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  • Writer's pictureDr. Stephanie Graham

Large Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (LIBO): Unraveling the Mystery Behind Digestive Discomfort


Large Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (LIBO) is a lesser-known gastrointestinal condition that can lead to uncomfortable symptoms and affect the overall well-being of affected individuals. Often overshadowed by its more famous counterpart, Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), LIBO deserves attention and understanding. In this blog, we will delve into what LIBO is, its symptoms, potential causes, and available treatments.

What is Large Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (LIBO)?

LIBO occurs when there is an abnormal increase in the number and type of bacteria in the large intestine (colon). Normally, the colon contains a diverse range of beneficial bacteria that assist in the fermentation and digestion of certain nutrients. However, when the balance is disrupted, it can lead to LIBO.

Symptoms of LIBO:

The symptoms of LIBO can vary from person to person, making diagnosis challenging. Some common signs and symptoms include:

  • Abdominal bloating and discomfort

  • Excessive gas and flatulence

  • Diarrhea or loose stools

  • Constipation

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Nutrient deficiencies due to malabsorption

Causes of LIBO:

The exact causes of LIBO are not yet fully understood, but several factors can contribute to its development:

Reduced motility: Slow movement of food through the colon can create an environment where bacteria multiply and thrive.

Previous gastrointestinal surgery: Surgeries that affect the structure or function of the colon may disrupt the natural balance of gut bacteria.

Medical conditions: Certain underlying medical conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), celiac disease, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), have been associated with an increased risk of LIBO.

Medications: Long-term use of certain medications like antibiotics and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) can alter the gut microbiome and lead to LIBO.

Treatment of LIBO:

Treating LIBO involves addressing the underlying causes and managing symptoms. A Naturopathic Doctor will work with the patient to develop a tailored treatment plan. Some common approaches include:

Antimicrobial Botanicals: In cases where LIBO is associated with bacterial overgrowth, targeted botanicals may be prescribed to reduce the number of bacteria in the colon.

Probiotics: Certain strains of probiotics can help restore the balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut.

Dietary changes: Adopting a diet that promotes microbiome restoration or avoiding specific trigger foods can help alleviate symptoms.

Medication review: Adjusting or discontinuing medications that may contribute to LIBO can be beneficial.

Large Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (LIBO) is a complex gastrointestinal condition that can significantly impact a person's quality of life. Although it may be less known than SIBO, it deserves attention and recognition. If you experience persistent digestive discomfort or any of the symptoms associated with LIBO, seek medical advice from a Naturopathic Doctor. Proper diagnosis and a personalized treatment plan can help manage symptoms effectively and improve overall well-being. Remember, with the right support and care, relief from LIBO is possible.

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