How To Treat SIBO Naturally (Without Antibiotics)

If you’ve got SIBO, and you don’t want to take antibiotics, we’ve got some good news: herbal antimicrobials can work just as well.

While the majority of the research on tackling SIBO does involve conventional antibiotics, there is also a lot of evidence to support the effectiveness of various herbs. Read on to find out if resolving SIBO the natural way is the right option for you.

How do I get rid of SIBO without antibiotics?

There are many antimicrobial herbs that work very well to clear SIBO. One study found [Source: PubMed] that herbal therapies are at least as effective as Rifaximin (a popular antibiotic used for SIBO) at beating SIBO.

That particular study used the SIBO breath test to measure the gas levels of one group of patients after a course of Rifaximin, and another group after a course of a herbal supplement. The group on the herbal supplement had slightly better results than the group on the antibiotic.

If you’d like to find out if you have SIBO, we can send you an at-home SIBO breath test. You’ll get the results within seven working days.

It’s also possible to address SIBO without using antibiotics or herbal antimicrobials. Getting rid of bacteria with an antimicrobial protocol isn’t always necessary: sometimes building up your gut health and encouraging friendly bacteria to grow is a better idea. Take a look at our blog How to get rid of bad bacteria in the gut to find out more.

Can I cure SIBO on my own?

It’s definitely possible to successfully tackle SIBO on your own. We don’t use the word ‘cure’ with SIBO, because you’ll always have bacteria in your small intestine: a small number of microbes are supposed to live there. Our aim is to reduce them to a level that puts an end to your uncomfortable symptoms.

While SIBO is famous for causing IBS symptoms like diarrhoea, bloating and constipation, it’s also been linked to:

If you’re not sure if your symptoms could be linked to SIBO, check out our blog SIBO symptoms: what they mean and what to do next.

While you could do your own research and create a protocol to beat SIBO by yourself, we recommend that you get the advice of a qualified practitioner. That’s because treating SIBO involves more than just taking some supplements, and going down the wrong path could cost you more time and money in the long run.

Speak to a gut health expert.


Some common mistakes include:

Using the wrong supplements for your type of SIBO

Research tells us that the allicin in garlic is most effective against methane-producing microbes [Source: PubMed], while herbs like oregano and berberine are more effective against hydrogen-producing bacteria [Source: PubMed].

Not taking a high enough dose

It’s often a good idea to start on a low dose, in case you have a reaction to your antimicrobial supplements. However we know that you’re more likely to clear your SIBO if you take the right dose for the right amount of time. You should try to build up to the recommended dose slowly.

Taking too high a dose

If you go in at the deep end you’re more likely to feel unwell and give up the protocol completely. You could also kill too many of your gut microbes and tip your microbiome further off balance.

Not taking the supplement for long enough

If you feel better quickly, you might think it’s the right time to stop your protocol. It’s important to see it through to the end to give yourself the best chance of staying SIBO-free long term.

Taking the supplement for too long

If you take an antimicrobial for too long, your microbes can become resistant to it. It’s a good idea to switch between different types of antimicrobial supplements if you’re on a long course.

Not ensuring that you have a bowel movement every day

When microbes are dying in large numbers, they give off substances like lipopolysaccharides (LPS) that can make your symptoms worse [Source: PubMed], or make you feel unwell. If you’re constipated, you’ll feel even worse. It’s important to eat enough fibre and do whatever works for you to ensure you empty your bowels at least once a day.

An overly-restrictive diet

Many people with SIBO have been on a strict diet for too long. Many ‘SIBO diets’ you find on the internet don’t mention that they’re only supposed to be temporary: usually for a maximum of six weeks. The most important thing you can do for your gut is to eat as broad a range of plants as possible.

What herbs kill SIBO?

The list of herbs you could use to tackle SIBO is almost endless.

Thousands of herbs have antimicrobial properties. Each one contains different levels of a range of ‘active constituents’: the chemicals that kill microbes.

Most of the herbs used for SIBO are high in one (or more) of these three active constituents:

  • Berberine
    • Philodendron 
    • Coptis chinensis 
    • Goldenseal 
    • Oregon grape root
    • Barberry 
  • Polyphenols
    • Pomegranate husk 
    • Propolis 
    • Cloves 
    • Oregano leaf 
  • Volatile oils
    • Oregano oil
    • Thyme oil
    • Clove oil 
    • Peppermint oil 

Herbal treatment for SIBO

If you’d like to get herbal treatment for SIBO, we recommend you work with a professional. You can choose from the following:

  • A medical herbalist, who is qualified to use all kinds of herbal treatments
  • A Registered Nutritional Therapist, who can use herbal extracts in supplement form
  • A Functional Medicine Practitioner, who can also recommend herbal supplements. 


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Neem for SIBO

The fruit, seeds, leaves, stems, and bark of the Neem tree contain a huge number of phytochemicals (plant chemicals).

The seed oil contains glycerides and many kinds of polyphenols. The yellow, bitter oil has a garlic-like smell, and the leaves contain other beneficial compounds like quercetin, catechins, carotenes, and vitamin C.

Neem extract has been found to kill many types of microbes, including the gram-positive S. aureus and the gram negative E. coli bacteria [Source: IJBMR].

Oregano oil for SIBO

The antimicrobial constituents of oregano oil are carvacrol (55 to 85 percent) and thymol (up to 10 percent). They kill bacteria by breaking their cell membrane [Source: PubMed]. 

Research tells us that oregano oil works to reduce different kinds of unhelpful bacteria, but leaves the friendlier Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium alone [Source: PubMed].

Allicin for SIBO

Allicin is a component of garlic. It’s been well studied for its antimicrobial properties, and works to reduce microbes from the Pseudomonas, Streptococcus, and Staphylococcus families, among others [Source: PubMed].

It also works to reduce Candida albicans (a yeast that can cause thrush in women and also lives in the gut), and has been shown to kill parasites like Entamoeba histolytica and Giardia lamblia [Source: PubMed].

‘SIBO Queen’ Allison Siebecker says on her website that she uses a combination of allicin and neem to treat methane-dominant SIBO, with good results.

Key takeaways

  • Both conventional antibiotics and herbal antimicrobials work to tackle SIBO
  • People react differently to antimicrobials in the same way people react differently to antibiotics
  • You can try to beat SIBO on your own, but we recommend working with a qualified practitioner to avoid common mistakes
  • Thousands of herbs and plants have antimicrobial properties, but haven’t necessarily been studied for SIBO
  • The most common herbal antimicrobials used for SIBO are oil of oregano, neem, berberine and allicin


Alexandra Falconer MA (Dist) DipCNM mBANT is a Registered Nutritional Therapist specialising in IBS and related conditions. A graduate of Brighton’s College of Naturopathic Medicine, she is committed to fighting the root causes of chronic illness and bringing functional medicine to everyone who needs it.

Before her natural health career, Alex was a journalist and copywriter. She continues to write for magazines and media agencies, and now combines her two great passions—writing and health—by creating content that empowers people to claim their right to a healthy body and mind.

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