Everything You Need to Know About Garlic & SIBO
By Shivan Sarna
Judging by posts in the SIBO SOS® Facebook Community, many of us who struggle with Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) 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 it to test them!
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?
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.d
There are four main herbs typically used to treat SIBO, berberine containing herbs, such as goldenseal root, Oregon grape, barberry Coptis. Neem is a traditional ayurvedic and a microbial. Also oregano oil. Lastly is the extract from garlic called allicin. Because garlic is a very fermentable food and triggers SIBO symptoms in some people, using stabilized allicin extract is the solution. Whole garlic, crushed garlic and garlic oil are the culprits of activating SIBO symptoms, so using the antibacterial allicin which has been extracted from garlic is the only way to reap its benefits.
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!)
What's special about allicin is that this is what treats the methane, methanogenic archaea or in layman's terms - bacteria. These bacteria are tough to kill and need different antimicrobials to kill them. The extract from garlic, allicin, does the job. It works against them. It is seen in clinical studies with before and after breath tests. If you have methane, allicin from garlic is a must-have for herbal antibiotic treatments.
The Recommended Garlic
If you’re considering taking garlic as part of an herbal protocol for SIBO, here’s what I discovered:
Berberine and Allimed is a winning combination. Think of berberine to be like Rifaximin, and Allimed like the neomycin or metronidazole. One works on the methane and one works on the hydrogen so you need to do them both for the best results.
A two-part treatment is so important because methane archaea turn hydrogen into methane. Then there are other bacteria that are turning that hydrogen into methane. So both need to be addressed.
And what about choosing the right allicin supplement?
A recommended stabilized garlic extract is Allimed. Allimed offers the strongest potency in the least amount of pills and the dose is six a day. When this number of pills, it's recommended to split it 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!). Try Allimed paired with another herb. If you've tried Allimed and berberine, for instance, try Allimed and neem next. Keep trying different pairings until you find one that works for you.
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” 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 code “ALLIMEDROCKS” for 20% off your order from Allimed!
Have you tried Allimed? Are you going to? Leave a comment and let us know!