The Benefits of Berberine for SIBO
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is a condition in which there is an abnormal increase of bacteria in the small intestine. (1) More specifically, an abnormal increase of bacteria not commonly found in the digestive tract. This can interfere with normal digestive processes and lead to various gut health issues.
There are various treatment methods for SIBO that vary depending on the original cause. However, one promising remedy for SIBO is a compound called berberine, found in certain plants like goldenseal and Oregon grape root. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of berberine for SIBO.
What Is SIBO?
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is a condition in which there is an abnormal increase of bacteria in the small intestine. Many different types of bacteria can cause an infection in the small intestine, but the most common bacteria that cause SIBO include Escherichia coli (E. coli), Enterococcus faecalis, Enterococcus spp., Klebsiella pneumonia, and Proteus mirabilis. (2)
What Causes SIBO?
SIBO has various underlying causes. Essentially, this bacterial overgrowth occurs when a circumstance slows the passage of food and waste in the gastrointestinal tract. This creates a suitable feeding ground for bacteria to reproduce. Certain surgeries may cause an obstruction that leads to SIBO, as can certain medical conditions. Certain dietary and lifestyle habits may also inhibit digestion and allow bacteria to breed in the small intestine. Finding out the cause of SIBO in one’s individual case is critical to finding proper treatment.
What Are the Symptoms of SIBO?
Some of the common symptoms of SIBO include:
- Loss of appetite
- Unexpected weight loss
- Abdominal pain
- Feeling uncomfortably full after eating, even small amounts
- Malnutrition (1)
If you are experiencing any or multiple of these symptoms, you should consult your doctor for testing, as you may have a SIBO infection.
What Is the Treatment for SIBO?
The exact treatment for SIBO depends on the underlying cause. In cases where the cause is due to an obstruction caused by surgery, the only way to treat it is through further surgical repair. In cases caused by other digestive conditions or dietary and lifestyle habits, one will need to find out what the underlying cause is, alter that behavior, and focus on eliminating bacterial overgrowth and restoring healthy digestion.
For example, if someone has a habit of overeating, either eating too much at each meal or eating too frequently and not allowing enough time for meals to digest properly, it can slow down the digestive process. If prolonged, this slow digestion can allow food to sit in the small intestine longer than normal, allowing bacteria to feed and colonize the small intestine, resulting in SIBO.
To treat this, this person would need to change their habitual pattern of overeating. They would have to retrain themselves to eat more moderately and allow enough time between meals for proper digestion. Additionally, they would have to take antibiotic medications or herbal supplements that can reduce the overgrown bacteria population. They may also benefit from doing a natural colon cleanse to remove any excess waste that has built up in the intestines, and that may be acting as food for bacteria.
Many different types of antibiotics and antimicrobial herbs can help to eliminate bacterial overgrowth. Your doctor may require a stool sample to identify the type of bacteria causing the infection. This will allow them to select the most appropriate antibiotic. After taking any antibiotic medication or supplement, make sure to supplement with probiotics for several weeks afterward to recolonize the gut with beneficial bacteria. Otherwise, other opportunistic organisms may colonize the gut, resulting in a different type of infection. (3)
While antibiotics can be life savers and may be essential for the treatment of certain medical conditions, antibiotics are also known to be significant disruptors of gut microbiota. (4) For this reason, some people opt for more natural alternatives to antibiotics, such as antimicrobial herbs and supplements. Of course, you should consult your doctor about the best treatment method for you if you have SIBO.
One common antimicrobial supplement that is growing in popularity today is berberine.
What Is Berberine?
Berberine is a chemical compound found in some plants that have been shown to have potent antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Common plants containing berberine include Oregon grape, European barberry, goldenseal, goldthread, philodendron and tree turmeric. (5)
Berberine is a yellow-colored chemical with a very bitter taste. This bitter taste is responsible for some of its digestive benefits, as the bitter taste stimulates bile secretion, which is beneficial for liver and digestive health. Berberine is what gives many of the plants mentioned above their rich yellow color. Oregon grape, for example, is a plant commonly used for its berberine content. Berberine is found in the inner bark of Oregon grape, which has a vibrant yellow hue.
What Are the Benefits of Berberine for SIBO?
Numerous studies on berberine have found that it is highly antimicrobial and antifungal and appears to be particularly beneficial for destroying the cell walls of certain bacteria and bacterial biofilms. (6)
One study found that berberine effectively destroyed the cell wall of E. coli, one of the primary bacteria found in cases of SIBO. (7) Another study found that berberine had similar effects on Enterococcus faecalis., another common culprit of SIBO. The study stated that berberine effectively “inhibited E. faecalis biofilm formation and promoted the biofilm dispersion of E. faecalis.”
In fact, berberine appears to be support the elimination of all the major bacteria found in cases of SIBO. One study published in the National Library of Medicine found it also inhibited the growth of Klebsiella pneumoniae. (8) Interestingly, however, this study found that low concentrations of berberine actually supported cell growth, while high concentrations inhibited growth of Klebsiella pneumoniae. (8) It is uncertain whether it has the same effect for other bacteria.
Berberine appears to work by preventing intestinal adhesion of bacterial pathogens. In other words, it prevents bacteria from adhering to the walls of the intestines. It also works by destroying the cell wall of certain strains of bacteria. While it may work independently, some studies suggest it works best when used with other antimicrobial compounds. One study found it actually enhanced the antibiotic activity of certain antibiotic medications. (9)
While many people report benefits from using berberine for SIBO, more studies on berberine and SIBO are still needed.
Berberine Dosage for SIBO
Due to a lack of research on berberine and SIBO there are varying opinions on the berberine dosage for SIBO. Dr. Allison Siebecker, co-founder and former medical director of the SIBO Center for Digestive Health, recommends a dosage of 5,000 mg per day, divided into three doses taken for up to 4 weeks or until symptoms clear up. (10)
How Long Does Berberine Take to Work for SIBO?
Whether berberine will be effective for treating SIBO or not depends on the cause of your infection. If it is a physical obstruction caused by surgery, only surgery can repair it. However, in other cases of SIBO, berberine has been shown to be effective when taken daily for up to four weeks.
Zuma Nutrition's SIBO Tonic
Our SIBO Cleanse Tonic is a natural supplement that may help to eliminate bacterial overgrowth.† Our formula uses a therapeutic extraction process that is able to concentrate the active ingredients into a therapeutic liquid extract that is significantly more potent than regular tea powders or capsules.
All of the herbs in our formula are also 100% sustainable and wildcrafted. Which means, no pesticides, preservatives, chemical fillers, or genetically modified ingredients.
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is a condition in which there is an abnormal increase of bacteria in the small intestine, particularly an abnormal increase of bacteria not commonly found in the digestive tract. This can interfere with normal digestive processes and lead to various gut health issues.
Berberine is a chemical compound found in some plants that has been shown to have potent antimicrobial and antifungal properties and may be useful as a treatment for SIBO. Many people have reported that berberine has successfully treated their SIBO, but more research is still needed to confirm berberine’s benefits for SIBO.
If you have any of the symptoms of SIBO or are seeking treatment, consult your doctor for the best method of treatment for you.