There are many factors that are said to cause SIBO. Malfunctioning of the MMC waves, reduced secretion of gastric acid, viral infections or even some medications have also been shown to cause bacterial overgrowth in small intestines. But do hormonal imbalance might be playing a role?
SIBO is also hypothesized to be caused by hormonal imbalance. In a forum, a female sufferer stated that she started observing symptoms after she started taking birth control pills. Birth control pills are simply hormones and not only they can lead to a hormonal imbalance, it may cause cancer as well!
Female SIBO sufferers have also noticed that their symptoms escalate during menstrual cycles. Although correlation does not always imply causation, it is no secret that a lot of hormonal changes occur in a woman’s body during menstruation. As symptoms always seem to get worse at these times, one can argue that this needs to be studied in greater detail.
Certain conditions like pregnancy also cause a lot of changes in the hormonal balance of the body. Pregnancy may slow down the thyroid function, which in turn slows natural peristalsis, causing SIBO.
There is a documented case where an otherwise healthy individual started suffering from SIBO after he started going to the gym regularly. He had a healthy diet and the only additions were protein shakes and vitamin pills. He started developing the usual symptoms such as constipation, which would stop if he interrupted his routine. They would re-appear after he started going to the gym again. The symptoms would escalate, if he increased the intensity of his workouts. It is known that the long term stress associated with highly intense workouts may cause hormonal changes. Hence for this individual, it could possibly have been creating an imbalance, which manifested itself in the form of SIBO.
Stress may also be at play here because SIBO is known to create gut permeability. It is also believed that bacteria in the small intestines release toxins in the body, which are in some ways identical to healthy cells. The phenomenon of toxins mimicking healthy cells is also known as molecular mimicry. When these toxins leak into the body due to gut permeability the body’s natural immune system attacks these toxins and may in turn also attack the identical healthy cells.
Hashimoto and SIBO have common symptoms like fatigue, constipation and depression. It has also been noticed that men and women who have a thyroid problem seem to suffer from SIBO as well.
This seems to suggest a relation between the two conditions. Unfortunately there has not been any research that informs us whether malfunctioning thyroid glands cause SIBO or the other way around.
SIBO is believed to trigger certain autoimmune disorders like chronic gastritis and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Doctors have been planting electronic simulators for a while to treat depression and anxiety. However, it is only done when traditional anti-depression and anti-anxiety medications fail to provide adequate relief. Physicians believe that this type of treatment may potentially be beneficial to treat SIBO and even IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). This is because some doctors believe that SIBO and
IBS are caused due to persistent alterations to autonomic responsiveness, which is usually triggered by stress.
Electronic stimulators stimulate the vagus nerve in periodic intervals. This interval may last anywhere between 5 to 10 minutes. This stimulation triggers certain changes in the brain metabolism that may reduce or even eliminate high sensitivity to stress. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that indicate that SIBO sufferers may experience relief from symptoms via vagus nerve stimulation.
Clues as to how this works may be found in studies where patients with treatment resistant depression were given vagus nerve stimulation with the help of electronic stimulators. The regions of the brain associated with depression and anxiety were observed for signs of depression after a period of 3 months and then after 12 months.
Although this treatment was time consuming, about 67% of the patients displayed marked improvement. Sometimes the improvement would not appear for several months, however once it appeared it was permanent. Hence, one needs to be consistent with vagus nerve stimulation to get permanent relief from SIBO.
If your SIBO has triggered constipation, it is important to remember not to eat when you are stressed. If you are stressed, your body and a mind are not in a situation that would be conducive for proper digestion. This is because the brain sends to and receives signals from the gut via the mind body axis. Stress reduces the secretion of gastric acid and digestive enzymes causing alterations in the natural peristaltic movement that occurs throughout our digestive system.
The body’s response to stress delays gastric emptying and fast colonic transit time. Depending upon the person’s physiology, it may lead to constipation and even diarrhoea.
This has been verified via studies on animals as well as humans.
Besides the quality, the quantity of food ingested is also extremely important for people suffering from SIBO. SIBO patients should consume food in limited quantities, especially if they are eating something that their body is not used to.
A SIBO patient’s gastric system treats large quantities of food as a stressor, which may bring the digestive process to a grinding halt. As the secretion of digestive juices are delayed, the process of gastric emptying gets delayed even further.