Functional Medicine Treatment of SIBO

Many new patients come to my office with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Sometimes they have been experiencing symptoms and trying various treatments for years with little or no results.  


The symptoms can be varied and can fluctuate based on what you are eating which is why SIBO needs to be confirmed via testing. 



Symptoms Of SIBO



  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD)

  • Food Sensitivities

  • Histamine Intolerance

  • Signs of vitamin deficiency (dry, damaged, or inflamed hair, skin, and nails)

  • Vitamin deficiencies (Vitamin B12, D, & E) 

  • Rashes, Acne

  • Abdominal pain 

  • Gas, Bloating

  • Particular discomfort after eating sugar or carbohydrates

  • Diarrhea 

  • Constipation (not having a bowel movement every day)

  • Nausea



The Functional Medicine Approach to SIBO



When most people have not recovered from SIBO it is because their bacterial imbalance was only partially addressed by their treatment. 


I have combined functional medicine with my own experience of addressing chronic, complex conditions. The result is an effective, multi-pronged approach.


The first step is to adequately assess the function of organs and systems that are integral to your ability to maintain a healthy microbiome.  


If one of these five areas is severely compromised then your body's ability to maintain a healthy microbiome will be impaired - no matter how much medication you take to kill off 'bad bacteria'.

The 5 Causes of SIBO

stomach and intestines highlighted
  • low hydrochloric acid (stomach acid) from persistent stress 

  • poor diet

a man with his hand over his liver
  • bile dysfunction 

  • gallbladder removal

  • diet too high in fat causing bile stores to become too low

a close up of blood cells
Immune System
  • impaired immune system 

  • deficiency in zinc stores from years of stress

  • poor diet 

  • copper toxicity 

detail of the small intestine
Gut Flora
  • Imbalanced gut microbiome

  • intestinal damage from antibiotics and processed food chemicals

MRI of the brain
Nervous System
  • autonomic nervous system dysfunction - most commonly caused by long-term stress and anxiety

Why Functional Medicine Is Effective for SIBO


Whole-body, functional assessment is necessary to rebalance your system as a whole. Addressing only the affected organ system of a condition (in this case, your digestive tract) is inadequate.


In the case of SIBO, for multiple reasons, your body has lost the ability to properly regulate the bacterial environment in its digestive tract.


An optimally functioning body would be able to recover from a bout of food poisoning, an illness, or a bad diet (short-term) and maintain a balanced microbiome. 


There is a reason sufferers of SIBO have lost this ability to adapt.  It could be due to toxicity (you can read more about toxicity here), viral or bacterial infection, fungal overgrowth, insufficient stomach acid, or bile dysfunction.


Contributing Factors


  • Food poisoning

  • Food sensitivities and allergies

  • Poor diet (high carbohydrate, high sugar)

  • Past antibiotic usage - even a couple of rounds of antibiotics can damage the microbiome enough to cause a bacterial imbalance 

  • Stress 

    • Stress floods the body with adrenaline which directly lowers stomach acid over time which hinders digestion and can allow unwanted bacteria into the wrong part of the digestive system 

    • long-term stressors, mental/emotional/physical abuse - all can cause a biochemical imprint of trauma in the autonomic nervous system long-term (part of the brain/nerves that maintains the basic functions of life and regulates digestion) 

  • High-fat diet 


Each of these potential causes will be assessed so your body will be equipped to maintain healthy homeostasis.  

5 Step System of
SIBO Recovery
3d illustration of human body digestive
Step 1
Optimize Stomach Function

Specific therapies to restore stomach acid levels in order for you to properly digest food and keep out harmful bacteria from the small intestine.  Heart burn, acid reflux, or bloating are key signs that you do not have optimal stomach acid levels - this must be corrected for SIBO to be resolved.

Problems with liver
Step 2
Detoxify Liver

Targeted strategies to clean up your liver and improve your biliary health.  This is the most important step and yet is often overlooked. Many people suffering from SIBO have an overburdened liver, which seriously impairs their digestive health.


blood cells
Step 3
Strengthen Immune System

Most often it is necessary to restore zinc levels as many SIBO sufferers are deficient.  Dr. Lum will also screen for any other nutrient deficiencies that would impair digestion. 

small intestine
Step 4
Balance Gut Flora

Balancing your microbiome is more complicated than taking a probiotic (which either has a negative or no effect on most people). Dr. Lum will give you specific foods and nutritional medicines to restore your flora naturally depending on your type of SIBO and your other health conditions.

a doctor holding up a slide of a brain
Step 5
Calm Nervous System

Dr. Lum will assess neurotransmitter function which is a critical component of healthy digestion.  Vitamin, mineral and toxic burden will also be assessed to see if there are key imbalances that are aggravating your nervous system.

Lasting Results for SIBO


The most effective treatment of SIBO is highly personalized and must include the treatment of any underlying disease, specific nutritional support, and must address all five factors integral to a healthy microbiome. 


If even one factor is neglected then you may find temporary relief for a short time but your symptoms will likely return. 


SIBO often returns because most of the time treatment only addresses the overgrowth of bacteria and nothing is done to restore the entire digestive as a whole.  


Restoring a healthy digestive tract with effective interventions and ensuring that you are optimally healthy is the way to resolve SIBO for good. 


My office runs tests like a comprehensive stool test which can test for harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungal infections, and thoroughly assess digestive strength and function. 


I can also assess immune function and discover whether there is evidence of mold toxicity present.  Methylation status can also be evaluated for optimal metabolism.