by Dr. Rajendra Sharma
The small intestine acts like a selective sieve, allowing through into the blood stream only the breakdown products of digestion. Larger proteins, carbohydrates and fats are kept out permitting only the amino acids and short chain peptides from proteins, single or double sugar molecules (mono-saccarides or di-saccarides) from carbohydrates and small chain fatty acids from fats to enter the blood stream.
Anything larger may be recognised by the body as an invading particle and an immune response is initiated. Foods that are not fully digested are absorbed into the blood stream and the body sets up an allergic or immune response that will, from that time on if not treated, recognise basic foods as if they were bacteria or viruses and, potentially, set up an attack.
There are many causes of a leaky gut as anything that inflames the bowel may cause the syndrome. Parasitic, fungal or yeast, bacterial or viral infection are often a cause. Anything that can or does diminish the bowel's natural flora are more common causes. These include anti-biotics, either prescribed by the doctor or found inadvertently in processed foods, chemical toxins such as pesticides, preservatives and additives may also be culprits.
Stress produces an acidic response from the stomach that can alter the bowel pH which may have an effect and excess adrenaline cuts down the blood flow to the bowel, reducing oxygen and nutrients, allowing deterioration of the bowel wall.
A recent study in the British Journal of Nutrition (2000;83:000-000) has drawn a connection between rheumatoid arthritis and a leaky gut and even the ultra orthodox New England Journal of Medicine (Albert LJ and Inman RD, 2000;341(27):2068-2074) has published a review article supporting the possibility of multiple sclerosis being associated with the body recognising protein sequences in foreign substances which resemble the body's own thereby causing an attack on the nervous system
Other conditions with evidence of being caused or worsened by the presence of increased intestinal permeability are: Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Ankylosing Spondilitis, Crohns' Disease, allergic disorders such as Asthma, Hayfever and Eczema, Schizophrenia and Migraines.
Testing for a Leaky Gut
The orthodox medical world does not recognise this as a medical condition yet. There are laboratories in the United States and one here in the United Kingdom that test for this condition using a very simple method.
A solution of inert (indigestible and unusable) molecules is drunk and, having emptied the bladder, urine is collected. The test analyses urine for the clearance of two non-metabolized sugars, lactulose and mannitol. It identifies leaky gut and malabsorption.
At this time instructions and collection kits can be sent to an individual. Once the sample is collected it is returned directly to the laboratory and results returned, usually, within 7 days.
The cost of this test, at this time, is £100.
If a leaky gut is established and symptoms of ill health can be associated with this then treatment is a prerequisite for a return to good health.
Dr Sharmas current treatment protocol includes high dose combination probiotics (to replenish bowel bacteria and challenge yeast i.e. Candida, infection), herbal antibacterial extracts including Berberine from berberis, herbal extracts known to increase the integrity of mucosal (gut lining) cells and an amino acid (a subunit of protein) essential for bowel membrane integrity.
Your healthcare professional can contact The Diagnostic Clinic (0207 009 4650, www.thediagnosticclinic.com) for the Leaky Gut Protocol to be sent to them for your benefit or you can organise an appointment or telephone consultation with one of our Doctors to discuss the matter further.
The advice given is in no way meant to take the place of professional advice. Should you wish to consider any level of treatment you are strongly advised to run this past your GP or health professional