Nutritional Therapy Oxford Dip ION, mBANT
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Digestive discomforts – and SIBO


If you ever scan health subjects in the media, you may have heard the acronym ‘SIBO’ being bandied about. Now that the wider public is becoming better informed about gut health, it’s emerged as a bit of a buzzword.

What is SIBO?

SIBO stands for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. This is when the upper part of the gut becomes overpopulated by intruding bacteria, often from the lower part or large intestine. SIBO disrupts both the breaking down and the absorption of food from the digestive tract – and this in turn appears to provoke inflammation in the body. SIBO may also cause digestive problems more generally, by affecting the shape and function of the gut, as well as putting pressure on liver function.


Symptoms of SIBO can include bloating and pain in the stomach, frequent gas, malabsorption of nutrients, weight loss, diarrhea and/or constipation, and even anemia. It may also lead to leaky gut, which can then provoke food sensitivities, acid reflux, GERD and nausea. These in turn can play a part in causing fatigue, anxiety and brain fogginess. Some studies have shown that 60% of all IBS cases are caused by SIBO.

All these sorts of symptoms frequently prove hard to diagnose in the GP’s office, but addressing SIBO nutritionally can often prove an enormous help.

Nutritional approaches to SIBO

I’m particularly interested in SIBO right now because I have just completed a certified course on the subject, with Dr Allison Siebecker in London. Dr Siebacker has devoted her career to helping people with chronic digestive problems. These lectures were very helpful at broadening my knowledge of what SIBO is, why it occurs, what the risk factors are, how to test for it, and how to address it therapeutically. What most struck me is that SIBO is linked to many seemingly unrelated health conditions – for example, rosacea and restless leg syndrome. And when SIBO is dealt with, the other conditions often improve.

Nutritional Therapy is a particularly appropriate approach for supporting SIBO sufferers because diet and lifestyle can be tailored individually to support gradual and long-term recovery. Having said that, however, finding the right food plan can bring almost instant symptom relief for some people. For others, dealing with perceived stress and busyness maybe more pertinent. In some cases, a course of pharmaceutical antibiotics may be required, but in many instances herbal preparations can be just as, if not more, effective.

If you suspect you have digestive issues such as IBS, or symptoms related to SIBO, I would love to talk with you further and see if we can help support recovery with nutritional therapy.

Here’s to a healthy and digestively happy August!

With best wishes,


Emma Maitland-Carew, Nutritional Therapist in Oxford and Bloxham, Oxfordshire


Chedid, V. et al. (2014) ‘Herbal therapy is equivalent to reifaximin for the treatment of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth’, Global Advances in Health and Medicine, 3 (3), pp. 16-24

Egeberg, A, et al (2017) ‘Roseacea and gastrointestinal disorders: a population-based cohort study’, The British Journal of Dermatology, 176 (1), pp. 100-106

Galland L (2014) ‘ The gut microbiome and the brain’ , Journal of Medicinal Foods, 17 (12), pp. 1261-72

Lin HC (2004) ‘Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth: a framework for understanding irritable bowel syndrome’, JAMA, 292 (7), pp. 852-8

Miazga, A. et al. (2015) ‘Current views on the etiopathogenesis, clinical manifestation, diagnostics, treatment and correlation with other nosological entities of SIBO’, Advances in Medical Sciences, 60 (1), pp. 118–124.

Weisberg, I. S. et al. (2009) ‘The Role of Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) in Hepatic Encephalopathy’, Journal of Hepatology. (Abstracts of the International Liver Congress TM 2009. 44th Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of the Liver), 50, pp. S94–S95.

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