SIBO Probiotics: Do They Really Work?
Published March 25, 2022
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) might not be as well-known as IBS or GERD. But it can be as worrying as any other gastrointestinal disorder. If left untreated, it can lead to malnutrition and other serious complications.
Fortunately, like most intestinal disorders, SIBO is treatable. And one SIBO treatment that’s slowly gaining attention is probiotics.
But can probiotics really help you get rid of SIBO?
According to scientific studies, they can. One study published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology found that probiotic treatment can neutralize SIBO and relieve symptoms like bloating and abdominal pain.
However, to fully understand how probiotics work against SIBO, we need to first understand what SIBO really is.
As its name suggests, Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) is a medical condition that affects the small intestine. It happens when there is an explosive growth of bacteria in your small intestine.
Under normal circumstances, having bacteria in our intestines is actually beneficial. These bacteria helps our body digest food and absorb their nutrients.
However, when there is excessive bacterial growth in your intestine, it can increase the bacterial fermentation of the foods you eat. This, in turn, releases more gas into your GI tract leading to bloating, flatulence, and abdominal pain.
As time passes, all these excess bacteria will also start eating up your body’s nutrients. As a result, long-time SIBO sufferers may experience malnutrition, dehydration, and nutrient deficiency symptoms.
It’s still unclear what really causes SIBO. Though it’s generally accepted that it’s a result of impaired intestinal motility and lesser gastric acid secretion. These two can slow down your food’s journey through your digestive tract. This, in turn, creates a fertile breeding ground for bacteria leading to their excessive growth.
Aging and certain types of medications can cause your stomach to produce less acid. While surgeries, structural problems of the intestine, and gastrointestinal disorders like IBS and Chron’s disease can reduce intestinal motility. This is why SIBO is often associated with various gastrointestinal diseases.
One of the reasons why SIBO is often underdiagnosed is because it shares symptoms with many other gastrointestinal diseases. This includes:
- a constant feeling of fullness
- lack of appetite
- stomach pains, especially after eating
- weakness and fatigue
How Probiotics Can Help With SIBO
As I’ve said, probiotics have been gaining popularity in recent years as a viable treatment for SIBO. If you didn’t know, probiotics are types of bacteria that are beneficial for our bodies. Hence, they are also called the “good bacteria”.
Wait a minute. So we fight bacterial overgrowth with more bacteria?
To put it simply, yes. And before you smirk at how ridiculous that sounds, you first need to understand how probiotics work.
Not a lot of people know this but our body is home to zillions of both harmful and beneficial bacteria. This bacterial population is what we call our microbiome.
According to studies, a healthy person also has a healthy balance of bacteria in their microbiome. But certain factors like diseases and antibiotic treatments can cause dysbiosis or an imbalance of bacteria in your microbiome. When this happens, the bad bacteria can proliferate leading to various illnesses and diseases.
This is where probiotics enter the picture. They help repopulate your microbiome with beneficial bacteria to restore its healthy balance. The more “good bacteria” there are, the better your body will be able to fight the bad ones.
Now, as mentioned, SIBO happens when there is excessive growth of bacteria in your intestines. These bacteria are often the harmful type and they tend to proliferate when there’s an imbalance in your gut microbiome.
Taking probiotics will increase the good bacteria in your gut and restore its healthy balance. This will prevent the harmful bacteria from increasing rapidly thus helping you get rid of SIBO.
The Best Probiotics for SIBO
Though we know a lot about probiotics and digestive health, studies on their benefit on SIBO are quite limited. But the results of these studies have so far been encouraging.
According to a review published by the Indian Journal of Medical Research, the probiotic strains that have shown great promise against SIBO are Bacillus clausii, Lactobacillus casei, and Lactobacillus acidophilus.
A 2009 study found that administering Bacillus clausii can help normalize hydrogen levels in your gut. A reduced hydrogen level means reduced flatulence and bloating. While another study in Buenos Aires found that L. casei and L. acidophilus are effective in treating chronic diarrhea related to bacterial overgrowth.
One study also found that combining probiotics with prebiotics is more effective in reducing symptoms like pain, diarrhea, bloating, and belching.
So if you’re looking for the best probiotics for SIBO, look for supplements that contain the above-mentioned strains. If you can find one with prebiotics, then all the better. But as we always say, before taking any supplement, it’s always a good idea to consult your doctor first.
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About The Author
Judy Ponio is a professional writer based in the Philippines. Her commitment to communicating factual content in when writing is unmatched. She works hard to cross check reputable sources to ensure her work uses accurate facts.