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Hydrogen-Sulfide SIBO & The Low Sulfur Diet

Jun 7, 2022

If you’re confused about functional medicine certifications, look no further.

Until fairly recently, it was thought that there were two main types of SIBO – Methane-dominant and Hydrogen-dominant SIBO. The traditional treatment for SIBO typically includes some anti-bacterial agents (medication or herbs), motility agents, and a specific long-term diet. While some feel immediate and lasting improvements from this approach, many others are left with relapsing symptoms and find themselves doing several rounds of the same treatment. Meanwhile, they are often left on a strict and limiting diet that they are instructed to stay on for life. With SIBO relapses being so common, it is clear that the outlined treatment protocol above is not effective at targeting the root cause of these individuals’ symptoms. 

What is the root cause of SIBO. 

While there are many contributing factors to SIBO, it is now understood that there is a third form of bacterial overgrowth that is at the root of many SIBO cases, Hydrogen Sulfide SIBO – an overgrowth of bacteria that produce hydrogen sulfide. If you’ve never heard of this form of SIBO, it’s because the traditional SIBO breath test is only able to detect hydrogen and methane dominant SIBO. It was only recently that a test was created to measure hydrogen sulfide levels in the gut. It has been found that many methane-dominant and hydrogen-dominant SIBO cases also have elevated levels of hydrogen sulfide. It is even suspected that many cases of SIBO start with the overgrowth of hydrogen sulfide-producing bacteria, which then leads to an overgrowth of methane and/or hydrogen-producing bacteria. This then begs the question, if it’s Hydrogen-Sulfide SIBO that underlies other forms of SIBO, what is the original cause of Hydrogen-Sulfide SIBO?

The root cause of Hydrogen-Dominant SIBO starts with impaired sulfur metabolism due to environmental toxicity. 

In the process of healing any chronic condition, it is crucial to identify the original root cause. In the case of Hydrogen-Sulfide SIBO, the root cause starts with toxicity, specifically glyphosate toxicity. Maybe you are not familiar with the compound “glyphosate,” but unfortunately, this toxin is likely very familiar with you. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in the widely used herbicide called Roundup. Since the 1970s, Roundup use has increased dramatically in the farming of conventionally grown crops. Because its active ingredient, glyphosate, is a water-soluble toxin, it has made its way into our earth’s water system – our rivers, lakes, oceans, rain, tap water, etc. Even if we don’t live close to large agricultural operations, most individuals have regular exposure to glyphosate because it has become ubiquitous in our environment. The good news is that our amazing bodies know how to detoxify environmental toxins from our system. However, suppose a person is accumulating glyphosate faster than they can detoxify the compound. In that case, the effects of glyphosate build-up in the body can greatly impact one’s health. 

The impact of glyphosate toxicity

Glyphosate toxicity has multiple effects on the body. One major effect is that as a potent chelator, glyphosate can bind-up minerals in the body, making them unusable to the body. In other words, glyphosate toxicity can lead to mineral deficiencies. The mineral deficiency that contributes to the formation of Hydrogen-Sulfide SIBO is molybdenum deficiency. Molybdenum is a trace mineral that our body only needs in small amounts to function properly, but its deficiency can cause massive repercussions. In the case of Hydrogen-Sulfide SIBO, a molybdenum deficiency impairs sulfur metabolism in the body, ultimately leading to the overgrowth of sulfide-producing bacteria in the gut. 

Molybdenum deficiency as a key factor in the formation of Hydrogen-Sulfide SIBO

When we eat a nutrient-dense diet filled with lots of healthy whole foods, we take in a decent amount of sulfur into the body. Sulfur is then converted into sulfate through an enzymatic process with the help of a specific cofactor. Cofactors can be thought of as the keys that turn on these essential conversion pathways. Molybdenum serves as a unique cofactor in the conversion of sulfur to sulfate. If there is a deficiency of molybdenum, the sulfur cannot convert, leading to a build-up of sulfur and a shortage of sulfate in the body. This is troublesome because the body relies on sulfate for many functions. For example, the compound heparin sulfate lines just about every surface of the body and plays a large role in the cardiovascular system. When the conversion of sulfur to sulfate gets shut down, the brilliant body compensates to find another way to produce sulfate. In Hydrogen-Sulfide SIBO, the body has adapted to the sulfate deficiency by the overgrowth of specific bacteria that can produce hydrogen sulfide. 

Addressing the root cause of Hydrogen-Sulfide SIBO once and for all

It’s important to see that even in the case of SIBO, a condition that can be debilitating, the body is still doing the best it can to heal itself and come into equilibrium. We see here in this case that bacterial overgrowth is the body’s solution to the problem. However, this is neither a long-term nor comfortable solution to the problem of sulfate deficiency because it causes extremely uncomfortable symptoms. The symptoms of Hydrogen-Sulfide SIBO are not only limited to the typical gastrointestinal SIBO symptoms (bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, pain, etc.), but also include symptoms of sulfur intolerance (brain fog, hives, itchiness, asthma, headaches, nausea, fatigue, alcohol sensitivity, flushing, lightheadedness when standing, and potential histamine intolerances and worsened allergies). So how can an individual reverse these symptoms for good? The protocol outlined in this guide walks you through the steps of addressing the underlying glyphosate toxicity and molybdenum deficiency that instigates the cascade of events leading to Hydrogen-Sulfide SIBO. 

The Low-Sulfur SIBO Protocol supports the long-term healing of Hydrogen-Sulfide SIBO in the following ways:

  1. Supports detoxification of glyphosate
  2. Replenishes essential minerals that have become depleted (molybdenum, zinc, magnesium)
  3. Provides a source of sulfate to the body while reducing the intake of sulfur to aid the body in restoring its ideal sulfur:sulfate ratio.
  4. Palliates the uncomfortable symptoms of SIBO, while addressing the underlying cause

The Protocol:

  • Avoid for 2 weeks: Garlic, onions, brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, kale, arugula, radish, watercress), meat, eggs, mustard, beer and wine, peanuts, turmeric, and the following supplements (ALA, MSM, NAC)
  • Take Epsom Salt Baths to bring in sulfate (the beneficial sulfur-containing compound that supports detoxification): 4 cups/bath for the first 7 days of the protocol. After this, you can reduce to 3x/week.
  • Supplements (Take for a short period of time while resetting the gut)
    • Mo-Zyme Forte – Molybdenum: 1 tablet of MoZyme Forte chewed 2x/day with or without food
      • Essential for the conversion of sulfur to sulfate in the body
    • Zinc acetate: 15 mg/day taken with food. (Please note, Fullscript does not carry this specific form of zinc so you’ll have to order it from another website)
      • will lower hydrogen-sulfide in the blood
    • Hydroxycobalamin: 1 tablet 1x/day in the morning with or without food (1000mcg/day)
      • will lower hydrogen-sulfide in the blood
  • Optional Gut-Support Supplement to help reduce bloating and abdominal discomfort:
    • BioHPF by Biotics Research: 2 capsules 2x/day – best absorbed without food, but can be taken with food
      • Contains bismuth and demulcent herbs to help reduce hydrogen sulfide production in the gut and soothe an inflamed gut. 
    • Digestive Enzymes: 1 capsule with each meal (breakfast, lunch, and dinner)
      • Will aid in the breakdown and absorption of food while the gut restores balance. May help reduce gas production immediately. 
    • Butyrate:1 capsule with each meal (breakfast, lunch, and dinner)
      • Major gut nutrient to support healing of the colonic lining. 
  • Reintroduce High Sulfur Foods slowly: After 2 weeks on the diet, reintroduce the high-sulfur foods one food/day and take notice if any of them aggravate your symptoms.

Once an individual becomes symptoms free on this protocol, it is still important to prevent a relapse by:

  1. Maintaining healthy liver function
  2. Maintaining good nutrient status
  3. Maintaining a strong digestive fire (healthy function of the stomach, pancreas, and liver)
  4. Maintaining a balanced nervous system

All of which can be achieved by following the lifestyle recommendation in the Wisdom Foundations Manual.


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