Leaky gut syndrome is a condition of altered or damaged intestine. The wall of the intestine is designed to allow tiny particles of nutrition to pass through into the blood stream. However, in leaky gut syndrome, the wall becomes more permeable which facilitates the passage of larger, more toxic materials into the blood stream. Such material is then detected by the immune system, which prepares itself to fight them off. This action and reaction lays the foundations for many types of autoimmune disorders.
Symptoms of Leaky gut syndrome
The symptoms for leaky gut syndrome include:
- Breathing problems such as breathlessness, asthma, etc.
- Various gastrointestinal signs such as bloating, cramps, food sensitivity, gas, etc.
- Neurological irregularities such as poor memory, confusion, mood swings, increased aggressiveness, nervousness, etc.
- Other signs such as low fever, aches, persistent bladder infections, joint and muscle pains, skin rashes, fatigue, etc.
Causes of Leaky gut syndrome
The cause for leaky gut syndrome is a medical mystery and is not yet specifically identified. However, the hypothetical cause is expected to be increased permeability of the gut wall, due to toxins, poor diet, parasites, infections and medications. The intestinal inflammation originating from intestinal dysbiosis, widens the junctions between the cells, allowing the endotoxins and other substances. These are targeted by antibodies, forming immune complexes, which causes a semi infectious condition, which is then carried by the blood stream to distant areas. Here they stimulate the release of cytokines.
Gastroenterologist, Dr. Donald Kirby from the Center for Human Nutrition, Cleveland Clinic, describes this as a ‘very gray area’. Among the immune systems of the body, the gut is the biggest organ and about which the physicians don’t have a lot of information
Diagnosis of leaky gut syndrome is not taught in medical centers. Still it is left blank for identification. The medical fraternity believes that it is very difficult to find out the cause for the leaky gut syndrome, even by experts. However they accept about its existence. As there is no knowledge available about the evidences of leaky gut syndrome, no one is able to understand the reason and they are unable to recommend any therapy to address the syndrome.
Intestinal permeability: It is proposed that the intestinal permeability or intestinal hyper permeability causes gut leak which in turn affects the body directly or initiates an immune reaction. This may be the possible cause for leaky gut syndrome. The leaky gut allow the substances like toxins, microbes, undigested food, waste or larger macromolecules to leak through an abnormally permeable gut wall. This can be possible when the junctions in the gut, which are tight and that control the passage of matter through the small intestine, do not function properly. This may be the reason to leak the matter into the blood circulation.
Persons who suffer from the diseases of celiac and Crohn’s disease experience this permeability. In few cases, such as Crohn’s, the molecules may get across. But one can’t be sure about whether it was due to hyper permeability factor or as an effect of the underlying condition.
No other causes for leaky gut syndrome are known except few which are linked to certain drugs, food allergies and radiation therapy.
Leaky gut syndrome need not be an isolated disorder, as it can be in combination with other medical conditions. Some practitioners believe that leaky gut syndrome is a warning bell for possible connections with many disorders like asthma, diabetes, lupus, scleroderma, colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, and Crohn’s disease.
Mostly the tests fail to discover the exact cause of the syndrome and so without a proper diagnosis the patients go untreated. One needs to see a doctor who can give enough time and share the concerns seriously.
Under the prevailing conditions, if any one desires treatment for leaky gut syndrome, he has to look forward to the incumbent medical wizards to know and treat the causes.
Dr. Lee regrets that the doctors do not make sincere efforts to go to the bottom root causing leaky gut syndrome. This attitude forces the patients to run from one doctor to the other. Every doctor on hearing the past treatment details, go for alternative medicines.
Leaky gut syndrome treatment
The progress about understanding leaky gut syndrome is at the infancy stage. The treatments for leaky gut syndrome are going on without empirical evidence.
Some doctors recommend administration of L-glutamine supplements to strengthen the walls of small intestine, but this treatment method has not been ratified and validated by research. Even if it is administered, there is no guarantee for cure.
Lifestyle changes such as changes in diet, etc. may provide relief from leaky gut syndrome symptoms.
Treating Crohn’s or the celiac disease, gives result by resolving the symptoms. But without a confirmed diagnosis or lack of evidence, a doctor should not proceed with any form of treatment for leaky gut syndrome.
Experts agree that the diet is expected to play a big role in contracting leaky gut syndrome. As such one should see the gastroenterologist, trained in nutrition, for treating leaky gut syndrome.
Chronic stress can also be a major factor for causing leaky gut syndrome. Hence one should focus to control the stress either through medicine or/and via counseling.
Much of the chronic health conditions associated with leaky gut syndrome have the lifestyle as the primary cause. Reducing the stress and balanced diet paves the way for smooth passage of life.