Healing a leaky gut

It's possible to cure a leaky gut with a nutrient dense diet and appropriate supplements. Many natural substances help repair the intestinal mucosal surface or support the liver when stressed by toxins.

Your vitamin and mineral supplements should include all the B vitamins, vitamin A, C and E, zinc, selenium, molybdenum, manganese, and magnesium. Because of the association between increased gut permeability and pancreatic dysfunction, pancreatic enzymes may also be needed.Avoid drugs which damage the gut.

Test for and get treated intestinal infection or dysfunction.

If you haven't discovered all your allergies, follow a highly nutritious elimination diet, tailor made for you.

The following substances can repair the gut wall:

Epidermal growth factor (EGF), a polypeptide that stimulates growth and repair of epithelial tissue, is widely distributed in the body, with high concentrations detectable in saliva. Chew your food thoroughly, to increase salivary EGF. Also, purified EGF has been shown to heal ulceration of the small intestine (Lancet, 1993; 341: 843-8).

Saccharomyces boulardii, a non pathogenic yeast originally isolated from the surface of lichee nuts, has been widely used in Europe to treat diarrhea. In France it is popularly called "Yeast against yeast" and is thought to help clear the skin in addition to the gut. Clinical trials have demonstrated the effectiveness of Saccharomyces boulardii in the treatment or prevention of diarrhea (Am J Gastroenterol, 1989; 84: 1285-7; Gastroenterol, 1989; 96; 981-8).

Lactobacillus caseii var GG, a strain of lactobacillus isolated and purified in Finland, has been shown effective in the prevention of diarrhea and in the treatment of colitis. It also improves the gut permeability associated with rotavirus infection (Ann Med, 1990; 22: 57-9). Although the ability of other lactobacillus preparations to improve leaky gut has not been directly tested, it is suggested by the ability of live cultures of L acidophilus to diminish radiation induced diarrhea, a condition directly produced by the loss of mucosal integrity.

Glutamine, the amino acid needed for the maintenance of intestinal metabolism, structure and function, has been shown to reverse all the gut abnormalities in patients fed intravenously. Glutamine also repairs gut lining damage caused by chemotherapy or radiation (Arch Surg, 1990; 125: 1040-5).

Glutathione (GSH) is an important antioxidant. Lowered levels of liver glutathione is a common occurrence in leaky gut syndromes, contributing to liver dysfunction and liver necrosis among alcoholics and immune impairment in patients with AIDS. The most effective way to raise liver glutathione is to take its dietary precursors, systeine or methionine; the best supplements for leaky gut are GSH and N-acetyl cysteine. Avoid taking during treatment of parasite infection, especially with Artemisia.

Take flavonoids before eating. They may block allergic reactions which increase permeability. Catechins have been used in Europe to treat gastric ulcerations; the flavonoids in milk thistle (silymarin) and in dandelion root (taraxacum) can protect the liver.

Take essential fatty acids (EFAs), particularly gammalinolenic acid (GLA). In laboratory experiments, fish oil was able to prevent intestinal mucosal injury produced by methotrexate and protect the body from the toxins produced in the gut (Am J Clin Nutr, 1991; 54: 346-50). Take these in their most concentrated and physiologically active form to avoid exposure to large quantities of polyunsaturated fatty acids.

If you are supplementing with dietary fibre, make sure you are taking hypoallergenic insoluble fibre and watch the amount. Too much may increase gut permeability (J Nutr, 1983; 113: 2300-7).

Gamma oryzanol, derived from rice bran, has been extensively researched in Japan for its healing effects in the treatment of gastric and duodenal ulcers and potent antioxidant activity (Rep Hokaido Inst Pub Health, 1966; 16: 111).