Hi all, I’ve been busy working on a long post about herbal antibiotics. That isn’t ready quite yet, but instead there’s some really exciting news about a new SIBO breath test for hydrogen sulfide which I want to share!
As some of you may know, the 2018 Digestive Disease Week Conference just wrapped up. It’s a huge medical conference about, you guessed it, digestive diseases including SIBO and IBS.
Doctors and researchers use this as an opportunity to present new findings, including this exciting one.
Big Steps Forward With a Breath Test for Hydrogen Sulfide
As the Conference, the team from Cedars-Sinai’s Medically Associated Science and Technology (MAST) Program revealed that they have developed a new SIBO breath test.
Previously, breath testing for SIBO has only been able to measure the levels of Methane and Hydrogen. But we know that there is another gas, Hydrogen Sulfide, that causes SIBO symptoms as well.
Bacteria usually found in the large intestine (the colon) consume carbohydrates and sugars and produce Hydrogen Sulfide. When these bacteria get stuck in the small intestine and produce Hydrogen Sulfide, this is where SIBO begins to cause problems.
Unfortunately, the currently available breath testing cannot detect Hydrogen Sulfide. But the Cedars-Sinai team has made some important advances here.
Study Confirms That Hydrogen Sulfide Causes Diarrhea
First, the Cedars-Sinai team announced that it has conducted a large clinical study that revealed that Hydrogen Sulfide causes diarrhea in IBS and SIBO patients.
The study hasn’t been made publicly available yet that I am aware of, but these photos of the presentation posted by the Cedars-Sinai Mast Program’s Twitter (@MASTProgram) show the association of diarrhea with Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S):
You can see that as the level of Hydrogen Sulfide present increases, so does the severity of diarrhea.
Interestingly, it looks like when both Hydrogen Sulfide and Methane are present, the two compete, resulting in less severe diarrhea than with excessive Hydrogen Sulfide alone.
This is great information to know! When you know what causes your symptoms, that’s the first step to being able to truly resolve or manage them effectively. Which leads to the best part of the announcement…
The New Four Gas Breath Test Will Be Able to Detect Hydrogen Sulfide
The Cedars-Sinai team revealed that it has developed a new breath test for Hydrogen Sulfide! Their announcement calls this new test the “four gas” breath test. You can read the announcement here.
The four gases are Hydrogen Sulfide, Hydrogen, Methane, and presumably Carbon Dioxide (which is used as a “control”).
The Cedars-Sinai MAST Program tweeted a picture of the new testing device:
Looks kind of like a laptop to me.
When Will This Breath Test for Hydrogen Sulfide Be Available?
The announcement says that the new breath test will be available to patients by the end of the year.
Of course, finding a SIBO-friendly doctor who knows about this new test and Hydrogen Sulfide might be the real barrier to being tested…ahhh, the joys of having a little-known chronic disease!
So Many Questions Remain…
The announcement, while exciting, certainly raises a lot of unanswered questions. For example, it doesn’t say how the measurement of Hydrogen Sulfide will improve treatment, or whether Hydrogen Sulfide responds to the same antibiotics that doctors currently use.
I also wonder what the value of retesting might be for people like me who were diagnosed through the currently available breath testing. Is there any advantage to discovering if I have Hydrogen Sulfide as well?
My guess is that the next step will be more research on how Hydrogen Sulfide improves with antibiotic treatment. This couldn’t happen without being able to measure Hydrogen Sulfide through this new breath test!
Dr. Mark Pimentel, the lead author of the study, also tweeted that “a more important piece will be coming later this year that completes the whole test.”
So, I will certainly be waiting for that news, and I’ll be sure to post about it!
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