HOW TO CURE SIBO: Heal Hormones and Immunity
Ihope you have an appreciation for the impact and difference one single organ as simple as the gut can affect our overall health, longevity, digestion and day-to-day brain function. More importantly, we dream that you feel more confident in identifying, addressing and fixing some of these intestinal issues.
I believe it is truly challenging to deal with all the modern factors that are the proposed causes of dysbiosis of the microbiota
— low-grade gut infections (microbial overgrowths, parasites, etc)
— unbalanced health and immune systems (lack of commensals
— Bifido, SFB, and soil based organisms)
— our unique genetic vulnerabilities (e.g. HLA DQ2.5 for celiac; HLA B27 for alkylosing spondylitis)
— lifestyle (lack of dirt exposures, stress, diet, sedentary atrophy, lack of sleep, livestock/dairy grade antibiotics, disjointed relationship with soil and farming)
— early colonization of pathobionts (birth in hospitals, lack of breastfeeding, compromised maternal biota sources, toxic formula)
— medical and dental practices (mercury amalgams, vaccines, antibiotics, hyperhygiene)
NO WONDER WE GET GI-F*KCRD SO QUICKLY SO EASILY! This is the estimated Surface Area of the Small Intestines
Main Problem with the Small Intestines: GINORMOUS SURFACE AREA
Our small intestines are like head size — very variable in size! As we grow, our small intestines grow as we age just like our height or head size. Much is perhaps determined by nutrition by mom and factors after birth. Our small intestines vary from 5 to 10 meters (average 6-7 m) — 3-6 times our height. Indeed by surface area, our small intestines trump even our skin for being the largest organ.
In comparison, the large intestines is only a fraction of the length of the small intestines at ~1.5 m.
Unfortunately I believe this predisposes us mammals to inherent problems as we frequently encounter digestive disruptors such as all the ones listed above. These factors in our post-modern industrial neolithic age bombard us from pre-birth, birth and upwards.
I’m grateful that we have simple strategies and technology to address all of the gut disruptors — fermented foods, whole grains/tubers/legumes, RS, potato starch prebiotics, soil based probiotics, diet, yoga, functional medicine lab testing GDX 2200 stool, GPL Organic Acids, GI Map, etc.
Source: NYU EDU SIBO
Small Intestines: 5-10 meters (~15- 30 feet)
Large Intestine: 1.5 meter (~5 feet)
Source: NYU EDU SIBO
Stressors, because We are Not Zebras
Mental stress directly impacts our gut function. The vagal nerve (see below) innervates our organs including the gut from head to tail. This nerve controls calm, cool, rest, repose and digestion. Look how the connections go between our brain to our gut, neat? 80% of our serotonin, the happy transmitter, are generated here. Melatonin, our sleep hormone, is then produced from serotonin. What is the first sign of stress? Insomnia, no wonder.
Who doesn’t have stress? Widespread cortisol dysregulation is documented in teenagers (Dr. Briffa).
Gut Brain Adrenal Axis
What are the variety of stressors the human body experience?
–Sources of stress: gluten, pathogenic organisms, viruses, yeasts, dysbiosis, not enough gastric acid, lack of commensals, refined not-whole-foods, GMO food
–Sources of stress: mental, physical, traumatic, intrauterine
–Sources of stress: perceived, mental, fear, lack of trust, heightened super senses (hear, smell, touch, feel, taste, sense), future fears, past fears
Effects of Stress Breaks the Gut
Stress (cortisol) breaks open our gut, makes the TJs (tight junctions) leaky, and abruptly even changes our gut flora to more pathogenic populations while reducing the numbers of the good flora like Bifido.
Let’s take surgery as an example (top diagram). Being cut open by a surgical knife, bleeding, opening arteries and veins are one of the most stressful procedures a person may endure. With any minor or major stressor, the adrenal glands must put out cortisol and adrenaline. With major trauma (surgery) or mental stressor, buckets of cortisol are secreted to maintain homeostasis, blood glucose, heart rate, blood pressure, hormones, etc.
In different gut disorders and SIBO, slightly variable nervous system effects are observed. Some conditions are more ‘turned up’ by the sympathetic nervous system (SNS/adrenaline/cortisol) than others. Some conditions are more deficient or defective in the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS/calm/oxytocin) than others.
How do you balance?
Adrenal Botanicals and Yoga
In both clinical practice and in studies, certain rhizomes, tubers, and herbs are shown to buffer and balance the function of the adrenal glands.
My favorite brand of adrenal support is by Quicksilver Scientific Nano-Mojo but many exist. What works for you? How do you know when your adrenals are f*kcered? How do you fix it? Does your physician ignore it?
Yoga — for me yoga is the best tool for putting the SNS to rest and to bring the PSNS back to up to snuff. I don’t know why it works! There are studies but none explain the deep, contemplative, and restorative properties that I get when I’m regularly doing yoga. If you are in adrenal dysregulation, I’d highly suggest considering avoiding ALL Bikram and other extreme activities. The high heat and extreme form (90 minutes of high intensity sweating) is actually super detrimental for marginally functioning adrenals.
Other ways to tell if you’re ‘stressed’ is FINGERPRINTS (hat tip: D’adamo). Our height of our fingerprint ridges may reflect our gut health microvilli height. We are aware that sometimes skin damage reflects gut damage and bacterial/fungal translocation and their respective toxins (acne, rosacea, psoriasis (and here), eczema, etc). More damage, flatter villi, flatter fingerprints, different whorl and loop patterns.
In celiac, with severe SIBO, see the white lines and flatness of the ridges? On a gluten-free diet, these improve.
Dr. Grace - Founder of The Gut Institute