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2 Key Ways SIBO Affects Mental Health And what to do

By Dr. Nicole Cain ND, MA

Key Points:

SIBO stands for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, which is a condition characterized by an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. Normally, the small intestine contains a relatively low number of bacteria, as most of them are found in the large intestine. However, in people with SIBO, the bacteria that are normally found in the large intestine start to grow in the small intestine. In this article we are going to explore common questions about this overgrowth including:

What causes SIBO?

It can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

What are symptoms of SIBO?

The symptoms can vary from person to person, but some common symptoms include:

These symptoms can be similar to those of other digestive disorders, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). That’s why it’s important to work with a healthcare professional who can properly diagnose SIBO through tests like a breath test or a small intestine aspirate or biopsy.

It’s also worth noting that some people with this overgrowth may not experience any symptoms at all, while others may have more severe symptoms. The severity of symptoms can depend on factors such as the type and amount of bacteria in the small intestine, the health of the gut lining, and the individual’s overall health and immune function.

2 Key Ways SIBO Affects Mental Health?

There is a complex relationship between the gut and the brain known as the gut-brain axis, and disturbances in the gut can affect mental health and contribute to anxiety and other mood disorders. SIBO can disrupt the gut microbiome and cause inflammation, which can activate the immune system and trigger an inflammatory response throughout the body.

  1. Inflammation and immune dysregulation have been linked to anxiety and other mood disorders, and studies have shown that individuals with SIBO are more likely to experience anxiety and depression. Additionally, some of the symptoms, such as abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea, can be stressful and contribute to anxiety.
  2. Another factor that may contribute to anxiety in individuals with SIBO is the impact of the condition on nutrient absorption. It can lead to malabsorption of important nutrients, including magnesium and vitamin B12, which are important for the health of the nervous system and have been linked to anxiety.

It’s important to note that while there appears to be a link between SIBO and anxiety, not everyone will experience anxiety, and not everyone with anxiety will have Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. If you’re experiencing symptoms of anxiety, it’s important to speak with a healthcare professional who can help you identify the underlying cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

How do you test for SIBO?

The most important step towards getting well is getting to the root cause. There are a few different tests that can be used to diagnose Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. The most common tests include:

It is important to note that none of these tests are 100% accurate and that a diagnosis of SIBO but can be a useful starting point.

What are the best treatments for SIBO?

While antibiotics are often prescribed to treat Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, there are also natural treatments that can be used to help manage symptoms and promote gut health.

Antibiotics are often used to treat SIBO, and several types of antibiotics have been shown to be effective in reducing bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine. Some examples of antibiotics commonly used to treat Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth include:

It’s important to note that antibiotics are not always necessary or appropriate for treating SIBO, and they may not be effective in all cases. Additionally, antibiotics can have side effects and may contribute to antibiotic resistance, so they should be used judiciously and under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Natural treatments such as dietary modifications, probiotics, and herbal remedies may also be effective in reducing bacterial overgrowth and improving symptoms of SIBO.

The best natural remedies for SIBO include:

How long does it take to treat SIBO?

The duration of treatment for SIBO can vary depending on the severity of the condition, the type of treatment used, and the individual’s response to treatment. In general, treatment can take several weeks to several months.

Antibiotic treatment for SIBO typically lasts for two to four weeks, depending on the specific antibiotic used. After completing the course of antibiotics, it’s important to follow up with a healthcare professional to determine if the Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth has been successfully treated or if further treatment is needed.

For natural treatments such as the low FODMAP diet, probiotics, and herbal remedies, the duration of treatment can vary. Some individuals may see improvement in symptoms within a few weeks, while others may need to follow the treatment plan for several months to see significant improvement.

It’s important to note that successfully treating SIBO may also involve addressing underlying factors that contribute to the development of the condition, such as poor gut health, food sensitivities, or immune dysregulation. This may require ongoing lifestyle changes and maintenance to prevent recurrence.

Concluding remarks

Ultimately, your success with identifying and treating SIBO will depend on getting the right tests, using a holistic and integrative treatment that includes changes in lifestyle and diet, supporting gut healing with herbs, probiotics and botanicals. Treating the gut is often the most important step in treating your mood.

Learn more about how to heal from SIBO in the Holistic Wellness Collective.

This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Whenever considering changing your protocol whether it includes a change of medications, supplements, diet or lifestyle, always speak with your primary care physician first.

Dr. Nicole Cain is an advocate for empowering people around the world to help themselves via her educational free resources, online courses, and membership group. You can receive the tools you need to find the root cause of your symptoms and feel healthy again.