C. Norman Shealy, M.D., Ph.D.


Farmers have long known that some animals require far more feed than others and a small number are easy keepers, requiring far less calories. The same is true of humans!  One major difference in humans is the relative percentage of the methane producing colonic archaea, especially  Methanobrevibacter smithii, which under healthy circumstances represent about 10% of colon organisms. A major “cause” of increased Methanobrevibacter smithii (Mb.S.) is antibiotics! This particular organism and other related methane producing relatives are virtually totally resistant to antibiotics and methane producing family growth is enhanced when antibiotics kill off the other healthy bacteria! Of course this is a major reason that farmers have very UNWISELY used antibiotics to increase weight gain in livestock! Another characteristic of Mb.S. is its ability to digest cellulose and to digest more available carbohydrates from food.

As expected, obese individuals have a higher concentration of Mb.S. in their colons! SO SIGNIFICANTLY OVERWEIGHT INDIVIDUALS DO NOT EAT MORE THAN THEIR THINNER FRIENDS! Their intestines are just too efficient! Unfortunately higher concentrations of the methane family of organisms also plague patients with rheumatoid arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, diverticulosis, inflammatory bowel disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome and even greater dental plaque.

In pigs, at least, a high wheat diet increases methane production. Thus, we may assume that one of the reasons that wheat intake is associated with both obesity and autoimmune diseases may be that it encourages growth of Mb.S. I have searched for healthy ways to reduce Mb.S. overgrowth and find no helpful information.  The best advice I can give is to avoid wheat, minimize sugar and simple carbohydrates and take lots of probiotics.  I particularly like GR-8 Dophilus, plain Greek Yogurt and plain kefir.

Skip to content