Should You Heal Your Gut BEFORE Treating SIBO. The short answer is YES!
If you follow my blog, you know I’ve been battling Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) for the past four years and COVID Long Haul for the past two years. Anyone who battles chronic illness will tell you that it’s the longest marathon you’ll ever run and sometimes you need a break.
In April of 2022, I spent $5,000 working with a well-known functional medicine doctor to try and heal my SIBO and COVID Long Haul. His treatment plan was a combination of peptide therapy, supplements, and gross juices. I learned two things. First, peptides are amazing and worked wonders for my COVID Long Haul BUT they are super expensive and not sustainable for most people. The minute I stopped them, my symptoms came back…so not really a treatment, more of a band-aid approach. Second, I learned that not all Functional Medicine doctors are the same and it was apparent after a few months of treatment these guys were in it for the wrong reasons.
If you want to learn more about my experience, check out my past blogs here:
After spending a chunk of our savings, I needed to take a break, re-group and figure out the next step. But, I never gave up hope. I went back to my GI doctor and asked for another round of SIBO treatment, but this time I demanded a combination of Xifazan and Neomycin to treat my methane dominant SIBO, now called Intestinal Methanogen Overgrowth (IMO). My GI doc has been hesitant in the past to prescribe Neomycin due to the list of side effects but it was the one treatment that I read over and over again that had the best success rate with hard to cure cases.
I was literally at the point where I would try anything.
I took the antibiotics simultaneously and felt fine during the treatment, but for the following two weeks, I felt terrible. I had stomach pain, bloating and irritation, which I attribute to die off. I also had some minor ringing in my ears thanks to the Neomycin. Luckily that went away after a few months.
Four weeks after taking the antibiotics, I could tell my SIBO was A LOT better, but still not gone completely. In late May of 2021, I was picking up a bundle of farm-fresh veggies and eggs from a friend who has the most amazing off-the-grid farm. We got to talking about my health issues and she mentioned that her sister-in-law was a Functional Medicine Practitioner in California. I was immediately skeptical. BUT, after hearing my friend describe how her sister-in-law had suffered from a pretty severe illness, healed herself, and then gone on to practice functional medicine to help others, I was curious.
The next week, I booked a consult with Dr. Lacey Chittle. Our 15-minute consult turned into an hour. She was kind, caring, a good listener and she was smart. When I say smart, I mean probably the smartest person I had ever talked to when it came to SIBO and COVID Long Haul. She listened compassionately to my story and was able to explain to me why all my previous treatments had failed.
It was simple and it started in my gut. All the previous treatments to cure my SIBO had just focused on eradicating the bugs but did nothing to heal my stomach. For lack of a better term, my jacked-up leaky-gut stomach was the whole reason the bugs were able to stay around for so long in the first place so without healing that first, I would never be rid of the SIBO. And without a healthy functioning gut, my immune system would always be impaired, and unable to eradicate the COVID Long Haul. Makes sense, right?
I booked an appointment and decided to give Dr. Chittle’s method a try. Treatment with Dr. Chittle was not cheap, but it was less than the other Functional Medicine doctor I had seen and it was obvious she cared way more about her patients. She put together a comprehensive plan, followed up after each phone call, and checked in regularly to make sure I was doing okay. And four months later I’m elated to say her protocol is working. My stomach is 80% better and most of my COVID Long Haul symptoms have subsided, although I do still get the occasional flare-up.
Dr. Chittle’s approach to treating my SIBO was different and we focused on healing my stomach. I continued with the Bi-Phasic Diet during the first few months of treatment (but let’s be honest, I cheated quite a bit because chocolate is so good). According to Dr. Chittle, I added in these supplements:
Glutagenics by Metagenics
Note: every person is different and responds differently to treatment so don’t run out to your local herbalist and grab all these without talking with either a naturopath or FM first. If you want to book a consult with Dr. Chittle, her website is linked below.
Dr. Chittle also recommended finding an experienced visceral massage therapist (VM) to help break up any scar tissue or blockages that could potentially be causing my body not to clear the SIBO. Side note, I found a fantastic VM therapist who has been an absolute LIFESAVER. I noticed a difference after two sessions and have only continued to improve. I would highly recommend it to anyone suffering from SIBO. Pssst…my next blog post is all about visceral massage therapy if you want to check it out.
After two months on Dr. Chittle’s supplement regime, I started to see a huge difference. My stomach bloating and pain was much less and overall and I had more energy than I had in years (other than when I was on the peptides). In July 2021, I went back to my GI doctor for a breath test to see where my numbers were at. I crossed my fingers and prayed.
When the results came back I cried big, fat tears. My breath test numbers had decreased SIGNIFICANTLY.
In fact, my methane numbers were down below the hydrogen, meaning I no longer had IMO and I was back to regular old hydrogen SIBO, which was much easier to treat. The difference from October 2020 to July 2021 was huge!
I attribute these changes to the combination of Xifaxan and Neomycin antibiotics, the gut healing protocol Dr. Chittle put me on, and visceral massage therapy.
So, what’s next? I decided to continue on the gut-healing protocol for another three to four months and then try one more round of herbal antimicrobial products to try and kill the last remaining bugs. I opted for herbals this time due to the numerous amounts of antibiotics I had taken over the past two years.
Overall, I am happy to report health has improved dramatically. I can eat a wider variety of foods, including more vegetables, fruits, and carbs. Pass the gluten-free roll, please!
Previously a half a cup of rice, or some gluten-free crackers or too much sugar would set my stomach off and I would be in pain for days. Now I can have a few servings of carbs per day without issue. I continue to see Dr. Chittle every 6-8 weeks and would highly recommend her to anyone who is suffering from SIBO. I’m hopeful that by this time next year, I’ll be able to say that I’m officially SIBO free and have a healthy gut, full of the right kind of bacteria. Keep your fingers crossed for me!