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Hydrogen sulfide gut bacterial overgrowth and smelly farts!

From my own personal experience with hydrogen sulfide, after having clostridium difficile colitis, it is definitely not a pleasant one and its interconnection with genetics, histamine, nutrient deficiencies, systemic toxicity and the microbiome leads to an interesting discussion. In small amounts this gas can be protective but in large amounts it become noxious - burning through gut mucosa. The gas production not only creates extremely offensive rotten egg smelling gas but extremely painful and uncomfortable abdominal pain amongst many other symptoms such as histamine intolerance. There is a close relationship between histamine issues and sulfur issues on not just a gut mucosal level but also on a genetic level.

Which bacteria cause hydrogen sulfide production.

Bacterial overgrowth can be in the small intestine (SIBO), large intestine or both. The most well known of the hydrogen sulfide producers are the

  1. Desulfovibrio genus which produces H2S via the reduction of sulfate (SO2-4), a compound naturally found in various foods and drinking water

  2. Salmonella, Escherichia, Fusobacterium and more which generate H2S by breaking down sulfur producing amino acids ( Taurine and Cysteine) from the host diet or from the host ( ie bile acids )

Hydrogen sulfide gas can not be sampled yet in Australia via breath testing however it is available overseas. This is considered the 3rd gas in SIBO. One clue with SIBO testing maybe a " flat line" sibo test. This may represent Hydrogen sulfide SIBO. In terms of large bowel testing there are microbiome tests which in fact give data on hydrogen sulfide excess production as well as data on sulfur producing bacterial overgrowth patterns.

What are some typical symptoms of too much hydrogen sulfide.

  • Burning gut symptoms are highly suspicious such as reflux and gastritis

  • Diarrhoea or burning diarrhoea and for some its constipation.

  • Abdominal pain and tenderness

  • Rotten egg smelling gas

  • Joint pain

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Interstitial cystitis

  • Histamine intolerance

Which diets help hydrogen sulfide over production.

Often the " healthy diets" which normally work for microbiome correction such as low carb paleo diets can be problematic in patients with this condition as often the high protein load can lead to more hydrogen sulfide production issues. From my experience as well as my clinical one - not everyone reacts to the same sulfur containing foods. For some patients egg can be the trigger foods where as for others it maybe garlic and for other it maybe a linked to the load of sulfur.

A good way to start is a low sulfur elimination diet and then add back foods slowly. Blog coming soon for this .

(often the darker the green in the vegetable the higher the sulfur content)

How do you treat this hydrogen sulfide over production?

Medications used to treat this overgrowth include Bismuth subsalicylate and subcitrate. Herbs used included oregano and berberine containing herbs.

Molybdenum can be an important mineral for helping with symptoms as it is a cofactor for an enzyme called sulfite oxidase. This enzyme converts sulfites from sulfur containing foods and turns them into sulfates. Supporting this enzyme will lead to less hydrogen sulfide production and more sulfate production.

These blog posts are not there to treat or diagnose. Please always consult a medical practitioner in regard to any health concerns you have. If you would like to make an appointment, please contact us at


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