What causes SIBO and How to Treat it


Last week we talked about what SIBO is. This week we want to focus on what causes it, and how to treat it.

Causes of SIBO

There are many causes of SIBO, even though symptoms tend to present in only a few different ways.  Our Toronto naturopaths perform a holistic assessment that spans many body systems and identifies both recent contributors and long term causes of SIBO.  Some of these causes include:


-Food poisoning

-Medications including proton pump inhibitors, antibiotics, NSAIDs and narcotics/opioids

-Food sensitivities or intolerances

-Low stomach acid (hypochlorhydria)

-Anxiety (chronic)

-Constant snacking/grazing

-Surgeries and scar tissue in the digestive tract

-H. Pylori infection

-Autoimmune conditions including Celiac disease

-Neurological conditions

-Connective tissue abnormalities

The common thread in all these causes is that they prevent the small intestine from clearing bacteria through the migrating motor complex (MMC), allowing bacterial overgrowth over time.   The bacteria then further damage the MMC, creating a positive feedback loop and a vicious cycle that makes it hard to resolve these symptoms without a targeted treatment plan. There may be parts of your medical history that date back a long time ago, which play an important role in the genesis of SIBO.  Similarly, there may be signs, symptoms, or blood test results that indicate contributing factors to your SIBO currently, and addressing these is necessary to avoid relapse after treatment.

Treatment Options

There are several aspects to SIBO treatment:

-Eliminating bacterial overgrowth

-Repairing small intestine function as well as upper and lower digestive function

-Eliminating any other overgrowths concurrent with SIBO whether fungal or parasites

-Repleting the gut microbiome with helpful bacteria which also prevent pathogenic overgrowth

-Establishing a diverse and healthy microbiome

To these ends, our Toronto naturopaths will use a combination of nutritional guidance (often in discrete phases), herbal medicines and supplements to support digestion and repair the gastrointestinal tract.  Addressing root causes or obstacles to healing may involve treatments for hormonal health, anxiety, and musculoskeletal health, and this may include bodywork and lifestyle counselling. 

SIBO is well treated with naturopathic medicine.  The road to recovery often produces quick improvements, with another several months of treatment needed to regain the resilience that prevents relapse of symptoms and allows higher tolerance of a wide variety of foods. The longer SIBO symptoms have been around, the longer it may take to full improvement.  Support from our Toronto naturopaths ensures that you always know where you are on the roadmap to recovery and that you can problem-solve any challenges along the way without getting lost in the myriad of information and products available. 

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