Is it IBS or SIBO? Watch the video.

Is it IBS or SIBO

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) are two common gut conditions that often cause confusion and frustration. While they share similar symptoms like bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, and diarrhoea, they are different conditions with differing underlying causes.

In our most recent live video discussion, nutritional therapist, Sophia Hill and I took a closer look at the rather complex connection between IBS and SIBO. While not everyone with IBS has SIBO, and vice versa, there’s a significant overlap. Studies suggest that up to 80% of individuals with IBS may also have SIBO.

This raises the question: is SIBO a potential cause of IBS, or simply another symptom?

While SIBO can undoubtedly contribute to IBS symptoms, it’s not always the sole culprit. Other factors like stress, motility issues and gut sensitivity can also play a role. However, treating SIBO often leads to significant symptom improvement in IBS patients, suggesting a strong link.

If you missed our discussion, you can watch the video here.

Sophia and I also talked about the difference between methane and hydrogen dominant SIBO, how it’s diagnosed with a breath test and how Rifaximin (the antibiotic of choice for SIBO because there’s less collateral damage to the gut than a standard broad spectrum antibiotic) only helps to kill the pathogenic bacteria in the small intestine, and if you don’t follow an anti-SIBO diet and take targeted supplements, the bacteria can begin to multiply, putting you back at square one. Helpful supplements can include our Digestive Enzymes tablets and Milk Thistle tablets, which help reduce symptoms of both IBS and SIBO, as they provide support to the gut and liver.

SIBO isn’t as well understood by GPs, and while specialists will have a better grasp of the condition, they are still most likely to recommend nothing more than antibiotic treatment; in some cases, they may recommend following a low FODMAP diet, but other lifestyle changes and supplements don’t tend to feature in their scripts.

Sophia and I touched on diet and SIBO, and how refined sugar and ultra-high processed foods must be avoided as they feed the bacteria, although certain FODMAP-friendly fruits are allowed. Fermented foods are not recommended because they are just adding to the bacteria already in the small intestine.

We talked about die-off reactions when you begin taking supplements, for both IBS and SIBO.

Die-off reactions occur when the organs are throwing off lots of endotoxic material into the bloodstream. The liver can handle a certain amount, but if there’s a lot of deep cleansing to be done, some of the toxins end up in the blood. This can make us feel tired, achy, irritable, gassy, with headaches, smelly sweat, skin outbreaks, including greasy skin and greasy hair. You may also find that there’s more mucus coming from the eyes and nose, and wax from the ears; you may find that you have a coated tongue and vaginal discharges may also become apparent when detoxing. 

This is why it is so important to understand that, with any detox, the organs of elimination need supporting – this includes skin, kidneys, bowels, lungs and lymphatic system. The liver also requires support during a detox.

This comes in the form of getting plenty of rest, drinking plenty of water, having a colon hydrotherapy treatment pre- and post-detoxing, skin brushing, using castor oil liver packs, having Epsom salts baths, massages, especially lymphatic drainage ones, and having acupuncture and reflexology.

Symptoms of die-off can present very suddenly and make you feel really poorly, so it’s good to be forewarned and forearmed. It happened to me when I was at the Viva-Mayr Clinic a few years ago. I was about 8 days into a water and clear vegetable broth fast. One night I felt quite ill. I knew it was die-off. I almost had to pull the red emergency cord in my bedroom, but I didn’t. I made myself a mug of herbal tea, had a shower, put a castor oil pack over my liver and I felt much better.

When you embark on any kind of gut-healing plan, you are likely to experience side effects, in some cases these may be mild, but there are cases where die-off symptoms can be very debilitating which is why it is worth working with a qualified practitioner, who will support you through the process.

We hope you find the video informative and helpful. If you have any questions about a digestive and gut health issue or would like to know more about a tailored supplement protocol, please get in touch.