As you know, stress is one of the culprits that cause intestinal dysbiosis or SIBO. Modern Western lifestyle and work pressure can cause negative impact on gut microbiome. Certain dietary patterns, antibiotics and other underlying medical conditions can worsen the problem. If you want to reduce or eliminate the symptoms of SIBO, you should identify the triggering factors, particularly stress.
Stress management is really important to improve digestion. Some of the reliable ways to manage stress are meditation, yoga, mindfulness, exercise and deep breathing. These non-medical approaches can be helpful to build a calm mind, strong and metabolically-active digestive system.
These mind-body techniques can activate the parasympathetic nervous system and suppress stress hormones including cortisol and normalize serotonin levels. The latter is implicated in gut motility via gut-brain axis.
Improve your MMC for Healthy Gut
Impaired migrating motor complex (MMC) has been regarded as a common underlying cause of SIBO. In normal individuals, MMC acts as bowel cleansing waves that normally get activated every 90 minutes in the small intestine. MMC activation is important to prevent colonization of bad bacteria and accumulation of debris in the gut. But MMC activation requires fasting state.
Studies have shown that remarkably decreased (70%) level of MMC in SIBO patients. In these patients, MMC will get worse, if accompanied by stress and/or too much snacking. MMC activation can be improved by meal spacing with water or unsweetened herbal tea, which would be ideal for MMC activation which aid the intestine to flush out the excess bacteria. Mini-fast or meal spacing effectively can rest the digestive system, increase energy levels and stimulates healthy appetite to enjoy your eating.
You can improve MMC by your own by spacing your meal every 3-5 hours; avoid snaking often and with better stress management. By this way, you can promote optimal and regular MMC activation and prevent recurrence of SIBO symptoms.
Instead of opting medical treatment, you can easily control SIBO symptoms from returning by adopting several non-medical home remedies. Use of herbs and essential oils has been proved to be beneficial in management of SIBO. Some of herbs like ginger and green tea are being used in day-to-day life.
- Green Tea
Research evidences have shown that drinking green tea can increase the numbers of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli, decrease pH in the stools to aid growth of good bacteria, decrease the numbers of bad bacteria including enterobacteria, clostridia and bacterioides, and decrease levels of certain chemicals including cresol, ammonia, sulfide, skatol and indole, which facilitates intestinal fermentation and growth of bad bacteria.
The recommended level of chemicals present green tea is 300 mg catechins/day, which is roughly equivalent to 5-6 cups of green tea/day.
- Essential oils of Coriander seed, Peppermint, Tea tree and Lemon Balm
A recent study has shown that essential oils of tea tree, lemon balm, coriander seed and peppermint possesses potent inhibiting effects against E. coli, which is one of the causatives of SIBO. Antibacterial effects of these oils are comparatively significant than pine oil.
You don’t have to worry about the safety of these essential oils. In the listing of food additive status, the United Food and Drugs Administration (USFDA) has notified that essential oils of peppermint, coriander seeds and lemon balm are generally recognized (GRAS) as safe to ingest. [http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/GRAS/] [accessed 01/18/2016]
Surprisingly, in controlled laboratory conditions, the essential oils of coriander seed and peppermint have demonstrated significant antibacterial activity against E. coli DH5α, when compared to Rifaximin – a preferable choice of antibiotic to treat SIBO. Based on the available medical evidences, these three essential oils can be employed either singly or as a combined formulation to kill colonized bad bacteria in the small intestine, instead of inhibiting the growth.
These three essential oils contain various bioactive compounds including geraniol, pinene, camphor, cymene, linalool etc that are highly effective against bacteria that cause IBS and associated problems such as SIBO.
As reported in one case study, treatment with peppermint oil tablets (enteric-coated) for 20 days could attenuate SIBO symptoms with 32% reduction in methane elimination and hydrogen reduction in lactulose breath test. These results suggest improvement in SIBO/IBS symptoms such as altered bowel habits, pain, eructation and bloating.
Additional studies have suggested that peppermint oil capsules administration have significantly reduced bacterial colonies/numbers in the small intestine which indicates improvement in gastrointestinal transit time. However, no studies are available to show that peppermint oil tablets can completely reverse SIBO symptoms.
- Dark Cocoa
A clinical trial study on healthy humans has shown that people who consumed either low or high cocoa flavonol (500 mg of cocoa flavanol or 14 g cocoa powder/day) for 4 weeks resulted in significant increased in fecal lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. Notably, decreased level of clostridia is also reported in the study volunteers. The results are suggestive of restoration of altered gut microbiome.
- Pomegranate Husk
Research evidences have pointed the antibacterial properties of pomegranate husk against Campylobacter jejuni, Shigella species, E. coli, Vibrio species, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Proteus species, Yersinia enterocolitica and Listeria monocytogenes. Most of these organisms are believed to be the causative of SIBO and dysbiosis.
Ginger, a culinary herb in kitchen, is a natural prokinetic that can increase digestive motility. You can also avail ginger root supplement capsules from natural health stores. The recommended dose of ginger root capsules is 1100 mg, twice daily. A cup of ginger tea can slightly improve your sleep. Anecdotal evidences have pointed out that ginger significantly improved gut motility problems, reduce SIBO relapses while improve MMC.
Recent studies have confirmed that fresh garlic is way effective than dry garlic for SIBO management.
Garlic is a good antimicrobial herb; however, it is not useful if the small intestine is overpopulated with good bacteria such as Lactobacillus. Despite this limitation, garlic exerts potent antimicrobial activity against various gram-negative bacteria including methogenic bacteria which is linked with SIBO.
To achieve maximum benefits, it is best to crush or chop fresh or dried garlic cloves and add a teaspoon of honey for taste. Avoid consuming garlic supplements, particularly encapsulated garlic products which are generally ineffective.
In single doses, you can consume > 2.75 g of fresh garlic or > 8.5 g of dried garlic to treat SIBO.
Some of the other essential oils such as Carum carvi, Lavandula angustijolia, and Trachyspermum copticum have possess antimicrobial properties against Candida albicans, Bacteroides fragilis and Clostridium species) which are believed to be the causatives of SIBO. However, none of these essential oils are adverse to beneficial bacteria, which is noteworthy.