What is your current activity level?
🧍‍♂️Sedentary
🚶 Moderately active
🏃 Very active
This will help us personalize your experience
Blog
>

Probiotics for SIBO: Which Are Best?

Published on
Updated on
Probiotics for SIBO: Which Are Best?

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is a gut condition resulting from excessive bacteria levels in the small intestine. Their high-volume presence can cause gastrointestinal symptoms, including bloating, changes in bowel habits, and even brain fog.
  • Probiotics are health-promoting bacteria that relieve several gut-health symptoms such as constipation, bloating, and diarrhea. 
  • There is minimal research to support the benefits of using probiotics to treat SIBO symptoms. Instead, prioritize dietary and lifestyle changes combined with antibiotics to decrease bacteria levels.

Gut health disorders are becoming increasingly common. Typical symptoms include frequent bloating and changes in bowel routine. 

Identifying the root cause of these symptoms can be challenging because they overlap with several gut health disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO.)  

In this article, you’ll learn more about SIBO and treatment options, if probiotics can help with SIBO, and why working with a registered dietitian is essential for long-term success. 

{{splash}}

What is SIBO?

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is when excessive amounts of bacteria populate the small intestine. The high volume of these bacteria can alter gut function and produce mild to moderate digestive symptoms in people. Common symptoms include:

  • A motility disorder refers to changes in contractions of your gastrointestinal tract that help push digested food through your system.
  • Slower motility can result in food staying in the gastrointestinal tract for longer, worsening symptoms and discomfort. 
  • Sometimes diarrhea. 
  • Brain fog. 

Diagnosing SIBO can be challenging because the symptoms are broad. Sometimes they overlap with irritable bowel syndrome, making SIBO harder to identify. If you suspect you have SIBO, you can take our SIBO quiz to learn if it fits your current health. 

Different Types of SIBO 

There are three classifications of SIBO: methane SIBO, hydrogen-dominant SIBO, and hydrogen-sulfide dominant. Completing testing with a specialist to diagnose your SIBO type is vital for building your treatment plan. 

Two standard tests for SIBO include: 

  1. A non-invasive hydrogen breath test to measure the concentration of hydration in your exhalation.
  2. A small fluid sample is collected from the small intestine and assessed for bacterial presence.  

What Are Probiotics? 

A probiotic is a microscopic living organism that can promote health. These tiny bacterial agents live throughout your gastrointestinal tract and have been linked to the following:

  • Improving bowel habits - relieving constipation, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, and diarrhea caused by cancer treatment.  
  • Easing symptoms of several digestive disorders - diverticular disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and irritable bowel disease. 
  • Ongoing research studies investigate the link between probiotics, mental health disorders, weight management, and liver health. 

Most probiotic products are available in capsules, liquid beverages, or sometimes added to foods such as yogurts. 

Naturally Occurring Probiotics

Fermented foods are known to carry higher levels of bacteria. These include sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir (drinkable yogurt), yogurts, kombucha (fermented tea), etc. 

These foods can help maintain healthy bacteria levels in your digestive tract, but if you have SIBO, you may want to limit your intake. They can add more bacteria to your gut, prolonging your symptoms. Your dietitian can tell you if these foods are appropriate for you. 

Can Probiotics Help With SIBO? 

There is conflicting information if probiotics can help with SIBO. SIBO refers to the overgrowth of bacteria in your small intestine, and adding more bacteria via probiotics may not be helpful for some people.  

Without a clear guideline, you should only take recommended strains of bacteria under the guidance of a registered dietitian specializing in gut health or a gastroenterologist (a medical doctor specializing in digestive health.) 

For now, make small gradual changes to try and heal your gut, such as identifying and eliminating trigger foods. Follow the guidance of a dietitian specializing in SIBO and avoid overhauling your diet and lifestyle overnight.

Too many changes (even positive ones) can make it harder to identify which treatments truly benefit your healing process. 

What Types of Probiotics Are Good for SIBO? 

There is a limited number of probiotics that are proven to be effective for SIBO symptoms. 

A small study suggests that Saccharomyces boulardii combined with metronidazole medication may relieve SIBO symptoms.

This generic yeast-based probiotic bacteria strain can be purchased at most pharmacy retail outlets without a prescription. 

Other research suggested that probiotics can lessen hydrogen-dominant SIBO symptoms while using probiotics, but the specific strains of bacteria were not outlined. These preliminary findings suggest that probiotics may help manage the symptoms but do not target the underlying cause of SIBO

{{local}}

When Should I Take Probiotics to Manage My SIBO Symptoms? 

You should resolve the majority of your SIBO symptoms before starting a probiotic.

There is a risk that adding more bacteria to your diet can compound SIBO symptoms and make you feel worse. 

To heal SIBO symptoms, you should complete a diet review with a registered dietitian. They can help you make nutritional changes to improve your symptoms.

Their suggestions will be highly individualized, and your dietitian may recommend a low FODMAP protocol.

This restrictive diet temporarily eliminates foods that can exacerbate gut symptoms, which can be a great relief. 

Your doctor may prescribe broad-spectrum antibiotics to decrease the number of bacteria in the small intestine and reduce overgrowth. 

Researchers suspect that reducing undesirably SIBO bacteria allows the gut to replenish health-promoting bacteria instead.

These agents can help sustain healthy gut function, and a probiotic may help restore bacterial colonies at this point in the treatment plan. 

Possible Side Effects

A probiotic may worsen SIBO symptoms, including gas, bloating, and even brain fog. It is unclear how a person will react to probiotics, and focusing your treatment efforts on other areas (such as diet and lifestyle changes) may be more worthwhile.   

Tips for Choosing the Right Probiotics

If you want to see results, you need to choose a probiotic strain proven to help with symptoms.

A generic probiotic supplement is unlikely to be beneficial because each strain helps with a specific health benefit. It can be hard to easily access this information because it is written in highly technical scientific language. 

Working with a gastroenterologist or a registered dietitian can help clarify which probiotic may be helpful for you. They are trained in deciphering scientific literature and can offer clear, simple steps to support your health journey. 

You and your provider can refer to the American Probiotic Chart for evidence-based suggestions. The chart also offers helpful tips, such as how often to take a probiotic and how to store them to maintain their shelf life. 

Takeaway

If you have SIBO, you may or may not benefit from probiotics. The gut disorder symptoms are highly individualized, and strategies to help you feel your best may evolve as you make changes. The first treatment action should focus on diet and lifestyle changes, followed by rounds of antibiotics, as a specialist recommends. 

Once SIBO symptoms resolve, you may want to try a probiotic to help maintain overall gut health, but you should only take a probiotic recommended by a dietitian. Unnecessarily adding more bacteria to your intestines may worsen SIBO symptoms.  

How a SIBO Dietitian Can Help

Taking back control of your gut health is possible with the help of a nutrition expert. A dietitian specializing in SIBO can help you identify and eliminate trigger foods, manage SIBO symptoms, and help you feel more confident in your food choices.

Frequently Asked Questions

What probiotic is best for SIBO?

Saccharomyces boulardii combined with medications may help relieve SIBO symptoms in some people. 

Overall, there is minimal evidence to show that probiotics are a reliable treatment option for SIBO.

What probiotics should you avoid with SIBO?

You should avoid most probiotics with SIBO unless a specialist recommends otherwise. A priority for managing SIBO is decreasing the number of bacteria in the small intestine, and taking a probiotic (which contains billions of bacteria) can be counterproductive.

How do you heal a SIBO gut?

Identifying the type of SIBO you have is critical for healing. Generally, you will need to make dietary and lifestyle changes that promote a healthy gut, and your specialist may prescribe antibiotics to help decrease the volume of bacteria in your gut.

References

View all references
Nourish has strict sourcing policies and prioritizes primary sources, including medical organizations, governmental agencies, academic institutions, and peer-reviewed scientific journals. Learn more about our medical review process and editorial guidelines.

See a Registered Dietitian with Nourish

  • Covered by insurance
  • Virtual sessions
  • Personalized care
Schedule an appointment

Frequently asked questions

No items found.

Find a virtual dietitian in {State}

Find a dietitian near you

Covered by insurance.
Question 1

Are you more thirsty than usual?

Question 1

Are you urinating more than usual?

Question 1

Is your blood sugar level consistently high?

Question 1

Do you experience extreme hunger or fatigue?

Question 1

Do you have blurry vision or numbness and tingling in your hands and feet?

Question 1

Do you experience frequent infections or slow-healing wounds?

Question 1

Do you have a family history of diabetes?

Your Result

Your results are in!

While you don’t seem to be at risk for prediabetes or type 2 diabetes based on this quiz, please contact your healthcare provider with any concerns. If you want to learn more about diet and lifestyle changes with diabetes, find a registered dietitian covered by insurance with Nourish.

Your Result

Your results are in!

You should seek guidance from your healthcare provider about the possibility of prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.

If you want to learn more about diet and lifestyle changes with diabetes, find a registered dietitian covered by insurance with Nourish.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Charleston
SC
South Carolina
32.7884363, -79.9399309
Paterson
NJ
New Jersey
40.916611, -74.172188
Palmdale
CA
California
34.576469, -118.116096
Lancaster
CA
California
34.697472, -118.144524
Murfreesboro
TN
Tennessee
35.845619, -86.390266
Santa Rosa
CA
California
38.547134, -122.816383
Eugene
OR
Oregon
44.052151, -123.091187
Shreveport
LA
Louisiana
32.523659, -93.763504
Clarksville
TN
Tennessee
36.527279, -87.360336
Cary
NC
North Carolina
35.7882893, -78.7812081
Salem
OR
Oregon
44.944099, -123.040283
Newport News
VA
Virginia
37.087082, -76.473015
Chattanooga
TN
Tennessee
35.0457219, -85.3094883
Akron
OH
Ohio
41.0842496, -81.6777863
Providence
RI
Rhode Island
41.823990, -71.412834
Tallahassee
FL
Florida
30.438255, -84.280731
Peoria
AZ
Arizona
33.7528919, -112.4902079
Sioux Falls
SD
South Dakota
43.536388, -96.731667
Yonkers
NY
New York
40.930790, -73.898293
Fayetteville
NC
North Carolina
35.052666, -78.878357
Rochester
NY
New York
43.156578, -77.608849
McKinney
TX
Texas
33.214561, -96.614456
Moreno Valley
CA
California
33.920891, -117.261162
Fremont
CA
California
37.548271, -121.988571
Frisco
TX
Texas
33.150673, -96.823608
Spokane
WA
Washington
47.658779, -117.426048
Boise
ID
Idaho
43.6008183, -116.2421086
Port St. Lucie
FL
Florida
27.273270, -80.342148
Irving
TX
Texas
32.814018, -96.948891
Winston-Salem
NC
North Carolina
36.096260, -80.243736
St. Petersburg
FL
Florida
27.773056, -82.639999
Laredo
TX
Texas
27.507130, -99.507500
Jersey City
NJ
New Jersey
,
Buffalo
NY
New York
42.8867166, -78.8783922
St. Louis
MO
Missouri
38.627003, -90.199402
Chandler
AZ
Arizona
33.3062031, -111.841185
Durham
NC
North Carolina
35.994034, -78.898621
Lincoln
NE
Nebraska
40.806862, -96.681679
Pittsburgh
PA
Pennsylvania
40.440624, -79.995888
Greensboro
NC
North Carolina
36.072701, -79.793900
St. Paul
MN
Minnesota
44.954445, -93.091301
Newark
NJ
New Jersey
40.735657, -74.172363
Lexington
KY
Kentucky
38.040585, -84.503716
Stockton
CA
California
37.957703, -121.290779
Honolulu
HI
Hawaii
21.306944, -157.858337
Cleveland
OH
Ohio
41.499321, -81.694359
Arlington
TX
Texas
32.7355816, -97.1071186
Oakland
CA
California
37.804363, -122.271111
Long Beach
CA
California
33.770050, -118.193741
Raleigh
NC
North Carolina
35.779591, -78.638176
Omaha
NE
Nebraska
41.256538, -95.934502
Colorado Springs
CO
Colorado
38.833881, -104.821365
Fresno
CA
California
36.737797, -119.787125
Albuquerque
NM
New Mexico
35.084385, -106.650421
Memphis
TN
Tennessee
35.117500, -89.971107
Washington DC
WA DC
Washington, DC
38.889805, -77.009056
Las Vegas
NV
Nevada
36.169941, -115.139832
Seattle
WA
Washington
47.606209, -122.332069
Charlotte
NC
North Carolina
35.2272086, -80.8430827
Sacramento
CA
California
38.590576, -121.489906
Richmond
VA
Virginia
37.540726, -77.436050
Surprise
AZ
Arizona
33.629002, -112.330170
Mesa
AZ
Arizona
33.415184, -111.831474
Louisville
KY
Kentucky
38.252666, -85.758453
Des Moines
IA
Iowa
41.586834, -93.624962
Lakewood
CO
Colorado
39.704708, -105.081375
Kansas City
KS
Kansas
39.112701, -94.626801
Reno
NV
Nevada
39.529633, -119.813805
Tacoma
WA
Washington
47.258728, -122.465973
Aurora
CO
Colorado
39.7405111, -104.830994
Oxnard
CA
California
34.197659, -119.175949
Amarillo
TX
Texas
35.221996, -101.831299
Henderson
NV
Nevada
36.039524, -114.981720
Vancouver
WA
Washington
45.633331, -122.599998
Gilbert
AZ
Arizona
33.352825, -111.789024
San Bernardino
CA
California
34.115784, -117.302399
Columbus
GA
Georgia
27.800583, -97.396378
Hayward
CA
California
37.668819, -122.080795
Milwaukee
WI
Wisconsin
43.038902, -87.906471
Lubbock
TX
Texas
33.576698, -101.855072
Norfolk
VA
Virginia
36.850769, -76.285873
Tulsa
OK
Oklahoma
36.153980, -95.992775
Garland
TX
Texas
32.914341, -96.636559
Fort Lauderdale
FL
Florida
26.124161, -80.143593
Tucson
AZ
Arizona
32.248814, -110.987419
Salt Lake City
UT
Utah
40.760780, -111.891045
Corona
CA
California
33.875670, -117.568840
Madison
WI
Wisconsin
43.073051, -89.401230
Huntsville
AL
Alabama
34.7014286, -86.6597495
Kansas City
MO
Missouri
39.099728, -94.578568
Irvine
CA
California
33.684566, -117.826508
Chula Vista
CA
California
32.640072, -117.084038
Denton
TX
Texas
33.215530, -97.132446
Aurora
IL
Illinois
41.7571701, -88.3147539
Baton Rouge
LA
Louisiana
30.4494155, -91.1869659
Columbus
OH
Ohio
39.961178, -82.998795
Baltimore
MD
Maryland
39.2908816, -76.610759
Detroit
MI
Michigan
42.331429, -83.045753
Chesapeake
VA
Virginia
36.7183708, -76.2466798
Atlanta
GA
Georgia
33.7489924, -84.3902644
Birmingham
AL
Alabama
33.5206824, -86.8024326
Scottsdale
AZ
Arizona
33.501324, -111.925278
Cincinnati
OH
Ohio
39.103700, -84.513610
North Las Vegas
NV
Nevada
36.201946, -115.120216
Riverside
CA
California
33.980602, -117.375496
Plano
TX
Texas
33.019844, -96.698883
Minneapolis
MN
Minnesota
44.977753, -93.265015
Salinas
CA
California
,
Anaheim
CA
California
33.836594, -117.914299
Springfield
MO
Missouri
37.208958, -93.292297
Fort Wayne
IN
Indiana
41.077469, -85.137489
Phoenix
AZ
Arizona
33.448376, -112.074036
Bakersfield
CA
California
35.3738712, -119.0194639
Garden Grove
CA
California
33.774269, -117.937996
Anchorage
AK
Alaska
61.2163129, -149.894852
Indianapolis
IN
Indiana
39.768402, -86.158066
Nashville
TN
Tennessee
36.162663, -86.781601
Tempe
AZ
Arizona
33.425522, -111.941254
Mobile
AL
Alabama
30.695366, -88.039894
New Orleans
LA
Louisiana
29.951065, -90.071533
Knoxville
TN
Tennessee
35.960636, -83.920738
Grand Rapids
MI
Michigan
42.963360, -85.668083
Fontana
CA
California
34.102890, -117.435760
Elk Grove
CA
California
38.418129, -121.393257
Cape Coral
FL
Florida
26.5625742, -81.9438802
Grand Prairie
TX
Texas
32.745499, -97.003532
Fort Collins
CO
Colorado
40.588970, -105.082458
Killeen
TX
Texas
31.117119, -97.727798
Modesto
CA
California
37.639095, -120.996880
Oklahoma City
OK
Oklahoma
35.468491, -97.521263
Santa Ana
CA
California
33.745571, -117.867836
Ontario
CA
California
34.063343, -117.650887
Brownsville
TX
Texas
25.9015688, -97.4984005
Montgomery
AL
Alabama
32.379223, -86.307739
Hialeah
FL
Florida
25.857595, -80.278107
Springfield
MA
Massachusetts
42.102051, -72.585762
Toledo
OH
Ohio
41.652805, -83.537865
Pembroke Pines
FL
Florida
26.007765, -80.296257
Overland Park
KS
Kansas
38.974819, -94.683601
Little Rock
AR
Arkansas
34.746483, -92.289597
Glendale
CA
California
34.142509, -118.255074
Roseville
CA
California
38.752125, -121.288010
Wichita
KS
Kansas
37.687176, -97.330055
Huntington Beach
CA
California
33.659485, -117.998802
Augusta
GA
Georgia
33.4709714, -81.9748429
Worcester
MA
Massachusetts
42.271389, -71.798889
Virginia Beach
VA
Virginia
36.852924, -75.977982
Oceanside
CA
California
33.1958696, -117.3794834
Santa Clarita
CA
California
34.456043, -118.571335
Philadelphia
PA
Pennsylvania
39.952583, -75.165222
Corpus Christi
TX
Texas
27.800583, -97.396378
Portland
OR
Oregon
45.512230, -122.658722
Denver
CO
Colorado
39.739235, -104.990250
Boston
MA
Massachusetts
42.3554334, -71.060511
Atlanta
GA
Georgia
33.7489924, -84.3902644
Chicago
IL
Illinois
41.8755616, -87.6244212
Orlando
FL
Florida
28.538336, -81.379234
Jacksonville
FL
Florida
30.332184, -81.655647
Tampa
FL
Florida
27.950575, -82.457176
Long Island
NY
New York
40.757801, -73.940033
Queens
NY
New York
40.728226, -73.794853
Bronx
NY
New York
40.8466508, -73.8785937
Staten Island
NY
New York
40.643501, -74.076202
Brooklyn
NY
New York
40.6526006, -73.9497211
New York
NY
New York
40.712776, -74.005974
San Jose
CA
California
37.342205, -121.851990
San Francisco
CA
California
37.774929, -122.419418
San Diego
CA
California
32.834686, -117.130775
Los Angeles
CA
California
34.052235, -118.243683
El Paso
TX
Texas
31.761877, -106.485023
San Antonio
TX
Texas
29.387428, -98.496574
Dallas
TX
Texas
32.776665, -96.796989
Fort Worth
TX
Texas
32.755489, -97.330765
Houston
TX
Texas
29.760427, -95.369804
Austin
TX
Texas
30.2711286, -97.7436995

Book an appointment with a {category} dietitian

Covered by insurance.

Book an appointment with an online dietitian

Covered by insurance.

Find a

dietitian covered by insurance

No items found.
Weight loss medication
Mental Health
Intuitive Eating