My SIBO Healing Journey + Healing SIBO On a Vegan Diet
I have always struggled with digestion, but it wasn’t until later in my life when my experience with poor digestion transitioned into an understanding of my digestion disorders. My earlier life plays a big role in the current state of my digestion and my microbiome. I grew up eating an average American diet, I developed an eating disorder as an early teenager, and I went on antibiotics for 6 years for my acne. During college, a got extremely Ill, I got mono twice ( leaving me with lifelong EBV), developed Candida, gained toxic mold syndrome from my first apartment, and even got a rare parasite during travel. As you can imagine, This was a recipe for disaster for my digestion, body, and physical wellness. While I do attribute my candida to my apartment and my antibiotic use, I will say that my SIBO doesn’t come with any standard “ cause and effect”. I believe that all the moving parts to my healing journey combined created the perfect storm for this condition. So, As I heal, uncover, and grow I’ve been faced with SIBO, which is what I’ll be talking about today.
What is SIBO?
SIBO is Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth. It can essentially be described as a condition in which bacteria that normally live in the Large intestine, travel and make a home in the Small intense due to poor conditions of the larger intense in order to survive in the microbiome. When these little bugs decide to make a home in your small intense, they cause an array of discomfort. Bloating, poor digestion, candida, IBS, food sensitivities, and Leaky Gut to name a few. SIBO left untreated can have serious health implications, and even death in upmost sever cases.
I was diagnosed with SIBO 5 weeks ago and underwent a breath test. The test consists of breathing into a tube every 30 minutes for 4 hours. The technician will then test the breath samples for high hydrogen and methane which will indicate a SIBO infection and bacteria overgrowth. Before they start testing, you will be given a fizzy probiotic drink to trigger the hydrogen and methane response from the bacteria. You are to have completely eliminated probiotics from your diet 3 weeks prior to this testing.
In order for this to work, the patient will have to eat a diet low in particular Low FODMAP foods the day before testing. It depends on which test your physician is administering but for most, the test allows for plain rice, meat, and eggs the day before the test.
Testing for SIBO As a Vegan: The Protocol the Day Before
As a vegan, this posed potential challenges. For three weeks prior to this, I followed a low FODMap diet ( a similar diet for treating IBS). I saw major improvements in my bloating and digestion during this time, and even saw the challenges a low FODMAP diet posed for vegans. I found my way through many alternatives. Although, the day before the test posed a larger challenge. The menu consisted only of meat, eggs, and rice. Rice, when eaten in large amounts triggers my IBS and bloating severely. Given my options, I made the decision to do 21-hour water fast and end the day on a bowl of plain white rice before the test. I am not physical and cannot recommend this advice. This is simply my choice, and the decision I made before my testing.
The Benefits to the Water Fast
I had heard of the benefits of water fasts for the body and spiritual enlightenment. I was most interested in the positive similar effects longer-term water fasts can have for digestion ( like intermittent fasting). I went with my gut and choose to do a digestive reset and drink only high-quality water for the 21 hours, and end on a rice bowl (plain).
The following day, I participate in the testing, and then returned to a low FODMAP diet following for 1 week until I received the results.
What I found was that I have hydrogen dominant SIBO ( on the scale, 20 was the signifier for SIBO) and of that indication, I had a 70 mark for hydrogen and a 30 mark for methane.
There were a few treatment options for the SIBO. A pricey antibiotic ( Vegan) and Herbal Therapy. I had been in conversation with my doctor regarding my vegan lifestyle and told him I’d love to go with the herbal therapy. He ensured me it was vegan and directed me to the direct source for purchasing, where I later found out gelatin was present in the capsules.
Finding an Herbal Therapy for my Vegan Diet
The herbal therapy(Biotics Protocol) for SIBO is not vegan, and this posed potential challenges for me.
I decided to still choose herbal therapy, but only my way. It’s unconventional but it’s what felt right. I made my way tot he local apothecary and redesigned the herbal treatment into a tea. I went to my naturopath and got a medical-grade oregano oil and probiotics.
I will say that my doctor told me to avoid probiotics for the treatment, which is where we disagreed. I do not recommend going against physicians advice, this is simply my journey. I currently take a 100 billion-plus probiotic and am quite literally on a waiting list for the 500 trillion probiotics that is going to be released to doctors in a few months.
My Current Regime
Currently, I take the herbal tea once a day
5 drops of high potency Oregano oil
1 Probiotic ( 500 billion)
This is the extent of my herbal treatment.
Plant-Based Low FODMAP
For my diet, I am following a Vegan Low FODMAp diet for the duration the cleanse.
I’m not a fan of the word “diet”, although when it comes to touchy digestion issues, a standard elimination diet or a more intense subset of elimination diet like low FODMAP is ideal for treating!
I practice intermittent fasting. I fast for 12-16 hours a day to induce digestive rest.
A balanced Routine
While herbal therapies, the FODMAP diet, and the probiotics are at the top of my care list for this condition I am also prioritizing self-care rituals that help with stress management. Stress and the gut are highly correlated due to the mind-body connection.
Belly Massage + Tapping Ritual
I practice this belly massage and a tapping ritual.
I will tap in key energy centers in the stomach to calm down my nerves and flare-ups.
The belly massage works by starting at the intensive track, scooping down on the belly, and working across the lower abdomen, and then scooping up forwards to the upper body.
I am food journaling and practicing intuitive eating to help identify my trigger foods. I have 33 known food sensitives and am following a vegan Low FODMAP so my food availability is quite limited. I’m practicing balance when it comes to this dynamic of healing, although tracking the foods that aren’t agreeing with your body is a highly recommended practice.
I am 5 weeks into a 6-week protocol and am certainly noticing major shifts. I’ve experienced quite a few painful flare-ups, but overall see the progress in positive Spiral.
Is anyone else on a SIBO journey? Let me know in the comments!