SIBO Thyroid Connection
As with any chronic illness, hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s have a strong connection with gut health.
One of the most common gut health issues I see in hypothyroid and Hashimoto’s patients in my clinic is Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, or SIBO. And, scientific research has shown a strong correlation between the two. In this post, I’ll explain how SIBO and hypothyroidism are related, and how to test for and treat it.
How Hypothyroidism Causes SIBO
Your thyroid regulates all of your metabolic processes. So if it is under-active, as is the case with hypothyroidism, all of these processes slow down, including digestion. That’s why hypothyroidism so often causes constipation. When you are constipated and food lingers in your intestines, it becomes a breeding ground for pathogenic bacteria.
Many hypothyroid patients also have a decreased level of HCL, the primary stomach acid. If you are low in HCL then you can’t properly digest your food, which allows allows bad bacteria to overgrow in your gut.
How SIBO Contributes to Hypothyroidism
Twenty percent of your T4 (the storage form of thyroid hormone) is converted to T3 (the active form) in your gut.
However, if your gut flora is disrupted and it’s not functioning up to par, this conversion is reduced, leading to hypothyroidism symptoms.
The good bacteria in your gut are also critical in preventing leaky gut, or intestinal permeability. Leaky gut occurs when the tight junctions of your small intestine open up, allowing toxins, microbes, and partially undigested food particles to escape via your bloodstream.
These particles are tagged as foreign invaders by your immune system, which sends a wave of inflammation to fight them off. Leaky gut is one of the primary triggers of autoimmunity, including the autoimmune form of hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s. If your gut remains leaky, your immune system continues to attack your thyroid relentlessly, worsening thyroid dysfunction symptoms.
So Which Came First?
As you can see, thyroid function and your microbiome are an interconnected ecosystem of their own. It’s kind of a chicken or the egg situation, where hypothyroidism contributes to bacterial overgrowth, and bacterial growth worsens thyroid dysfunction.
In some cases, the hypothyroidism comes first, and in others the thyroid dysfunction leads to SIBO. Since they go hand-in-hand so frequently, I highly recommend testing for SIBO if you have symptoms of both SIBO and hypothyroidism.
How to Treat SIBO
In my clinic, I use functional medicine’s 4R Approach to healing the gut for my patients with SIBO. This includes following a diet low in carbohydrates and free of refined flours, sugars and alcohol.
To kill off the bad bacteria, I recommend using HPLR.
This supplement contains the following herbs, which may encourage healthy gastrointestinal bacterial balance and support immune health:
- Oregano Oil
- Barberry root
- Oregon Grape root
- Chinese Goldenthread
- Yerba Mansa
In addition, I recommend using Repairvite SE– this is a formula intended to offer targeted intestinal support for the brush border enzymes, L-glutamine, and zinc carnosine. Brush border enzymes help you break down sugars that ferrment in the gut and feed the bacteria. Repairvite SE.
I also recommend HCL support. Whether you struggle with a frequent upset stomach, or you want to be able to eat certain foods without the unpleasant after effects, indigestion can be a frustrating problem.
Your issues may stem from a lack of stomach acid in your body’s digestive system. HCL-ProZyme from Apex Energetics is a dietary supplement that supports production of hydrochloric acid and contains a proprietary blend of herbs and flower essences to soothe and relieve.
Finaly, another important component is probiotics- While these can be a blessing for many people, some people can have increased bloating. My experience is that my patients who have SIBO and Thyroid problems tolerate soil based probiotic fairly well. I like to use a product called to replenish the good bacteria in your gut.