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Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is a condition characterized by an excessive growth of bacteria in the small intestine. This overgrowth can lead to various digestive symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and malabsorption of nutrients.

Signs and Symptoms of SIBO

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) refers to an increase in the number of bacteria in the small intestine. This can lead to a variety of symptoms that are often misdiagnosed as other conditions such as IBS and depression. SIBO is often caused by a dysfunction in the ileocecal valve, which separates the small intestine from the large intestine. This can allow bacteria to travel from the large intestine into the small intestine, where they can rapidly multiply and don’t belong. SIBO is also associated with a number of other conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and celiac disease.

SIBO can lead to a range of symptoms including:

  • Bloating and gas
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Feeling uncomfortably full after eating
  • Diarrhea
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Depression and/or anxiety
  • Sleep issues
  • Brain fog

The Conventional Approach To Treating SIBO

The conventional approach to treating Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) often begins with a frustrating challenge: the lack of recognition and accurate diagnosis. Many individuals suffering from SIBO find themselves initially labeled with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) due to the overlapping symptoms.

This misdiagnosis can lead to a delay in appropriate treatment and prolonged discomfort for patients. In the conventional medical field, IBS is often considered a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning it is assigned when other known conditions are ruled out. However, what may have been dismissed as IBS symptoms could actually be indicative of an underlying SIBO condition.

This misclassification occurs because the symptoms of SIBO, such as bloating, abdominal pain, altered bowel habits, and fatigue, closely resemble those of IBS. Unfortunately, the traditional approach to managing IBS typically focuses on symptom management rather than addressing the root cause. This may involve the use of medications to alleviate specific symptoms, such as antispasmodics for cramping or laxatives for constipation.

While these treatments may provide temporary relief, they do not target the bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine that characterizes SIBO. Moreover, the conventional approach tends to rely heavily on pharmaceutical interventions, often overlooking the potential benefits of holistic and integrative therapies. Lifestyle factors, such as diet, stress management, and gut motility, which play a crucial role in SIBO, are often overlooked or not given sufficient attention in conventional treatment plans.

Another challenge with the conventional approach is the limited testing options for SIBO. The gold standard diagnostic test, called the Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth Breath Test, is not widely available or routinely performed. Consequently, individuals experiencing SIBO symptoms may undergo numerous tests and consultations before receiving a definitive diagnosis.

Potential Causes of SIBO

There are several potential factors that contribute to the development of SIBO. These include persistent use of antibiotics, impaired gut motility, overeating, over consumption of alcohol, unchecked food intolerances and a diet high in carbohydrates. SIBO is also more common in people with certain medical conditions such as celiac disease, Crohn's disease, and diabetes. If you think you may have SIBO, it is important to find the right practitioner who knows how to test for it.

The Functional Medicine Approach To Treating SIBO

We dig deep to uncover the underlying triggers and root causes of SIBO. Factors such as impaired gut motility, structural abnormalities, immune dysfunction, and dietary imbalances are thoroughly evaluated. By identifying and addressing these underlying issues, functional medicine aims to correct the imbalances that contribute to SIBO, offering long-term relief.

Recognizing that each individual is unique, functional medicine emphasizes personalized treatment plans tailored to the specific needs of the patient. This approach takes into account the individual's medical history, symptoms, test results, and lifestyle factors. Treatment plans often include dietary modifications, targeted supplementation, probiotics, antimicrobial protocols, and lifestyle adjustments to restore gut health and rebalance the microbiome.

Gut health is intricately connected to other systems in the body. A holistic approach is employed to address not only the gut but also other areas that may be contributing to SIBO, such as stress management, hormonal imbalances, and immune system dysfunction. By treating the whole person, functional medicine promotes comprehensive healing and optimal well-being.

We prioritize patient-centered care, emphasizing collaboration, education, and empowerment. Patients are actively involved in their treatment plans, with practitioners guiding and supporting them throughout their healing journey. This partnership fosters a sense of ownership and motivation, leading to more sustainable and successful outcomes.


Take The First Step Today On Your Journey Back To Health

Do you have questions about starting your path back to health? Our patient coordinator is standing by, happy to answer any questions you have to determine if our approach is right for you.


About The Real Gut Doctor

Known for his successful approach towards chronic digestive and wellness issues, Dr. Jeffrey Mark, M.D. and his team at The Real Gut Doctor combine an integrative, functional medicine approach informed by advanced lab testing.

Our unique approach to diagnosing and resolving chronic health issues recognizes that lasting health depends on resolving the underlying root causes of your symptoms. Click here to learn more »

Your Next Steps

After you have reviewed the information on our website and in our downloadable guides, we’d love to hear from you – to answer more specific questions about our approach and track record. Simply apply for a free discovery call with our patient coordinator at (925) 736-9828 or via our online appointment scheduler.

Areas Served

The Real Gut Doctor is based in San Ramon and Turlock, CA, and serves patients internationally as well as throughout the Bay Area and California. These areas include but are not limited to Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton, Los Altos, Woodside, Portola Valley, Los Gatos, Hillsborough, Burlingame, Carmel Valley, San Francisco, Pacific Heights, Presidio, Marina, Danville, Blackhawk, Diablo, Pleasanton, Alamo, Walnut Creek, Lafayette, Orinda, Piedmont, Berkeley, Marin County, Santa Clara County, Napa Valley, Sonoma, Oakdale, Sacramento County, Lake Tahoe/Incline, etc.

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