Can you use garlic to treat SIBO? Food vs Supplements - Aspire Natural Health

Can you use garlic to treat SIBO? Food vs Supplements

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In this Episode Dr. Gerstmar discusses:
-SIBO – what is it, what are it’s symptoms
-FODMAPs – what are they, how to do they affect SIBO
-Garlic – the food vs the supplement
-The type of garlic supplements you need to stay away from if you’re trying to treat SIBO


Hey Folks,

It’s Dr. Gerstmar from Aspire Natural Health

And in this quick video I want to talk to you about…a question we hear pretty often and that’s…is it safe to use garlic to treat SIBO?

Let’s back up for just a second and make sure everyone is on the same page.

SIBO is small intestine bacterial overgrowth. A condition where we have too many bacteria in the small intestine. This overgrowth tends to cause a lot of gas and bloating, and it causes a lot of inflammation in the small intestine which can lead to food sensitivities, nutrient deficiencies, and more.

There’s a spectrum of SIBO from mild and easily treated on one end, to very severe and very difficult to treat on the other.

Now that we understand SIBO, we’ve got to ask…

What do bacteria eat?

In the big picture, almost anything. We’ve found bacteria on radioactive waste and in boiling hot geysers before.

But in the case of our gut bacteria, they’re going to mostly eat the leftovers of what we eat.

In particular, many of our bacteria like fiber.

Fiber is the indigestible part of plants and is rich in many fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains.

For a long time we’ve been told that the purpose of fiber is pooping, right? If you’re constipated just eat more fiber and that’ll take care of it.

And that does sometimes help, but we’ve come to understand that the reason to eat fiber is two fold.

First fiber usually comes with nutritious whole foods which should be a major part of our diet.

And second fiber usually feeds the good bacteria in our gut that we need to stay healthy.

However in a situation like SIBO, where we have too many bacteria already, putting in the fibers and sugars that bacteria love to eat is like pouring gasoline on a fire. It can flare things up and make people miserable.

These sugars and fibers that bacteria love to eat are called FODMAPs. That’s F-O-D-M-A-P and stands for fructo-, oligo-, di-, and mono- saccarides, and polls. You don’t need to remember any of those terms, just that FODMAPs are rich in bacteria food.

Now on the list of FODMAPs two common foods stand out, and those are onions and garlic.

Which is why we talk about a totally non-scientific test that you can do at home to get an idea of whether you might have SIBO is to eat an onion. Cooked or raw. All at once or spread out over the day. If that onion gives you a lot of gas, bloating, diarrhea or constipation, then you might have SIBO.

So many people find that eliminating or reducing things like onion and garlic in their diet can provide a lot of relief.

And many people are confused when they see that a lot of herbal formulas for treating SIBO have garlic in them.

Won’t that make things worse?

Great question! Let’s answer it.

Besides those yummy fibers that garlic is full of, garlic also possesses a staggering amount of awesome plant compounds. You might have heard about how garlic can improve your cholesterol, slightly lower your blood pressure, serve as an antioxidant, and importantly here kill off bacteria, yeast, and parasites.

When we’re evaluating garlic for use against SIBO we need to consider the ratio of these bacteria feeding fibers vs. the amount of bacteria killing compounds.

When we’re talking about food based garlic, most people find that the fibers win out over the compounds, and garlic makes their SIBO worse.

When it comes to supplemental garlic, that ratio is flipped and most people find it incredibly helpful.

It’s important to keep a couple of things in mind when we’re thinking about using garlic to treat SIBO.

The first is the form.

There are a lot of cheap garlic pills out there that are basically just crushed up garlic stuffed into a pill. Not only is that not going to be effective, but it will often make SIBO worse, because it’s just garlic stuffed into a pill. So don’t buy the cheap garlic supplements, they’re not likely to help, and can cause problems.

The second type of garlic is going to be the deodorized garlic.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but garlic has just a bit of a smell. And certain preparations of garlic have the smell removed, which is great because you don’t smell like a pizza, BUT, the problem is that the smelly part is the bacteria/fungus/parasite killing part of the garlic, so when you remove that it still may do other good things like act as an antioxidant or help with heart health, but it’s not going to do the job to kill SIBO.

What you’re really looking for is a garlic extract, where they take the bacteria killing compounds, remove them from the bacteria feeding fibers, and concentrate them. This is going to give you the most bang for your buck.

We’ll go ahead and list a couple of products that we’ve found helpful in the comments below, so you can check them out there.

So there you have it…

Can you use garlic to treat SIBO? Absolutely you can.

Why has your doctor told you to avoid food garlic but is giving you a supplement with garlic in it? Because food garlic tends to have more of the bacteria feeding fibers than the bacteria killing compounds, and most good supplements are going to be the reverse.

If you or anyone you know is dealing with IBS, I’d like to offer you the Quick Guide we’ve put together on how we treat IBS here at Aspire Natural Health, all you need to do it fill out the short form below and we’ll happily send that to you for FREE. So click down below.

At Aspire Natural Health we are experts at treating digestive issues and autoimmune diseases. If that’s you, we’d love to connect.

We offer a no-obligation no-pressure chat to see if we can help you, and if we’re the right fit to work together.

If we are, we’ll move forward, and if we’re not, we’ll do our best to connect you with the person who can best help you.

You have nothing to lose, so call us now at 425-202-7849 or email us at

Until next time folks…Take care!


At Aspire Natural Health we are experts at helping people suffering with digestive issues and autoimmunity.

Are you looking for help?

Email us at or call us at 425-202-7849.

The first step of our process is to see if we’re a good fit for one another. If we are, we’ll talk about next steps. If not, that’s okay, and we’ll do our best to help you find the right person.

Everything is no-obligation and no-pressure, so you don’t have to worry. You have nothing to lose!

Call us at 425-202-7849 or email us now!

Photo attribution – (garlic)

Another interesting blog post:

Kitchen Medicine: 5 Healing Foods from Your Pantry

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Heather says:

    This is such a great article! Could you please leave the garlic supplements you recommend? Thank you!

  2. Fafi says:

    Hi there
    It’s been the total opposite for me. Garlic pills help but not significantly. The fresh garlic when swolloed before and after food does wonders because it prevents any harmful bacteria from feasting on food that would otherwise stay longer in the tract .. jystxwanted to share my experience with bloating after food or when constipated .

  3. Jan says:

    I have been diagnosed with SIBO, and my gastroenterologist put me on antibiotics which helped, but it came right back after the course of antibiotics were stopped. My gastro wrote me off after that. I have suffered with it for about 4 years now. I have been taking one of the garlic supplements mentioned in your article for about 2 weeks now, and I feel SO much better! No more running to the bathroom 5 times a day. No feeling nauseous and I’ll all the time. Much more energy. THANK YOU! If others out there suffer from this, I would give garlic a try.

    • Tim Gerstmar says:

      Hi Jan,
      Awesome! I’m so glad it helped. If you’d like to see about a more comprehensive approach, please feel welcome to send us an email (, message, or give us a call (425-202-7849).
      Wishing you all the best.

      Kind regards,
      Dr. Tim Gerstmar

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