man holding his chest with a pile of medications, indicating he needs the medications for acid reflux

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is a common ailment with various causative factors. In some cases, it’s worthwhile investigating whether long term use of acid blockers could be the cause.

What is SIBO?

As the name implies, SIBO is a condition characterized by overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. Ordinarily, the large intestine houses trillions of bacteria, and the small intestine is relatively devoid of bacteria.

With SIBO, we have bacteria either coming down from the upper respiratory tract or back from the large intestine. Signs and symptoms of SIBO can be gut related or systemic. The video below depicts SIBO with more clarity.

What are Acid Blockers?

Acid blockers are the leading evidenced based therapy for upper gastrointestinal disorders including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), dyspepsia and peptic ulcer disease[1]; without a doubt, they work.

However, acid blockers are not meant for long term use.

Acid blockers are so effective, it has led to the overuse throughout the world, leading to various potential risks [1]. One reason is simply the failure to re-evaluate the need for continuation and insufficient use of step-down therapy [1].

Consequences of overuse are described in-depth here.

Acid Blockers and SIBO

Acid blockers eliminate stomach acid (HCl) [2].

Stomach acid serves many purposes, including being the primary defense against gut infection [2].

Research also shows about 40% of people with digestive complaints (diagnosed with IBS) are taking an acid blocker. Now research is showing SIBO and acid blocking medications are related [2].


Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth is commonly caused by low stomach acid, secondary to acid blocking medications. Acid blockers are safe and effective short term (6-12 months), but long term use is not recommended (even by the drug manufacturers themselves). Consider working with a naturopath to work towards healthy gut function.


Interested in learning more?

Read on in our series of articles on Gut Health!

About the Author - Dr. Johann de Chickera

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Dr. Johann is a fully licensed Naturopathic Doctor. His approach emphasizes the importance of living a healthy lifestyle and improving one’s health naturally. Dr. Johann obtained a Doctor of Naturopathy at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM). Education at CCNM is a vigorous four years, with a curriculum involving biomedical sciences, physical diagnosis, clinical nutrition, traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture, botanical (herbal) medicine, physical medicine, homeopathy and lifestyle management.

While Dr. Johann has a general practice, he focuses on fertility, hormonal imbalances, gut health, and autoimmune disease.

To book in please call us at (519) 442-2206 or click here.

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