Lactoferrin for SIBO? It seems to be helping most by lowering my inflammation, and I’ll continue taking it daily, but I’ve noticed it also tends to constipate me, which is a bit of a paradox because while the lactoferrin should help kill pathogens and destroy biofilm, a constipated gut is at continued risk for SIBO.

In an effort to counteract this, and get my gut moving, I’ve gone back to the most basic approach of all: probiotics, and lots of them. I figure I can combine this with the lactoferrin, taking the two of them offset as many hours as possible. Lactoferrin with food, and probiotics between meals.

Why not more of my kefir and sauerkraut? I’ve found “enough” is helpful, but too much of either can make me back slide, and I’m not sure why. Especially when my GI tract is sluggish, I think kefir may worsen SIBO by building more biofilm. If anyone has ever tried cleaning a used kefir mason jar, with its thick accumulation of flora after just a few batches, you know what I’m talking about.

If I could deposit the healthy kefir biofilms exclusively in my colon, that would be another matter, but I’ve tried this, more than a few times. Unfortunately, retention enemas with kefir have given me relief only in acute situations, and longer term use doesn’t seem to address all my symptoms.

Probiotics, on the other hand, generally don’t have a reputation for colonizing our guts. Many see this as a drawback, but in the case of SIBO, I am hoping it’s an advantage. Perhaps these temporary upper gut residents will outcompete small intestinal pathogens without setting up shop and compounding the problem.

Recently I came across an interesting evaluation of some common probiotics on PubMed’s site. Note the section on VSL#3, which is a mixture of gram positive bacteria (which do not contain highly inflammatory lipopolysaccharide). Like many probiotics, VSL#3 is a mixture of flora originally harvested from a healthy human donor.

Take note of what it says about VSL#3 helping to heal the gut barrier function. “Leaky gut” is another term for this, and I’ve no doubt that’s one of my biggest problems.

Barrier function was also assessed using mannitol flux assays and after 4 weeks of VSL#3 treatment, barrier function normalized in these mice. Using the T84 human intestinal epithelial cell line it was further shown that VSL#3 and products secreted by these bacteria enhanced intestinal epithelial barrier function in vitro, and pre-exposure of T84 monolayers to VSL#3 provided a dose-dependent decrease in cellular invasion by the pathogenic bacteria Salmonella enterica serovar Dublin. A subsequent study corroborated these findings and further found that VSL#3 upregulated the expression of several mucins which are postulated to play an important cytoprotective role in host defense against pathogens [21].

The expense is a factor, and the primary reason I’ve never stuck with VSL#3 for very long, but could it be a “poor man’s fecal transplant”? With FMT being very costly in a clinic setting, and since I don’t currently have access to a donor for DIY at home, I’m going to give this a shot. The only difference being I’ll take this probiotic orally in addition to retention enemas.

Speaking of upper gut colonization, would the fact that VSL#3 is human-sourced mean its flora will attach permanently to the wall of the small intestine? Likely, the answer is no. This has something to do with how probiotics are manufactured. For some reason, the adherence of probiotic strains on the gut wall is usually not that good, no matter how the flora was originally harvested.

I began with a retention enema using 8 pills of VSL#3 in about 4 ounces of distilled water, using an empty and rinsed Fleet enema bottle. About 5 minutes later I felt my long-gone sense of smell returning. I noticed a basket of essential oils that had been on my dresser for months. Hard to imagine my nose had been so impaired this wasn’t fragrant to me until now, but that’s indeed the case.

About 20 minutes later, I noticed my tinnitus getting quieter, and my whole body relaxing. My mood improved. Joint pain was lessened, also.

Oral administration of VSL#3 was my next step. I took 8 capsules, 2 doses of 4 each, that first day.

I’ve been taking 4 capsules, 3 times per day, between meals, ever since, and drinking 2 pints of distilled water with each dose. I add trace minerals to my water. I only did the retention enema on day 1, and am hoping I can stop it altogether or reduce to once per week.

Now, three days in to the 12 capsules per day oral protocol, here’s a an intriguing list of symptoms where I’m definitely seeing improvements. It’s worth noting a great many of these issues came about after taking fluoroquinolone antibiotics. How much of being “floxed” is due to altered flora?

I should underscore that probiotics are nothing new for me, and VSL#3 is one I’ve used in the past to stop ulcerative colitis flares, but I’ve never taken it in this quantity, nor have I done it with the same frequency, plus I’m also combining the doses with enough water that my stomach acid is probably being diluted, which means more flora survives to reach the colon.

I also think, subjectively, my symptoms were never this bad in previous years, so I never had this far to “bounce back”.

So many symptoms are linked. Overall, I sense a restoration of my vagal nerve function. Huge relief from a constant stuffy nose (neurological, not from typical blockage), my pulse and BP are nice and low, and my sleep patterns and mood are evening out. No more blazing hot colon, lower back and neck, either.

The one thing that hasn’t changed yet, and this is fairly upsetting, is fatigue.

At first I felt strength returning to my legs, and I’d hoped this effect would snowball, but it’s less noticeable now than it was when I first started. Maybe I need to maintain the retention enemas. Another possible explanation for this is lipopolysaccharide being released, as gram positive flora is duking it out with the gram negative ones. If it’s happening in my small intestine, this means more LPS in the bloodstream. Perhaps sorting it all out is just a function of time.

Fatigue is the core of my illness, and Cipro and Levaquin were the triggers for it. I hope as I continue my therapy this will resolve, and it’s clear 3 days of anything gut-related is not enough time to know the longer term potential for healing.

I do hold out lots of hope I can eventually get my energy back, given all the other smaller improvements I’ve seen in the early going. I actually had my housemate take a “before” picture last night, because I’m so shrunken from the SIBO: 6 feet tall and 145 lbs. Underweight is nothing to mess around with, and I know it can significantly impair immunity. I had to do something, and i think i’m finally on the right track.

Have you tried a similar approach, taking large, longer term doses of probiotics? Which type works best for you? And if anyone has figured out a way to “brew” them to reduce the cost, let us know in the comments section below. Thanks.

 

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