If you’ve been trying to treat your small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) for more than six months and you’re still feeling bloated and constipated, then there could be a deeper underlying reason that nobody has picked up yet.
Very often when we see a patient with resistant SIBO (where they’ve been ineffectively treated with multiple rounds of rifaximin, neomycin, erythromycin, herbs, elemental diets, low-FODMAP diets…you name it!), the real culprit is actually undiagnosed Lyme disease.
Lyme disease is caused by a spiral-shaped bacterium called Borrelia, and it’s common for other infections (called co-infections) to “piggy back” with Lyme.
How Lyme Disease Can Mimic SIBO
Here’s where things can get murky:
The symptoms of SIBO can be identical to the symptoms of Lyme – especially nausea, reflux, abdominal pain, joint pain, constipation, diarrhea, fatigue, headaches, and skin rashes.
Lyme is especially tricky because it causes certain types of symptoms early on, and different symptoms once the bacteria have been settled in your body over a period of time.
You may initially have flu-like symptoms, and later on develop exhaustion, constipation and constant abdominal bloating.
Because of the bloating and other GI symptoms, you go to a practitioner who ultimately diagnoses you with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Then begins the merry-go-round of antibiotics, herbs and restrictive diets with minimal relief.
(Not to mention, prescription antibiotics can make both Lyme and SIBO worse in the long-run!)
The Lyme – SIBO Connection
Regardless of how the symptoms of SIBO and Lyme overlap, it’s important to know that Lyme can actually cause SIBO by paralyzing the nerves in your digestive tract. This paralysis creates very slow or erratic gut motility.
When your gut motility is slow, it impairs your ability to break down food, which allows undigested food to linger in the small intestine longer than it should.
Gut bacteria feed on this undigested food and begin to grow and flourish. They release toxic gasses that cause constipation or diarrhea, leaky gut, bloating, and a host of other symptoms.
This is the classic SIBO picture.
You may be thinking to yourself, “I really don’t think I have Lyme.”
But in our clinical experience, most people with Lyme don’t suspect they could have it, and they don’t remember being bitten by any ticks.
Testing for Lyme is tricky and there can be a lot of false-negative test results.
The connection between Lyme and digestive issues is so clear, that if you aren’t seeing improvements from all of the standard “gut protocols,” then you should absolutely consider getting tested for Lyme and co-infections.
This is one of the main things we do with the patients in our 1-on-1 Health Transformation programs.
We order specialized testing to uncover what’s REALLY causing the gut issues, and then we combine the right antimicrobials with other natural therapies to help to heal your gut tissues and restore motility.
We also evaluate other possible causes of ongoing GI symptoms, like fungal overgrowth, thyroid problems, environmental mold, blood sugar issues, and chronic stress responses.
It’s amazing what happens once you start removing the infections that were paralyzing your gut. Your body finally gets the chance to heal, and you’ll begin noticing easier digestion with far less bloating. You can expect much higher energy levels and mental clarity, too.
So if you’re frustrated that your SIBO isn’t going away – even after multiple rounds of antibiotics – and you’d like some help overcoming your stomach issues, you can visit this page to learn more about what our transformation program looks like and how we can help you.