SIBO Update #6: I’m feeling SO MUCH better!

There is part of me that is afraid to write this entry, as if writing that I feel better will somehow jinx it all. But I really can’t deny it anymore:

I feel tremendously better!

Would I say 100%? No, not quite. Maybe something like 80 – 85%. The awful bloating has significantly decreased, nearly dissipated all together, even through a weekend of not-perfect-food. This last weekend was a great testament to the progress in my gut. I spent the holiday weekend with my family and future in-laws, with the majority of food being prepared for me. While it was all healthy food, there were many fodmaps hidden within (soy sauce on the meat, cabbage in the salad, mushrooms and garlic in the eggs, for example). I stayed away from the worst offenders but took several others in and came away at the end of the day with a belly that looked about the same as the one I started the day with.

I wrote my last update almost two months ago. Within those two months has been lots of ups and downs, with a very slow but steady trend upwards. I saw my naturopath probably three or four times in those two months, mostly to get acupuncture treatments to help de-stagnate and harmonize my digestive system. These session helped me tremendously, and afterwards I would see a very slight jump in positive digestive symptoms.

Speaking with my naturopath, she mentioned how she would really like to write a book about the process of healing SIBO. What she has noticed in treating many, many cases is that patients experience what seems like very slow progress forward – and when I say slow, I mean on a scale of every two to three months between noticeable progress. This is what I have noticed, too. During these last couple of months, I also paid more attention to what I was eating and any symptoms I had afterwards. I realized around the first of May that cheese in any form – even small amounts of the low-lactose, long-fermented cheeses like parmesan – don’t work for me. This was a very sad day indeed to give up cheese, but the knife-stabbing stomach aches have stopped and my progress really accelerated after I removed cheese completely from my diet.

I’ve continued to take two capsules of my digestive enzymes before each meal; however, I forgot to take them before breakfast (almond flour muffin) this week and had no adverse symptoms. Depending on the size and protein content of my meal, I’m starting to reduce these enzymes back to one cap instead of two. So far, so good.

The main symptoms I’m still noticing are skin breakouts and some undigested food in my stool. For my skin, my hypothesis (which I’ll talk to my ND about Monday) is about how the liver and gut interact. In Ayurvedic medicine, most skin problems are linked to the liver and stagnation. You can see evidence of this in our teenage years, when our body starts producing more hormones, which are processed by the liver. As the liver takes on this extra job, it can become bogged down for a few years while it gets the hang of everything and our hormones find their balance. Some of these hormones are then further processed within the small intestine in small amounts. When the small intestine is overloaded with bacteria, is sans-bacteria, has lost motility or is otherwise overwhelmed, the liver can become backed up and “dump” some of this load onto the skin. My best guess is that my skin is breaking out now because my gut is remembering how to digest food, regulate digestive enzymes and process hormones all at once. I’m trying to treat my skin well by using pure, organic products, natural moisturizers like argon oil and aloe very, clay masks once a week and regular exfoliation.

I’m attributing food in my stool to my digestive fire still being low. In Ayurvedic medicine, there is thought to be a “fire” that aids in the breakdown of food. When this fire is low or variable, we can end up with several symptoms, including food in the stool. I notice that the more whole, moist, cooked foods I eat, and the more regular my meals are set on a day-to-day basis, the better these symptoms become. The more dry and cold foods I eat, and the less regular my food routine, the worse it is. So eating soups, stews and roasted meals are better than salads or low-fodmap “snack” foods like nuts and rice crackers. I try to eat each meal around the same time each day to help my body learn when it can expect food. This idea is similar to preheating an oven; you’ll cook (digest) your food more evenly.

Dry and cold foods can also lead to constipation, which tends to happen for me during periods of travel and stress and which seems to throw the whole system off. I continue to take Tri-Magnesium and 50mg erythromycin at night to help with this and to restore motility. I’ve noticed that when I skip my constructive rest pose (talked about here), especially after kickboxing, these negative symptoms can increase. I’ve seen my visceral manipulation practitioner once a month to continue to work with any adhesions causing loss of mobility and motility in the small intestine. This work has definitely been one of the cornerstones of keeping my whole system healthy and a subject that I will be writing another post about. Like, today. It’s that important.

One of the best things that happened in the last few months was that I was contacted by a friend who is also suffering from SIBO. She is in the process of creating a personal chef business for SIBO suffers or others who are suddenly put on a new, restricted diet by their doctors and don’t know how to start. She is currently in the beta- testing phase of this project, and I am lucky enough to be one of her test subjects. A couple of weeks ago, she delivered three full days of meals to my door, complete with instructions and ingredient lists. I will be sharing more details as they become available (she is AMAZING and I can’t wait to share her business with all of you), but let’s just say her meals were SO good that I snuck her single-serving, low-fodmap lasagna into a “no outside food allowed” event and didn’t even care when the condensation from the outside of the packaging leaked throughout my purse. The lasagna was that good. Trust me, if you’re in the Seattle area, you’ll want to hear about this. Here are some pics from this most awesome experience.

low fod breakfast

Egg and Veggie Muffins, bacon, berries.

lowfod granola

Low fodmap granola, strawberries, lactose-free milk

5 Comments on “SIBO Update #6: I’m feeling SO MUCH better!”

  1. Hi Anna,

    I’m so happy to hear that you are feeling better. I was going to write you recently and let you know that I too am feeling much better so your post prompted me to write. Bloating is gone and I’m no longer exhausted. I know our SIBO symptoms present differently, but I thought I’d share what was going on with me in case your other readers also present with SIBO, IBS-D, and Celiac.

    After the antibiotic I took the herbal antibiotics (berberine and allicin) for a month. They made me exhausted and so much sicker than the SIBO. At the same time a nutritionist was telling me that it was enough for me to go low fodmap when I finished the antibiotics, but my instincts, my naturopath and all the reading I was doing on the subject told me differently. I decided the only way to go for me was with a SCD/low fodmap combo diet. This diet has been amazing for me. I have cheated here and there, but have stuck to the intro diet and phase one without fodmaps for all of my main meals for the past two weeks. I’m making huge improvements on the Bristol stool chart and some days I would say 90% normal (I shouldn’t cheat).

    Anyway, I’d also like to share with you the supplements that I am taking……pure encapsulations digestive enzymes ultra, vital nutrients HCL with pepsin for protein digestion, thorne siliphos for the liver, 1000 mg Evening Primrose Oil a day and 3000 mg the two weeks before period, at least 3 tablespoons a day of grass fed cow gelatin, FCLO with butter, at least a gram of liposomal vitamin C a day, and can’t wait to start taking astaxanthin next week. I mention my supplements to you because you mention that you’ve been breaking out and that the EPO, gelatin, FCLO, vitamin C, and astaxanthin are great for the skin if you aren’t taking them already.

    I hope you continue to feel better and improve your digestion forevermore.

    Ali

    1. So glad you’re feeling better too, Ali! Thanks for the note about the skin supplements; I’ll bring them up with the ND and see if she has any better ideas. Hurray for feeling good!

  2. Happy to hear you are both feeling better! My energy and skin is doing much better, as long as I avoid all grains and sugar, but my stomach is still distended/bloated all of the time. It’s is rarely 6 months pregnant anymore, but always about 2-3. And I sleep 10 hours a night (have been for months). I am still tired and have brain fog in the morning only. My doctor is having me do more testing and a gene test from 23 and me to see if my body is methylating properly. Are you guys still suffering from a distended belly? Are you taking a prokinetic drug or high dose ginger for motility? I was on emycin after my last round of antibiotics but was told to stop after 3 months. I wonder if I should be on it again. I too am taking the digestive enzymes and those help to get my bristol number to a 4-5, but it’s my stomach that just wont heal! I am grateful for my energy burst though. That is the most important thing for me, but the other symptoms still mean my body is not happy/healthy. And for my age and how healthy I treat myself, I should have way more energy than I do. Or maybe I just need to be more patient. 🙂

  3. Hi, I just wanted to say I read your SIBO posts and found them super useful. It’s great to read the progress of someone both doing well and has a doctor’s assistance. I have not found a dr yet to help me with what I believe is SIBO, but I have made progress on my own. I’ve been wanting to work on motility, as per dr Pimentel, but I don’t have access to the prescriptions. I’ve been trying the natural. Ginger helps a little. I tried Iberogast and I ended up in the emergency with crazy high blood pressure and a heart rate of 200. Super scary. As far as I know those are the only two supplements that directly work on motility. I’m not sure what to do. I thought perhaps maybe I should go the route of healing the gut and thereby improve motility, instead of the other way around. Gelatin is super good for this and I saw you take it. Have you found that gelatin improves motility?

    1. I have SIBO and taking gelatin has helped me a lot. What’s helped even more is getting it through grass fed bone broth. There is way more of it in a serving of bone broth and it costs much less. Tastes delicious too.

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