Dealing With Leaky Gut Syndrome
If the evidence points to the presence of a gut dysbiosis then it will be necessary to implement measure to correct this. The ongoing presence of pathogenic yeast and bacteria serves as a relentless engine of insults that will sustain a state of LGS and frustrate other remedial interventions. An established overgrowth of Candida albicans typically generates such a range of symptoms so as to otherwise confuse the case.
A Candida dysbiosis is difficult to resolve yet is can and does happen. Strategically three lines of approach are combined. One is to administer medicaments that kill off existing yeast or disrupt its life cycle. These include prescription medicines such as nystatin or azole class drugs and many natural health products such as medium-chain triglycerides (caprylic acid), oil of oregano, grapefruit seed extract and raw garlic and many other agents. Actively killing Candida often provokes a ‘die-off’ or Herxheimer Reaction that so aggravates existing symptoms few patients can tolerate it. So, one must proceed slowly.
The weakness of the Candida killing approach is that Candida is extremely resilient and the reason for this is that it easily reproduces through the supply of dietary carbohydrate. Consequently, the second line of treatment is to put in place a dietary regime that severely restricts carbohydrate. When deprived of its fuel, Candida will steadily die off usually at a tolerable rate. A low carbohydrate diet for Candida is similar to a ‘paleo’ or ketogenic diet. It is not easy for any patient to accommodate such a regime though people do it all the time. At the end of the day, if one continues to feed Candida its favorite foods all other interventions will be frustrated.
The third line of treatment approach is to introduce competitors to Candida. This involves prescribing probiotic products which provide many additional benefits. Probiotics include those that colonize such as lactobacillus acidophilus and transient bifidobacteria. The quality of commercial products varies widely. Those that are manufactured retaining their supernatant are most effective. There are also probiotic yogurts and sour fermented foods such as kimchi or sauerkraut.
It has long been recognized that a constituency of people cannot tolerate the consumption of one or many cereal grains. Celiac disease is the classic example of pathology. However, in recent years controversy about cereal grains has expanded on account of allegations that what passes for wheat, corn or rice are synthetic and highly hybridized having thus a character by which they can inflict much harm. While conventional medicine tends to reduce cereal grains to ‘gluten’ critics focus on the enormous range of gliadins found throughout the gramineae family. Wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) from ‘modern’ wheat is highly inflammatory and has been shown to provoke and worsen LGS. Studies that have compared the effects of ‘ancient’ versus ‘modern’ wheat on populations have borne this out. For the purpose of resolving LGS, consideration of dietary ‘gluten’ is worthless and reducing cereal grains to ‘wheat’ is also worthless and will produce no satisfactory results. To recover from LGS , a patient would be well advised to ‘bite the bullet’ and exclude all cereal grains.
Other Avenues of Treatment
Leaky Gut Syndrome is often accompanied by malabsorption due to the extent of dysbiosis and damage to the gut lining. One consequence of this is that poorly digested food is able to pass through the intestinal lining and enter the blood stream provoking immune reactions. Another result is that partially digested foods are able to provoke inflammation in the gut further worsening the LGS.
To reduce the effects of poorly digested food, digestive enzymes may be prescribed. As with probiotics, commercial products range from worthless to very effective. As an example, many products contain papain derived from ripe papaya. But the proteolytic power of papaya is concentrated in the skins of unripe papaya. Similarly, bromelain from pineapple is found in the stem and not in the ripe fruit. Sophisticated enzyme products contain high potencies of specifically named enzymes of which there are many.
Alternatively, animal sourced pancreatin is both active in the gut but also systemically if taken between meals. For a pancreatin product to be effective it must be clearly identified as having a strength of 8X – 10X. Anything less will not be effective.
For good remedial relief with LGS one may employ adsorbents, typically activated charcoal or colloidal bentonite. With a gut-load of symptom provoking pathogens and toxins it is hard to get ‘traction’ and patient compliance deteriorates. Activated charcoal powder (medicinal or food grade) is extremely effective and neutralizing the widest range of toxic material and can bring the patient some serious relief. The typical protocol is to prepare a slurry (really thick) drink of activated charcoal and take this upon retiring on an empty stomach. This could be done once a week. Bentonite is a clay with good absorbent properties. Typically it is prepared in a drink before bedtime but combined with caprylic acid (an anti-yeast medium chain triglyceride) and mucilaginous fibre such as ground flax.
With LGS and an established dysbiosis there is usually also a state of chronic hypochlorhydria. In such a case not only will food be malabsorbed as enzymes are pH dependent but the lack of hydrogen ion in the gut directly acts to encourage the growth of pathogenic bacteria. A Heidelberg Gastric Test is recommended. If hypochlorhydria is present, then prescribe betaine hydrochloride according to the protocol of Jonathan Wright, M.D.
The amino acid L-glutamine is of great value in LGS. When taken orally, glutamine nourishes and restores the damages gut lining. It is a preferred fuel for the villi. Glutamine also reduces the ammonia overload that often accompanies LGS on account of the dysbiosis and malabsorption.
Bovine Colostrum is a form of milk that is secreted during the first days of lactation. It is rich in immunoglobulins, lactoferrin, growth factors one of which is Epidermal Growth Factor a polypeptide that promotes the growth and repair of epithelial tissue. Clinical studies have found that colostrum is very helpful in speeding the repair of the intestinal lining and also where there is ulceration in the gut. Colostrum and L-glutamine are a combination of nutrients that should prove very useful in speeding the repair of the gut lining.