{More specifically looking at Digestive Disorders and in my case, SIBO}


Hello everyone!


So, this is my first post since I have officially declared my move away from identifying as “a vegan”. If you missed that post where I explain my journey to making that decision, you can find it here:

 After receiving so many messages from followers of The Healing Root from people experiencing the same or similar experiences – particularly related to heaps of digestive & gastrointestinal troubles - I thought I would make a post where I take an in-depth look into what SIBO is, things you can do to help heal it, understanding it from an Ayurvedic perspective & very practical things you can shift & tweak in your life that might bring about some sort of healing. These are tips & tricks that helped me immensely, but again, we are all different and what soothed & helped me might be totally different to what soothes & helps you on your journey towards health. Regardless, I feel it is important for me to share what has worked for me in the hope that some of these suggestions will work or help at least one of you. Why? Because I know how debilitating stomach/digestive/gastrointestinal disorders can be. Health really does start from your gut. And without health we cannot bring forth our light into the world.


A huge part of me healing the SIBO was stumbling upon Dr John Douillard’s work (blog, podcast & YouTube channel) called LifeSpa. Dr John Douillard has done incredible work on merging the ancient science of Ayurveda with modern science and his investigations and sharing of deep knowledge of all gut & digestion related issues literally saved me. They contextualized a lot of my experiences within an Ayurvedic framework - helping me to understand and see the places where I was perpetuating imbalances in my life. He backs his work with an extensive scientific background as well as investigating ailments from energetic level through the doshas: helping me to understand how to shift & implement things in my diet and lifestyle to support myself better. Therefore, much of this article is informed by Dr John Douillard’s work. What isn’t informed by his work is informed by lived experiences of the last year and a half and having to work very consciously every single day to listen to what my body was demanding of me to shift in my life.


Let’s get into it …




SIBO stands for Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth. It is, very basically, when the bacteria in the large intestine move to the small intestine. This is in large part due to damage or malfunctioning of the ileocecal valve. This migration of bacteria into the small intestine disturbs the natural and delicate balance of good microbes in the small intestine and can cause so much pain & havoc in ones’ health & life.


Years of processed foods, excess stress, over-use of Western medicines – these are all examples of aspects of life that do not recognize the sensitivity of the intestinal tract and its’ microbes. This has consequently left our intestinal microbiomes weaker and more susceptible to gastrointestinal issues like candida, SIBO & indigestion in our current day and age.


The intestinal walls need to be given the correct environment in order to thrive: i.e. we need to take responsibility through diet & lifestyle to ensure that we are supporting the correct state of the intestinal wall linings (i.e. it can’t be too soft, too hard, too dry – it must be “just right”). This means we need to understand the role of diet deeply & fully – we need to understand the roles of particular foods and how they affect us physically and energetically so that we are empowered to make wise choices that support our gut. For example, for years I thought I was doing myself a great favor by eating a super low fat vegan diet. However, I have come to learn that eating a diet that low in fat is not beneficial – especially for Vata types. Not only are fats energetically grounding & calming but they also help to line the intestinal walls, they soothe the nervous & digestive system and help to regulate hormone levels. Another example is that for years I ate a very high raw diet, but I didn’t realize how taxing raw food can be on the digestive system. Due to the immense amount of fiber and active breaking down that needs to occur via digestion, it can be very hard on the gut to eat only raw or even high raw foods all of the time.




1)    Low or weak stomach acid production – a lack of stomach acid means that foods can sit in the stomach for longer than what is healthy and therefore this backlog results in horrendous gas & bloating. Due to the lack of bile production and the necessary digestive enzymes to break the food down, the “bad bacteria” are given the perfect environment to thrive and cause even more havoc.


2)    STRESS – stress is a MAJOR cause. When we are stressed all of our stress hormones are activated & released into the body which take away from the bodies’ ability to digest effectively because the energy that would otherwise be used for digestion is being used in order to be on “high alert” or in “fight or flight mode”. This makes sense because digestion requires a lot of energy and requires for us to be in a receptive and calm state to work its’ magic but with adrenaline, cortisol and epinephrine running wild in the system the process of digestion process is halted. From an Ayurvedic lens, stress causes a “reverse flow of the digestion called “udvarta”.” This upward flow of digestion results in damage to the ileocecal valve which allows for the bacteria to move into the small intestine.


3)    Over-use of medications – antibiotics have been shown to negatively alter the intestinal bacterial balance.


4)    Years of eating processed food – eating highly processed foods supports the growth of bad bacteria in the gut.


5)    Years of untreated elimination issues – effective elimination is key for the healthy functioning of the gut and the associated bacteria therein.


I LOVE Ayurveda’s approach to healing the gut microbiome. It is not the “kill bad bacteria” or to “fight this or that” approach that is so common among Western perspectives but rather encourages using gentle therapies to simply change the environment of the gut and intestines in order to gently and effectively change the gut bacteria in such a way that it comes back into natural balance and harmony.


This really insightful article by Dr John Douillard takes a deeper look into what causes weak stomach acid production, the role of bile in digestion, how to increase bile, how to boost stomach acid production and much more.



o   The most agonising cramps and fire-like pain in my upper stomach every single time I ate, and for long periods thereafter

o   Massive inflammation that wrecked my body

o   Malabsorption of nutrients

o   The most ridiculous fatigue I cannot even begin to explain

o   Chronic diarrhoea & dehydration

o   Massive flare up of my Psoriasis (a genetic autoimmune skin disorder characterised by inflamed red “angry” skin)

o   Feeling full even after not eating much

o   A feeling of immense discomfort and non-ease in my stomach area, almost a feeling of my stomach imploding on itself

o   Inability to detox & congested lymphatic system

o   Dry skin, nails & brittle hair

o   My skin was thin and frail & not “healthy” or vibrant by any stretch of the imagination

o   My hormones were completely imbalanced




·      Drink a glass (or two) of warm water (you can add lemon & ginger to increase agni, digestive fire) 20-30 minutes before you eat a meal. This rehydrates the intestinal wall which is vital in your ability to digest & assimilate nutrients effectively. Make sure it isn’t just before you eat otherwise this diminishes digestive fire.


·      Smaller meals, more regularly: eating too much at one sitting puts extra digestive strain on your system. I was getting into intermittent fasting and as a result my meals got bigger and bigger which left me fatigued after eating and taxed my digestive system. It took hours to digest my food, eventually this became super triggering to my SIBO as too much fibre was debilitating and highly aggravating.


·      Reduce fibre intake: For me, fibre was a really big trigger. Thus, eating too much raw food or foods high in fiber (like broccoli, Brussel sprouts etc.) was too much for my stomach to handle. After eating a high fibre meal, I would be in agony for 6-8 hours after the meal; in unbearable cramps, spasms, and fatigue.


·      Limit raw foods (unless you really feeling your body needs it – or take them in via juices/smoothies so they require less digestive effort) – I was so identified with following a high raw diet that I wasn’t listening to the cues given by my body indicating states of imbalance. For Vata types, eating high raw diets is not suitable for their constitutions. Raw food is best suited for Pitta types who can handle the cooling nature & increased digestive demands of raw food. But even then, I no longer believe in or advocate for completely raw diets for any doshic type.


·      Do calming exercise: running and other intensely cardiovascular exercise activates the sympathetic nervous system and the stress response in the body which hinders digestive capability as your body is in fight or flight mode so it uses energy for staying hyper-alert and stressed instead of making energy available for digesting effectively. Things like walking, yoga, tai chi, gentle swimming, rock climbing, gentle weight/resistance training and leisure dancing are great examples of ways of moving your body that support the body-mind more; especially if trying to heal a gastrointestinal disorder.


·      Eat more cooked, soothing foods that don’t require much digestive effort: think soups, broths, dhals, porridge, stews, etc.). When I started to incorporate more cooked foods into my diet & lifestyle my gut and intestines immediately responded positively. My body started to actually absorb the nutrients in the food I was eating and I was feeling stronger and healthier than I had for months. Things that particularly helped were: roasted pumpkin, roasted sweet potato, normal potato and the aforementioned foods.


·      Eat more healthy fats: fats are essential as they line the intestinal walls and provide needed lubrication to the joints and supporting tissues of the body. I was following a super low fat diet for ages – and for my constitution (Vata) this was very unbalancing. Fats are essential and vital components of living a balanced and harmonious life: both energetically but also physically. 


·      Eat SEASONALLY: it’s been shown that our microbiomes literally change according to the natural cycles and rhythmic changes in nature. Therefore, eating what is seasonal and local is of utmost importance because our guts are literally adapting to the environmental changes around us and therefore will be receptive to the macronutrient and micronutrient constituents of the food that is being grown & harvested of that time (season) and place.


·      If you are willing, start introducing an ethically sourced Ghee into your diet. Ghee is an Ayurvedic superfood – and it was a tummy and general health game changer for me. I will be doing a long, separate post on the benefits of Ghee. But for now, I will simply say that not only is it energetically soothing & one of the most sattvic (balancing) foods out there, but on a physical level Ghee helps in maintaining and increasing the health of the intestinal walls due to one compound in Ghee in particular: Butyric acid. This is a short-chain fatty acid that the intestinal tract thrives on.


·      For me personally, introducing small amounts of animal products was not only necessary as my body was disintegrating, but it was also so healing for my stomach. I introduced some local farm eggs a couple of times a week and a piece of fish here and there. Animal products are fiber-less and with that, it means my body actually had a chance to heal and absorb nutrients again. I made sure to source them as ethically as possible & consciously consume them with a grateful heart and an open mind.


·      The hormone & gut connection: I went to a gynaecologist in order to try and address my amenorrhea which I have had for years. He explained to me that gut health & reproductive health is, in fact, very linked. There are good bacteria in the vaginal/reproductive areas and therefore if there is a wide spread negative bacterial overgrowth this can negatively impact the health of our hormones & reproductive organs thus perpetuating hormonal imbalances.


·      Stress: reduce stress in every way, shape and form possible in your life. This is of utmost importance. Stress as mentioned above, plays a big role in digestive disorders.


·      Valve massage: Dr John Douillard in his podcast called “Trouble Shooting your Candida & SIBO” talks about an ileocecal valve massage that TRULY helped/helps me. For more information on this you can watch this:


·      Probiotics! These helped a heap, too. I went on a few months of intensive probiotic supplements. I also made sure to start incorporating some other sources of probiotics: kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut & other fermented goods.


·      Mindful eating: when you sit down to eat take a moment to stop and take some long, deep breaths. This activates your parasympathetic nervous which reduces stress hormones in the body and calms your entire central nervous system down which is vital for proper assimilation of nutrients. By eating mindfully: i.e. 1) tasting every single mouthful 2) noticing how your body & mind react to the very process of eating 3) noticing what you are eating itself and 4) being completely present as you eat. This gives your body & mind a moment to prepare for the process of nourishing yourself. This literally allows your brain & body to become more receptive to the foods you are about to eat. By being more receptive (energetically & physically) your body is able to assimilate the nutrients more efficiently and your digestion is therefore more effective. I have a post about mindful eating that is in the recipe post called Raw Vegan Coconut Cheesecake Bars, if you would like to read more on that.


·      The power of prayer: what do I mean by this? By this I mean taking a moment before you eat your meal to be consciously grateful for it. Bless the food for it is literally what sustains you. This is especially relevant if you have had a troubled relationship to food in the past; by blessing and being truly grateful for the food you are about to eat your mind-body is at peace with it as you become one with it through the process of taking it into your body. Food can be medicine & it can be poison. It is not only about what you eat but possibly more about how, why and when you eat: the attitude, intention & energy you bring to the eating experience is critical for a healthy relationship to food. Eat with a grateful and open heart and it literally changes the way you it effects your body, mind & energy.


·      Find alternative healing modalities that resonate with you: this was a really important factor in me healing my diseases and disorders from a very multi-faceted and holistic approach. I believe that every single disease or illness is not ever just physical. It becomes physical when you haven’t addressed all of the other factors or cues that the body & mind have previously given you when the initial imbalances arose. For me this was kinesiology, reflexology, reiki and massage therapy. I also used homeopathic remedies and tissue salts to address the subtler imbalances.


·      Mindful practices: this goes without saying much more, but more I shall say J These practices will change your healing game. They connect you deeper to your intuition which will refine your capacity to listen to what you truly need in any given moment to live more deeply into your fullest expression of health. Mindful practices will also calm your entire nervous system which reduces stress & allows deep healing & releasing of trauma.



In my understanding of Ayurveda & from my lived experiences of SIBO, I have come to understand SIBO as an intense Vata and Pitta imbalance/disease. The colon is the seat of Vata, therefore, issues at this level speak to an imbalance of Vata. However, inflammatory diseases or other heat-related illnesses such as heart burn/indigestion/acid reflux are Pitta related. Seeing as SIBO is also an inflamed response to fiber (or certain foods) due to the imbalance of microbes in the small intestine, you can begin to see that it points to imbalances in both Vata and Pitta which come together in the manifestation of SIBO.


I sincerely hope that this post has left you with even a bit of help, guidance & insight into some ways you can begin your own deep healing process. I am with you, and you are not alone. If you are dealing with any gastrointestinal disorder, a mental health issue or even another disease of another nature I hope that at least one of these tips and tricks can offer some relief to you in times of challenge & struggle. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at any point if you would like to comment, chat, ask or talk about anything.


Yours in healing,