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What is Intestinal Methanogen Overgrowth (IMO)?
May 1st, 2021 + The Naturopathic Co.

Methanogens are methane-producing micro-organisms which normally reside in the intestinal tract. They are present in regulated numbers and are an essential component of the luminal intestinal ecosystem.

These methanogens are kept in check by the immune system and a good diverse amount of beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract.

Methanogens are not strictly bacteria, but ancient micro-organisms called Archaea. Archaea are known as “extremophiles” because they can adapt and survive in hostile and extreme environments. Having methanogens in our digestive tracts provided an evolutionary advantage, by slowing digestive motility and allowing more calories to be extracted from food, but their ability to survive also makes an overgrowth more difficult to treat.

Methanogens use the bacterial fermentation product hydrogen to produce methane. Unfortunately, when overgrown, methanogens cause the severe depletion of short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) such as butyrate which supports intestinal cell energy production and repair.

Overgrowth of methanogens is a key feature of SIBO, but may also occur in the large intestine. Symptoms include constipation, bloating, nausea and belching. In addition, strong evidence links intestinal methanogen overgrowth (IMO) with wide-ranging digestive and systemic conditions, including:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Obesity
  • Blood sugar dysregulation
  • Periodontal disease
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Cardiovascular atherogenesis

If you suspect you may have either SIBO, SIFO, or IMO; schedule a time with your naturopath to talk through functional testing options, as well as a tailored treatment plan.

Make time to see our South Yarra naturopath, Camberwell naturopath, or speak to us online via zoom.

Yvette is a qualified Melbourne-based Naturopath and Nutritionist, MINDD Practitioner, member of the Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia, and Complementary Medicine Association. Yvette specialises in the treatment of digestive complaints, skin issues, mood disorders, hormonal concerns, fatigue, and also has a key interest in children’s digestive and neurological conditions. Yvette consults in South Yarra, Camberwell, and Australia-wide via Zoom. Book HERE


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