Do you have intestinal distress (constipation, diarrhea, frequent urination), excessive bloating or cramping after meals, food intolerance, anxiety, skin disruptions (eczema, rosacea), chronic pain, or recurrent UTI/bladder/strep infections?
Or do you have a sour stomach if you miss meals, wake up feeling nauseated, get heartburn after certain foods, or have unusual patterns of hair loss (alopecia)?
You may have a bacterial overgrowth in your intestinal tract that is igniting inflammation and silently wrecking your health.
Our intestinal bacterial story starts at our birth. When we are born our intestines are colonized with a bacterial blend from our mothers, with the exceptions being people born by C-Section or if we spent time in intensive care.
In our first year our bacteria matures and is influenced by a number of things, including whether we are breast-fed and when we start eating solid foods. It is particularly influenced by medications.
A single course of antibiotics in our first year seems to permanently change intestinal bacteria so much it can be detected 7 years later. Repeated exposure to antibiotics during childhood continues the changes.
During our lives our intestinal bacterial blend changes with our diet, medications, anesthesia, surgeries, vaccines, and infections.
Once our bacterial balance is disturbed many of us do not regain our healthy balance, we live with an altered blend that may be detrimental to our health. Many of us now develop Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).
SIBO may start after damage to the Autonomic Nervous System slows our intestinal tract and allows bacterial migration from the lower regions of the colon upwards into the small intestines.
Autonomic damage may happen after a physical injury (sports, concussion), an emotional trauma, or after the use of products that alter the movement of our intestinal tract (medications, anesthesia, vaccines).
In a twist, studies have shown that the bacteria themselves can directly impair Autonomics. The bacteria have learned to send signals to the brain via the Vagus Nerve. These signals alter our Autonomics and slow digestion.
The bacteria have learned the first rule in real estate; location is everything.
The bacteria move up to a better neighborhood (small intestine) where nutrients help them replicate and survive. The invading bacteria digest the nutrients and release gases, toxins, and waste products that give us symptoms.
Those symptoms of the bacterial overgrowth are heartburn, food intolerance, ‘low blood sugar’, morning nausea, excessive hunger, intestinal distress (cramping, bloating, constipation, diarrhea), eczema, and hives. The bacterial overgrowth may also trigger recurrent strep infections, bladder and urinary tract infections.
SIBO may also cause the Autonomic disturbances of frequent urination, fatigue, lightheadedness, insomnia, and anxiety.
SIBO is one of the major factors in the development of Autism and Attention Deficit Disorder.
We are accustomed to temporary fixes for those symptoms. But taking antacids for heartburn, fiber for constipation, or anti-spasmodic drugs for intestinal cramping only mask the surface symptoms of SIBO.
Some dietary changes like gluten-free products and paleo style eating, or products like probiotics, temporarily shifts the available nutrients for the invading bacteria but people may lose the benefits once the bacteria can replicate and continue their migration upward.
None of those temporary fixes solve the underlying bacterial imbalance and thus none decrease the resulting systemic metabolic inflammation.
The bad news is that the metabolic inflammation is our real problem. The bacterial overgrowth damages our intestinal wall and leaks a substance (LPS; lipopolysaccharide) into our tissue. Our white blood cells react to the LPS and release inflammatory cytokines into our blood. We call this “Leaky Gut”.
Researchers have also demonstrated that elevated LPS can lead to Type 2 Diabetes and obesity in mice. Depression and hypertension are also associated with elevated LPS and inflammation.
Those studies demonstrated that rebalancing the intestinal bacteria reverses the brain dysfunction and normalizes hormone production.
In my medical practice I see that SIBO contributes to almost every modern disease we face today.
By treating SIBO and repairing Autonomic dysfunction, I have facilitated the improvement, remission, or reversal of not just common ailments like diabetes and hypertension, but also autism, heart failure, cerebral palsy, anxiety, PTSD, POTS, PCOS, ADD, dyslexia, seizure disorders, narcolepsy, and Takotsubo cardiomyopathy.
I have found that in order to maintain healthier bacteria one must also restore neurological control over the intestinal tract. You must repair and maintain both the intestinal tract and repair and maintain Autonomic function.
SIBO and Autonomic treatment often involves short-term medications to restore a better bacterial blend, core nutritional changes to support neurological repair and stem cell production, and long-term dietary changes.
Controlling SIBO and maintaining Autonomic Nervous System balance is not easy, but it is also not impossible. The process takes work and it is your personal health marathon; each day your efforts, foods, and medications either support or endanger your recovery and your health.
I am an internal medicine physician and my private office is located in the greater Phoenix, Arizona area.
For more information on SIBO and the Autonomic Nervous System you may call my office at 623-208-4226 or learn from my website www.DrBuckeye.com.
© 2015. Dr. Patrick Nemechek and Jean R. Nemechek. All Rights Reserved