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Supplements for SIBO

Jan 02, 2022
Supplements for SIBO

There’s a supplement for everything today. And since SIBO is sometimes difficult to treat medically, you may be inclined to try out a supplement to make your symptoms better.

But do supplements work for SIBO? And if they do, which ones are the most suitable? Can they be used alone to treat SIBO? In this article, we’ll answer all of these questions and discuss some other useful information about how you can make your SIBO better. Let’s begin!

Can supplements treat SIBO?

Yes, we do have some evidence for the role of supplements in treating SIBO. When it comes to using supplements to treat SIBO, you have two main options. One is to use a herbal supplement to kill off excess bacteria and the other is to try out FODMAP digestive enzyme supplements. Let’s discuss how these can be incorporated into your SIBO treatment.

How to use supplements for treating SIBO?

SIBO treatment is divided into phases. And when using supplements to treat the condition, you must understand the treatment phase it augments.

Herbal antimicrobial supplements

The first phase of treatment is bacterial eradication, where doctors usually use the antibiotic rifaximin to kill the excess bacteria off. However, many people don’t tolerate the drug well and in those patients, a herbal antimicrobial like enteric-coated peppermint oil can be used to eradicate bacteria.

Do herbal antimicrobials work? Research suggests they do.

For example, in this study, researchers divided SIBO patients into two groups. One group received rifaximin while the other was given a herbal antimicrobial.

To everyone’s surprise, 46% of the patients in the herbal antimicrobial group got rid of the excess bacteria in their gut while only 34% of the patients on rifaximin were treated successfully. This suggests that herbal supplements may work equally well (if not better) than the first-line medical drug for SIBO.

Plus, the study reported many side effects in patients on rifaximin (including allergic reactions, diarrhea, and C.difficile infection) compared to only a single case of mild diarrhea in the herbal antimicrobial group.


If you’re using peppermint oil to eradicate the excess bacteria in SIBO, you might experience some heartburn and minty burping, which are recognized side effects of the therapy. Consult a healthcare provider for dosage recommendations.

You should also know that you have various other herbal options when it comes to treating SIBO. These include oregano oil, garlic, and grapefruit seed extract. Peppermint oil is the most popular and is one of the most potent herbal antimicrobials out there.

Probiotics

Probiotics are another type of supplement that may make your SIBO better. However, their use to treat the condition is controversial and the evidence for their effectiveness is mixed.

For example, this 18-study review concluded that probiotics can eradicate excessive bacterial growth and reduce pain and gas production in SIBO. But another study looking at 30 patients with brain fog found all of them had SIBO and were taking probiotic supplements, suggesting their use might make your condition worse.

It’s recommended that you to talk to a healthcare provider to discuss which probiotic supplement would be suitable for you.

FODMAP Digestive Enzymes

FODMAP digestive enzymes are another type of supplements that might be used to treat SIBO. Doctors usually recommend a low-FODMAP diet to SIBO patients to control their symptoms while they wait for antimicrobial drugs to eradicate bacteria.

The idea with FODMAPs is that they are sugars that can be used by bacteria to produce excess water and gas in the gut, which can lead to uncomfortable abdominal symptoms seen in SIBO.

A diet low in FODMAPs prevents this, which is why it’s effective at controlling SIBO symptoms. To increase the effectiveness of a low-FODMAP diet, you can try our FODMAP digestive enzymes, which break down any FODMAPs in your food that slipped under your radar. 

Are supplements enough to treat SIBO?

No, supplements alone can’t treat SIBO. It’s important to understand that SIBO almost always occurs due to an underlying condition. Examples include: 

  • Abdominal surgery. Some types of abdominal surgery lead to the creation of a blind loop of bowel, which can be seeded by bacteria leading to SIBO.
  • Reduced gut motility. If the gut can’t contract properly and flush down its contents, there’s an increased risk that bacteria from the large intestine will make their way up to the small intestine. Reduced gut motility can occur due to a variety of conditions, including diabetes, scleroderma, and IBS.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Diverticulosis, where tiny outpouchings of the gut mucosa form, which can be seeded by bacteria

An important part of treating SIBO is to treat the cause behind it. That’s why once doctors use rifaximin to eradicate excess bacteria and control the symptoms of SIBO, they try to diagnose and treat any conditions that may cause it to recur.

The same is true when you’re using supplements to treat SIBO — you must consult a healthcare provider to make sure you don’t have any conditions that can make your SIBO come back.

A word on buying supplements

The market is full of all types of supplement companies. But you should know that supplements are not considered medical drugs by the FDA, which is why they’re not regulated too strictly.

This means manufacturers can easily make false claims on their products and sell low-quality (and contaminated) supplements.

If you want your SIBO treatment to be effective, make sure to purchase your supplements from a reputable company.

It’s also important to consult your healthcare provider when trying out a new supplement. A supplement might interact with your current medications, leading to the development of (sometimes dangerous) side effects.

Takeaway

We do have some evidence for the effectiveness of herbal supplements and probiotics in treating SIBO. If you haven’t responded to medical therapy (many patients don’t), you might want to discuss these options with your healthcare provider.

But keep in mind supplements can’t be used as a standalone treatment for SIBO — for SIBO treatment to be complete, you must diagnose and treat any conditions that are known to cause it.

 

References:

Medically Reviewed by Onikepe Adegbola, MD PhD

 


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