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New Innovative Approaches to Treating IBS

 “Could you have Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth?”

by Jana Nalbandian, ND

In 2008 a gastroenterologist, Dr. Mark Pimentel started researching the possible connection between small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and patients with Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).  SIBO is when abnormally large numbers of colon bacterial grow in the small intestines.  What Dr. Pimentel discovered is creating a major shift in how we view IBS; maybe it is just a bacterial infection.  In fact in his research Dr. Pimentel discovered in one
study that as high as 84% of cases with IBS tested positive for SIBO.  Since then several studies have been produced and verified Dr. Pimentel’s findings.

Many of the symptoms of SIBO overlap with common symptoms of IBS including:     

  • Bloating/ abdominal gas
  • Flatulence
  • Abdominal pain, discomfort, or cramps
  • Constipation, diarrhea or a mixture of the two
  • Nausea
  • Heartburn/Reflux disease
  •  Malabsorption symptoms of anemia, nutritional deficiencies
  • Inflammatory Bowel disease including ulcerative colitis
  • Systemic symptoms of headaches, fatigue, joint/muscle pain including migraines, Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue syndrome
  • Rosacea

Symptoms of SIBO are not exclusive to just Irritable Bowel Syndrome, other common conditions associated with bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine include:

avante 8Testing for SIBO can be done here in Anchorage at one of the local labs with the hydrogen breath test that uses an indigestible (not absorbed) sugar called lactulose.  Lactulose is fermented by the bacteria in the small intestine producing an abundance of hydrogen gas that is measured through breath samples.   The SIBO breath test can be ordered by your health care provider.  If your test is positive, clearing the bacterial infection involves eradication with either conventional antibiotics or herbal antimicrobials along with a specific diet (SCD) that deprives the bacteria of its major food source of food, sugar and starches.  After killing the bacteria most patients will need support for proper motility of the gut along with probiotics and gut mucosal repair.  Treatment of SIBO can be tailored to an individual’s clinical picture and needs. 

If you are suffering from acute or chronic digestive symptoms of abdominal bloating, altered bowel movements and abdominal pain, testing for and treating SIBO could be your solution.  



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