These, along with surgically altered anatomy can be contributing factors in the SIBO puzzle;

4. Motility: Motility issues are very common in SIBO clients, motility refers to the muscular contractions that coordinate the mixing and movement of the intestinal contents. When motility is disrupted it can speed up movement along the GI tract resulting in diarrhoea, or it can slow down movement resulting in constipation. Both are experienced in SIBO sufferers.

Motility can be disrupted for multiple reasons including but not limited to gas formation in the intestines, brain or nervous system injury, physical alteration of the gastrointestinal anatomy either by injury or surgery, neuro-degeneration, and certain medications that contain opiates.

Disruption to the migrating motor complex (MMC) is also a frequent problem that has to be addressed correctly in order to resolve the ongoing SIBO problem.

As you can see it is a multi-faceted problem and needs to be addressed as such in order to be effectively treated and managed.

To sum up

The specific diet that is appropriate for the individual, as well as the bacterial problem at hand, has to be identified and introduced and when appropriate, the optimal protocols of herbal supplements that will address the bacterial problem.

There are many options available to treat the predominant causative bacteria; the skill is to identify which is the most suitable treatment approach at that time for the SIBO sufferer and the current load and type of bacteria in order to create effective outcomes.

Dealing with SIBO infections can be a challenge however a person’s quality of life will improve greatly when the infection is identified and addressed properly.

For Further Information

SIBO and digestive problems:
Emma Lane - /

SIBO relevant products:

Concerned about parasites or fungal tests: /


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About Emma Lane

Emma Lane ND DIP NT Master NLP Practitioner AFAA International Personal Trainer and Fitness Counsellor ITEC is a leading holistic healthcare practitioner and educator with over 25 years of experience. Emma is qualified to practise across a wide range of natural health sciences including Naturopathy, Naturopathic Nutrition, Functional Medicine, Neuro-linguistic Programming, Timeline Therapy, Hypnotherapy, Auricular Acupuncture, Functional Corrective Exercise, Sound Therapy and Energy Healing. She has recently founded a new, independent healthcare training provider - INTEGRATIVE HEALTH EDUCATION - IHE. Emma will be continuing her passion for teaching through her own courses, which focus on gastrointestinal health and parasitology. In addition IHE will also bring together the best health educators from around the world to present a comprehensive programme of training opportunities. Emma may be contacted via Integrative Health Education on Tel: 01924 242 851;

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