SIBO is not Candida

February 25, 2010

I am seriously always butting in where I am not invited. At least I have learned to give disclaimers, and I don’t shove Atkins down everyone’s throats anymore (although its pretty obvious from your symptoms if you are most people!) and now I’m also not such a candida-denialist. (Thanks to my group and thanks to having been on Nystatin and Diflucan for more than a month now RX’ed by holistic doctor.)

In summary, a woman from California (I mention this only because the entire board is for residents of the Central Coast, not girls in Queens!) asks how to get rid of SIBO “naturally.” Of course the first answer is from someone telling her that she has an “idea” that her SIBO is not actually SIBO but really it is Candida.

It’s really hard for me to sit by and watch people deny that SIBO exists. Sometimes, like in this case,  they are well-meaning people, with a background (either as a patient or a practitioner) in natural medicine.  But often they are just selling something, like Dr. Jeff with his McCombs Plan.

Anyway, I jumped in and here is my response:

The only natural treatment for SIBO with any research to back up claims is enteric coated peppermint oil

I moderate a support group for SIBO with 80 members and therefore speak based on the experience of myself and these folks – I am NOT a medical professional. With that said, I have found that you must take peppermint oil for a long time, (6 months or more) alongside other treatments (antibiotic/probiotic) and you must rotate it with other natural anti-microbials (garlic oil, etc.) if you want it to work.

Candida is very real and can co-exist with SIBO. However, the two are not the same. Just because most people have never heard of SIBO or don’t know a lot about it; they dismiss it and call it candida. Yes the diets are similar but they are not the same thing. SIBO is colonic bacteria inhabiting the small intestine. It is not a yeast, friendly or pathogenic. Even the Environmental Illness Resource differentiates the two.

With a SIBO you have to avoid fructose, and fiber. You need something with anti-microbial properties in order to kill the bacteria that exists in the wrong location. Probiotics can assist in ameliorating symptoms, but if the housekeeping wave isn’t working correctly to move things out of the small intestine and into the large, you might be compounding the problem in the long run by loading up on more bacteria.

I have been researching SIBO for years now and I have not run across a natural treatment. Yet it is an important part of the entire treatment regime because Holistic or natural medicine can work to correct imbalances in the body that create an environment that is SIBO-friendly. For example, SIBO can be caused by an underactive thyroid. A holistic MD who treats thyroid based on symptoms and body temperature may detect low thyroid in an individual who would be told by a conventional endocrynologist that they are “normal.” He or she can then treat the patient’s thyroid, adrenal, testicular and ovarian hormones and bring the patient to hormonal equillibrium, helping to create an environment less friendly to developing SIBO. However, if you take a look at the study linked above, you will see that even after treating for hypothyroidism, SIBO patients still needed antibiotics to kill the bacteria.

Other natural things you can do: Eat whole foods, (you are probably already doing this!) Avoid things that you know bother you, whether they are “healthy” or not. It is also very important to take HcL with meals because stomach acid kills off most infections that try to get into the gut, contributing to most bacteria being in the later part of the intestines (colon or large intestine) where they belong.



  1. In the last paragraph you say, “it is also very important to take HcL with meals”. What is HcL?

  2. I wondered the same thing: What is a HcL? Great entry too btw.

  3. I’m so glad you guys both asked this! I meant to link the EIR page on Betaine HCL, not the Teitelbaum page on SIBO there – link is fixed now.

    HCL is great and has helped a lot of the folks in the Yahoo group. Obviously not a cure but can make eating less unpleasant if you do indeed have low stomach acid, or achlorhydria or hypochlorhydria: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Achlorhydria.

  4. A good book to learn more about Betaine HCL is Jonathan Wright’s Why Stomach Acid Is Good For You.

    Unfortunately, it did not help me. But I know many who have been helped by it.

  5. Moises, great recommendation! I will look into it.

    I didn’t realize that HCL was just one more thing that didn’t help you…thank you for sharing.

  6. Nice site with helpful information.
    ps: I have some helpful articles on my site as well here: Get Rid Of Candida

  7. Great article Angela, and keep up the SIBO awareness campaign. Candida still gets way too much attention on the web. Cheers R.

    PS: FWIW crushed garlic was the only natural remedy that would dent my SIBO – in fact it worked even better than the antibiotics.

  8. Has anybody tried fasting for controlling sibo? It seems like it would help. Or another thing you might try is not eating anything but coconut milk or coconut oil for a few days or longer. That really seems to help me.
    Its tough to get help for this difficult to treat problem. My doctor put me on a super low dose of xifaxan and when it only helped a bit she refused to increase the dose even though I presented her with material from a government website that said my dose was far to low.

    • This is my experience, I suffered for eight month from low grade fever, chills, abdomen pressure, headache sometimes migraine and pressure in my abdomen, The symptoms would come and go went to the ER dr put me in CIPRO which I stopped because it has flouride in it. Second trip to ER second dr tested me : Ultrasound, CAT , OBGYN check , cat scan, blood work two days later had Colonscopy and endoscopy H pylori check, ALL NEGATIVE. The funny GI doctor told me I had “anxiety” I failed to mention to the funny dr that I used to do psychological assessments for a living, and that he can’t diagnosis psychogical issues he lacks the training . My primary care doctor third doctor she put me plant based hormones. there was no direct correlation between my symptoms and her conclusion which is prescribing hormones! Fourth Dr a very calm, super cool ND had 7 tests done and by the by the second visit diagnosed me with SIBO based on the test results form breath test! By the seventh month I noticed fasting on organic fresh lemon-orange ginger juice with 6 garlic oil tablets really took the edge off I could actually leave the house without a fever, chills, dizziness, and I could breath and not get dizzy. i also think skipping dinner helped tons and I cut my intake of food by fifty percent , and increased my natural juicing process and just drinking h20.

      • Hi Kat, how far into your treatment did your fever subside?

      • At the end of the seven months , the fever had gone away, The fever was one aspect the ND could not figure out … why I was suffering a transient fever, i also failed to mention that I ws taking enteric coated peppermint oil. Also I had fructose malabsorption test which was negative, The juice I recommend of course is lemons or limes, Apparently, money crazed phamaceutical companies want to create a synthetic lemon drug. Lemons are 10.000 times stronger than chemotherapy

    • My husband has both methane / hydrogen SIBO he did the antibiotic Rifaxamin which did nothing. This antibiotic only cures 35% of the cases. Then the next step which cures like 85% of SIBO sufferer was the Elemental diet which is a predigested powder that feeds you, but does not feed the bad bacteria. All meals are replaced by the Elemental powder drink so to me this is sort of like fasting. I believe you doc has to order it . My husband had no issues with replacing his meals with Elemental so that might be helpful to other

  9. I forgot to mention the cool ND allowed me to decide if I wanted the 800.00 rx or natual process I have insurance but I want I always go the natural route to see if it works for me . If it does not work by six week mark I will take the rx no doubt.

  10. I’ve been suffering from upper intestinal gas build-up which results in frequent burping – even on an empty stomach in the middle of the night I have to relieve the gas pressure with silent burps. No ther symptoms – is this SIBO related to anyone to anyone’s knowledge?

    • That sounds like the achlorhydria issue… Need for betaine HCL. And it’s not expensive!

    • Those and other symptoms are mine, and I have been diagnosed w/SIBO, after over a year of tests. SCD diet didn’t work for me, but pepperint oil, and mega doses of strong probiotics have helped somewhat.

  11. My N.D. had me do a semi-elemental diet to kill the SIBO. This consisted of a 2 scoops whey protein powder with vitamins and minerals, 3 T honey, and 3 T coconut or olive oil all mixed together with water 3X/ day for 2 weeks. I can’t remember the last time my stomach was so flat! No bloating at all. After that to prevent a recurrence I had to do the GAPS diet (Gut and Psychology Syndrome diet). I was fine until I started cheating a lot on the GAPS diet, and now the bloating is back.

  12. I am glad I read this. When I was researching my digestive symptoms online I came across both yeast overgrowth and SIBO. I had experienced signs of both and with yeast I think was a side effect of antibiotics. But…. I just recently was diagnosed with SIBO. So now I have to be put on an anitbiotic … so confusing but I thought maybe they went hand in hand since they both had to do with bacteria etc. I am not eating sugar, white flour and now wheat. Because I didnt know which I had.

  13. Anecdotally I find Betaine HCL to be VERY effective for digestion. I can feel and see the difference. I’ve tried just betaine HCL supplementation, as well as the NOWfoods Super Enzymes that Robb Wolf recommends. I prefer the Super Enzymes. I find it hard to believe that many big names in the fitness business are wrong about this. *

    Kindly visit our very own web site too

  14. Thanks for all the info , I’ve pain in my abdomen during the day when J’m eating , in a morning or late at night when I’ve not eaten for a while it eases , Ive wind and a long time acid is a problem if I side down in bed or go to long with out eating . I did have the abdomen problem once before , I’d had 2 strokes two years ago , my bowel had been left not moving while in , by the time they realised , 3 weeks ago had gone by , in forcing it to move I got in terrible pain ,getting worse until once home , anti-biotics given for something else at last gave me relief from it ( Metronidazole) The acid went back to mormal and I think the rest of the pain was due to the strokes . A few weeks ago as the acid was still a problem , they wanted to check there had been no change , they had a difficult time getting it down my throat and into my chest , really hurting me , since then , aprox one and a half weeks , the abdomen pain , wind , dizziness and nausea is back

  15. I was on NPO (nothing by mouth ) for 4 days with iV fluids for something else. I rally helped my SIBO. So basically a complete fast.
    The only other thing that has worked is xifaxin. After 10 of this I couldn’t believe it. I’d had the SIBO problem for a decade. I felt like I was in my 20’s again. natural is great for many things but if your so washed out by SIBO that your life is hell and its hard to do more than get out of bed in the morning take the xifaxin if you can worth every penny.

    • Hi Dottie, your comment abour fasting and xifaxin have given me hope. Going to start the fast today and waiting for my script to come in. How are your symptoms now? God bless.

  16. I am posting this in the hope it helps somebody. For the past 18 months following two operations back to back, I’ve had methane/constipation prone sibo symptoms that have given me lots of pain and discomfort. The second gastro doc I’ve seen had me taking xifaxan/neomycin which gave me a few weeks respite from my sibo symptoms, but each time the sibo returned. The last time my gastro doc wrote me a Rx for xifaxan/neomycin the out of pocket was going to be around $500 so I started searching for days on the net investigating every “natural” cure. I came across a website chock full of info on sibo where the fellow who wrote the blog had sibo and cured himself of sibo by eating raw organic garlic. (http://syontix.com/sibo-series/) Yes, he owns a probiotic company, but the emphasis of his writings about sibo aren’t about pushing his products.. instead he seems to genuinely want to help others. Long story short, I read what he said about eating raw organic garlic three times a day. I’ve been sibo symtom free for the past three weeks. I have started to gain weight back and have most of my previous strength back as well. I hope this helps somebody out there who is suffering from sibo..

    • Wow please tell more about what you specifically did to overcome it. I would really appreciate it thanks

      • I gave you the website, the info is all there…however, In short, I ate several raw organic garlic cloves pressed into about a half a glass of water, and let the water set for at least 15 minutes to release the enzymes in the garlic. I did this three times a day after meals and it made me nauseous each time I drank it for six days in a row. After around day three or four my digestive system started going back to its normal state (main signs were gas going out the caboose instead of the lungs) and I’ve been relatively sibo free since then. I say relatively, because if I eat a lot of sugar or go crazy with the carbs it will return and I did have to follow up with a second treatment. But if I stay away from sugar (an occasional ice cream cone is fine) for the most part and don’t go crazy eating stuff like mac and cheese, the sibo stays gone. Hope this helps, good luck.

    • Thanks for sharing your information 🙂 the sibo ” diet” says to avoid garlic? Finding it all very confusing… After years ( since childhood) of digestive distress( pain, bloating, gas, wind, burping, fatigue, brain fog etc) my wholistic chiro had me tested for sibo as he could not alleviate my back pain! I got immediate results on the diet and probiotics but it didn’t last so did hair analysis and found a few more trigger foods ie- coconut and eggs that were affecting me. Going off them has definitely reduced symptoms and my head space and energy levels are much better! I still however bloat whenever I eat… It’s really getting me down as the list of foods is getting smaller and quite socially alienating… Basically living on carrot , zucchini, pumpkin, spinach, celery ( in my broth) cucumber, herbs, meat,olive oil, lemon juice, ginger and peppermint teas, nuts and hemp protein. I live as clean and natural as I can but am so on the edge of trying the antibiotics because I’m just so over the whole thing! I have two young daughters presenting with same symptoms and want to start enjoying life again and have them have a healrhy relationship with food! My mother suffers the same and has had part of her bowel removed…

    • I have one more question.. did u use a probiotic during the treatment? And also do u follow one of those hardcore diets? Thank you

      • When I started the garlic treatment to get my methane type sibo under control, I stopped all probiotics and have remained away from them. I think/believed the probiotics were part of the reason of what was causing my sibo, so I stopped taking them when I did the garlic. If I over do sugars or carbs my sibo will start to come back and all I usually need to do to get it back under control is do a paleo (meats and greens only diet) for a few days in a row. If the sibo gets bad enough I repeat the garlic. I’ve only had to repeat the garlic twice after the initial dose, which makes it something like a total of three times taking the garlic and I’m fine today with no sibo. My sibo stays away unless I start to over do sugars or carbs, and like I said, going all paleo for a couple of days usually puts me back in balance and if not, add the garlic. For my methane (constipation type sibo) this has worked for me and continues to do so. I hope this helps.

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