Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)


What is SIBO?


Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO for short) is a condition that affects 60% of people with IBS. It involves the overgrowth/accumulation of bacteria in the small intestine, an area of the intestinal tract which under normal circumstances (unlike the large intestine) hosts hardly any bacteria at all.


SIBO is not only prevalent in patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). 67% of patients with Celiac disease, 81% of patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, up to 88% of patients with Crohn’s disease, 93% of patients with Fibromyalgia and the list goes on:

  • Diabetes mellitus – 8-44%
  • Immunodeficiency syndromes – 30-50%
  • Obesity – 70%
  • Parkinson’s disease – 54%
  • Rosacea – 46%
  • Ulcerative colitis – 81%
  • Interstitial Cystitis – 81%


If SIBO is so common, why is it rarely talked about?

It is only in the last decade that the importance of our intestinal bacteria and bacteria overgrowth has become fully recognized. The year in which the Human Microbiome Project was launched (2007), knowledge of the human microbiome expanded.  Prior to this ‘pro microbiome era,’ western society had an extended love affair with hygiene, cleanliness, and anti-bacterial products.  Our germ-aversion fuelled by a growing consumer market for anything anti-bacterial led us to believe all bacteria are bad.


Our Growing Knowledge of the Microbiome

With our growing knowledge of the human microbiome, we now appreciate that certain bacteria are not only beneficial to us, they are essential to our survival and ability to thrive as a human species. A whopping 90% of Serotonin, our happy hormone neurotransmitter, is produced by the bacteria in our gut?


However, it is not only the number of intestinal bacteria that impact our health so dramatically, it is also the diversity, the balance between beneficial and potentially harmful bacteria, and, very importantly, which part of the gut they are colonizing.


This fairly recent understanding has led scientists to recognize SIBO as one of the most common underlying root causes of intestinal dysbiosis, and of irritable bowel syndrome.


Unfortunately, highly sensitive and specific testing to confirm the diagnosis of SIBO has not yet become widely available.  As a result, SIBO has been one of the most common but also most underdiagnosed digestive problems.


What are the Signs & Symptoms of Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth?

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Gas
  • Floating / greasy stools
  • Vitamin B12 malabsorption
  • Weight instability


What to do if you suspect you have SIBO

If you think you have SIBO, talk to your health care provider expressing your intention to gather more information.  This small gesture is so beneficial in maintaining a trusting relationship. Who knows, you might encourage your physician to join you in learning more about this common condition!


Learn More About SIBO

Click here to read this article is a good starting point for health care providers who would like to learn more about SIBO. There are some basic principles to follow when treating SIBO.  However, it is crucial that the underlying root cause (why you developed SIBO in the first place) is properly identified and addressed in order to prevent a recurrence.  This is why it makes sense to seek help from a functional medicine-trained health care provider. 


If you suspect you might have SIBO, or struggle with undiagnosed digestive concerns, contact Linden & Arc Vitality Institute, Our collaborative care team can support you in finding the root cause and healing your gut! Email us at [email protected] to schedule an appointment.