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Bacterias for bacterial overgrowth?


December 20, 2021

What is SIBO?

Our gut consists of various types of bacteria and is incredibly complex. Many of them are difficult to find in your regular yogurt or kombucha. Since our large and small intestines are connected, those bacteria may sometimes move to our small intestines. When our gastric acid is not as acidic anymore, some harmful bacterias may not be ultimately killed and reside in our small intestine. When this happens, the bacterias harmony is disrupted and causes overgrowth, hence, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). 

Malabsorption and maldigestion are conditions when your stomach cannot absorb and digest nutrients properly. Malabsorption and maldigestion are usually caused by SIBO as well. Because when there are too many bacterias living in the small intestine, our body cannot absorb and digest food because it competes with the bacteria. Imagine, if there are too many people in a grocery store, it would be challenging to look for food you need or some taken by other patrons. This is similar to what’s happening for people with SIBO.

Who Is More Susceptible To SIBO

Do not worry. Not everyone is susceptible to getting SIBO. People with gastrointestinal issues such as celiac disease, IBS, chronic diarrhea are more vulnerable. People who are older and have metabolic syndrome are more likely to have SIBO. Other factors include:

  • Gastric bypass surgery
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Diverticulitis
  • Diabetic (neuropathy)
  • Too much alcohol (disrupt gastric pH)

What Are The Common Symptoms of SIBO?

Some of the common symptoms for people with SIBO are:

  • Bloating
  • Excessive gas
  • Abdominal pain (cramp, stomach ache during/after eating)
  • Burping
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation

The symptoms are pretty similar to IBS. Hence, it may be better to get tested. The least invasive test is a hydrogen breath test. This test is also used to detect whether you have lactose intolerance. Suppose your family has a medical history of IBS or celiac disease, and you have been experiencing such symptoms. In that case, it is best to get tested, especially if there is too much discomfort. 

Treatment for SIBO

The standard treatment for SIBO is prescribing an antibiotic (e.g., Metronidazole) for some time to eradicate the bacterial infection. However, some bacteria may resist certain antibiotics, and SIBO may redevelop again. Hence, a combination of tests such as breath tests or endoscopy tests could help in giving a more accurate diagnosis. 

Probiotics and SIBO

With bacterial overgrowth in your intestines, most health professionals prescribe antibiotics as treatments. However, recent studies have found that when combined with antibiotics, probiotics can treat SIBO more efficiently or relieve the symptoms of SIBO (1). Another paper found probiotics given to people with IBS who developed SIBO can reduce symptoms of diarrhea and constipation (2). 

However, one article states that probiotics (Lactobacillus casei) could predispose to bacterial overgrowth and methane-producing bacterias (3). If the probiotic consumed are not usually found in their diet, it may increase the risk of SIBO. Even so, yeast-based probiotics (saccharomyces boulardii) were found to help treat SIBO along with antibiotics and were reported to be more effective than only antibiotics (4). 


So what’s the verdict? Are probiotics good for people with SIBO? From a professional standpoint, it is not advisable to consume probiotics until entirely eradicating SIBO. This is to reduce complications of SIBO, antibiotics, and SIBO. However, you can discuss this topic with your physician and whether you can consume probiotics for your SIBO.

Recommended Reads:


  1. Rao, S., Rehman, A., Yu, S., & de Andino, N. (2018). Brain fogginess, gas and bloating: a link between SIBO, probiotics and metabolic acidosis. Clinical And Translational Gastroenterology, 9(6), e162. doi: 10.1038/s41424-018-0030-7

  1. Leventogiannis, K., Gkolfakis, P., Spithakis, G., Tsatali, A., Pistiki, A., & Sioulas, A. et al. (2018). Effect of a Preparation of Four Probiotics on Symptoms of Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Association with Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. Probiotics And Antimicrobial Proteins, 11(2), 627-634. doi: 10.1007/s12602-018-9401-3

  1. Achufusi, T., Sharma, A., Zamora, E., & Manocha, D. (2020). Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth: Comprehensive Review of Diagnosis, Prevention, and Treatment Methods. Cureus. doi: 10.7759/cureus.8860

  1. García-Collinot, G., Madrigal-Santillán, E., Martínez-Bencomo, M., Carranza-Muleiro, R., Jara, L., & Vera-Lastra, O. et al. (2019). Effectiveness of Saccharomyces boulardii and Metronidazole for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth in Systemic Sclerosis. Digestive Diseases And Sciences, 65(4), 1134-1143. doi: 10.1007/s10620-019-05830-0

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