How to Treat SIBO Naturally: 4 Tips You Must Read Today

​​Looking for answers on how to treat SIBO naturally? You’ve come to the right place, as today we’re bringing you four tips you must read to help heal this challenging condition without using antibiotics.

SIBO, or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, occurs when there is an excessive amount of bacteria in your small intestine. Normally, this organ has a relatively low population of microorganisms compared to the large intestine.

The overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine can lead to various digestive symptoms and health issues, such as:

  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Flatulence
  • Interference with nutrient absorption
  • Fatigue
  • Appetite loss

While the conventional SIBO treatment is a course of antibiotics, many individuals prefer natural approaches to relieve the disorder and alleviate its symptoms

Let’s explore four research-backed ways to treat SIBO without the use of prescribed medications and make a positive impact on your digestive well-being.

1. Modify Your Diet

There’s no evidence that a specific diet can cause SIBO, but many people with the condition find that making certain food choices provides some relief from symptoms(1). These eating plans aim to create an environment less conducive to bacterial overgrowth.

Healthcare professionals recommend trying any of the following diets to identify and alleviate your potential SIBO triggers. You’ll gain insights that allow you to make informed future food choices, contributing to a healthier gut environment.

The Low-FODMAP Diet

FODMAPs, short for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Pylols, are carbohydrates notorious for fuelling bacterial fermentation in the gut

These short-chain carbohydrates tend to absorb water and ferment in the colon, causing flatulence and bloating(2).

By embracing a low-FODMAP diet, individuals aim to selectively limit their intake of these compounds and reduce the substrates available for bacterial fermentation.

Common FODMAPS to avoid include:

  • Oligosaccharides like broccoli, onions, garlic, cabbage, beans, apples and nuts
  • Disaccharides like cream, cheese, milk, and yogurt
  • Monosaccharides like high fructose corn syrup, honey, and watermelon
  • Polyols like artificial sweeteners

This diet isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, and its success depends on your tolerance to specific FODMAPs. 

It’s crucial to work with a registered dietician to customize the eating pan based on your needs to ensure your nutritional requirements are met, while effectively managing your SIBO symptoms.

The Elemental Diet

The elemental diet is a specialized, liquid-based plan that provides essential nutrition in easily digestible and absorbable forms. It contains no dietary fiber or probiotics that stimulate bacterial growth.

By providing predigested nutrients and minimizing complex carbohydrates, this diet aims to starve the bacteria in the small intestine and reduce their overgrowth(3). This reduction in microbes could also help soothe inflammation and heal the gut lining(4).

Because the nutrients in the elemental diet are in a highly digestible form, it allows the small intestine to rest. This is particularly beneficial for individuals with SIBO, as it provides a break from the challenge of processing solid food, which might contribute to fermentation and exacerbate symptoms.

Integrative Therapeutics Physicians Elemental Diet is a wonderful medical food option to try. It contains a balanced blend of macronutrients, fortified with essential micronutrients and electrolytes, that provide a comprehensive source of nutrition.

That said, the taste of this blend might not be for everyone. If you try it and the flavor isn’t to your liking, we suggest adding one of the following:

  • Organic honey
  • Monk fruit
  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil

Fun fact: You can even try adding MCT oil if you want a more palatable taste! 

SIBO symptoms include bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhoea
Taking a herbal remedy can be a great SIBO treatment

Important note: The elemental diet isn’t a long-term solution for SIBO. It is only recommended for a short period of around two to four weeks, after which a regular eating plan should be reintroduced.

Work with your healthcare provider to determine if the elemental diet is right for you and to monitor your progress. 

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) restricts the intake of certain complex carbohydrates, specifically disaccharides and polysaccharides, which are thought to be poorly absorbed in individuals with compromised digestive systems.

This eating plan incorporates easily absorbable carbohydrates, primarily monosaccharides, that include fruits, honey, and certain vegetables. Any starchy foods, such as wheat, barley, rice, corn, and beans, should be avoided.

The diet also restricts the intake of certain sugars, including lactose and sucrose, as they are considered disaccharides.

By limiting the intake of complex carbohydrates that may serve as substrates for bacterial fermentation, the SCD aims to reduce the fuel available for microbial overgrowth in the small intestine.

Some individuals with SIBO could experience symptom relief while following this eating plan, including reduced bloating, abdominal pain, and irregular bowel movements.

However, as responses to the SCD vary, it’s important to monitor your symptoms and adjust the diet according to your tolerance and needs. 

2. Take Probiotics

It might sound counterintuitive to use probiotics to manage bacterial overgrowth, but within the intricate world of the gut, these supplements could indeed play a vital role in addressing SIBO.

Probiotics, often heralded for their positive impact on digestive health, can offer a natural and supportive approach to rebalance the microbiome

Certain strains have demonstrated efficacy in replacing SIBO-inducing bacteria to promote healthier mobility in the digestive tract(5). These beneficial bacteria can compete with and inhibit the growth of pathogenic organisms, potentially helping to alleviate symptoms.

SIBO can also interfere with food absorption in the small intestine. Probiotics may contribute to the restoration of normal digestive processes, potentially helping to address nutrient deficiencies associated with the disorder(6).

Keep in mind that not all probiotics are the same, and their effectiveness in treating SIBO depends on the specific strains used. Ensure you choose a spore based Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium option, as these have been studied for their potential in promoting a healthier balance of gut flora.

3. Try Herbal Therapies

Probiotics are a great example of how to treat SIBO naturally

SIBO can present some complex challenges, but approaches like herbal therapies offer a promising avenue for relief(7). These interventions aim to address bacterial overgrowth while promoting a healthy gut environment.

Consider combining some of these herbal remedies to manage your SIBO naturally:

Oregano Oil: A Potent Antimicrobial Ally

Oregano oil, derived from the leaves of the oregano plant, is recognized for its potent antimicrobial properties. 

Rich in compounds like carvacrol and thymol, the supplement has demonstrated efficacy against pathogenic bacteria, making it a valuable herbal remedy for combating SIBO(8).

Oregano oil’s antimicrobial action may help reduce the overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. Its ability to target harmful microbes while sparing beneficial bacteria contributes to its appeal as a natural therapeutic option.

Berberine: Nature’s Antibiotic

Berberine, extracted from various plants like barberry and goldenseal, has been employed in traditional medicine for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. As a natural antibiotic, berberine holds promise in alleviating SIBO.

The compound disrupts bacterial cell membranes and interferes with the microorganisms’ communication, exerting broad-spectrum antimicrobial effects(9). Berberine’s ability to modulate immune response further contributes to its therapeutic potential in managing SIBO(10).

Pure Encapsulations Berberine UltraSorb is an excellent source of the herb, as it contains 550 mg of enhanced bioavailability berberine. The supplement is made with high-quality, vegan ingredients and offers boosted solubility and absorption.

Say goodbye to SIBO with the correct nutrition and supplements
Garlic is a wonderful SIBO treatment thanks to its antimicrobial properties

Allicin from Garlic: Nature’s Antiseptic

Garlic, a culinary gem, contains allicin—a compound known for its antimicrobial properties. Allicin’s ability to target harmful bacteria without disturbing beneficial gut flora makes it a valuable herbal remedy for SIBO.

The extract disrupts bacterial cell function and inhibits the microorganisms’ growth(11). Its selectivity in targeting pathogenic bacteria makes it a natural antiseptic for the gastrointestinal tract.

You can either consume raw garlic or take odorless garlic supplements if the bulb’s taste and smell are a concern.

Peppermint Oil: Cooling Comfort for the Gut

Peppermint oil is celebrated for its soothing properties and has gained recognition as a natural remedy for digestive issues, including conditions like SIBO.

The extract contains menthol, a compound known for its relaxing effect on the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract(12). This may help alleviate the symptoms associated with SIBO, such as abdominal discomfort, bloating, and gas.

A 2019 study also highlighted peppermint oil’s antimicrobial properties that can contribute to a healthier gut environment.

The oil is available in enteric-coated capsules that ensure a targeted release in the small intestine. Ensure you start off on a low dose before gradually increasing it to assess your tolerance.

4. Reduce Stress Levels

Research shows that high levels of psychological stress can impact your gut health, with effects ranging from a decreased digestion rate to intestinal bacteria imbalances. 

The intricate communication between the brain and the gut, often referred to as the gut-brain axis, plays a central role in this connection.

Stress activates the release of hormones and neurotransmitters that can influence the motility of the digestive tract, potentially leading to symptoms such as bloating, abdominal discomfort, and altered bowel habits(13).

Chronic stress may also contribute to changes in the gut microbiota, potentially fostering an environment conducive to conditions like SIBO(14).

Integrate stress-reduction techniques into your daily routine to achieve both a calmer state of mind and a more harmonious relationship with your gut. Consider some of the options below:

TechniqueDescription
Mindfulness MeditationEngage in focused awareness, allowing thoughts to come and go without judgment.
YogaCombine physical postures, breathwork, and meditation to promote overall well-being, including digestive health.
Deep Breathing ExercisesActivate the relaxation response through intentional deep breathing, promoting calmness and stress reduction.
Nature ConnectionSpend time outdoors, immersing yourself in the natural world to alleviate stress and connect with a sense of serenity.
Establishing BoundariesSet clear limits on your commitments, prioritize self-care, and recognize when it’s essential to step back for your well-being.

Say Goodbye to SIBO

Are you ready to say goodbye to SIBO? Step into a future free from digestive constraints with our research-backed tips and practices that support your gut health.

We at Simply Nutrients believe that a thoughtful diet and beneficial herbs and supplements combined with stress-reducing activities can pave the way to lasting well-being.

Reach out to us for more information to empower yourself with knowledge and practices that ensure digestive harmony.

Resources 

(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7386065/

(2) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20659225/

(3) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14992438/

(4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5324627/

(5) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7386065/#:~:text=The%20study%20showed%20that%20probiotic,%25%2C%20p%20%3D%200.003)

(6) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3539293/

(7) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4030608/

(8) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6152729/

(9) https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-83504-0_7#:~:text=Berberine%20acts%20as%20a%20small,2005)

(10) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33135395/#:~:text=Berberine%2C%20an%20isoquinoline%20alkaloid%2C%20is,anti%2Dinflammatory%20and%20immunomodulatory%20properties

(11) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8362743/

(12) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1646142/

(13) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22314561/

(14) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7213601/

NOTHING IN THIS WEBSITE IS INTENDED AS, OR SHOULD BE CONSTRUED AS, MEDICAL ADVICE. ANY HEALTHCARE AND/OR NUTRITIONAL MATERIAL CONTAINED IN THIS WEBSITE IS FOR CONSUMER INFORMATIONAL AND EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. SUCH MATERIAL IS NOT INTENDED AS MEDICAL ADVICE FOR CONDITIONS OR TREATMENT, NOR IS IT INTENDED AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR A MEDICAL EXAMINATION BY A HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL. CONSUMERS SHOULD CONSULT THEIR OWN HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS FOR INDIVIDUAL MEDICAL RECOMMENDATIONS.

Follow me
Doctor

Medically reviewed by Dr. Jamy Antoine, D.C. — by Chris Bowman — On December 14, 2023

Doctor

Chris Bowman

Chris Bowman is the CEO and Co-Founder of SimplyNutrients.com and has over 15 years of experience in nutritional sciences and wellness. Simply Nutrients is a part of Dr. Jamy Antoine's Select Health Practice in Edina, Minnesota. Chris is passionate about helping people live healthier lives by using the best practices of nature, nutrition, and medicine.