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Have you heard of the Nemechek Protocol?
It was developed by an autonomic dysfunction physician, Dr. Patrick Nemechek out of Arizona.
Parents around the world have been using it with great success for their autistic children.
But there’s also hope for those of us battling SIBO, as this protocol focuses on restoring bacterial balance.
The best part of it all? It’s really just 3 foods or food-based supplements.
I know, I know…
I usually belong to the camp that believes “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” But when I read Dr. Nemechek’s research and ideas behind the protocol for SIBO, it made total sense.
If you can give me just a few more minutes of your time, I’d love to share this information with you, and you can do with it what you will.
But I will say this, it just might change your life like it is changing mine.
For this post, I’m just going to focus on the SIBO side of things. I’ll probably do another post dedicated to the autism side in the future.
What Is the Nemechek Protocol?
The protocol identifies SIBO and brain inflammation as the likely culprits behind developmental delays, ADHD, Autism and more.
If you haven’t already heard or read the research, the gut is often called our “second brain.” There is an undeniable link between gut health and brain health, which is why such incredible results can be had when you focus on restoring and balancing these two areas.
The Nemechek Protocol consists of 3 things:
- Inulin (or Rifaximin for adults)
- Pure Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Fish Oil
And it involves eliminating:
- Omega-6 Oils
- Digestive Enzymes
To be honest, I kinda freaked out a little about the no probiotics thing. I’ve ALWAYS been told to take probiotics for good gut health. And for the majority of people, that’s perfectly fine! But in severely immunocompromised individuals with major gut bacteria issues going on, Dr. Nemechek cautions against them.
We’ll discuss that more in a bit.
For all the details about the protocol, check out Dr. Nemechek’s book, The Nemechek Protocol for Autism and Developmental Disorders: A How To Guide for Restoring Neurological Function. Don’t let the title fool you, this protocol is for so much more than autism.
The Governing Principles Behind Dr. Nemechek’s Protocol
As I mentioned earlier, this protocol is two-fold. It deals with reducing brain inflammation and reversing SIBO.
1 – Science Behind Fatty Oils and Reducing Inflammation
The members of the fatty acid family are all necessary and beneficial in their own way, but they must remain in the proper balance to really support health.
When this balance is thrown out of whack, inflammation results. Countless doctors now believe that inflammation is the root causes of many diseases, so this is a key part of the protocol – and also the reason why it’s useful for so many chronic conditions.
Our ancestors ate a much more balanced diet than we do. Their Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio was estimated to be about 1:1, which is ideal. Today, however, our ratios are more like 15:1, which is indicative of a highly inflammatory state. When Omega-6 levels go unchecked, they induce inflammation and encourage disease proliferation.
It should come as no surprise that Americans as a whole have such high levels of Omega-6s. Pick up just about any box of food from the grocery store, and you’ll see a list of inflammatory Omega-6 oils in the ingredients list.
So ultimately, the Nemechek protocol seeks to increase Omega-3s & 9s and drastically reduce Omega-6s. It achieves this through supplementing with high-quality extra virgin olive oil and high-potency fish oil.
2 – Science Behind Reversing SIBO with Inulin
I’m not going to dig too deep into what SIBO is because if you’re reading this, you probably already know.
But super complicated story short:
Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) occurs when the type of bacteria that’s supposed to live only in your colon get stirred up and migrate into your small intestine.
This bacterial overgrowth damages the intestinal wall, releasing a substance called lipopolysaccharide (LPS) into our tissue. When our white blood cells notice the LPS, they react by releasing highly inflammatory cytokines into the blood.
This is what is commonly known as leaky gut.
On top of that, some studies indicate that the actual bacteria can interfere with the autonomic system. Certain bacteria can send signals to the brain that alter our autonomic system and slow digestion.
Dr. Nemechek puts it this way:
The bacteria have learned the first rule in real estate: Location is everything.
The colon was no longer “enough” for the bacteria, so they decided to move to a better neighborhood where they could get a steady supply of nutrients to feed from and replicate.
Once bacteria feeds on these nutrients, they release waste products in the form of toxins and gas that cause our frustrating digestive issues.
Changing your diet to a cleaner one is very helpful and can give you great gains, but those gains eventually plateau because diet alone doesn’t solve the root issue, which is bacterial imbalance.
Left unchecked, bacteria will simply continue to filter into the small intestine.
Dr. Nemechek suggests that you have to reestablish neurological control of the intestines in order to see lasting results. That’s why the Nemechek protocol addresses the gut AND the brain.
While the oils work to balance the Omega-3:6 ratio, the inulin works to push small intestinal bacteria back into the colon where it belongs, while also feeding the good bacteria. Basically, the good bacteria that’s supposed to be in the small intestine feed off the inulin. This results in an acid being produced that the trespassing bacteria don’t like, which makes them revert back into the colon where they belong.
Studies also indicate that inulin can have powerful immunomodulating effects.
Nemechek’s Recommended Supplements and Their Dosages
I agree wholeheartedly with Dr. Nemechek’s opinion that the vast majority of supplements are a waste of money. With little to no regulation, the supplement industry can be extremely dishonest and scammy.
Sometimes what’s listed on the label isn’t even in the bottle.
That’s one of the reasons why I added scam alerts to my monthly email to readers. I take note of any dishonest marketing practices I come across and health scams I read about, then share those with you. If you’d like to receive those emails, you can click here to sign up + gain access to the Detox Library full of free ebooks, meal plans, detox protocols and more.
For this reason, I highly suggest sticking with the list of approved brands if you decide to try the Nemechek Protocol. Besides the foods/supplements below, Dr. Nemechek recommends the antibiotic Rifaximin for adults in lieu of the inulin. He says that in most adult cases, inulin is simply not enough.
However, I know many adults (myself included) are seeing results with just inulin. You’ll need to do your own research to make the best decision for your unique circumstances.
As for the rest of the protocol, here are the tried-and-true brands that you can trust:
It’s organic and sourced from blue agave with no fillers or preservatives. I just mix it in about a cup of water and drink it, but you can also add it to applesauce, oatmeal, yogurt, whatever.
The maximum inulin dose for adults in 2 teaspoons, but you need to work up to that, and many people don’t need that much. When it comes to inulin, it’s sort of a “watch and see” approach because everyone’s gut conditions are unique.
It’s recommended to start at a small amount like 1/8 of a teaspoon. Stay there for a week or so, watching for any new, worsening or improved symptoms. If your symptoms stay the same or improve, then you can increase to ¼ tsp after 1-2 weeks. Continue increasing the dosage until you either “hit your sweet spot” as far as relief of symptoms go or you hit 2 tsps.
It’s not at all uncommon to only need max 1 tsp to achieve the desired results, which is alleviation of SIBO symptoms and reversal of bacterial imbalance.
Note: Symptoms like gas and bloating do tend to worsen when first starting inulin, but it should only last a few days.
These are available in either liquid form or as capsules. I use the liquid form as it’s more concentrated, so it doesn’t take as much to get the job done.
And no, it doesn’t taste fishy and no gross fishy burps afterward. It actually has a slight lemon flavor that’s easy to gulp down in a spoon.
The Ultimate Omega liquid contains 2840 mg of Omega-3s in 1 teaspoon. Dosing goes by age, and each dose represented below is once per day:
- 0-6 Months: 150 mg
- 7-12 Months: 300-450
- 1-5 Years: 450-600
- 5-7 Years: 600-1000
- 8-10 Years: 1000-1500
- 11-14 Years: 1500-2000
- 15-18 Years: 2000 – 3500 mg
Adults 18 years and older need a minimum of 3000 mg per day.
3 – California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil (might be able to find cheaper at your local grocery store)
As with many supplements, olive oil is easy to adulterate, and many of the olive oil bottles you see on store shelves are not 100% pure olive oil. It’s critical to use only 100% pure extra virgin olive oil that’s certified by COOC.com.
California Olive Ranch is the brand Dr. Nemechek approves, and the one that I use, although there are others approved by COOC.
The dose is 1-2 Tablespoons per day and cook with it. I’m only a couple weeks in, but I take 1 Tbsp in the morning and sauté all my vegetables in it – and sometimes eggs, too.
Foods and Supplements to AVOID on the Nemechek Protocol
If you’ve had SIBO for long, you know that the list of foods to avoid is looong. In my case, Lyme disease was the culprit behind my SIBO and autoimmune disorders. Within a year of diagnosis, I was having allergic reactions to almost everything. At one point in time, my list of “safe foods” consisted of beef, carrots, green leaf lettuce and cucumbers.
It was terrible, and part of the reason why I lost so much weight. Anyways, I digress…
The Nemechek Protocol only involves eliminating 3 things:
- Omega-6 oils
- sunflower oil
- safflower oil
- soy oil
- corn oil
- cottonseed oil
- grapeseed oil
- peanut oil
- vegetable oil
If you have to buy something processed, stick to products made with coconut oil or palm kernel oil (as long as you aren’t allergic, of course). You’ll notice the vast majority of packaged/processed foods contain some sort of Omega-6 oils.
- Probiotic supplements
Dr. Nemechek believes that probiotics have the potential to increase the numbers of all bacteria, as opposed to just the “good” guys. While on this protocol, he advises to stop probiotic supplements, but fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kefir are fine.
- Digestive Enzymes
With the gut in such a fragile state, Nemechek believes digestive enzymes could do more harm than good. I don’t necessarily agree with that, but again, this is one aspect you need to do your homework on and determine what will be best for you.
My Experience on the Nemechek Protocol
I just started the Nemechek protocol for SIBO about 2 weeks ago. I’m journaling everything, and I’ll update this post as I go along.
(Note, my first update as of July 31 is now live. Check it out at the end of the article!)
So far, I can tell you that my bloating and gas flared up the first 2 days after taking inulin. I didn’t react at all to the oils.
Around Day 6, I started seeing a change in BMs. They were easier and more productive.
About a week into the protocol is when I noticed the most exciting change!
It requires a little back story:
I mentioned earlier about my extremely limited list of foods I could eat. Anything outside of that, the lymph nodes in my neck would swell tremendously. They actually swell whenever I eat ANYTHING, no matter what it is, but it’s usually manageable. Only for certain foods (like chicken of all things) would they swell to a point that was scary.
Well, around day 8 of the Nemechek protocol, I noticed that my lymph nodes weren’t swelling as bad after eating! Granted, it’s only a small difference, but there definitely IS a difference. I can’t tell you how much that means to me to have hope of eating normally again!
I’ve lost over 25 pounds since my SIBO and autoimmune conditions first flared up. I didn’t have any weight to spare as I’ve always been very petite, so this weight loss put me in a dangerous place.
I’m waiting to be on the protocol one month before I weigh myself again, but I think I’m finally starting to absorb nutrients again!
How Long Does It Take the Nemechek Protocol to Work?
The answer to this question will be different for everybody, but as Dr. Nemechek says, the process usually requires a little patience.
You didn’t get this sick overnight, and your healing won’t happen overnight either – unless, of course, the Lord intervenes.
He compares it to hair growth. We don’t usually notice our hair growing day by day, but it is. And after a month, you’ll see it’s a bit longer. Then after several months, it’s time for a haircut.
So if you decide to try the Nemechek protocol for SIBO or any of the other conditions it can help, plan to be on it for the long haul – at least several months. I personally will do it faithfully for 6 months before deciding one way or the other.
I hope this information helped you a bit today. Have a question? Ask it in the comments, and I’ll be sure to answer!
Updated Dr Nemechek Protocol review
Updated July 31, 2018:
I’ve been on the Nemechek Protocol for about a month now. I’m not doing the Rifaximin as of now but that may change. So far, I’m still at the bottom dose of inulin at 1/8 tsp, 1 tsp of fish oil and 1.5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. I’ve attempted to increase the inulin dosage, but I get severe bloating when I do that.
Around week 3, I started getting nauseous after taking the supplements. I’m not really sure what’s causing that, but I’ve asked around in the Nemechek Protocol community, and it seems to be par for the course and something that I need to just push through.
I have noticed that eating something helps it go away almost immediately, so I take all the supplements when I first wake up, followed by a light breakfast, and the nausea leaves.
As good news, constipation is a thing of the past! I can tell this protocol has been great for keeping things moving, which goes a long way to avoiding the toxin buildup that I struggled with before.
I also mentioned that I was waiting to weigh myself until I had been on the protocol for 1 month. I weighed myself today, and I haven’t lost a single pound the whole month! That’s great news for me as I’ve been losing weight dramatically each week, and I didn’t have any weight to spare to begin with.
That makes me think perhaps I’m starting to absorb nutrients again, which was one of my biggest reasons for starting the Nemechek Protocol for SIBO.
I’ll update this post again when I’ve been following the diet/protocol for 2 months. As always, if you have a question, ask away!