Judging by posts in the SIBO SOS® Facebook Community, many of us who struggle with Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth are VERY confused about garlic!
Here are some screenshots of posts we’ve had in the group:
Let me start by saying – I totally understand the confusion! I used to be confused myself.
You may have heard that you shouldn’t eat garlic if you have SIBO… but that garlic is also a popular treatment…. How can that be?
But it’s actually simple once someone explains it to you. I was lucky enough to have Dr. Allison Siebecker explain the difference to me, and today I want to pass that knowledge on to you!
Is Garlic a “Forbidden Food” For SIBO Patients?
This is where all the confusion begins!
Garlic is a high-FODMAP food. FODMAP stands for fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols. These are short chain carbohydrates and for people with issues like SIBO or IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), foods that are high in FODMAPs can increase symptoms like bloating and discomfort.
Many diets for SIBO and IBS recommend limiting high-FODMAP foods and sticking to a low-FODMAP diet.
But defining what foods are “high” and “low” in FODMAPs is a little tricky. There’s no universal standard for high and low, and quantity matters a lot, as well. Even a food that is very high in FODMAPs might be well-tolerated by people with IBS and SIBO in smaller quantities.
To make it even MORE confusing, not all people with SIBO or IBS react to all high-FODMAP foods. Some people might only struggle with oligosaccharides and be fine with polyols, for example. And some people might be able to tolerate one food that is high in monosaccharides but not another.
That means that there is no such thing as forbidden foods for SIBO and IBS. The best diets for SIBO and IBS are “frameworks” for finding the foods that work for you – not black and white guidelines.
The only way to know what foods you can and can’t tolerate is to test them! (To learn more about this, I recommend Dr. Siebecker’s Diet Masterclass).
Garlic is a high-FODMAP food that contains fructo-oligosaccharides that some people with SIBO don’t tolerate – but for others, it is just fine (or maybe only tolerated in small quantities).
What About Garlic Infused Foods?
Some people who develop symptoms after eating whole garlic (like a clove of garlic in tomato sauce) are able to tolerate garlic infused foods (like olive oil).
That’s simply because the short chain carbohydrates that can cause a problem are in the fiber of the garlic.
That being said, some people say that even low-FODMAP garlic infused items cause symptoms for them.
But remember: for all foods, the “dose makes the poison” when it comes to FODMAPs. You might be fine with a hint of garlic but can’t handle a lot. Or perhaps you’re very sensitive to garlic and have to temporarily avoid it altogether.
Or maybe you don’t react to garlic at all… but find you can’t tolerate apples or oatmeal or some other food. We’re all unique and there’s no one-size-fits-all protocol.
But one last thing: just because a food is high-FODMAP or causes symptoms for you doesn’t mean that the food is bad, unhealthy, or has to be avoided for life.
Comparison isn’t helpful in SIBO – just because one person can tolerate garlic and you can’t doesn’t mean you’ll never eat Italian again or are doing something wrong!
Using Garlic To Treat SIBO
Garlic isn’t just a sometimes-problematic food… it’s also one of the most effective natural treatment options for SIBO.
But if many people with SIBO don’t tolerate garlic, how can that be?
According to Dr. Siebecker, garlic is one of the 4 main herbs used to treat SIBO – but it’s not just regular garlic cloves you can buy at the grocery store.
Instead, it’s an extract of garlic called allicin.
“The four main herbs that we use typically to treat SIBO are berberine containing herbs, which are things like goldenseal root, Oregon grape, barberry Coptis. Neem is a traditional ayurvedic and a microbial. We use oregano, like the kitchen herb spice, oregano oil. And then lastly is an extract that comes from garlic called allicin, like my name but it’s spelled different.
And in that one we like to use stabilized allicin extract because garlic is a very fermentable food and triggers a lot of people’s SIBO symptoms. We don’t want to use whole garlic per se like the actual clove taking it down, unless somebody did tolerate that, but it’s pretty common for SIBO people not to. And we don’t want to use like garlic crushed or garlic oil. We prefer the antibacterial extract allicin that’s been extracted out.”
Even if you can’t tolerate garlic whatsoever, you will likely be able to tolerate allicin extract as part of a SIBO treatment because it doesn’t contain the problematic fructo-oligosaccharides.
Why Garlic Is A Key Player In Treating SIBO
There are three main types of SIBO: hydrogen dominant, methane dominant, and hydrogen sulfide.
(Although as research continues to advance, more types and more specifications within each type are likely to be discovered!)
According to Dr. Siebecker, “The special thing about allicin is that this is what treats the methane, methanogenic archaea (which, for ease, we’ll just say bacteria). They are tough to kill. And they need different antimicrobials to kill them. And the extract from garlic does it, allicin. It works against them. We see it clinically. We see it with our before and after breath tests. It’s for real.”
If you have methane, garlic is a must-have for herbal antibiotic treatments.
The Garlic Dr. Siebecker Recommends
If you’re considering taking garlic as part of an herbal protocol for SIBO, here’s what Dr. Siebecker has shared with me in the past:
“Berberine and Allimed is my go-to combination. I think of berberine kind of like Rifaximin, and Allimed like the neomycin or metronidazole, because this is what works on the methane, this is what works on the hydrogen—and you need to do them both.”
Here’s why a two-part treatment is so important:
“The reason you need to do them both is because methane archaea turn hydrogen into methane. So there are already bacteria making hydrogen there, and then there are other bacteria that are turning that hydrogen into methane. You have both there, so you need to address them both.”
And what about choosing the right allicin supplement?
“My go-to is Allimed. And we use the “-med” because it just gives the strongest potency in the least amount of pills. And the dose on this is six a day. And usually, when you’re taking a bunch of pills, we split that into three doses. You can do it as two, three times a day, or you can do it as three, two times a day.”
Help! I’ve Already Tried Allimed (Without Results)
Remember that SIBO is a tricky condition to treat – and typically requires trial and error (if you’re one of the lucky ones who’s very first treatment eradicate SIBO – good for you!).
Dr. Siebecker recommend trying Allimed paired with another herb – if you tried Allimed and berberine, for instance, try Allimed and neem next.
How often can you keep repeating this?
“Keep going until we don’t think it’s working anymore or we see on the test it’s not working anymore,” said Dr. Siebecker.
My Allimed Experience
As a person with methane SIBO, I’ve used Allimed several times.
I have a very fond feeling toward it, as it definitely made a huge improvement in my symptoms!
My pro tip? Keep it in the fridge or freezer. It does have a noticeable “garlic-y” smell and keeping it frozen helps reduce the odor!
Want to try it yourself?
I know how expensive trying different treatments can be – so I’m excited to be able to share a special discount with you today!
Use this link sibosos.com/allimax to get 20% off AlliMax.