Interstellar Overgrowth

More whinging about my guts, and some good things… No apologies to anyone for perverting song titles in this post. 

Piper at the gates of bum

At long last there may be a diagnosis of my gut conditions: I may have small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). To quote the report from the recent breath test

Assuming normal oro-caecal transit time, the lack of a rise in hydrogen levels >10ppm above baseline in the first 60-minutes after ingestion suggests that the study is negative for SIBO.

Despite this the very high baseline methane values, despite adherence to the pre-study diet, is indicative of on-going fermentation and colonic dysbiosis. Research has suggested that treating this colonic dysbiosis similarly to SIBO may be useful in easing symptoms.

There is a reasonable correlation between my current symptoms and those associated with SIBO:

  • excess wind (As far as I can tell, I’ve been generally less windy than usual.)
  • abdominal bloating and distension
  • diarrhoea (I’ve not had this)
  • constipation
  • abdominal pain
  • in severe prolonged cases, deficiencies of vitamins and minerals
  • possible weight loss
  • possible body aches or fatigue.

SIBO might explain the change in symptoms from the initial colonic pain and constipation to the current pains in the centre of my abdomen. If my colon was blocked – and x-rays showed that my ascending colon (the part closest to the small intestine) was clogged with faeces – then colonic bacteria might have had a chance to move up into my small intestine. Also, the antibiotics to control gastric infection may have had an effect, I guess. I am sure that my fatigue increased noticeably at that time. However, this is my speculation, and SIBO has not been confirmed.

Take up thy endoscope and walk

The treatment for SIBO appears to be antibiotics and/or probiotics. I’m not keen to take more antibiotics if they are going to flatten me again, but I am vey keen to get this under control and get back to being me!


On Wednesday I went to spinning for the first time since early April. Despite getting lost on the way there (cyclometer map) – I just can’t get my head around Edinburgh’s cycle paths – I enjoyed the session. I’m couldn’t push at full strength, or keep up with the faster cadences but I loved the sections out of the saddle pushing against resistance. (I didn’t want to exhaust myself and so prevent cycling home, and didn’t want to risk damaging muscles that haven’t been used in months.) It was very slow on the way home, and wanted to sleep almost before I got there, but I’ll be going back to spinning regularly as soon as I can.

Pow R. Toxin

I’ve also found that train travel is ‘survivable’ – the train to Glasgow and back did wobble my guts but nowhere near as much as car and bus travel do. This means that travel is possible, both for the project I’m due to start in October and for a holiday in September! Yeehah!

Astronomy Bongomy

Elly and I went to a presentation by Dr David Nutt (wikipedia) on Time to put Science at the Heart of Drug and Alcohol Policy. While Dr Nutt is clearly still annoyed by the decision to sack him as chair of the advisory committee on the misuse of drugs, this seems to be because he had robust evidence that didn’t fit with political agendas. Indeed, the legal definition of a drug appears is at odds with the scientific one: ‘something we wish to make illegal’ versus ‘a substance that when taken causes physiological effects’. (This is how I remember his definition – it may not be quite right.)

I’m not surprised that he found that alcohol causes more damage overall than other types of drug. Far more of us use alcohol, and I’ve seen alcohol cause plenty of aggro. Small reductions in alcohol use would save society a lot of grief and a lot of money, according to Dr Nutt’s research, so he favours price controls such as those posited by the government. He also notes that as a doctor he can prescribe very strong opiates, when currently illegal substances or their derivatives (it’s even often illegal to do relevant research) may well be more appropriate.

In short, the world’s drugs policy is mad, but it is possible to reverse this. However we’ve known this for ages. As Bill Hicks put it

I loved when Bush came out and said, ‘We are losing the war against drugs.’ You know what that implies? There’s a war being fought, and the people on drugs are winning it.


3 thoughts on “Interstellar Overgrowth

  1. Anything you doing to treat the possible SIBO? I’ve had test results come back similarly, with a high baseline methane that increased a tiny bit over the two hours, no hydrogen. From my research this baseline methane seems to mainly be the result of *large intestine* dysbiosis, not SIBO. The minor rise makes me a little worried though, and the naturopath I work with considers a high baseline methane to be “positive”. Would be intersted on future updates on how you tackle that one.


  2. This seems very similar to my case. I am not a doctor so I don’t want to mis-advise you. Most of the sources I’ve read suggest working with a dietician to understand what foods cause symptoms. However, please see the next few blogs for what I’m doing and my thoughts on how they work. I’m happy to correspond privately (email) if you prefer. I really hope things get better for you!


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