What is the root cause of constipation? And how to resolve it.
Today on the Harmony With Food Radio Show I continued the conversation about constipation and talked about the root causes and how you can treat it naturally.
What is constipation?
Constipation is defined as having less than 3 bowel movements per week, and it is estimated that over 42 million Americans suffer from it.
The Impact of Constipation
If you aren’t feeling good at work every day because of bloating, stomach pains, and being backed up, you aren’t going to perform your best. The colon and the brain are constantly communicating with each other on both conscious and subconscious levels. They say ‘fix the brain, fix the gut’ for a reason!
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (or SIBO) is defined as the presence of excessive bacteria in the small intestine. These are bacteria that are normally present in the digestive tract but have overgrown in a location they aren’t meant to be in.
Normal peristalsis and sphincter function should move food and bacteria through the upper digestive tract to the large intestine. When food and bacteria aren’t moving fast enough, the bacteria start to overgrow in the small intestine.
This leads to SIBO, which can cause problems with absorption and digestion. It can also cause mild to severe leaky gut, or intestinal permeability, which can lead to chronic inflammation, food allergies, and food sensitivities.
How does SIBO lead to constipation?
The hydrogen and methane gases produced from SIBO can cause constipation. As SIBO progresses, it transitions from hydrogen to methane-dominant. Methane SIBO is especially likely to cause constipation.
Causes of SIBO
Risk factors for developing SIBO include:
Large or small bowel obstruction
Poor hydrochloric acid production
Insufficient pancreatic enzyme production
Sluggish peristalsis, or slow transit time
Intestinal neuropathy or gastroparesis
Diverticulitis of the small intestine
Treatment for SIBO
The main treatment for SIBO is antibiotics. I use a combination of herbal antibiotics like oil of oregano along with things like garlic and berberine.
Another potential cause of constipation is parasites, which is something that the tests I use do check for. If you do find yourself with a parasite, you can treat it with traditional antibiotics through your doctor, or I can suggest herbal antibiotics for you.
Parasites can also cause fatigue, inflammation, and malabsorption.
A few other potential causes of constipation include:
Ignoring the body’s signals (when you’re suffering from constipation, make sure you go to the bathroom when you get the urge)
Imbalance of good to bad bacteria in the gut
Client Case Study
I have a client who is a 39-year-old female who can sometimes go up to two weeks without a bowel movement, which is way too long!
When she started with me, we decided to do microbiome testing. The first thing we found was that her fecal lactoferrin level was high. This is associated with irritable bowel disease, diverticulitis, bacteria, parasitic infections, and inflammation.
She came back with a parasitic infection. We also did a Micronutrient test on her and found that her iron was low which makes sense since lactoferrin binds to iron.
Her markers for digestive enzymes were all really good, but the test showed that she wasn’t absorbing fat properly. That usually indicates low acids, which can lead to SIBO, constipation, and GERD.
Since she wasn’t digesting fat properly, she also wasn’t absorbing fat-soluble vitamins (Vitamins, D, E, and K) properly.
Another thing we found was high levels of Zonulin, which indicates gluten intolerance and leaky gut. Then, we looked at her overall levels of bacteria, which showed that her beneficial bacteria were low and her bad bacteria were high. This is highly indicative of SIBO.
To treat the parasite and SIBO, we are going to give her one of my favorite herbal compounds, Biocidin. I’ll also be giving her a form of iron that is non-constipating and Vitamins D and K to get her levels back up.
To bring down the inflammation, I’ll be recommending fish oil and an anti-inflammatory diet. She’ll also go on Betaine HCL to help her acid levels so she can start digesting fats better.
For the high zonulin levels, she had already found out that she was gluten intolerant about 20 years ago, but realized she was still getting gluten in her diet occasionally. She’s going to remain gluten-free and also add some supplements that will help her digest gluten more easily if she does happen to accidentally eat it.
Finally, I’ll add some supplements and probiotics to help restore the gut after the parasite and SIBO are treated.
Now, don’t go ordering these supplements for yourself. I have vetted all of these companies to make sure you are getting the best quality possible, and I want to make sure you are testing, not guessing what supplements might work for you.
She is just getting started with treatment, but what I can tell you is that she is already feeling better and that she has lost 15 pounds after coming to me with weight loss resistance!
Schedule a Call About Testing
If you’re struggling with constipation and haven’t been able to get help, you can set up a free 45-minute consultation call with me to decide which tests would work best for you.