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Probiotics Could Be Triggering Your SIBO

Probiotics Could Be Triggering Your SIBO

Remember that SIBO is not caused by “bad” bacteria only. Even “good” bacteria can cause SIBO if they grow out of control in your gut.  Thus, taking probiotics could add fuel to the fire causing SIBO symptoms such as bloating, diarrhea, weight loss to get worse.

The Problem with Probiotics and SIBO

The problem with taking probiotics for SIBO, usually isn’t that you have too much of the bacteria strain in that particular probiotic.  The issue is that most probiotics contain prebiotics. Bacteria, like all living things, need to eat something.  To help the probiotic repopulate in your gut, many probiotic manufacturers add prebiotics – which is basically just food for the probiotics. The more probiotics you take the more bloating, abdominal pain, you experience. If you’ve got SIBO, the last thing you want is to feed the bacteria in your gut!  This would counter all of the work you’ve done by eating a gut-friendly diet.

One other problem we are seeing is that some probiotics can raise histamine levels. I encourage you to familiarize yourself with histamine and the symptoms of histamine intolerance.

In addition to prebiotics, some probiotics contain ingredients which trigger SIBO responses.

Consider this list of some of the most commonly available probiotics that you may have seen.

  1. Jarro Dophilus: Contains maltodextrin, tapioca starch, dairy and soy
  2. Florastor: Contains lactose
  3. Align: Contains lactose
  4. Culturelle: Contains inulin
  5. Jarrow Ideal Bowel Support: Contains potato starch and soy
  6. Pears YB: Contains pectin
  7. Probio Pure’s: Contains tapioca starch

Taking any of these probiotics while you have SIBO, could work against treatment.  They could possibly just fuel the overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestines and make it harder to restore balance.

How (the Right) Probiotics Help SIBO

Just because some probiotics might trigger SIBO, it doesn’t mean that you should dismiss all probiotics immediately. Probiotics can be indispensable in helping you correct dysbiosis (unbalanced gut flora) after treatment – particularly treatment with antibiotics or herbal antibiotics for SIBO



There are Four basic ways that probiotics could help fix dysbiosis and treat SIBO:

  1. Probiotics help modulate the gut’s immune system
  2. Probiotics produce anti-microbial compounds that help illuminate pathogens. These compounds are vital for keeping levels of “bad” bacteria under control and preventing and treating dysbiosis.
  3. Probiotics strengthen the gut mucosal barrier and prevent pathologic bacteria from clinging to the GI tract walls.
  4. Probiotics improve motility

Scientific Studies on Probiotics for SIBO

Note that 84% of IBS cases are actually SIBO, and there have been numerous studies about using probiotics for IBS.  However, as with the SIBO studies, these studies had very mixed results.  Again, don’t let this dissuade you from probiotics completely.

Here are a few studies which showed a positive result when using probiotics for SIBO:

  • A pilot study compared probiotics to antibiotic treatment for SIBO. The group taking probiotics had an 82% improvement compared to 52% for the antibiotic group.  Strains used were Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus plantarum, Streptococcus faecalis and Bifidobacterium brevis. Both groups also were on a diet that limited legumes, alcohol, leafy greens and dairy.
  • A study had patients take a 6-week course of Lactobacillus casei. 64% of the patients had a negative breath test afterwards. (Source)


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