One of the underlying causes of SIBO that no one is talking about is having insufficient bile production and low bile flow from the gallbladder which contributes to SIBO also known as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. But what is the SIBO gallbladder connection?
Bile is a soap-like substance that aids in the emulsification of fats while also having antimicrobial properties. It is the antimicrobial properties of bile that help to keep the terrain of the small intestine clean and preventing bacteria from the colon from colonizing the small intestine. While there can be other underlying causes of SIBO having a sluggish gallbladder and low bile flow is one reason as to why someone can develop SIBO.
What is SIBO?
SIBO is just as the name implies "small intestinal bacterial overgrowth". While the colon contains large numbers of bacteria the small intestine is not meant to house large numbers of bacteria, therefore, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth can be an overgrowth of bacteria from the colon that has travelled up from the colon and multiplied in large numbers in the small intestine. SIBO can also be an increase in the normal bacteria that are meant to be found in the small intestine but it is the overgrowth of any bacteria strains that causes symptoms of SIBO.
Symptoms of SIBO
Some common symptoms of SIBO include bloating, upper abdominal bloating, burping, heartburn, gas, stomach pains and loose stools.
One of the contributing factors to SIBO include poor bile production or low bile flow from the gallbladder. Bile is produced in the liver by the hepatocytes and is stored in the gallbladder. The primary function of the bile is to emulsify fats so that the pancreatic enzyme lipase can further breakdown fats while also disinfecting the small intestine.
Increasing bile production requires the amino acids taurine and glycine, cholesterol, vitamin C and lecithin. Vitamin C is needed for the enzymatic conversion of cholesterol to bile salts. Phosphatidylcholine is the active form of lecithin and helps to transport the bile out of the gallbladder by keeping it thin and flowing easily out or the gallbladder. Phosphatidylcholine also helps to prevent cholesterol from solidifying and forming gallstones in the gallbladder.
If phosphatidylcholine is out of balance with the cholesterol it increases the chance of gallstones forming which can block bile flow from the gallbladder. Thus phosphatidylcholine is key to keeping the bile a normal consistency that easily flows from the gallbladder when stimulated by the presence of dietary fat in the diet and the hormone CCK.
Some symptoms of low bile flow and signs that your gallbladder requires support and is possibly the underlying cause of SIBO include, light or grey-coloured stools, constipation, alternating between constipation or loose stools, nausea, right shoulder pain, abdominal discomfort and gallstones.
To prevent the overgrowth of opportunistic bacteria such as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth it is necessary to have both the ability to produce sufficient bile and to have adequate bile flow out of the gallbladder. Phosphatidylcholine helps to increase bile flow.
Did you know that low bile production symptoms include constipation and sluggish bowels? One of the primary benefits that I see in clients using phosphatidylcholine along with improvements in SIBO symptoms includes improved bowel movements as bile helps to stimulate peristalsis. If someone is prone to constipation or has sluggish bowel movements along with SIBO symptoms I am always looking to the gallbladder as one of the primary underlying causes of SIBO and the digestive organ in need of bile flow support.
What is the purpose of bile?
You can think of bile as dish soap with 2 key properties.
#1 The purpose of bile in the digestive process is to emulsify fats in the diet so that they can be further broken down by pancreatic enzymes and absorbed. Bile also helps with the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K.
#2 Act as an antimicrobial that prevents bacteria from growing in the small intestine by keeping the terrain intact and an environment where SIBO cannot thrive.
While there are other underlying causes of SIBO as well, it is crucial to take low bile flow into consideration and look at the body from a holistic approach. The antimicrobial properties of bile are huge for inhibiting small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.
Everyone may have different underlying factors that are contributing to SIBO with poor bile production and flow being another factor that allows for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth to take up residence. Increasing bile production is one of the best natural ways to prevent SIBO recurrence and inhibit bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine.
I pinpointed a sluggish gallbladder and liver as the cause of my SIBO and since using phosphatidylcholine to improve bile flow and additional ox bile to reduce my SIBO I no longer experience heartburn which was one of my primary 'symptoms' of SIBO. My digestion overall has massively improved since targeting the liver and gallbladder which was the digestive organ that needed the most support in my body.
Using ox bile for SIBO in conjunction with the phosphatidylcholine were the two supplements that I used to kick my SIBO. It makes sense though when you think about it. Instead of using all sorts of antimicrobial supplements you can just support your antimicrobial defences by providing bile flow support. The reason why Ox bile works for reducing SIBO is due to the antimicrobial factors of using external bile as well.
Know that if low bile flow and production are one of the primary underlying causes of SIBO for you then you may experience a die-off reaction when these supplements are used which means go slow. Hitting the nail on the head can cause a die-off reaction.
Seeking Health's Optimal PC (phosphatidylcholine) can help to support the flow of bile from the gallbladder so that the terrain of the small intestine inhibits the overgrowth of bacterial imbalances.
Utilizing digestive enzymes is also very beneficial to prevent SIBO by making sure that there are not excess undigested starches in the small intestine providing fuel for bacteria to proliferate upon.