The herb that could have saved me a year of SIBO treatment
OK, so the hot topic at the moment claimed to be directly linked to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and in some cases Leaky Gut Syndrome is something called Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). And it is popular for good reason with some studies revealing that as high as 70% of IBS cases are caused by SIBO.
At this stage if you haven’t heard of SIBO, I suggest you go check out some of the following before continuing...
…now onto my slow and gruelling journey with SIBO!
It started for me in mid 2015 when I was seeing a Naturopath and I was combining a low fodmap diet with the herb berberine. At this time I was trying not to snack throughout the day, rather having 3 big meals a day - usually a combination of veggies, protein and jasmine rice.
By the end of 2015 I decided I wasn’t seeing enough progress and so my integrative doctor prescribed me a course of antibiotics called Rifaximin. I don’t tolerate antibiotics very well and so I only took 2 tablets a day, instead of the recommended 3. I combined this with Nystatin, an anti fungal medication, to prevent any overgrowth of yeast that may result from taking antibiotics.
At the start of 2016 I rolled off the antibiotics and saw some improvements. I honestly thought I was in the clear and my tummy issues would be downhill from there. I had more energy, no nausea, no stitches, no gas, minimal digestive discomfort, no food reactions, I was managing my constipation well and I was coping with introducing small amounts of fodmaps.
However, unfortunately this didn't last too long. Fast forward 3-4 months and I could feel things starting to shift ... but when you are dealing with multiple health issues, it’s SO incredibly hard to know what issues are causing what symptoms!
Another 3-4 months went by and although I had overcome the most stressful part of starting a new job and had been trying to maintain some social life on weekends… more and more little symptoms started to creep back:
Drop in energy levels
Dizzy and light headed spells
Cold and sluggish metabolism
Stitches when I tried to exercise
Nausea around food (one of my old SIBO symptoms!)
Restless legs and dead feet were REAL issues trying to sit at a desk job all day
Throat was constantly aggravating me
Felt rundown and sick all the time
You get the picture ...it wasn’t good! At this point, I came across a podcast by Chris Kresser that talked about Methane vs Hydrogen based SIBO. The podcast mentioned that using Rifaximin alone to treat methane dominant SIBO only had a 40-45% efficacy ...alarm bells starting ringing for me!
The Missing Link: Allicin
Further investigation led me to discovering the need to introduce Allicin (an extract from garlic) in combination with antimicrobials or antibiotics when treating Methane based SIBO. I use Allimax drops or capsules. If you are thinking, but isn’t garlic high fodmap? …the allicin extract is safe on a low fodmap diet and I didn’t have any troubles with it - however, as with everything monitor it closely for any reactions.