SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) is a hot topic in medicine today. With more and more people asking questions, conversations are popping up about what the best route for diagnosis and treatment may be.



Simply stated, SIBO is an imbalance of bacteria in the small intestine. This imbalance can lead to a number of symptoms including, but not limited to:

  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Pain
  • Brain fog
  • Skin problems
  • Chronic bad breath
  • and more…

Some of those with SIBO present with no gastrointestinal symptoms at all, which can make its diagnosis even trickier.

Symptoms associated with SIBO vary greatly from one person to the next because they heavily depend on which types of bacteria are present and in what quantity. Close associations have also been documented between SIBO and other imbalances such as severe vitamin deficiencies, protein deficiencies, celiac disease, fibromyalgia, autoimmunity, high cholesterol, IBS and much more.


How to Diagnose

SIBO is diagnosed with either a take home breath test or small intestine endoscopy. Once diagnosed, the most common routes for treatment are dietary modification, antibiotics, and herbal medicine, however, protocols vary greatly between clinicians. In this study, researchers found that herbal medicine was just as effective in eradicating SIBO as the antibiotic, Rifaximin (  This is good news, as antibiotic use can lead to many undesirable side effects and are known to kill not only the bad bacteria, but the good kind as well.



I have found great success in treating patients with SIBO using a combination of four primary interventions:

  1. Herbal medicine
  2. Dietary modifications
  3. Acupuncture
  4. Lifestyle modifications

Using these four approaches, we are able to treat the root cause of the disease while also dealing with the overgrowth of bacteria. During treatment we eradicate the bacterial overgrowth, strengthen the digestive system, reduce stress, and ultimately create homeostasis in the body. When the body is in this balanced state, overall health improves and recurrence of SIBO is much less likely.


How Can Traditional Chinese Medicine Help?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) physiology, the strength of our Spleen Qi is synonymous with our overall digestive health. Spleen Qi deficiency is characterized by:

  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Fatigue
  • Gas
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Poor appetite

While there is never a one to one correlation between a TCM pattern diagnosis and a modern Western medical diagnosis, the symptoms associated with Spleen Qi deficiency and SIBO mirror each other well. In TCM it is also recognized that stress, especially chronic stress, wreaks havoc on Spleen Qi and digestive health, making it more difficult for you to recover from SIBO. Western medicine also recognizes the connection between emotional health and digestion, making stress reduction and emotional balance an essential component in the treatment of SIBO.

Using herbal medicine, acupuncture, dietary and lifestyle modifications, we focus on strengthening the Spleen Qi, reducing stress, and promoting digestive health and homeostasis in the body. Your body has a natural drive towards balance, but you must provide it with the right building blocks and environment to get there. When your body is in a calm and balanced state, you are able to heal, and in turn, correct the root cause of whatever dis-ease you are experiencing.


Book your free 30 minute consultation with Brooke today so you can begin using acupuncture and herbal medicine to conquer your digestive complaints!


Written by: Brooke Holmes, LAc

Photo Credit: Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash