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Leaky Gut Syndrome – What is it?

What is “Leaky Gut”?

Known by doctors by its technical term, “intestinal permeability, this condition can encourage Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable syndrome(IBS), and other intestinal ailments in the IBD category. “Leaky gut” is a condition caused by inflammation of the gut lining. According to Andrew Weil, M.D.,

“Leaky gut syndrome is not generally recognized by conventional physicians, but evidence is accumulating that it is a real condition that affects the lining of the intestines. The theory is that leaky gut syndrome(also called increased intestinal permeability), is the result of damage to the intestinal lining, making it less able to protect the internal environment as well as to filter needed nutrients and other biological substances. As a consequence, some bacteria and their toxins, incompletely digested proteins and fats, and waste not normally absorb may ‘leak’ out of the intestines into the blood stream. This triggers an autoimmune reaction, which can lead to gastrointestinal problems such as abdominal bloating, excessive gas and cramps, fatigue, food sensitives, joint pain, skin rashes, and autoimmunity. The cause of this syndrome may be chronic inflammation, food sensitivity, damage from taking large amounts of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs(NSAIDS), cyotoxic drugs and radiation or certain antibiotics, excessive alcohol consumption, or compromise immunity.” (1)

How does Leaky Gut Occur?

Leaky Gut Syndrome happens when there are changes in the lining of the bowel that increases the permeability of the intestine. Actually, the lining of the gut forms a barrier. Under normal circumstances it only allows food that is digested properly i.e. all proteins, fats and carbohydrates, to pass through and enter into the bloodstream.

This lining is harmed by several things – it could be affected by pathogenic bacteria, or by taking aspirin, or even by the the pesticides that are constantly sprayed on all our food. It loses it’s integrity and for this reason, the barrier is no longer efficient and it lets in undigested food, pathogenic or bad bacteria, viruses and parasites.

This, in turn, sends signals to the immune system, leads to hyperstimulation and causes release of the inflammatory substances called cytokines. These weaken the intestinal wall. Sometimes the compromised immune system becomes so unstable that it attacks your own body, producing an autoimmune condition.

Symptoms of Leaky Gut Syndrome

When you suffer with Leaky Gut Syndrome, there are a wide variety of symptoms to consider, not only ones that relate to the digestive system. The symptoms that are associated with Leaky Gut affect the body’s functioning as a whole:

  • abdominal pain, gas, indigestion, constipation or diarrhea, bloating 
  • fatigue
  • poor libido 
  • asthma, shortness of breath
  • chronic joint pain, chronic muscle pain 
  • confusion, fuzzy/foggy thinking, nervousness, poor immunity, poor memory
  • recurrent vaginal infections, skin rashes
  • bed-wetting, recurrent bladder infections  
  • aggressive behavior, anxiety 
  • and most importantly, just feeling “toxic”

Leaky gut syndrome is associated with the following medical conditions:

  • Bloating and weight gain
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Intestinal infections
  • Celiac disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Giardia
  • Eczema
  • Psoriasis
  • Food allergies and sensitivities
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Environmental illness
  • Hives
  • Acne
  • Allergies
  • Inflammatory joint disease / arthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Pancreatic insufficiency
  • Liver dysfunction

It is very important to identify the problem of Leaky Gut Syndrome before it gets out of hand, so that you can quickly address the issue with natural supplements that help to heal the lining of the digestive tract. This includes, effective probiotics in loading doses, enzymes, glutamine, green foods to encourage an alkaline intestinal environment and essential fatty acids to help maximize digestive function.

Genova Intestinal PermeabilityOne of the easiest ways that you can find out if you have Leaky Gut Syndrome is by running a simple and easy to do, urine test that you can do at home.
The test is sent directly to you from Genova Labs. They give you very explicit directions on how to do the test and then once you have completed it, you send it directly back to the lab. The shipping costs are all included in the price of the test, as well as a complimentary 10 minute telephone consultation with me to review your results and help you understand it. We get the results back within a couple of weeks. Its as simple as that.


(1) “What is Leaky Gut?  – Ask Dr. Weil. 12 December 2005. Web. 17 March 2010. Also from the book “Living with Crohns & Colitis – A Comprehensive Naturopathic Guide for Complete Digestive Wellness” by Jessica Black N.D. and Dede Cummings.

  • Camille Clavio

    I am interested in finding out more details on testing for the leaky gut syndrome. I know that I have actual “leaky gut” as I do have seepage from the rectum at certain times during IBS episodes and times of loose bowel movements as well. I also have soooo many of the other things listed associated with “leaky gut” that I wish could be fixed. I am 71 years old and have had IBS most of my life. Have good results since I found VSL3 about 3 years ago,but have not been taking it everyday, only more on an as needed basis. Perhaps I should be taking it daily. Please help with my situation.

    • Hi Camille,

      Thank you for your post. The leaky gut test is a urine test that is also called the Intestinal Permeability test. Although you are using urine for the evaluation, it’s a gastrointestinal test. It measures the ability of two non-metabolized sugar molecules to go through the mucosal lining of the intestinal tract. So, what happens is that you drink a pre-measured amount of two sugars, lactulose and mannitol. Then, based on the levels of the two sugars recovered in your urine sample that is collected over 6 hours, as well as the ratio between the two, we are able to evaluate the degree of intestinal permeability or malabsorption that is shows. You may order the leaky gut test from us. There is about a 14 day turn around time.

      I’m very happy to hear that you’re having good results taking VSL#3 – and yes, taking VSL3 daily is a very good idea. It is definitely one of the most important support supplements for leaky gut.

      If the test results are positive for leaky gut, there are several products that we advise people to use, aside from probiotics, that are excellent for helping to restore the integrity of the mucosal gut lining. Here is the link to our category of suggested supplements for Leaky Gut Syndrome. I can always help you with which ones to choose, if need be, based on a more thorough understanding of your case history. If you’d like to do that, please contact me.

      If you have any further questions, do let me know. Always happy to help.

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