Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tummy Troubles = Autoimmune Disease?

Well, not exactly "tummy," if by "tummy" you're thinking, "stomach." What I really mean is your small intestine, specifically the upper part of your small intestine, know as the duodenum. I've written about small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) before, but I think it's worth delving back into for a minute to give you options for dealing with it.

Before telling you how to manage SIBO, let's review why it should be eradicated in the first place. It basically goes like this: bacteria from your colon have overpopulated their home, so they move up the plumbing. If they get far enough up, they make it to the duodenum, where about 75% of the absorption of what you eat takes place. If you have increased gut permeability from too many lectins in your diet (which are found in high concentrations in all grains, as well as legumes), that bacteria can get into your bloodstream. The literature is starting to lean heavily on the idea that most auto-immune diseases start in the gut.

Common symptoms for SIBO are everything from reflux to diarrhea, and it has been implicated in Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and rheumatoid arthritis, and some are even connecting it to lupus. Go to and start searching. It will blow you away. I have one paper on my hard drive at home where 100% of the fibromyalgia patients and and 84% of the IBS patients tested had SIBO. When fibromyalgia patients walk through the door here, we go hard core anti-inflammatory, otherwise we're just chasing symptoms.

To overcome the SIBO, you have to do two things: starve it and kill it. This is a war for your health, after all, so you can't be nice to the bugs. The prescription for starving SIBO is fairly straight forward--get off the grains. The indigestible carbs in grains are what feeds the bacteria. This is one of the major ways that grain consumption is so inflammatory. Uncontrolled inflammation leads to a whole host of the diseases of the west. Want to know what you're genetically susceptible to getting? What's your family history? Heart disease? Cancer? There's your answer. For me it's heart disease (dad's side), and dementia (mom's side). Both of those diseases are caused, in part, by uncontrolled inflammation. I think I'll do my best to pass.

As far as killing SIBO, my recommendation is to try 600 mg a day of oil or oregano for six weeks. Oil of Oregano (OoO) should be in an emulsified form that will help it make it to the bad bugs. OoO is also a potent anti-inflammatory in it's own right, so it's something that I dance with on occasion. If I even have an inkling that there's some gastro intestinal upset in the works I throw some down the hatch. If I had any kind of auto immune disease I would treat with OoO just to see what happens. There are no contraindications that I'm aware of, so the worst case scenario is that nothing happens and you're out a few bucks, but the potential benefits are huge. So, why not?

There are drug therapies for SIBO, too, most notably an antibiotic called rifaximin, which targets the specific area of the gut where SIBO does the most damage. Either way you go, the rub is that it will come back, even after a good killin', if you don't change the habits that started the whole process in the first place. So join me in the grain free challenge. People who did just that in January reported losing weight (some were dropping a pound a day for a couple of weeks straight), and less joint pain (which is something I ask people about all day long, since that's why they're here in the first place).

If OoO interests you, let it be known that I sell some here, and the brand I sell was recommended to me by the guy who wrote Integrative Rheumatology, which is a textbook that I regularly review when I write this kind of stuff.


  1. Do you have SIBO yourself? Has the oregano oil worked for you? and can you now ever reintroduce grains back into your diet once the bacteria have been killed off?

  2. Thats a great question, Im struggling with SIBO myself have done for years now tried all different types of things..ive just ordered ooO so im gonna try that along side grape fruit seed extract which worked before but i let myself slip and eat a more "normal" diet sugar/carbs/bread. its so hard to eat a no carbs diet when your a working builder havent got time to make meals that i need to eat to keep sibo away which there was just a product that kept the bacteria at normal levels.

  3. I know this is an old post, but I'm having a hard time finding info on treating SIBO with OoO - when you say it should be "emulsified" what do you mean? Thanks!