It’s a serious question I’m asking you today, “Do you smell like rotten eggs?”
For years, I had no clue what this meant. The first time I ever smelled it was in my solo college dorm room. This was documented in My Story under the “College” time period.
Alternatively, you can now hear me tell this full story in podcast episode 1 HERE.
And if you want the truth, even when I wrote Wicked Winter Squash, I thought it was simply just a matter of food fermenting in the gut.
In fact, it wasn’t until just recently that I could pinpoint it to a ‘T.’ It kind of happened on accident by way of research in combination with my own journal.
I was researching all things hydrogen-dominant SIBO. One of the unique symptoms to hydrogen (vs. methane – which I think produces more of the “barn smell”)-dominant SIBO is a rotten egg smell. You know, the smelly toots, sulfur farts, whatever you want to call them.
Upon further investigation, though, I learned that this is because of that “third” type of SIBO: Hydrogen Sulfide SIBO (H2 SIBO).
I began seeing the correlation between foods I was eating and the days/time when the rotten egg stench was filling the room.
So here we go…..
Hydrogen Sulfide SIBO
As I noted in the hydrogen-dominant SIBO post, there isn’t a lot that is (currently) known about Hydrogen Sulfide SIBO. Currently, there are no tests to confirm or deny its existence, either.
Here is what we do know about Hydrogen Sulfide SIBO:
- Bacteria called sulfate-reducers feed on hydrogen produced by other bacteria and produce hydrogen sulfide.
- Typically present in patients who experience diarrhea.
- Will usually react to sulfur or sulfur containing foods or thiols.
- The impact of glyphosate on the sulfur production in the body is profound.
- Alcohol sensitivity.
- Histamine and sulfur overlap.
- This gas is implicated in the development of SIBO and LIBO, and can be the underlying culprit in treatment resistant IBS, SIBO, and functional digestive disorders.
- Hydrogen sulfide gas smells like rotten eggs, and is toxic to our nervous systems and our mitochondria (the engines of our cells). According to one GI doctor, “To add insult to injury, SIBO can turn dietary sulfur or sulfate into hydrogen sulfide (H2S), a foul gas that smells like rotten eggs. Temporarily reducing intake of high-sulfur/sulfate foods, beverages and supplements can help get rid of SIBO.”
Do You Smell Like Rotten Eggs?
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So, if you smell like rotten eggs, Hydrogen Sulfide SIBO could be the culprit. How to determine if you have this third type of SIBO:
- Mark down your signs and symptoms, bring them to your doctor, and ask for a SIBO test. (OR, order the SIBO test yourself RIGHT HERE, online.)
- If the test is positive and shows SIBO, great – you’re on your way. But also remember, that if it doesn’t, you might still have SIBO – this Hydrogen Sulfide SIBO form – because also remember, there is currently no test to determine it for sure.
- And in the meantime, if you want fewer sulfur smelling farts, you could try a test of removing the high sulfur foods for a few days (you’d likely see massive improvements in that time alone – I know because I did!)
Burping? Are they Sulfur Burps?
Remember, one of the signs of an unhealthy gut is stinky breath.
And sometimes, that stinky breath wreaks of rotten eggs.
Similar to the rotten egg smell that can come via gas out of your bottom, burping which smells like rotten eggs is also common.
These are known as sulfur burps, and they are common in those with Hydrogen Sulfide SIBO.
High Sulfur Foods
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Please make note: These lists below of high and low-sulfur foods are not meant to be exhaustive. In fact, the only food lists I have that are fairly exhaustive are the ones found in The Gutsy Girl’s Bible (i.e. gluten, dairy, beans, corn, etc.).
- Bok Choy
- Brazil Nuts
- Brussels Sprouts
- Cheese; mostly, Cheddar and Parmesan
- Chicken (light meat)
- Dried Fruits (sulfured)
- Fish (not all; only the fish with less fat)
- Milk; Cow’s milk; especially from grass-fed cows
- Mustard Greens and Mustard
- Olive Oil
- Turkey (light meat)
Low Sulfur Foods
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- Bell Peppers
- Chicken (dark meat)
- Citrus Fruits
- Flax seeds
- Pea Protein
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Rice Protein
- Sunflower Seeds
- Sweet Potatoes
- Turkey (dark meat)
- White Rice
One other thing that’s interesting to note is that Dr. Elena Klimenko gives the following supplements as potential problems for those with Hydrogen Sulfide SIBO.
- Bromelain and papain
- Milk thistle
- Dairy source acidophilus
I’m not telling you to not take these. What I’m saying is that if you’ve been taking any of them and have been keeping track in your journal, you can possibly find some correlations.
Can you see why this can all get so tricky for anyone trying to heal from SIBO? The food lists are super conflicting, and you really need to know exactly what YOU are dealing with versus a templated plan.
Get tested! ASAP.
My final note on this topic is this: IF you don’t have a problem with sulfur, then for the love of God, do not stop eating it. When you answer, “No” to the question, “Do you smell like rotten eggs,” get out the garlic, onion, and/or eggs, and whip something good up to eat!
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You will heal. I will help.