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Sulfur-Reducing Bacteria

Not much is known about human intestinal SRB.

It seems pretty clear I've got a problem with them, considering how much sulfury flatulence I have. And they seem clearly implicated in my systemic inflammation, considering that the inflammation goes down if stop eating brassicas, or if I eat ginger. But when I ask my doctors, I draw a blank. Here's what I've been able to find so far on the Web. Please anything else you find out!

Some genera found in humans

(a very incomplete list!)

  • Desulfovibrio
  • Desulfobacter
  • Desulfomonas
  • (?) Desulfotomaculum

Effects

  • The hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas that these bacteria produce is not only foul-smelling, it's also toxic.
  • "A possible link between H2S and chronic intestinal disorders has been evoked by data indicating increased numbers of intestinal sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) and rates of sulfidogenesis in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients compared to healthy humans." (ref. 3, below)

Testing?

The one place I was hoping would be able to identify what SRB was giving me so much trouble, was Genova Diagnostics. But I can find nothing on SRB in their impressive battery of gastrointestinal assessments.

Treatment?

  • [something about short-chain fatty acids? .. .needs more research]
  • Obviously, one can restrict exogenous sulfate supply, avoiding foods rich in sulfur.
  • Molybdate and selenate interfere with sulfur-reducing metabolism, and are used to inhibit the bacteria in non-medical applications. I've found these two supplements containing those compounds; I wonder if they would help....?

My experience

  • If I eat several teaspoons of ginger a day, I can eat cabbage-family veggies with much less resulting sulfur smell. Ginger has a reputation of killing bacteria, though I've found no references specifically mentioning SRB.

For more information

  1. Bacteremia Caused by a Strain of Desulfovibrio Related to the
    Provisionally Named Desulfovibrio fairfieldensis

    JULIEN LOUBINOUX,1 FRANCINE MORY,2 INES A. C. PEREIRA,3 AND ALAIN E. LE FAOU1*JOURNAL OF CLINICAL MICROBIOLOGY, Feb. 2000, p. 931–934 Vol. 38, No. 2
  2. Recent Advances in the Study of the Sulfate-Reducing
    Bacteria
    , John R. Postgate. BACTERIOLOGICAL REVIEWS, Dec., 1965 Vol. 29, No. 4
  3. Molecular Ecological Analysis of the Succession and Diversity of
    Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria in the Mouse Gastrointestinal Tract

    B. DEPLANCKE,1 K. R. HRISTOVA,2 H. A. OAKLEY,3 V. J. MCCRACKEN,3 R. AMINOV,3
    R. I. MACKIE AND H. R. GASKINS. APPLIED AND ENVIRONMENTAL MICROBIOLOGY, May 2000, p. 2166–2174 Vol. 66, No. 5 - Includes an introductory overview of the state of knowledge about SRB.
  4. Isolation of Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria from Human
    Thoracoabdominal Pus
    . Julien Loubinoux,1,2* Benoit Jaulhac,3 Yves Piemont,3 Henri Monteil,3 and Alain E. Le Faou1 JOURNAL OF CLINICAL MICROBIOLOGY, Mar. 2003, p. 1304–1306 Vol. 41, No. 3

copyright © 2007 by Catherine Holmes Clark. Last updated 7 August 2007