Swedish Egg

Swedish Egg

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Sexy Sibo Word of the Day: Borborygmi (and some good news about erythritol)

Now here's a ten dollar word for you: Borborygmi

I'm not sure how to pronounce it, but the definition is "a rumbling or gurgling sound caused by the movement of gas in the intestines."

Sound familiar? 

I learned this fancy new borborygmi word from a study I was reading, comparing the digestive tolerance of sucrose (table sugar) with that of two polyols, xylitol and erythritol.

Xylitol (like most other polyols—sorbitol, mannitol, etc.) causes lots of gas, loose stools, borborygmi and other GI distress, as you may have found out the hard way. But erythritol, it turns out, not so much! Check it out:

"When consumed in water, 35 and 50 g xylitol was associated with significant intestinal symptom scores and watery faeces, compared to the sucrose control, whereas at all levels studied erythritol scored significantly less symptoms. Consumption of 20 and 35 g erythritol by healthy volunteers, in a liquid, is tolerated well, without any symptoms. At the highest level of erythritol intake (50 g), only a significant increase in borborygmi and nausea was observed, whereas xylitol intake at this level induced a significant increase in watery faeces."

In case you want to translate the above into practical terms, a teaspoon of erythritol (the one I've tried comes from Wholesome Sweeteners, under the brand name Zero) weighs about 6 grams. Meaning it is probably safe to use a teaspoon or two of erythritol in your tea or lemonade, for example, without it setting off your IBS/SIBO symptoms.


Have you tried erythritol? I'd love to hear how it worked for you. To me, it's got an interesting kind of sweetness—kind of cooling in the mouth. I think it works really well in drinks or foods containing cooling herbs like mint or cilantro, such as peppermint iced tea and cilantro vinaigrette. Still I feel a little nervous about it. I tend to stick with raw honey or a pinch of green stevia for sweetness, but I'm all for branching out. So it's nice to see some evidence suggesting that erythritol may be tolerable for SIBO.



Storey D, et al. Gastrointestinal tolerance of erythritol and xylitol ingested in a liquid. 
Eur J Clin Nutr. 2007 Mar;61(3):349-54.  To read the study abstract, click here.


  1. What brand of Stevia do you use? I've been avoiding lately.

  2. Carey, I either use a pinch of the green stevia powder (which is just whole, ground up stevia leaves) or a few drops of the liquid extract from Protocol for Life (which is an alcohol extract with no other ingredients added.) I stay away from the packets and highly processed white powders—they often have some questionable additives.