Another Piece in the Dysbiosis Puzzle - Sulfur, and Sulphate Reducing Bacteria - Aspire Natural Health

Another Piece in the Dysbiosis Puzzle – Sulfur, and Sulphate Reducing Bacteria

Beware the doctor who claims to ‘know it all’.

It’s impossible, and no matter how hard we try we can never know it all.

That’s why Hippocrates, considered the father of medicine, said “the art [medicine] is long, and life is short…” But still we try.

One good litmus test for your doctor or healthcare provider is to ask how many hours of CE (continuing education) they did last year. None, would be a very bad answer. Most of us are required to do at least 20 hours each year, and it would be a good sign if your provider did more. Last year I did around 70 hours of CE, in addition to regular daily reading.

One ‘new’ thing I stumbled upon recently is the importance of sulfur and sulphate reducing bacteria. I’d like to share it with you. I hope you find it as interesting as I do.

Sulfur is an essential mineral found primarily in proteins (sulfur containing amino acids like cysteine and taurine; found heavily in animal proteins) and in Alliaceae vegetables – garlic, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and a few others. Sulfur is also found in varying amounts in grains and nuts.

Sulfur is an essential element in:

  • Nerve growth
  • Neurotransmitter inactivation (clearing out neurotransmitters once your body is done with them)
  • Bone & cartilage growth
  • Mucus production
  • Detoxification

The big three that I’d like to focus on for this article are:

  1. Nerves & Neurotransmitters – proper nervous system function
  2. Mucus production – proper gut health & leaky gut
  3. Detoxification – proper elimination of toxic compounds

 
So if you don’t have enough sulfur in your body you can’t do those three things, and that makes life tough. Why might you be low in sulfur?

  1. Not eating foods that contain sulfur – probably not a problem for most people, but restricted eaters might run into this
  2. Poor digestion – if you can’t effectively break down and absorb your food you could run into a sulfur deficiency. Of course we would expect to see this in the context of multiple other nutrient deficiencies.
  3. Sulfate reducing bacteria – our focus for this article

 

The problem with gut bacteria

If you’ve read much of this blog you know I’m a huge fan of good gut bacteria. They make health possible, and when they go bad they cause disease. But here’s a new twist.

Bacteria, especially Streptococcus, Enterococcus and Prevotella, can turn sulfur into hydrogen sulfide gas. Hydrogen sulfide gas smells like rotten eggs, and is toxic to our nervous systems and our mitochondria (the engines of our cells).

So if we have a dysbiosis (messed up gut bacteria) with an excess of sulphate reducing bacteria, we have problems!

Deficiency of sulfur which means:

  1. Our nervous system doesn’t work properly – nerves can’t grow properly and neurotransmitters can’t be effectively broken down and removed, which means the levels of our neurotransmitters will be imbalanced and that can cause neurologic and behavioral issues.
  2. We can’t produce enough mucus to keep our guts healthy, meaning chronic issues with leaky gut.
  3. We can’t detoxify effectively – making people toxic (a whole host of problems) and chemically sensitive

 
Excess levels of hydrogen sulfide which is:

  1. Toxic to our nervous system – double whammy when combined with sulfur deficiency
  2. Toxic to mitochondria – the energy producing parts of our cells. Leading to low energy in our cells and our bodies. Might lead to chronic fatigue like symptoms for some.

 
How do you know if you have this dysbiosis?

Here are some ways you might know you have a sulfur-reducing dysbiosis

  1. Intolerance to sulfur – there are several reasons people are intolerant to high sulfur containing foods, but this is one of them. Every time you eat foods with a lot of sulfur in them the bacteria reduce them to hydrogen sulfide and poison your body. So if you are intolerant to sulfur containing foods, it’s a good sign you may have this dysbiosis.
  2. Rotten egg flatulence – hydrogen sulfide smells like rotten eggs. If your flatulence (that’s the medical word for ‘farts’) are consistently foul, and especially if they smell like rotten eggs, that’s a good sign you have a good deal of sulfur-reducing bacteria.
  3. High sulfate reducing bacteria on a stool test – if you’ve had proper stool testing done that shows a lot of Streptococcus, Enterococcus and Prevotella it’s a sign you have this dysbiosis.
  4. Urinary testing – while I’ve never used this in my practice,  while doing some research for this article I found a small alternative lab that claims to test for hydrogen sulfide levels in the urine. If they are high, then that means you have a sulfur-reducing dysbiosis.

 
What to do about it

In a nutshell, treat the dysbiosis!

  1. Use antimicrobials – either prescription (antibiotics) if appropriate, or herbal to help kill the dysbiosis.
  2. Replace with probiotics – to help restore a healthy gut ecology and help prevent the return of dysbiosis.
  3. Consider green tea – an article about a recent study found, “At even lower concentrations — from 2.5 to 25 micrograms per milliliter — the polyphenols hindered the enzyme that catalyzes the formation of hydrogen sulfide, cutting its production by 30 percent. ” So green tea might be part of a protocol to reduce the production of hydrogen sulfide.

 

Hydrogen sulfide is not a villain

And as a counterpoint, while researching this article I came across some recent research showing that the body does actually use hydrogen sulfide in very low doses to help communicate and run things, in addition to nitric oxide and carbon monoxide – all ‘toxic’ gases. So it’s not that we want to get rid of all hydrogen sulfide, it’s that we want to get rid of overproduction which causes problems.

 

This subject is still very new to me, but adds another piece to the puzzle. I hope you’ve found it interesting. I’ll let you know as I continue to learn more.

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

If you’re looking for help, email us at info@aspirenaturalhealth.com or call us at 425-202-7849.

The first step in our process is simply to see if we’re a good fit.  If we are, we’ll talk about moving forward, if not, we’ll do our best to refer you to someone else who’s a better match.

Everything is no-pressure and no-obligation, so you have nothing to lose.

Email us at info@aspirenaturalhealth.com or call us at 425-202-7849 right now for some help.

Photo attribution:  https://bit.ly/2IVufUf

Another interesting post:

5 Ways to Know If You Have Dysbiosis?