How does SIBO and SIVO cause so many problems?
This can get technical but you start to understand why some people do not get better by just using anti-bacterial or anti-viral treatments. I’ve had to learn and then convince many patients that a variety of supplements might be needed to get over these infections or for total health. Like my mother in law says: people have to understand if they want to get better they often have to spend some money because insurance companies do not cover everything.
Since many people with SIBO and SIVO often have a lot of symptoms besides small bowel problems, more than a simple infection can be going on. Don’t get overwhelmed or discouraged, we’ll deal with these only if we need to. Also, remember it takes a long time for doctors to learn new concepts and many of these problems have only been discovered in the last 20 years. Drugs have not been developed for these problems and that is where supplements come are used.
SIBO bacteria produce cytolethal distending toxins (CDTs) that were first discovered in 1987 and are produced by proteobacteria, such as:
- E.coli, shigella, salmonella and camplobacter that might show on stool tests
- Haemophilus and others that often do not show on stool tests.
- Aggregratibacter that causes gum and dental problems and does not show on stool tests. Brush your teeth 2-3 times daily, floss at least once daily, then work with your dentist and then me if you have dental problems. See my article on Dental Problems on my website because we’ll have trouble clearing up SIBO if this bacteria is trickling down from your mouth to your bowels
CDT means cyto means cells, lethal means it kill cells, distending means bloating, gas, abdominal discomfort, spasms or cramps and toxins are toxins produced by these bacteria. These slow down or damage DNA, leading to bowel and other problems. These can be part of the problem and part of a healing reaction or toxic die off we may need to manage with treating infections.
CDT toxins directly damage DNA in cells. These include lymphocytes (white blood cells which are needed to fight infections, heal cells and control inflammation), fibroblasts in connective tissues, mucosal cells (sinuses, eyes, mouth, throat, lungs, digestive, urinary and genital tracts), blood vessels and skin cells. This explains why many people with bacterial infections have such wide spread problems. We may need to use supplements or treatments to help the white blood cells, connective tissues, clear up other mucosal cells, improve circulation and help with skin problems.
We may need to use specific supplements to flush out toxins, absorb toxins or to help prevent these infections from binding (sticking) to other cells and shifting around from system to system. We may need supplements to preserve, improve or protect DNA so cells function better.
Researchers think these DNA damaging toxins work via cholesterol, lectins, galectins, glycans and glycosphingolipids. This makes sense to me because I’ve seen and treating all these very technical issues. We are constantly learning about technical issues and add new treatments as we find them. In fact, high cholesterol is just a marker for immune problems (and increased risk for circulation problems) and I’ve seen patients who only normalized cholesterol after we got infections under control. Ask for my articles and treatments for selectins and galectins.
There are 3 types of glycans and they are linked to immune problems, inflammation, nervous system problems and hormonal problems. They are related to specific amino acids, such as mannose, asparagine, threonine and tryptophan and I’ve had to use supplements to support or improve immune, nervous system, neurotransmitters and hormonal problems. Do not use plain tryptophan supplements because it will lead to problems. In general, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety drugs and hormones are not going to solve the problem, but they may help with symptoms and we commonly use supplements to help out.
Glycosphingolipids have 3 types:
- Cerebrosides (brain types), of which ceramides are best understood and have to do with cellular aging, cellular communication (cross talk), blood sugar problems, inflammation, skin problems, brain, central and sympathetic nervous system problems and weight gain. They are linked to vitamin D (so don’t take too much) and hot flashes or sweating.
For example, ceramindes make up 2% of the brain grey matter and 12% of the white matter. No wonder patients with infections can have nervous system problems, anxiety, depression, brain fog, etc. Since there are no drugs for ceramide problems, we have supplements to help and we may need nervous system treatments. Again, psychiatric and nervous system drugs will help manage symptoms but not cure this. Supplements have a better chance of slowing damage or restoring cellular functions.
- Ceramides are also found in the spleen, skin, red cells and myelin sheath of nerves. Supplements for one type of ceramides can help many areas and uridine and succinate supplements can also help out.
- Gangliosides are in the nervous system and affect cell to cell communication and pituitary hormone functions. Commonly with viral infections these cause red cell clumping with poor circulation, increased bruising and increased risks for clots. There are supplements to help with cellular communication, hormone balance, red cell clumping and circulation.
- Globosides are another type of ceramides that are poorly understood.
All of this is not meant to scare or overwhelm you. It helps to explain why some people with infections have such widespread symptoms and problems and to educate you we have treatments for total wellness.
David Overton, PA-C owns Natural Medicines & Family Practice where he combines conventional and natural approaches.
Note: none of these statements are approved by the FDA but express my own opinion from medical research and clinical experience.