Q: How best can I heal SIBO with brain retraining? A recurring doubt for me is around the ability of brain retraining to eradicate the overgrowth of bacteria in my small intestine. And how best can I reframe this in a positive way in my practice as the SIBO symptoms are very painful and cause irritation throughout my body which makes it difficult to hide from and redirect the elevated emotions or activities?
A: A naturopath once told me that conditions like SIBO and candida are symptoms of an unbalanced system, rather than the problem itself. When we address the root cause of what is creating the imbalance in the system (and giving yeast or bacteria an opportunity to thrive) the symptoms resolve themselves. Being caught in a chronic stress response deprives the digestive system (and other systems) of the resources they need to function optimally. By addressing limbic system dysfunction and resetting the nervous system, the gut then gets the energy and resources necessary to heal and to return to more optimal functioning, changing the conditions and making it harder for bad bacteria and yeast to grow. This is why brain retraining is so important for these types of conditions.
That being said, I do believe that combining brain retraining with physical support for healthy gut function can help resolve the issue more quickly. While I am not a doctor and cannot offer medical advice, I did have a consultation with a functional medicine MD who stated that saccharomyces boulardii (a soil based form of probiotic) can be quite beneficial in helping restore balance in the small intestine. If it were me, I would consider combining this with rigorous brain retraining for a set period of time (like a month or so) and then re-evaluate. If you have another form of physical support that you have found somewhat helpful, of course consider doing that instead in conjunction with brain retraining. The key here is to decide what you are going to do, and then make it part of your daily routine while giving it as little attention and focus as you possibly can. Think of whatever you decide to do as temporary, just to help your brain restore balance more efficiently. I would also consider adding in a visualization of your whole digestive system working optimally, seeing it healthy and balanced.
When the symptoms are very intense, consider using anything that provides a good distraction for you (even bingewatching Netflix for a while or listening to an engaging audiobook if that's what it takes). While we may not choose to use this strategy long-term, in the short term, if we can distract our mind it gives our system more of a chance to settle down and reset. Sometimes learning something new (like a language or a hobby) can provide an ongoing distraction that requires your focus. Even if the symptoms are calling your attention in the background, keep reorienting your attention to the distraction. You can think of it like, "Yes that is there. And what else can I give my attention to in this moment?" without trying to make it go away. Remember what we resist persists. It is better to gently redirect than to try and push something out of our awareness, repeatedly if necessary.
I wish you every success in restoring healthy gut function.
Until next time!
If you have a question, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Candy Widdifield is Registered Clinical Counsellor, Wellness Coach, and Registered Reiki Master Teacher in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. She works with people all over the world, helping them to optimize their wellbeing and thrive in their lives. Her modalities include coaching, therapy, Reiki and the Safe & Sound Protocol. More information about Candy can be found at www.candywiddifield.com