SIBO Update 1: Two months into treatment

As the title suggests, I’m roughly two months into treatment (a little more, actually). For these past two months, I’ve taken my supplements regularly and been pretty good about the diet. Overall, I’m feeling about 30 – 40% better, which I believe to be a great improvement. Many of you out there might think that for two months, that’s nothing, but I disagree. My perspective is this: it’s taken my body years and years to develop this condition. My body’s biome is now accustomed to working under these adverse conditions, and what we know about the body is that will try to keep the status quo. Making changes take time. So if this condition has been developing for the past 10 years or more, with an underlying genetic sensitivity, then I think it’s pretty safe to say that I shouldn’t expect to get 100% healed in only a matter of weeks.

And to be honest, I don’t really want to zap my body into a period of intense healing, like an antibiotic would do. Doing that would be like a crash diet on my sensitive system. Have you ever done a crash diet? You feel really crappy for the few weeks where you eat nothing but cabbage (or drink master cleanse, or eat 500 calories, or whatever) because your body is in a detox. You exercise like an energizer bunny without fuel in order to feel crappier and drop a few pounds. And you do, drop a few pounds….And then you gain it back.  Short term gains for long term losses. What I’m going for is sustainability.

How can I support my sensitive system for the long-term by creating an environment of healing? How must this healing environment change as my body changes? These are the questions I’m using to guide this healing.

Here’s what I’ve noticed:

  • The main keys for me are diet and detox. I’m in the phase where we’re killing the bad bacteria. This means that I can’t be feeding what I’m trying to get rid of, and that once I’ve killed what’s there, I have to give it clear channels for release (read: I need to facilitate as much natural pooping and sweating as possible, while avoiding damaging diarrhea and overdoing it).
  • When I stick to the diet, I feel good – my bloating decreases and often stops all together.
  • As the weeks progressed, I could have small amounts of foods on my “avoid” list without dire consequences. But I felt better when I abstained.
  • After about week three, my energy levels increased and I started to feel a lot better. Lots of people mentioned how good I looked.
  • The castor oil packs didn’t work for me. They brought on bloating when before I had none, so I stopped doing them.

At my two-month check up, my naturopath and I agreed that I wasn’t healed enough to go into the next phase of small intestine repair, so for the next month we decided to:

  • Change the killing agents. Instead of Peppermint oil and Goldeseal, we switched to Oil of Oregano capsules (1, 3x daily away from food)
  • Add two digestive formulas. The first is called Digest-Gen. I haven’t started this yet as it’s on order from my doctor. The second is called Iberogast, which helps to reduce gas/bloating and help with digestion.
  • Focus more on clearing the channels to allow for detox. This means increasing my intake of my Liver Tea, taking activated charcoal just after one or two meals each day, drinking tons of water (I usually mix with coconut water or another electrolyte because regular water was running right through me and I still had signs of dryness). This also means making sure I’m getting as much exercise as I can without wearing myself out. I practice yoga several times per week, walk, do circuit workouts sometimes, and do big weekend hikes with my fiancee.
  • Manage stress better. Besides yoga, meditation and breathing she had me choose a few flower essences and created a custom blend for me. I take a few drops 4-5 times a day. I chose a blend to help me with stress management, emotional stagnation, boundaries, and connecting to heart center (yarrow, dandelion, elm, fuchsia and pink monkey flower).

I’ve also had some unexpected set backs in this two months. I got engaged about a month ago, which brought on a series of celebrations and dinners out. I did my best to stick to my diet and kept taking my supplements as planned, but a few non-SIBO foods slipped in there. I’d been on the protocol long enough to notice that one or two of these instances was okay, but more than a day or two put together could set me back four or five days, at least in symptoms. So I’m doing the best that I can and still trying to live a life that makes me happy (which means a small cheat every now and then). I’ve done my best to find solutions for food cravings, and you can find some recipes here and here.

Stress management has also been challenging for me. I’m a new small business owner trying to make a living in a very expensive city,  a spiritual counselor working with people with long-term illness and other stressors, recently engaged and planning a  wedding, and burdened with some surprising and difficult interpersonal challenges. I have a great mix of both positive and negative stress, and it’s been, well, stressful! In the past two weeks I renewed my commitment to my daily yoga and meditation practice and spending time in nature, which is very calming and healing for me. These practices have helped tremendously, as well as clearing out my schedule and making sure I have enough room to breath. I have a tendency to fill my plate to full, so I’ve been scraping off some of the more energetically draining activities to create more space for myself. This has felt incredibly good and I’d definitely recommend it!

I’ve loved all the feedback and comments this these posts have received, and welcome more. Please feel free to tell me how you’re doing, what your protocol is, what you’ve found works and doesn’t work. Our bodies are all different and can manifest this

9 Comments on “SIBO Update 1: Two months into treatment”

  1. Congratulations Anna! so happy for you and your engagement story is lovely. I hope you are SIBO free well before your D day!
    i wanted to share this with you. Have you seen this:
    It is a series of interviews with experts on digestive disorders, and most all seem to touch upon SIBO. In a highly skeptical world of conventional doctors, experts interviewed here are the best I know.
    Also I have been thinking that, maybe, yoghurt may not be all that good for SIBO. Since SIBO is excess bacteria in SI, and although yoghurt is friendly bacteria, it may be adding to the excessive bacteria population in small intenstine? I came up with this theory from personal experience. Home made yoghurt was always my favorite, eating it with every meal since childhood. I would eat even highly fermented 3 days old yoghurt! this makes me think maybe all that bacteria adds to the population. also SIBO for some reason can be genetic. My maternal uncle, my mom, and I have the same symptoms, which I now know is SIBO.
    I would love to know your thoughts on this.

    1. Thanks, this is a great link! The diet that I am following is straight off of Dr. Allison Sieddbecker’s website, where she combines the SCD and the Low-Fodmap and includes the 24 hour fermented yogurt. I agree with you that a pro-biotic rich diet is NOT appropriate for an acute SIBO infection, which is why I don’t recommend eating it as a main-stay of the diet. Rather, in moderation as more of a supplement. The idea is that you want to change the population of bacteria, not eliminate it all together, and the properly fermented yogurt has been shown to do this. That being said, I’m still in the beginning of treatment, so all I’m really going off of now is the research and my own experience!

      And yes, I think it can/does run in the family. My naturopath told me to watch out for it in my household, that it can run in households. Interestingly, my fiancee is battling his own autoimmune problems, which also start with a gut damaged in a similar way to mine. My mom has very similar sensitivities to mine, but lives in a place without access to naturopaths and alternative medicine (as well as a refusal to dig too deep into her own issues), so she is largely going untreated. I’m fairly certain that her symptoms are also SIBO. Thanks for sticking around! Love your input!

  2. I’m very glad to have found your site- I am going through the same treatment! I’ve been looking into new digestive formulas. How did you find the Iberogast and Digest-Gen?

    1. Hi Jessica,
      My naturopath suggested them. So far, I haven’t noticed a huge improvement on them. I think that those, combined with the other killing/digestive agents are making a difference, but it’s slow going. I am in the process of switching naturopaths (more out of convenience than anything; my current ND is on the other side of town) and she has a different perspective and treatment. My progress has been kind of at a standstill AND new elements have come to play, so I will be switching things up here shortly. Stay tuned for a new update in the next couple weeks!

  3. Hi there!
    I’ve been doing the SIBO protocol under the direction of a team of doctors and students at Bastyr Teaching Clinic in Seattle and am very impressed with the results. My diet is much more limited than yours: I peel, seed, cook for 20 minutes and then puree in my Vitamix the vegetables that I eat which include carrots, kabocha squash, yellow squash, and zuchinni. To this mix I add coconut oil, salt a and allowed herbs and spices. (By the way there is curry powder without garlic available: Morton and Bassett of San Francisco.) I eat 300 grams of this at every meal. The other things I eat are e2 ggs scrambled in olive oil with tumeric and salt, baked, fried, or broiled and stock pot cooked pork, chicken, or turkey with salt/pepper/herbs/spices–100 grams at each of two meals. I pour fish oil over the meat after cooking it. My night-time treat that I started after two months into the diet is 5 grams of sunflower seed butter mixed with a little less honey. Just like candy! This combination, believe it or not keeps me satisfied and I have experienced no cravings since starting the diet and have dropped 10 lb in two and a half months. I have been taking biocidin (1 drop between meals, 3 times a day for the first week and increasing by one drop each week up to 5 drops) and berberine complex (2 capsules with the biocidin) to naturally kill off the bad bacteria. As for symptoms, if I follow this diet, I have no smelly gas, bloating or pain. The only digestive issue I have is multiple bowel movements a day, usually harder and smaller than I would like. I have tried adding in other vegetables and some fruits from the green column on the SCD/FODMAPS chart by Dr. Siebecker, or pureeing less thoroughly, but though this does loosen the stools, it also increases the smelly gas and sometimes causes bloating and pain (especially if I eat too much sweet food—more than 25 grams of fruit per meal). I would say that I am 90% better because I used to have painful bloating every day that put me in bed in the evening unable to do anything but read. My doctors said that as long as I continue to experience improvement, it is too early to make changes to this diet, and I can see that it is too early, because when I do experiment with changes, I get symptoms again.

    There’s my two bits. Hope it is helpful to someone out there!

    1. Hi Julie, it’s great to hear that you’re doing so well! Thanks for sharing your story and progress here! My diet got less-limited as treatment progressed and I moved solely to the low-fodmap. I’m hanging tight at about 90% better; it’s great! So glad you found a treatment that works for you! ~Anna

  4. How hasn’t everything been going for you a couple years on from this post? I am just starting my journey after being diagnosed 1 1/2 years ago, I fell pregnant in between so couldn’t do much about it but now I’m 4 month post partum. It’s been so great reading these posts as you kind of feel lost and alone at times. Thanks you

    1. Hi Alyssa,

      I am doing GREAT! I’m sorry you’re just starting the journey, but I hope you have some good help! It’s interesting – I became pregnant right when I was starting to introduce new foods back in (about a year after taking antibiotics and following a low-fodmap diet). Pregnancy at that time actually helped my recovery because all the progesterone in the body acts as an anti-inflammatory. I feel completely free of sibo. However, I’ve developed some true food allergies postpartum – if I eat wheat, peanuts, shellfish or sesame, I break out in hives. It’s bizarre. Best luck with your healing and keep in touch!

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