5 Surprising Chinese Herbs for Sibo

Using Chinese herbs for SIBO can help you take care of your gut and treat a variety of digestive issues. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is a serious condition affecting the small intestine. It occurs when bacteria that normally grow in other parts of the gut start growing in the small intestine. 

Bacteria in the small intestine may result in impaired absorption of nutrients.(1) Bacteria may lead to fat malabsorption through a process called bile acid deconjugation. Carbohydrate absorption may be affected and result in carbohydrate fermentation in the intestines and gas, bloating, pain, mucus in stools, foul-smelling stools and gas, and diarrhea.(2) According to alternative medicine practitioners, sweets and starchy foods cause the worst symptoms.

This imbalance can lead to a number of symptoms including, but not limited to:

  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Pain
  • Brain fog
  • Skin problems
  • Chronic bad breath

Chinese herbs for SIBO can bring back the “digestive fire” into balance and ensure that your gut is healthy. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the right food is critical to good health. Not just because the western nutritional model has reduced food to vitamins and minerals, but also for the complex interactions and communication these foods have with the trillions of microbes and cells in our bodies.

In Chinese medicine, this is referred to as the ‘energetics of food’. It represents the wisdom of listening and understanding the interplay between the microbiome, gut, brain, and immune system. Chinese herbs for SIBO works on detoxification of toxic compounds the gut is exposed to.

There are just a few herbs that could help people suffering from digestive issues. These herbs are often used in combination with other Chinese herbs for best results. Some of the herbs are easy to get, and others only your TCM practitioner can get for you.

Please consult your TCM practitioner before taking any of the following herbs:

chinese herbs for sibo

5 Surprising Chinese Herbs for Sibo

1. Geng Mi

It’s considered helpful in managing thirst, diarrhea, and fatigue, which is why it’s included in one of the most popular dishes in Asian cultures, congee, a type of rice porridge. You can make different types of congee depending on what ails you by adding different herbs, vegetables, or meats.

2. Shan Zha

Shan Zha is a hawthorn berry, you can buy it and drink it as a tea after every meal. It’s sweet and sour in taste and is considered one of the strongest food stagnation herbs around. I find it particularly good if you are having problems digesting meats and fats.

3. Chen Pi

This is actually the peel of an orange or a tangerine. This herb can help regulate your whole digestive system and is good for your spleen and stomach issues, including nausea, vomiting, belching, abdominal fullness, and distention or pain.

It’s also bitter, which means it can help drain dampness. Dampness in your digestive system can affect you appetite and cause you to have loose stool, always be tired, and have a thick, greasy tongue coating.

4. Rou Gui

This is cinnamon bark and it is another key ingredient for warming the stomach. Cinnamon bark is used for gastrointestinal (GI) upset, diarrhea, and gas. It is also used for stimulating appetite; for infections caused by bacteria and parasitic worms; and for menstrual cramps, the common cold, and the flu (influenza).

You can add a stick of cinnamon to a warming mutton soup, or mix cinnamon powder with lukewarm water and drink it. Adding a touch of honey to the drink will also aid digestion by strengthening the spleen.

5. Geng Mi

Geng Mi is a type of sweet rice. In TCM, rice is very soothing to the digestive system. It is helpful in managing thirst, diarrhea, and fatigue – which is why it is one of the most popular dishes in Asian cultures. This is also the reason explained by TCM that people who have stomach disorders are made to eat congee or rice porridge, mixed with several herbal ingredients and spices to aid in the healing process.

It’s not only important what you eat, but also whether your intestines are actually absorbing all the nutrients you’re ingesting. According to the Traditional Chinese Medicine expert Eva Escorihuela, in Western countries, digestive problems tend to be quite frequent, for several reasons:

  • Eating an excess of precooked or refined foods, lacking real nutritional value.
  • Poor eating habits, such as eating quickly, not chewing properly, and not practicing mindful eating.
  • A predisposition to suffering from digestive issues.

For those who suffer from digestive problems, Traditional Chinese Medicine can positively improve the underlying issues and treat the imbalances that are impeding correct functioning.

Other Methods to Treat SIBO

Antibiotics are the primary treatment for SIBO symptoms.

However, studies show that dietary changes, such as limiting sugars and lactose, may also help reduce bacterial overgrowth.

Outside of using Chinese herbs for SIBO, the SIBO diet is a gradual elimination diet that is meant to reduce inflammation in the digestive tract and bacterial overgrowth in your small intestine. In some cases, eliminating only sugars can ease symptoms. 

While the list of foods you should avoid can be restrictive, there are still a number of foods you can enjoy while on this temporary diet. A SIBO diet should focus on foods high in fiber and low in sugar.

Some have found relief using castor oil for SIBO.

Chinese Herbs for Sibo – Summary

While seen as an effective treatment method, Chinese herbs for SIBO treats symptoms but may not treat the underlying cause. Traditional treatment methods shouldn’t be ignored. Prior to incorporating any dietary changes to your treatment plan, discuss your options with your doctor.