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592. SIBO, What Is It?


SIBO stands for Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth. In this episode, Dr. Martin teaches why he thinks the word bacterial needs to be replaced with a different word.

So many times we’re prescribed antibiotics for various ailments. When you take an antibiotic, you actually wipe out all the good bacteria. This in turn sets you up for a bacteria overgrowth in the small intestine. Medicine says it’s bacteria, but Dr. Martin says it’s yeast.

Listen in to today’s episode to hear Dr. Martin’s take on this specific condition. He shares what causes SIBO and what steps you can take to eliminate it.


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Dr. Martin:  Well, good morning. Good to be with you again. Hope you're having a great day, great start to the day. Interesting topic today. Okay, now I want to talk to you this morning what medicine calls SIBO. What is SIBO? When do you suspect you have it? What are the symptoms and then what you can do about it? That's what we're going to look at this morning. SIBO stands for small intestine, S-I, B, okay, bacterial overgrowth. Someone last night was asking about it, "Can you take probiotics?" and then we will talk about that. There's a very specific protocol that I use.

So SIBO stands for small intestine bacterial overgrowth. Here are some of the possible symptoms. Bloating is probably the number one symptom, especially after you eat. You could be bloated for hours and hours and hours. Bloating, gas, abdominal pain, nausea, some women talking about distension. I heard this hundreds of times. Doc, I'm like nine months pregnant. Like just the expansion of the tummy, unbelievable, and I've actually seen it. They go, "What is that?" Diarrhea, maybe constipation, one or the other, or sometimes a combination of those two things. But the biggest thing usually is bloating and gas and discomfort.

Now that, of course, you have to do a differential diagnosis because you always have to look at diverticulosis, you have to look at Crohn's, you have to look at ulcerative colitis, you got... I mean, there's a multitude of things and it could be in the gut, but I am very suspicious that a lot of times this is very much misdiagnosed because medicine usually calls it IBS, irritable bowel syndrome. Well, yeah, of course. You don't need a medical degree to give the diagnosis that your bowel is irritated if you have stomach problems. I got gut problems. Yeah, it's IBS. Well, what's that mean? Well, the bowel is irritated. Yeah, well, like I said, yeah, it doesn't take much, but why is it irritated? So this is what we're going to talk about this morning, this condition.

Now, I just want to tell you that I have renamed it. So not small intestine bacterial obstruction or overgrowth. The O is for overgrowth, and there's a lot of doctors, if you Google it, that will tell you it is a bacterial overgrowth. Now, yes and no. Is there bacteria there? Yes. But at the Martin Clinic, I believe, we believe, that it is not bacterial, it is yeast. So I've called it SIYO or SICO, small intestine yeast overgrowth. Or, you guys tell me which one you like better and then we'll actually give it a Martin Clinic name, small intestine yeast overgrowth or small intestine candida overgrowth. So that would be SICO, not SIBO but SICO.

Let me explain what I'm saying. Ladies, by the way, you get this more than men get it. It's not like a man can get SIYO or SICO, but women get it much more than men and I'm going to explain why in a minute. Hormones have to do with this. Horror-mones. But let me digress and go and give you my thinking. Now, ladies, when you get a recurring urinary tract infection, if you've been following me, I've said this for years... If you get a recurring urinary tract infection, it's not E. coli, it's not the bacteria. The bacteria is present, I agree, but when you get it recurring, it's not bacterial; it's fungal. It's yeast. It's candida. All the same word. Yeast is a fungus. Candida is a fungus. So maybe we'll call it small intestine fungus overgrowth. So maybe not SIYO or SICO, we'll call it SIFO, fungal. SIFO, that's easy. You, guys, decide what we're going to call it, okay? We're going to have a vote at the end of it. SIFO for fungus; SICO for candida; or SIYO for yeast.

But, okay, let me come back to that urinary tract infection. If you get one urinary tract infection and I mean you get burning every time you urinate and that, you got an infection there. You know what I've said to you in the past. Oftentimes, a probiotic won't do it. You need an antibiotic. You don't want that going up to your kidneys. Antibiotics are the greatest discovery in medicine, even more than vaccines, guys. Like, people talk about the smallpox and this and that vaccine and polio and blah-blah-blah. Yeah, wonderful discoveries, I'm not arguing with that. But antibiotics is what has saved millions and millions and millions of people's lives.

So is Dr. Martin against antibiotics? Absolutely not. I'm against the overuse of antibiotics. That's what I'm against. I'm against the overuse of antibiotics. When you get a urinary tract infection, especially those that doesn't kill you... burning. You're like, they just found it like, for example, you get a urinary test done. You pee in a cup and they say, "Oh, you got a urinary tract infection then the doctor puts you on an antibiotic." Shouldn't do that. Or you might smell your urine and you smell that infection in there, guys, ladies, it's fungal. It's yeast. That's why it reoccurs. This is the double-edged sword. It's the same thing in the small intestine. The small intestine, you got a little bit of yeast in the large intestine. It's actually normal.

Yeast, a little bit of it, isn't a bad thing, guys, in your body. It's actually a little bit is on your side in the large intestine, but never in the small intestine. The small intestine, by the way, isn't that small. Look, if you take your gut out, take out your gut and spread it out, you are going to cover a tennis court. You're going to cover a tennis court, and the small intestine, what makes it so different from the large intestine, the small intestine is very wide guys, comparatively. It's not long as it is wide. The reason is because when you're eating, digestion starts right in the mouth. You're chewing and your saliva, you’re secreting enzymes already. Your saliva is breaking down the food. You're going in, especially in the stomach, when your stomach is working properly, it's a furnace, guys. It's a furnace.

When you have a good acidity in your stomach, remember, in your stomach, you want high, high acid in your stomach. Why? Because it's a furnace. It mulches down the food so that you get your nutrients then it's off into the small intestine. In the small intestine, you have all these little villi and they absorb... Like Tony, Jr. had a good illustration of it. You remember the old days in the 1970s or whatever of the shag carpets. You remember shag carpets? You ever have a shag carpet in your home? Well, that's what your small intestine is like, because it's there. Those villi are there to absorb your nutrients.

But what can happen in the small intestine is you can get an overgrowth, medicine says, of bacteria, I say it's yeast, and there's a big difference. There is a big difference because medicine's treatment... Let me just say this as almost like a disclaimer, a lot of doctors have never even read about SIBO. They just haven't read a book. S-I-B-O to them is what? That's IBS. No, it's very specific. It's into the small intestine and there's an overgrowth there. But the ones that do treat it, they treat it with antibiotics. To me, I'm just going to say it, to me, it's a mistake. I understand why they do it. It's just like if you find out that you have, in your stomach, a bacteria. They give you an antibiotic, but I would rather you treat this naturally, because at the end of the day, if you understand that the bacteria is there, I'm not arguing that there's bacteria there, what I'm saying is what's happened in the small intestine. It's got overgrowth of yeast. It's a fungal infection, not a bacterial infection. It's a fungal infection. So an antibiotic, at first, "Yeah, you know what? Geez, that helped me." But guess what? This has been my experience. It comes back with a vengeance. It comes back with a vengeance.

So what am I saying? Well, first of all, how do you get it? Let's talk about some of the reasons. Again, number one reason that you get SICO or SIYO or SIFO... How do you get that? The number one reason you get it is because you have been on antibiotics. Antibiotics, wonderful, can save your life, but there's a double-edged sword to them. They create a fungal infection in the body. You might not sense it right away. It may be, literally, I've seen it, years down the road. I've seen it where, especially in children, okay? I'll give you three categories: children, ear infections, throat infections. Hey, a baby is crying. They got ear infections. Mommy, drives you crazy, that baby. Ears, terrible pain, but it's viral. It's not even bacterial, but they give you an antibiotic. It was going to go away. You can treat that with an antihistamine and a little bit of Tylenol or whatever til it goes away. You don't really want to give them an antibiotic when it's not bacterial, it's viral. But that happens all the time.

You get a sinus infection. They're no fun. Sinus infections are terrible. Take an antibiotic. You get relief. Problem is now you have a fungus that sets up in there. I've seen kids taking antibiotics... like teenagers... because they got acne and allergies that cleared up their skin, but it destroyed their gut and it didn't happen overnight. It happened years later. I'm a history guy. I love history. I love human history. I love nutritional history. I love teaching on why the world has changed in terms of nutrition because we've gotten away from eating the way we used to eat, and I love history of patients because I would never see a patient in my office, and I mean this, you had to fill out a questionnaire and they go, "Doc, like geez, it took me half an hour to fill out your questionnaire." I know, but I want details.

I want to know, were you weaned on antibiotics as a kid? Or, did you have an antibiotic treatment in the last couple of years for urinary tract infections or whatever? Why do you have SIBO or SIFO or SICO or SIYO? Why? There's a reason why. The number one reason is antibiotics. Again, don't misquote me, please. I'm not against them, but if you ever take an antibiotic, you better fix it, man. I don't care. You can say, "Oh, I didn't get anything." You better fix it because you can't get a picture inside your gut that'll show you yeast. I mean, you can't. Even if you go for a colonoscopy, guys, that doesn't show you yeast. Yeast is microscopic. It is submicroscopic. You wouldn't see it. So number one reason.

Second reason is our diets. Do you think human beings were meant to consume 200 stinking pounds of sugar a year, each? Now, I know you don't consume that much sugar, but on the average, that's what North Americans consume. They don't realize it. That feeds yeast... Here's what I always say. Yeast love sugar and hate steak. The two S's. It loves sugar and hates steak. The second reason that people get a small intestine overgrowth of yeast is because of our diets, which are carb-laced, sugar-laced diets. Even in the hospital, I was communicating with someone yesterday and they said, "You wouldn't believe what they're feeding my father in the hospital. Nothing but junk. Nothing but junk." But you see, medicine still hasn't clued in, in general. Medicine has not clued in to the importance of the diet. You need balance. You can't live without carbs. You got to have some sugar. Your brain needs sugar.

Listen, if your brain needs sugar, it'll take steak and turn it into sugar. You don't need sugar. We live in a different world all together. You don't need an ounce of it. This is why we see new conditions called small intestine yeast overgrowth today. It's our diet. The crappy carbs; carbs are going to be sugars in five seconds. Then you have the crappy oils. You go to a fast food restaurant and you order fries and you order chicken fingers or whatever, and they cook them in these so-called vegetable oils. They're not vegetables at all. They're seed oils. They're very high in omega-6 and they are destructive to the microbiome. Remember, again, very quick. Remember what I've always said. There's a war going on in your body. Good, bad... bacteria. There's a war. It's always there and you got a good army of bacteria, they're on your side, and you got a bad army of bacteria, they're against you.

When you take an antibiotic, you wipe out all the good guys. It happens in less than five days. Don't fool yourself about that. But what if you're a sugar eater? Well, again, your good bacteria don't like sugar. Your bad bacteria, they adore sugar. The problem is this: when your good guys are down or out, and your bad guys are up, guess what happens? You have a third army, and nobody talks about this. We're just talking about the microbiome and, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, and I love the microbiome. I teach leaky gut. Leaky gut is when you don't have enough good guys. But what they don't teach is the yeast infection that comes as a result of this.

So I named three things already. Antibiotics are number one. I've always said it, the greatest discovery of the 20th century, and now becoming the curse of the 21st century: antibiotics. The curse of the 21st century. I'm telling you that cancer, almost every cancer, is a fungal infection. It's a yeast infection. It's an overgrowth. Not necessarily in the small intestine, although that can happen. When you have SIBO, but really SIYO or SICO... my brain... what I'm saying is you have the invasion of that third army, and that is the most destructive army. The reason yeast is so destructive, guys, think of it, yeast outside your body, what does it do? It makes bread rise. Ladies, when you get your belly, you think you're nine months pregnant. That's not bacteria that does that. That's yeast. That's how you make bread. It rises and yeast, okay, you put it in your bread so your bread will rise. Okay, I get it. That's not destructive. But when it's inside your body and it grows, grows, grows, that's dangerous for you because not only does it happen in the small intestine like that, you get an overgrowth, but then it gets into the bloodstream.

Why do you think, guys... Think about what I'm going to say here. Why do you think we see so much autoimmune today? Why do you think we see so much MS? A hundred fold increase in Parkinson's, why? It's a yeast infection inside the brain. It's not bacteria. It's yeast. It's fungal. You know what happens with yeast? It spreads. See, the Bible is right when it talks about sin being like yeast. It spreads to the whole person. It spreads. Yeast spreads. A little bit of leaven, it says. A little bit; it spreads throughout the dough. That's alright in bread, but it's not alright when it gets in your body. That's what small intestine yeast overgrowth is. That's what it is, guys. It's not bacterial. You have to see the bigger picture. You have to see the bigger picture. Again, I'm not against antibiotics, but that's not going to fix yeast. It'll make your yeast worse. It'll make your yeast worse.

You know another thing that's happening in our world today? It's the diet again. Acid reflux is a symptom 99% of the time that you're a carboholic. It's your body's screaming saying, "Hey, you, you're a carboholic," and then most people, they don't listen. Listen, Linda, they don't. "Oh, I'm not a carboholic." "Oh, what did you have for breakfast?" "Well, cereal. I can't have bacon and eggs, Dr. Martin without toast, no." So you get that overgrowth. I'm telling you, it's one of the most dangerous things to happen is candida. Yeast or fungus getting into your small intestine and then absorbing past the gate. It gets into the gate and it overwhelms the bodyguards at the gate. Guess what happens? It gets into the bloodstream, and now you have a major infection... and you know what? You don't even know it. A lot of people don't know it. I get some digestive issues, but I just take extra fiber. Fiber. Fiber is not going to fix yeast, guys. You cannot feed it. You don't feed the bears. Don't feed them. They're waking up now, don't feed it. You have to change your diet, okay?

Now, what do you do to fix it? What do you do to fix? Yeast needs to be fed and it eats sugar. It eats junk. Stop feeding it. Oh, by the way, I didn't finish my point. I went on a rabbit trail and I forgot to finish the point. You know when I'm talking about acid reflux, that's your body screaming at you? It's a sign, guys. It's a symptom. Acid reflux is not a disorder on its own; it isn't. It's your body's alarm system saying, "Hello, you. You're eating too many carbohydrates. Stop. You can take Prevacid and you can take Nexium and you can take Zantac and you can take Tums, and you can take all that stuff, but you know what that does? That even causes more of an overgrowth because what you're doing is you are decreasing the acidity in your stomach.

You see, your body is saying... look, when you are a carboholic, one of the signs is your body's going to have less acid in the stomach and now your body says, "Hey, I've got to make up for that," so your proton pumps in your stomach produce more acid. The problem with that acid is it goes up your esophagus and you go, "Ugh, man, that is terrible pain. I think I'm having a heart attack." You're not having a heart attack. You're getting an acid attack because you don't have enough acid. Then you take Rolaids or Tums or Zantac or Nexium or the purple pill or whatever you'd take. Guys, that's not the fix. That's a band-aid. That doesn't fix it. It makes it worse because what happens, now you're not digesting your food. You're not even getting the nutrients in. That food comes in whole into the small intestine and yeast overgrowths even more. It becomes a vicious cycle.

What do you do? Numero uno, Reset. One, you do The Reset because The Reset kills yeast. It kills fungus. Why? You're not having any carbs. You're not having any sugars. Yeast is mad at you. A lot of people, by the way, one of the byproducts of yeast is aldehydes, like formaldehyde, like alcohol. You feel like you're drunk and that can happen a little bit when you first start The Reset if you have a lot of yeasts, like, "Oh, like, gee, I don't feel so good today." Your yeast is dying off, guys. It's called the die-off. It's a good thing. You're not feeding it. It wants to be fed, don't feed it. So you start with the diet.

Did you know our digestive enzymes were made for... not SIBO, although that's what medicine calls it, it's meant for yeast in the small intestine. You know why? Because we put oil of oregano in our digestive enzyme. Do you know why oil of oregano kills yeast? Oil of oregano kills bacteria, the bad guys; it doesn't kill your good guys. God gave you a natural antibiotic. It's called oil of oregano, and you makers of oil of oregano, you owe me money. Send check because I talk about you all the time. When I had my radio show for 20 years, people that represented nutraceutical companies and that, they said, "Dr. Martin, you put oil of oregano on the map in Canada." "Oh, well, thanks," because I use it. I still use it. I use it every day, the oil of oregano. If you take our digestive enzyme, we have oil of oregano in it, and other things to kill the yeast because it's a yeast, guys. Diet.

A lady last night was asking on our private Facebook group and I saw the question. They said, "I'm reading that you do not take probiotics with SIBO." Untrue. I know why they say it because here's their thinking. You have certain bacteria that get into the small intestine and the probiotics are meant for the large intestine. Well, some of the probiotics is, but when you have spore probiotics... Do you know what spore are? The ground probiotics. They don't have to be refrigerated. There are certain strains of bacteria and actually we've put one of them right in our Digestive Enzyme. We put that bacterial strain that is really effective on killing yeast and any bacteria overgrowth that's happening in that small intestine. We put it in there, plus when you have spore or soil-based probiotics, they will do the job in the small intestine.

So look, I know there's different stuff on the internet, and I want you to look up... I like when you look up stuff, I do. But if you're confused because a lot of people say, "Hey doc, I'm confused." I get that all the time. They're confused usually because they listen to me, then they go on the internet and they listen to the gurus, and red meat's no good for you according to the gurus, and don't eat this and don't eat that, and I'm telling you the opposite and you go, "Hey, I'm confused." You know what I say? Don't be confused. Listen to me. No, I want you to think. I've always encouraged you. Don't be scared. I don't hide, guys. You know me, I'm very visible. I don't hide. I have a Question and Answer Friday. You have questions. I love the question last night because it says, I know, I've read everything you can read on SIBO, and it's not SIBO. It's SI-whatever we're going to call it. SIYO? I don't know. I'm going to go afterwards and we're going to name this thing.

That's what you do, guys. Probiotics work. Get a soil-based broad spectrum probiotic. That's the kind of probiotic you should be taking. I'm not saying dairy probiotics are no good, but the dairy products won't help your small intestine. I love dairy, you know that. Not milk, but I love dairy. I'm not against dairy and I'm not against dairy probiotics either, I'm not. But when you have to refrigerate them, they do not help the small intestine. They help the large intestine. Okay? That's just a fact.

Okay, love you guys. I mean it. You got the book, The Reset. Thank you. Again, we just appreciate it so much that you've made that book so popular. We thank you so much. We love you guys. We really do. Send in your questions for Friday, Question and Answer Friday, okay? Talk to you soon. Love ya.

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