Dr. Michael Ruscio, DC is a clinician, Naturopathic Practitioner, clinical researcher, author, and adjunct professor at the University of Bridgeport. His work has been published in peer-reviewed medical journals and he speaks at conferences around the globe.
If you’re suffering from hypothyroidism and haven’t been able to resolve your symptoms, SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) may be the culprit. The challenge is that many of the symptoms of hypothyroid can be the same as SIBO, so it’s sometimes difficult to know if your issue is really thyroid-related or gut-related.
If you’re suffering from hypothyroidism and haven’t been able to resolve your symptoms, SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) may be the culprit.
Typical symptoms of SIBO include gastrointestinal issues like:
Symptoms can also include extra-intestinal symptoms such as:
Skin issues (eczema, rashes, rosacea)
Mood imbalances (depression)
Respiratory issues (asthma)
A recent study evaluated 1,809 patients that had undergone a hydrogen breath test for SIBO. This study aimed to determine the primary contributing factors to SIBO. The study evaluated the following potential factors:
Impairment of the gastric acid barrier (gastrectomy, PPI therapy)
Impairment of intestinal clearance (any resecting gastric surgery, any colonic resection, stenosis, gastroparesis, neuropathy)
The results indicated that levothyroxine therapy or hypothyroidism significantly increased the risk that someone would get SIBO. These two factors may even be more impactful than intestinal surgery or immunosuppressive drug use. Levothyroxine therapy was the strongest contributor.
The challenge is that many of the symptoms of hypothyroid can be the same as SIBO. So, while you may be trying to fix your thyroid with the right medications and diet, you may not be addressing the underlying issue. If you’ve taken steps to address your thyroid and you’re still not feeling well, then it may be time to consider the gut.
Find a practitioner who specializes in gut health and has a good understanding of SIBO. SIBO can be diagnosed using a simple breath test, but you need a qualified practitioner who is well-versed on interpreting the test results and recommending a treatment protocol.
Addressing any underlying gut issues is so important for several reasons:
By improving your gut health, you can improve thyroid autoimmunity.
You can improve thyroid medication absorption, meaning you might need a smaller dose.
Improving gut health can also improve thyroid hormone conversion.
What if I don’t have digestive issues?
It’s important to point out that gut imbalances don’t always manifest as gut symptoms. So, even if you don’t have bloating, gas, or any digestive complaints, you still want to make sure you’re addressing gut health. Gut imbalances can manifest as symptoms anywhere in the body, not just as intestinal symptoms.
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