Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth.
I have it. Big time.
Typically, a family doctor and even a gastroenterologist wouldn’t even think to test for SIBO. They’re far more likely to tell you “You have IBS and there’s not much you can do for it.” That’s exactly what they’ve told me for the last twenty years.
It’s ridiculous, really.
My holistic doctors are doing several different things to balance and heal my body. For this post I’m gonna talk exclusively about SIBO. Dr. F said he is amazed at how many of his patients test for it and come back positive. Here is where I’ll say I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on my blog, so take this info as just that: info. I do want to say that if you suffer from on-and-off debilitating stomach agony, please find a good naturopathic or holistic doctor and have them get you tested for SIBO.
Here are the main symptoms, of which I have every single one
- Abdominal bloating and distension.
- Constipation or Diarrhea.
- Abdominal pain or discomfort.
- Acid reflux or heartburn.
- Excessive gas or belching.
There are a few different kinds of tests to diagnose SIBO. I took the most highly recommended one. It was an at-home test. Had to fast for twelve hours prior to starting, which was easy because I was sleeping for about nine of them. In the morning I breathed into a small bag with a vial attached to it. My breath collected in the vial. Then I mixed a small amount of sugar solution with a glass of water and drank it. Every twenty minutes for the next three hours I put a new vial on the bag and collected my breath. Every vial had to be labeled with a sticker that said what time the breath was collected.
I was getting very hungry around the beginning of third hour but other than that, it wasn’t too terrible. Thankfully I had Netflix and these pretty little liars to get me through it.
What a show! Mystery…intrigue…! But I digress.
When I was done filling vials I packed them into a box and got them ready to ship UPS Overnight. Scheduled a pickup and that was it.
About two weeks later when I met with Dr. F he showed me the results. Seeing this graph on paper was both not surprising and very pivotal. See that top line? It’s not supposed to be nearly that high. I could go into further detail but I’ll spare you. Basically, I have SIBO pretty darn bad.
So finally, FINALLY we have a very big answer to years and years of questions and constant frustration.
Even as I sit writing this blog post, I’m coughing and clearing my acidy throat and putting my hand on my pelvis. This is second nature at this point.
“You definitely do have it,” Dr. F said, “and it’s probably about ninety percent of your problem. Soon you’re going to feel like a million bucks.” Oh bless you, dear man. Bless you.
Yesterday I got the goods. The four natural supplements that are the doctor’s most successful SIBO-healing protocol. If it doesn’t help enough we’ll try a different protocol. Complicated health issues don’t have easy, overnight fixes. But they do have natural treatments and with time, consistency and patience – they have the potential for full healing.
Along with the supplements is, of course, the continued careful diet. It’s strict. I am now incorporating the Low FODMAP Diet (which I was on for a couple months before starting with these doctors) into my AIP Diet. The other night I suddenly FREAKED OUT when I realized how much MORE limited my diet would be. Y’all, I love food. Love to eat. Love to chew! I prayed hard. And yesterday when I voiced my freakout to Dr. F he asked sympathetically, “Right about now you feel like you can pretty much have a cup of dirt, right?” EXACTLY!
He then explained that I can add back to my diet some of the nightshades that are restricted on the AIP Diet. What are nightshades? Tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and eggplant (as well as tobacco) all belong to the same botanical family, commonly known as the nightshades. The Latin name for this family of plants is Solanaceae, because all of them produce an alkaloid compound called solanine. Solanine is part of these plants’ natural defense system, acting as a nerve poison on insects that try to eat the plants.
There are three groups of foods that people on the AIP Diet try to avoid: Dairy, grains (especially gluten), and nightshades. Dr. F told me that of the three groups, nightshades are the least likely to cause inflammation and digestive problems. Therefore, he said I can now have white potatoes (can I get a HALLELUJAH?!?!), tomatoes, and bell peppers. We also looked again at my individual food sensitivities and since I am completely non-sensitive to rice and corn, I can have rice whenever I want and corn two or three times a week! Weeeeeeee!! This helps SOOOO much!!
I CAN DO THIS!!!
I feel a renewed sense of hope and healing now that I’m headed into SIBO treatment full tilt! There may be some die-off (headaches, fatigue, tummy pain) as my body works hard to remove the bacteria overgrowth from my gut but it’s nothing I haven’t had before. Like, a lot. Also, for several weeks I’ve been taking a mild natural antibiotic supplement so that should cut down on any severe die-off. I love how these doctors do things gradually so as not to overwhelm the body!
OH! And Dr. I, who very graciously lets me text him when a significant diet question comes to mind, recently said I could try Allegro Coffee.
Did you read that?
It’s actual COFFEE, not nasty, gross, lame-o tea!!!
Please stand up and happy dance with me!!!
I ordered decaf organic French roast. He said to limit it so it won’t be an every morning thing, but once or twice a week you will find me sitting in my recliner under my blankie, coffee in hand, savoring every sip of the steamy, aromatic goodness. Coffee!!!
That’s all for now, my friends. This entry was pretty info-heavy. Kinda boring if you don’t give a flying fig about gut health. But this journey continues and it’s fascinating and exciting and hopeful and such a blessing. Lately I’ve been feeling really cool nudges from God. He’s been telling me, very gently but unmistakably, that He is using this journey. That He will use it to bring hope and healing to far more than just me. The other day I felt Him saying that He will even use the crazy recipes and difficult eating plan. I don’t know how, but I believe He will. He always brings beauty from ashes, strength from fear, gladness from mourning, peace from despair. These almost-lifelong health issues are my ashes, my fear, my mourning, my despair. They have been my biggest cross to bear for a very long time. So I walk on this healing path and I hold His gentle hand every step of the way. And I keep my eyes open wide so I don’t miss how He will use this in many lives beyond my own.