What is Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth?

Dr. Michael Morsillo, B.Sc., N.D.

If you have been suffering with a chronic health condition, especially chronic digestive or autoimmune diseases, the answer to your problems may actually be found in your tummy!  To be more precise, your small intestine may be the culprit. 

Modern medicine does not give enough attention to the role our small intestine plays in our overall health.  The small intestine is the main area where we will digest our foods and absorb many nutrients.  It is also a very common area for our bodies to detoxify and for our liver to send waste material for elimination. 

This segment of our intestinal tract is also home to an enormous amount of bacteria.  Under normal conditions, our friendly neighbourhood bacteria will help our digestion, they will produce some of our nutrients, and they will even keep harmful bacteria at bay.  Under unhealthy conditions, our friendly bacteria can become overwhelmed by an overgrowth of harmful bacteria. 

When harmful bacteria win the battle and outnumber our friendly bacteria, this is known as “small intestine bacterial overgrowth” aka “SIBO”.  With SIBO, we not only lose out on the benefits that our friendly bacteria were providing us, but the harmful bacteria will negatively affect us in the following ways:

  • They consume our nutrients, leading to deficiencies. (especially B12 and iron).
  • They produce gas, causing abdominal bloating, discomfort, constipation, diarrhea, belching, and discomfort.
  • They decrease fat absorption, leading to nutrient deficiencies and fatty stools.
  • They can cause inflammation and damage our intestinal lining.
  • They can cause us to develop food allergies/sensitivities.

If you experience any of these symptoms below, this may indicate the presence of Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth or SIBO.

  • Abdominal bloating, gas, nausea, belching, flatulence.
  • Abdominal discomfort, pain, cramping.
  • Constipation, diarrhea, or both.
  • Heartburn, reflux, or GERD.
  • Food sensitivities/allergies.
  • Headaches, joint pains, fatigue.
  • Eczema, hives, psoriasis.
  • B12 or iron deficiency.

Conventional medicine does not have any effective means of assessing the health of our small intestine.  An endoscopy will only view where the small intestine begins and a colonoscopy will only view where the small intestine ends.  For the remaining length of the small intestine (approx. 17 feet), we use the Hydrogen Breath Test to check for SIBO.  This breath test is very easy to perform and allows us to assess the amounts of hydrogen & methane gases that can only be produced by bacteria in the small intestine.

At Newmarket Naturopathic clinic, when patients are found to have SIBO, we will typically see wonderful improvements with their symptoms after adopting strict dietary changes along with diligent use of herbal and homeopathic medicines.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above or if you have been suffering from a chronic health condition, you can contact our Newmarket Naturopathic clinic to discuss your testing and treatment options for Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth.

Dr. Michael Morsillo is a naturopathic doctor who is passionate about helping others achieve their optimal level of health.  Michael maintains a clinical practice in Newmarket, where he focuses on cancer, anxiety, depression, thyroid disorders, detoxification, and weight loss. 

For more information or to schedule an appointment:

Call 905-898-1844 (ext. 135) or email dr.morsillo@gmail.com