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The Link Between SIBO and IBD (Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis)

Updated: Jan 23

There is a link between Sibo (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) and IBD (inflammatory bowel diseases). The relationship here encompasses conditions such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, and it's actually an area of growing interest across medical research facilities. When we understand the connection between the two, we'll be able to understand more about the complex interplay between inflammatory conditions of the digestive system and gut microbiota- the community of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa, that live in our body.


There are studies out there that have shown a huge overlap between Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and inflammatory bowel disease. The research does also show that around 30 to 60% of individuals who present with Crohn's disease and 20 to 60% of those with ulcerative colitis also test positive for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. This is based on breath testing, which suggests there might be some common underlying factors that contribute to.Both of these conditions.

Disrupting the normal structure

There are theories out there that the inflammation characteristics of inflammatory bowel disease can disrupt the normal structure as well as the motility of the small intestine. This is a disruption that creates an environment for bacteria to thrive. Therefore, it can overgrow in the small intestine, which leads to small intestinal bowel overgrowth. It also shows that Sibo can exacerbate the inflammation that is seen in the inflammatory bowel diseases. With the immune system stimulated an inflammatory response is triggered and therefore increased intestinal permeability such as leaky gut is seen.

Treatments for Sibo, Crohn's and colitis

Studies have shown that treating small inflammatory bowel overgrowth in those inflammatory bowel disease either antibiotics or other therapeutic approaches can lead to symptom improvement and reductions of inflammation markers. Antibiotics can be less effective in these cases, though, and that's usually due to underlying structural issues in the intestines.

There are some natural approaches that may complement the usual therapies. These are things that can support gut health. Some of the best natural remedies include:

  • A change of diet. A FODMAP diet can be a beneficial option because reducing fermentable carbs in the diet and switching to one rich in fiber with prebiotic foods will help to support a healthier gut.

  • Probiotic increase. Supplements with good bacteria can restore gut microbiota balance.

  • Adding herbal supplements. Some herbal natural options like oregano or clove oils, Allicin (active ingredient from garlic), Berberine, Curcumin and more can have microbial properties and can address the inflammation and the bacterial overgrowth in the gut. Always consult your practitioner before making those changes, however.

  • Reducing stress. Stress management is an essential when it comes to healing the gut. Stress exacerbates symptoms of both inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's and ulcerative colitis) and Sibo.

Emphasis should always be placed on the natural approaches where possible. Along with the support of a healthcare provider, patients can improve with a comprehensive treatment plan. Taking the time to address this combination of medicines and natural options is important so speak to your therapist so that you can make the right decisions.

Sibo and IBD
Sibo and IBD


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