The Harley Street IBS & Autoimmune Clinic has diagnosed and successfully treated many patients with SIBO. Most of them had been suffering the uncomfortable symptoms of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth for many years, without receiving a correct diagnosis. Our patient outcomes are said to be “remarkable” by one of the UK’s leading pathologists.
Patients had previously been treated symptomatically rather than having the underlying issue addressed. Many had been prescribed extensive antibiotic therapy in the past for various health issues.
The role of the small intestine is to digest and absorb food. It is a 21 foot long tube. The entire gastrointestinal tract, including the small intestine, normally contains bacteria, that aid the digestive process. The number of bacteria is greatest in the colon (at least 1,000,000,000 bacteria per ml. of fluid) and much lower in the small intestine (less than 10,000 bacteria per ml. of fluid). The types of bacteria normally found in the small intestine are different to the types of bacteria that reside in the colon.
The beneficial bacteria stimulate the growth of the intestinal lining and the immune system of the intestine. They prevent the growth of disease-causing bacteria within the intestine and produce vitamin K, which is needed for blood coagulation. The beneficial bacteria are also important for the muscular activity of the small intestine (the waves that drive the contents along). Without this bacteria, there is reduced muscular activity.
The small intestine contains an extensive immune system, which protects the intestine from disease-causing viruses, bacteria, and parasites. It’s the home-guard of the digestive system. The effects of the immune response have been experienced by anyone who has experienced gastroenteritis. The muscular activity or wave keeps the numbers of bacteria in the intestine at a low level. Mucus that is secreted into the intestine coats the intestinal lining and prevents the bacteria from touching the lining.
What is SIBO?
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) refers to a condition, in which abnormally large numbers of bacteria (at least 100,000 bacteria per ml of fluid) are present in the small intestine and the types of bacteria in the small intestine resemble more the bacteria of the colon than the small intestine. This overgrowth also causes damage and inflammation to the gut wall.
What causes small intestinal bacterial overgrowth?
The digestive tract is a continuous muscular tube through which digesting food is transported on its way to the colon. The activity of the muscles of the stomach and small intestine drives the food from the stomach, through the small intestine, and into the colon.
The muscular activity that sweeps through the small intestine is important for the digestion of food, but it also is important because it sweeps bacteria out of it and thereby limits the numbers of bacteria in the small intestine. Anything that interferes with the progression of this muscular activity (the waves) through the small intestine can result in SIBO by allowing the bacteria to stay longer and multiply in the small intestine. The lack of muscular activity also may allow bacteria to spread backwards from the colon and into the small intestine, which is why types of bacteria normally found only in the colon, are found in the small intestine.
Nerve damage or muscular diseases can also alter the normal activity of the intestinal muscles, causing a reduction in wave intensity. Diabetes mellitus damages the nerve supply to these muscles. Scleroderma damages them directly. The effect of these diseases on the waves causes SIBO.
What are the symptoms of SIBO? Symptoms may include:
- Abdominal pain – When bacteria digest food in the intestine, they produce gas. The gas can accumulate in the abdomen giving rise to abdominal bloating or distension. Distension can cause abdominal pain. The increased amounts of gas are passed as flatus
- Gas – Reduced digestion or absorption by the small intestine allows increased amounts of sugar and carbohydrate to reach the colon, where greater amounts of gas are produced. When bacteria digest food in the intestine, they produce gas
- Bloating – When bacteria digest food in the intestine, they produce gas. The gas can accumulate in the abdomen giving rise to abdominal bloating or distension. Distension can cause abdominal pain. The increased amounts of gas are passed as flatus
- Diarrhoea – The bacteria also convert food into substances that are irritating or toxic to the cells of the inner lining of the small intestine and colon. These irritating substances produce diarrhoea by causing secretion of water into the intestine
- Constipation – Some patients with SIBO have constipation rather than diarrhoea. There is some evidence that the bacterial production of methane causes constipation
- Weight loss – When the bacterial overgrowth is severe, the bacteria may cause malabsorption of food and deficiencies of vitamins and minerals may develop, leading to weight loss
- Aches – mostly in joints
- Fatigue – sleep can be impaired; and a lack of good nutrition caused by malabsorption can result in constant tiredness
SIBO Treatment at our London clinic with Natural Medicine
A full case history is taken. Before any treatment for SIBO is prescribed, the extent of the SIBO must be ascertained. Once this has been done using non-invasive diagnostic medical tests, a treatment plan is formulated, which incorporates natural medication, prescription health supplements and dietary modifications. Every patient’s experience of SIBO is different and that is why it is important to tailor the treatment for SIBO by way of a personalised prescription to meet the needs of each patient.
This approach works far better than a one-size-fits-all approach. The bacterial overgrowth is dealt with and the gut lining, which is damaged and inflamed, is repaired with natural medication, prescription health supplements and diet. Treatment for SIBO at our London clinic can take up to two years, depending on the severity of the overgrowth and also how well the patient adheres to the diet. However, progress is usually noted by the patient quite early on in the SIBO treatment. Some patients have recovered within six months.
If you would welcome this approach to SIBO treatmentContact Deborah’s Medical Secretary for an appointment