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IMO- Intestinal Methanogen Overgrowth

Do you suffer from digestive problems or pain in your gut? You may have been diagnosed with IBS or something else, but could you be suffering from IMO instead? Many people have not heard of this condition or what causes it, meaning it is often left untreated. In this blog, we’ll help you understand exactly what IMO is, what causes it, the key symptoms to look for and how to treat it. 

What is IMO?

IMO stands for Intestinal Methanogen Overgrowth and is a digestive condition caused by the presence of too many methane-producing microorganisms in your gut. 

As you may be aware, your digestive system contains loads of microorganisms that help you digest and break down food. You’ve heard of “good” bacteria before, right? Our guts need this to function properly, but it also has other microorganisms that aid in breaking things down - such as archaea. 

The archaea will break food down and release methane gas as a result. It’s perfectly normal to have these microorganisms in your gut - but IMO happens when there’s an overproduction of them. As a result, your intestines are filled with more methane gas than normal, leading to many digestive complications. 

The symptoms of IMO (Intestinal Methanogen Overgrowth)

When your intestines produce a lot of methane, it typically slows down the digestive process. It can take longer for your body to digest and pass food, which is why these symptoms are closely associated with intestinal methanogen overgrowth: 

  • Bloating

  • Constipation

  • Abdominal pain and discomfort

  • Chronic gas

  • Trapped wind

  • Nausea

Moreover, you’re likely to see these symptoms after eating food. Well, they’re going to be more pronounced after you eat and your body starts the digestive cycle. 

As you can see, these symptoms are highly common in other digestive or gut problems too. That’s why IMO is so hard to diagnose - most people are presumed to have IBS or something similar. The only way to know for sure is by taking a test that measures methane levels in your gut and checks if they’re abnormal. 

What are the best ways to treat Intestinal Methanogen Overgrowth?

The instinctive treatment for IMO is to be put on a course of antibiotics. However, the antibiotics used to treat this condition will affect other parts of your body as well. That’s why it’s better to adopt a natural approach by using different herbal remedies, changing your diet and taking some supplements. 

Your goal is to reduce the number of archaea in your gut, so methane levels decrease. This can be done via the following treatments: 

  • Some anti-microbial herbal supplements like oregano oil, Neem and Berberine were found to slow down the production of archaea in the gut. 

  • Fermentation can increase archaea production and methane levels. Low FODMAP diet was proven to be helpful in the prevention of food fermentation in the gut. This diet is not suitable for everyone though. It can reduce the diversity of the good gut bacteria and cause even more dis-balance in your digestive system. Therefore it is important to consult with a professional naturopath before going on this diet beforehand. 

  • Vitamins and minerals like magnesium, zinc and vitamin C can help speed up your digestive process and calm some of the symptoms of IMO. 

  • Combining medical herbs like ginger and fennel tea between meals as part of your daily nutritional routine can be very helpful in aiding the digestion process and easing any abdominal discomfort. 

The bottom line is that IMO is very common, though it can be treated. There’s no need to immediately turn to antibiotics; use more natural methods for long-term relief without harming other elements of your digestive system. 

Intestinal Methanogen Overgrowth


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