Alternative and natural therapies for SIBO and GP

I've learned so much from the people on this forum, and from many other sites and blogs, and wanted to organize and share what I've found, in the hope that I'll be able to offer some of the help I've gotten. I've been into alternative treatments my whole, now rather long, life, since my mother was into them, too. I was diagnosed with small intestinal bacteria overgrowth and mild gastroparesis in December. Prior to that I was operating on the idea that I had candida, and did much better on a candida diet. The gastro I saw in December doesn't believe in candida, and said the reason I felt better was that I wasn't feeding the bacteria in my small intestine. He didn't convince me not to believe in candida, but he did convince me to go along with the SIBO protocol: 2 weeks of riflaxamin and 10 days of neomycin (since my SIBO is C, not D.)

Before I did that, I cut way back on carbohydrates for a month, even coming up with a stuffing recipe for Christmas dinner that only had veggies in it. I wanted to avoid a heavy detox reaction, which I did. I did the protocol, which I'm certain helped eliminate bacteria, but since I'm so sensitive to all medications and, really, anything I put in my mouth, it's taken me a couple of months to get my system back in order, and I'm still working on it.

I'm still taking a very small dose of erythromycin, since it stimulates motility, which is why a full dose gives so many people diarrhea. I take it at night for the SIBO, so the small intestine will fully empty during the night. And I take it before meals if I feel my GP needs help, which is usually just at dinner. I'm hoping to be able to stop the erythromycin as other things take over.

That clue -- that things that give you diarrhea stimulate motility -- led me to what may be the most important thing for me, which is raising my serotonin levels. I was reading an excellent book on dealing with anxiety and depression, The Chemistry of Joy, and the author recommends raising serotonin levels with 5Htp, and mentioned that it can cause diarrhea. That led me all over google, discovering that we have more serotonin in our gut than our brains, and that, among other things, it regulates motility. So now I get to heal two birds with one stone! It's a great book for helping to keep overall emotional balance, as is his second book, The Chemistry of Calm.

I now use ginger before meals, because it's a gastric stimulator. I've bought bitters, but prefer munching on a mouthful of arugola so far. The idea is that the bitter taste stimulates the stomach to produce acid, which is often low in people with motility disorders. I take enzymes, though not with every meal, so that the pancreas doesn't get the idea it doesn't have any work to do. I take a small amount of HCL when I feel like I need to, again especially at night, or with harder to digest proteins, like lamb. That helps digestion in all sorts of ways, including making the environment too acid for the bacteria in SIBO. I've just started dirt-based probiotics, called Prescript Assist, since they are thought to be better for SIBO and for constipation than lactobacillus based ones.

I've been using pharmaceutical grade glutamine and DGL to soothe and heal the gut lining. I've started taking serrapeptase for other reasons, but one of its benefits for SIBO is helping to break down the biofilms the bacteria make to protect themselves while they nestle into the gut wall.

I've also started to take Triphala, which is healing and toning for the entire gut, and is also a motility stimulator. I've long needed a lot of magnesium in my life, so use Calm at night, which helps with anxiety, sleep and constipation, so it's a real winner.

I'm using the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, which eliminates foods that get digested too far down in the small intestine, and thus ferment and feed the bacteria. Since I'm used to the low carb, no sugar candida diet, and perfectly happy to eat good protein and veggies, this is not as challenging for me as it might be for others. Still, I've been surprised to find that I don't miss grains at all. All cravings for them have disappeared (it's the bacteria doing the craving, after all!) and I don't miss them. I've lost weight, which I'm happy about, since the weight from grains is just bloat and inflammation. There are several great websites to help with this diet.

I've done acupuncture for many years, and especially recommend the NAET protocol, which finds and helps to eliminate food sensitivities and other allergies that affect our guts. I can't recommend that strongly enough. If you're into alternative healing, it won't be news. If you're not, it may see like voodoo at first, but bear with it! If you are in southern NY, let me know and I'll recommend someone. Otherwise you can find someone close here: http://www.naet.com/Patients/locator.aspx

I've also gone to chiropractors all my adult life, and was surprised to find, when I went the last time and specifically asked for adjustments I'd found recommended on the web, that they made a huge difference in my comfort. Mine were cranial and upper cervical and thoracic region of the spine.

I know there are people here who are so worn out they can hardly walk, but I do find that exercise is key to having a functioning bowel. For me it's the key to a functioning life! I walk and do yoga. Stress is a very crucial component of my digestive problems, and both walking and yoga are great stress reducers. So is slow breathing, deep into the lower gut. Still working on that!

And always working on drinking enough water, slowly enough throughout the day to not overwhelm my stomach, and not with meals. These days I add a combination of ginger and chamomile teas to my water, since both are so soothing for digestion.

I'm still working on all of it. I have all sorts of jars and containers around, to see what works and what I can let go of, and a list of websites that grows every day. I am definitely not suffering the way some people here are suffering, and my heart is wrung by so many of the stories I read here. I would love to think that I can help the way I've been helped.

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Corrie - I think the first part of your message was for me.

I do think Dr. Mullin listened more than anyone else I've seen. He was very empathetic & complimentary towards the effort I put into figuring out how to get healthy. I'm sure you have all experienced doctors who think that (even if they don't say it out loud) at least half of it is in your head & that you are obsessed with being "sick", & should just "eat whatever you feel like". They cannot believe how desperate & debilitating it can be. Dr. Mullins was the opposite of that. He appreciated my thoroughness instead of thinking it was overkill when I brought in a timeline of everything that has happened - month by month with symptoms, testings, results, etc., as well as a list of questions, and specific treatment protocols and outcomes from research studies that I wanted his opinion on. He commended me on my dedication to the Carbohydrate Specific Diet. He was somewhat familiar with it (a first for me, as most doctors have no clue) & we discussed why I selected SCD over others (GAPS, FODMAP). My take was that he thinks it's wonderful, but very hard to follow & somewhat impractical for a young person in a fast paced metropolitan area (socially, physically, financially, emotionally). That is why he suggested I see a dietician - to have their assistance in slowly adding foods back in once I've healed so that it's easier on me. Unfortunately the 2 dieticians he suggested do not take insurance & neither has ever responded to my calls or emails. I've decided I can figure it out on my own & am not sure it is really in my best interest to ever add grains, corn, potatoes, or sugar back in to my diet. He did talk to me on a level I appreciated, even recommending topics to research & some natural supplements. Overall seeing him was positive experience, I was just expecting him to the GI & the dietician in one & he wasn't really going to wear that dietician hat with me. The negative feelings I have are because expected that follow up appointments wouldn't be next to impossible to get & that his office would at least acknowledge that I exist after having established with him.

I wonder about by GP diagnosis too. I also had the shorter GES. My results showed that I was definitely delayed, but only "mildly". Some doctors I have seen say that it is too mild to have caused such severe symptoms (clearly they don't understand GP). Other doctors I have seen say that if I had the longer GES it would show even more delay because I was getting slower as time went on. I don't really care to test again, especially since it's to decide to what degree I have GP & there is no conventional treatment that I'm willing to try (meds didn't help me much & I'm not interested in a gastic pacer). In addition to that, I had testing done showing that my lower GI moves too rapidly & in a disorganized manner so speeding up my whole system isn't what I need!

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Hi Cielorina,

Is it the sugars in the gum that cause the gas? All those things that end in "ose", even in what's labeled sugarless, can feed SIBO, I've read. Xylitol likely does, too, but the benefit so far outweighs the risks.

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L-bet, hi there!

The consensus seems to be two issues: the artificial sweeteners and the actual act of chewing and swallowing without any foodstuffs going down in the process --in other words the swallowing of air.

Nonetheless, I'm glad you found it works for you!

Warmly,
Cielorina

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Yea, gum is one of the things I really miss. I stopped chewing it long ago because of the air swallowing issue. Now that I avoid all additives, preservatives, & sweeteners (besides honey) I know it's probably never coming back into my life. But, if it works for you enjoy a piece for me!

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Hi;

The best thing I have found for gas, gas pocket, bloating is ACV, it sure has helped me. I do not look like I am 4 months PG anymore.

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is ACV apple cider vinegar? If so, how much?

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ACV is apple cider vinegar. It needs to be unfiltered. This means it contains "the mother". It will have particles settled in the bottom. Just shake it up before you use it. I do about one tablespoon in a small glass of water. I don't measure, just a good splash will do the trick.

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HI Corrie;

ACV-what I use is Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar w/Mother. There is home test you can do to see if low stomach acid is your problem. Just goggle HOME TEST FOR LOW STOMACH ACID and there is I believe 4 test you can do the easiest is one tablespoon of lemon juice in 6 oz of water when you stomach is acting up and if it help that means you have low stomach acid. I take 1/2 tsp of ACV in a cup of home made tea before each meal to help digest the food. Each person is different so you kind of have to play with the amount you may need, some people take tablespoons, alway ditute the ACV. This helped me with gas, gas pocket & diarrhea (SIBO) I also did other things that helped with the SIBO. I no longer look like I am 4 months PG & lost the 12 pds I had put on from bloating.

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I just got back on Protonix about a week ago because the pain in my stomach was burning...I still have pain in my left upper abdomen and ribs in back---do you think that could be gas pockets? I have heard the diarrhea and pain could be from too little acid so I should try the lemon test, but would it work if I am on a PPI? Thanks for responding...

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HI corrie;

I have no idea that you would probably want to check with your Dr on. I read vinegar is acid but when it goes into the stomach is alkaline. So if you are on a pump to reduce acid I do not know. Vinegar does help with heartburn, maybe it would be a way of getting off the PPI but I really do not know anything about PPI. I am all for correcting problems as natural as I can. Sorry, Fern

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The ACV remedy sounds so counterintuitive to me: acid helping acid? That's why I've been reluctant to try it. Would someone please clarify? Thanks!

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This is one of the ways it was explained to me: the acid in ACV neutralizes the acid in your stomach. The PPI meds block acid production in your stomach, and your stomach (frequently) reacts by creating even MORE acid. I'm no scientist, of course. However, if you look up ACV you'll find tons of evidence, albeit much of it anecdotal, on how much it helps people with digestive, and other, issues. I'm still on the fence about "evidence-based" studies, because studies can be completely slanted, depending on which organization is funding them. At least ACV is a natural product and inexpensive. Its worth a shot to try it, and then decide. I have read a great deal about ACV, and have not read much in the way of adverse effects, aside from dental sensitivity. You can solve that problem by drinking it with a straw and rinsing your mouth really well after ingesting it.

There has also been more news about natural maple sugar and aluminum-free baking soda as a health remedy. For what it is worth.

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HI Cielorina;

I read that vinegar is acid but when it is digested it is alkaline. All I know for sure is that for me it works on diarrhea, gas, gas pocket & bloating. I have been using it for around a yr. The SIBO is a lot better then it was a yr ago but I have also changed my diet some, cut back on sugar and gluten. ACV is so simple to try as I knew right away it helped and the next day the gas was so much better, if you use it and it makes it worse stop using it. If it helps then figure out how much ACV you need to take it could not be more simple then that.

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My gastro recommended ACV. I assumed it was to help with motility, but I found it made me feel worse. I went to Dr. Google and found a study (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18093343) that said it delayed motility, at least in diabetes patients. That's when I found the study saying ginger speeds motility (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18403946). Reading this, perhaps he recommended it to me for acid. In any event, the motility issue won out.

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Ginger helps me tremendously..I drink ginger tea and add 10 drops of tincture to it---it calms the nausea and I feel it helps digestion after a meal...I also love the warming effect it has on the digestive tract...

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Hi Corrie;

Do you make your own ginger tea? Maybe I should add some ginger to my home made tea & vinegar and see if that helps me even more.

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BijouxBloat & FernM~

Those were such helpful responses re: ACV --especially the distinction between reducing acid and neutralizing it. Thanks so much.

Warmly,
Cielorina

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I use a medicinal ginger tea and add 10 drops of ginger tincture to it---It is delicious...

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L-bet,
Just wanted to say God bless you for putting up this post,
Since I read your post I have started Serrapeptase and that alone has improved my digestion so much,
Looking to add Glutamine next.
Take care
Peyton

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l-bet,

I have started the chiropractic route in desperation. He seems to feel he can help with the digestive problems I have which are so very similar to yours and others on this string.

I have done all the antibiotics, watch my carbs and sugar as best I can, and am now doing the low does erthyromycin (25mg). I got mine at a compound pharmacy for $4 each. By the way, how much are you paying or did you say you stopped, so in that event, how much WERE you paying?

I shall keep you all informed on what the chiropractor can do....kenbkb

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