Many in the SIBO community believe that SIBO is a relapse condition. You can clear it out temporarily, but you can never get rid of it entirely. With this belief, trying to heal from SIBO seems like a hopeless cause and cyclical antibiotic/antimicrobial treatment seems inevitable.
This mentality is so flawed!
It leads people to give up and just accept that they will have SIBO forever instead of digging deeper and looking for the potential root causes that could be preventing them from truly kicking SIBO.
This myth stems from the belief that SIBO is primarily a bacterial problem, but the bacteria are just the symptom of a larger problem. If your sole solution to treat your SIBO is to clear the bacteria with herbal/pharmaceutical antibiotics without addressing the root, then you will relapse.
But, if you are treating your SIBO with a multifaceted approach that addresses underlying problems while clearing the overgrowth, then you should be able to beat your SIBO.
SIBO stems from 4 big problems: MMC deficiency, digestive impairment, hormonal imbalances and adhesions from past GI surgeries. These breakdowns need to be addressed to heal.
Finding and addressing root causes is not always easy. It requires a greater emotional, physical and time commitment than taking cyclical antibiotics to keep your symptoms at bay. But, your investments in root cause approaches will yield a much higher long-term reward than if you become reliant on antibiotics, which typically have a diminishing rate of return for SIBO patients.
Excessive treatment with herbal or pharmaceutical antibiotics can also exacerbate SIBO recovery by killing off too much bacteria in the large intestines. The small intestine relies heavily on a healthy population of large intestine bacteria to function properly.
By bombing both the large and small intestine continuously with antibiotics, you could be making it much harder to fully recover the function of your small bowel. You end up solving one problem and creating another.
Working with a SIBO knowledgeable practitioner may be a necessary step to help dig through the complexities of your individual SIBO case. Every SIBO patient has different root causes, genetics, health statuses and nutrition needs. These individual differences need to be weighed when trying to figure out what treatment paths are best for you.
If your doctor or practitioner is not root focused and/or tells you something along the lines of “SIBO is just a relapse condition”, you should find a new practitioner. Conventional practitioners are often guilty of this mainly because they have been trained to treat symptoms and not root causes. They don’t have the time or knowledge to help address the root causes of SIBO.
With the tools available to the conventional medicine folks (antibiotics), SIBO really is a relapse disease. But from a functional medicine and root cause perspective, SIBO can be cleared for good with the right protocol for each individual case.
While there are rare cases of SIBO that may never fully clear, these cases are the exception and NOT the rule. SIBO is not inherently a relapse condition. But, if you find that you are constantly relapsing, you should view that as a sign that you need to diversify your treatment strategy to address root causes.
If you treat the overgrowth and root cause, you can beat SIBO for good!