Having worked with thousands of clients over the years, one of the most challenging chronic conditions I have encountered is called SIBO (small intestinal bacteria overgrowth). For years, this condition’s complexity has remained a mystery, even to the allopathic world of medicine. Many patients continue having very frustrating and uncomfortable symptoms, even after following the strictest diets and taking a myriad of homeopathic and herbal remedies.
Recently, we had the opportunity to interview one of the countries leading experts in SIBO research. Dr. Kenneth Brown, a board certified gastroenterologist with a clinical focus on inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), worked diligently alongside Dr. Mark Pimentel in the creation of Xifaxan. Their research and creation of this SIBO antibiotic was important, and it has been helpful for many patients. However, recent studies showed Xifaxan is more targeted for SIBO patients with bloating and diarrhea. Patients who had the opposite symptoms (bloating and constipation) were not getting lasting results with Xifaxan. Recently, we had the opportunity to interview one of the countries leading experts in SIBO research. Dr. Kenneth Brown, a board certified gastroenterologist with a clinical focus on inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), worked diligently alongside Dr. Mark Pimentel in the creation of Xifaxan. Their research and creation of this SIBO antibiotic was important, and it has been helpful for many patients. However, recent studies showed Xifaxan is more targeted for SIBO patients with bloating and diarrhea. Patients who had the opposite symptoms (bloating and constipation) were not getting lasting results with Xifaxan.
Continuing his research with SIBO patients, Dr. Brown went forward to create a natural alternative called ATRANTIL, a breakthrough for patients who didn’t have results with Xifaxan. I’m impressed with this product after testing it personally and happy to bring forth this information for those suffering with SIBO symptoms. I can safely say this article may steer you towards the answer that you have been searching for, so read on.
SIBO symptoms are diverse. For most, they experience pronounced and uncomfortable bloating in the upper part of the abdomen, and more than not, it happens after eating a starchy meal, or one filled with vegetables and fiber. Sugar, dairy and gluten seem to also play a role in the exacerbation of symptoms too. However, other symptoms that can accompany this bloating are irritable bowel symptoms of either persistent diarrhea or constipation. Abdominal pain and even nausea can be present.
IBS vs. SIBO
What is the root cause of SIBO? Certain bacteria growing in the wrong place is key. Unfortunately, many patients get labeled with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) instead of SIBO. Dr. Brown feels that IBS is a “trashcan term” used for abdominal discomfort and some other gut issues. Often, SIBO patients will be given anti-depressants or other medications more targeted for IBS, and the patient goes home with no relief in sight.
Leaky Gut and Tight Junctions
IBS and leaky gut are very common terms appearing on the Internet, and seem to be a catch-all phrase for most gut symptoms. Factors that cause leaky gut are SIBO or an infection, unhealthy diets, GMO (genetically modified organisms), lectins, grains and zonulin. Zonulin is a protein that modulates the permeability of tight junctions between cells of the wall of the digestive tract.
Leaky gut affects intestinal permeability. Once this happens the “security guards” that wait right under the cells (called dendrites) don’t make the decision about whether or not these factors are friend or foe, and hand-off the decision to the immune system B Cells. In susceptible people, the B Cells judge incorrectly and this is the start of the autoimmune process. The cell over-reacts and turns on the whole inflammatory process. This triggers a cascade of inflammatory cytokines (a type of signaling molecule) to be excreted from immune cells, like helper T cells, macrophages, and certain other cell types that promote inflammation. Basically, the body starts to attack its own intestines, and that can lead to more serious conditions such as Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis.
Moreover, both the gut and brain have a protective barrier which can be compromised by certain kinds of toxins. Glyphosate, lead, mercury and other toxins and cytokines can open these barriers. And we know from experience that if you don’t stop or reduce toxicity, it is hard to balance bacteria because of malfunctioning tight junctions.
Root Causes of SIBO
With SIBO, gut bacteria (good or bad) is living where it shouldn’t be and multiplying in abundance. Dr. Brown points out, there are 2 kinds of bacteria: the methane producers and the hydrogen producers. Both cause different symptoms. But what allows this to happen? Perhaps the patient gets sick and gets a bad infection, and that can change the motility of the intestinal tract. Or the patient visits a foreign country, gets a divorce, has a car accident or experiences an inordinate amount of job stress: all these can be major contributors and affect the microbiome.
It occurs mostly in the small intestines and in the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine immediately beyond the stomach), and then an overabundance of bacteria start to grow in these places. These bacteria start to break down food before you can, which produces the painful gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea and abdominal pain that many SIBO patients experience. Unfortunately, some folks live with intestinal symptoms for so long they are tolerant of the pain. They say “Oh that is normal for me not to have a BM.” Or “I don’t wear a swimsuit because I bloat so much.” But SIBO symptoms are not normal.
How Our Body Handles Bacteria in the Wrong Places
We have pacemaker cells in our intestines called vinculin antibodies, and sometimes it can look a little bit like a bacterial toxin to our immune system. If our immune system detects the vinculin cells incorrectly as invaders, it will attack. In essence, the immune system over-reacts and can create a semi-permanent area where the intestine doesn’t move well. It is surmised that this is where the SIBO process begins. Moreover, it has been studied that if someone has an infection, they can develop antibodies (immune system soldiers) to the toxin on the bacteria. That can also create an area in the intestine where you have immobility of the small intestines. Over time, bacteria start to grow in the wrong places and release hydrogen or methane gases. Poor diet and environmental stressors continue the proliferation over time and symptoms can worsen.
While You Are Sleeping
When you go to sleep at night, your body sets up a rhythmic pumping, moving everything from the stomach all the way to the colon. This keeps the bowels moving and bowel habits are normal. With SIBO patients, this process has been affected. Dr. Brown explains that there is something that is supposed to take place during sleep called the “house keeper phenomenon” or “the phase 3 contraction” in the intestinal tract.
According to an article “Disorders of the Small Intestines”1
“… It normally takes about 90-120 minutes for the first part of a meal we have eaten to reach the large intestine, and the last portion of the meal may not reach the large intestine for five hours. This pattern of motility is called the “fed (or eating) pattern.”
Between meals, the intestine shows cycles of activity that repeat about every 90-120 minutes. The cycle consists, in order, of:
- A short period of no contractions (Phase I)
- A long period of unsynchronized contractions that appear similar to the fed pattern (Phase II)
- A burst of strong, regular contractions that move down the intestine in a peristaltic fashion (Phase III)
Phase III represents a continuation of the “housekeeper waves” that start in the stomach. Its function is to sweep undigested food particles and bacteria out of the small intestine and into the large intestine…” If the third phase is interrupted, sluggishness in bowel motility takes place, and the bacteria thrive. And when you wake up, you are right back at square one with all the familiar SIBO symptoms.
We use a product called BIND taken at night and it has a stimulating effect on the gut with people with lack of motility. It also binds toxins. Another effective tool in our cellular healing toolbox!
To re-iterate, with SIBO patients, hydrogen tends to leads to diarrhea, and methane tends to lead to constipation. Bacteria that produce methane are known as Archaeabactor, or Methanobrevibacter smithii. These bacteria are very primitive in their own kingdom. Normally it exists in our colon, but when it starts growing in the small intestine, it causes problems. The Archaeabactor is archaic, so our modern antibiotics are not effective against this bacteria, and why Dr. Pimentel found that Xifaxan might not be helpful for those who are bloating from this species.
On the other hand, more typical bacteria take hydrogen and produce hydrogen sulfide. Remember that this can cause both bloating and diarrhea. With these SIBO patients, Xifaxan is much more efficacious, because the bacteria absorb the antibiotic and integrate it into their RNA. This shuts down the machinery of the bacteria.
What Can I Do About My SIBO Symptoms?
Before we were introduced to ATRANTIL, we put clients on a SIBO diet (no sugar, no fiber, no starch) with periods of fasting. SIBO clients ate only meats and fats for 15-20 days (or longer) and it would work. However, the minute they went off this diet, many would relapse. Unfortunately, we weren’t often able to completely fix the motility issue inherent with SIBO.
As time progressed using Xifaxan, Dr. Brown became frustrated with his results. I had the same challenges with my clients. For some SIBO patients, they would make huge progress with diet changes and Xifaxan. But with others, it either made them more constipated or worse; Xifaxan had no effect at all. Dr. Brown was forced to go back to the drawing board to help SIBO patients whose constipation was primary; thus, the creation of his natural herbal product called ATRANTIL.
How Atrantil Works
ATRANTIL contains 3 ingredients that work together. Dr. Brown explains, “…The ingredients in Atrantil are polyphenols – the polyphenols are basically the molecules in the Mediterranean diet on the skin of vegetables and so on. These ingredients contain concentrated polyphenols. You cannot replicate Mother Nature. She just does it so much better than a pharmaceutical agent.”
The first ingredient is the calming agent, Peppermint leaf (M balsamea Willd extract), choosing the leaf, not the oil, for the polyphenol benefits. The second ingredient is from the bark of an ancient tree called Quebracho. It has natural defenses against fungus and the Archaeabactor species. Quebracho contains epigalic tannins. Tannins are very large molecules that don’t get absorbed very well, and stay in the intra-luminal area where the bacteria resides, weakening the Achaeabactor (reminder that Achaeabactor produces methane gas). This sets it up for the 3rd ingredient, Conker Tree extract, that shuts off enzymatic production for the Achaeabactor. The polyphenols in the ingredients gets rid of the bacteria in the small intestines and allow the body to take the bacteria back to where it belongs. Interesting enough, Dr. Brown got a patent on the natural herbs contained in ATRANTIL, which is very hard to do, considering the ingredients are found in Mother Nature.
When Can I See Results?
How long does it take to work? It all comes down to the burden of the bacterial load. Some respond very quickly. Initial studies evidenced that many patients had sustained periods where they felt great, then a year later they were given another maintenance round. For the gluten intolerant or food sensitive patients, when taking ATRANTIL, they can “cheat” a little as long as they take it with the cheat meal. Of course, we are not suggesting going off a healthy eating regimen, especially if you have SIBO.
ATRANTIL can be used daily to allow the bacteria in your colon to use what it needs to proliferate in balance. It has been available to the public for a year and a half since this writing and Dr. Brown has treated approximately 70-80,000 patients thus far using ATRANTIL and over 80% noticed improvement in symptoms.
Meredith Dykstra, C.H.C. who is my co host for Cellular Healing TV, a true blessing to Revelation Health, the creator of all things regarding food and healthy recipes and an extraordinary health coach, has had her own long-time dance with SIBO symptoms.
In her own words… “Around 2010, I ate a very high starch, macrobiotic diet and grains 3 times a day. At that time, I got a staph infection and was on a course of a lot of antibiotics for 5 months. Ever since, I couldn’t get my gut health where I wanted it to be and had major issues with my digestion and inflammation on skin. More recently, I realized I had issues with SIBO. It was so hard because vegetables caused distension. . . I had done a breath test for SIBO not long ago, and it came up negative, but it was a hydrogen breath test. I was disappointed because I knew I had SIBO. And in retrospect, I am sure I had a methane problem, but I didn’t know that the bacteria were different. So this fall, I tried to get Xifaxan, but it is very challenging to get a prescription. And it is very expensive. I finally got an appointment with a gastroenterologist, I made the financial investment and started a two week course of Xifaxan. Maybe I had a little bit of relief at the beginning, but Dr. Pompa suggested that I eat a higher starch diet than I was used to so the bacteria would eat the starch…and as I said, I did feel a slight bit of relief for the first 2 days on Xifaxan…but then there was no change, and I felt discouraged. I did more research and found ATRANTIL and loved that it was a natural option. Then I realized that I probably had the methane version of SIBO (not the hydrogen version) and that is why Xifaxan wasn’t working. A week or so after I stopped the Xifanxin, I tried the ATRANTIL and have definitely noticed much better results. “
How Do I Test For SIBO?
You can ask your doctor for a SIBO breath test, but the challenge is that most are testing for hydrogen levels only. The test is simple. You take some sort of fuel for the bacteria (lactose, glucose, manitol) and breathe into a bag and the lab checks your levels of gases (either hydrogen and methane). You do it in a set amount of time and wait for the spike in either hydrogen or methane. But it is NOT an infallible test, and if you don’t use the right sugar, or your bacteria is too far down so the sugar can’t reach it, it may not test correctly. In fact so much so that Dr. Brown only does this test with patients that have failed treatment.
I have also had patients that have negative breath test results, like Meredith, where they were only tested for hydrogen, not methane levels.
How Do I Take Atrantil?
Suggested use is 2 capsules, 3 times a day. Continue with this dose until relief from bloating is achieved. Some may have relief in as little as 10 days, but for more tenacious cases of SIBO, a course of at least 20 days at 2 capsules, 3 times a day (almost like a round of antibiotics) may be needed. If the patient takes the product for 20 days and then they relapse, they can either do another 20 days, or take it every day. A maintenance dose of 2-3 capsules per day can offer continued relief from symptoms. Dr. Brown has taken it daily for years.
Because of the Archaeabacteror die off when taking this product, some may experience temporary cold like symptoms, such as runny nose, fatigue, muscle and stomachaches, headache, or increased diarrhea, constipation or bloating. However, this is a positive sign that the Archaeabacteror are dying off and that ATRANTIL is working. ATRANTIL can be taken with digestive enzymes. In regards to taking ATRANTIL with probiotics, Dr Pimentel does a “no probiotic protocol” with SIBO patients. Sometimes, probiotics can make their bloating and other gut symptoms worse.
ATRANTIL does not show any disruption in the microbiome, (gut flora balance) and if stool testing is done, some patients have an even broader spectrum of bacteria with continued use. In regards to any possible toxicity taking ATRANTIL, Dr. Brown has taken a few bottles at once to see if there was any toxicity and never had any issues. Once again, is advised to review the label instructions at time of use.
I want to express gratitude to Dr. Brown and Dr. Pimentel for their never-ending research in the field of SIBO protocols. In fact, one of my trained docs reported after taking this product for only one day, “This is the miracle product that I have been looking for over the last few years…and it is an answer to my prayers! It has brought me great relief in record time and I am so thrilled to offer it to my SIBO patients that have been suffering. Thanks for this amazing discovery!”