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Dr Sharma Diagnostics

Leaky Gut Syndrome

A brief overview of leaky gut or intestinal permeability

The small intestine acts like a selective sieve; it should only allow the breakdown products of digestion such as, vitamins, minerals, small-chain fatty acids, amino acids and short protein chains called peptides into the blood stream. Larger proteins, carbohydrates and fats are kept out.

Leaky gut: what happens

Larger molecules may pass from the intestine into the blood stream when the process of digestion is incomplete and the gut wall has become permeable. Once in the blood stream, they may be recognised as foreign particles, triggering an immune response: from this point onwards, if the situation is not treated, the body may respond to some basic foods as if they are bacteria or viruses, with an immune response or allergic reaction.

The bowel has 100 trillion organisms in it some of which may also pass into the blood stream also risking triggering an immune issue and a sensitivity to our ‘friendly’ bacteria.

This has the potential to cause or exacerbate a range of symptoms and physical conditions including: inflammatory bowel disease, ankylosing spondilitis, hayfever and eczema, autism, schizophrenia and migraines**.

What might cause leaky gut?

Anything that inflames the bowel may cause a leaky gut, including parasitic, fungal , bacterial or viral infection. More commonly, the syndrome is caused by something that diminishes the bowel’s natural flora. There are approximately 100 trillion ‘good’ bacteria in the healthy gut that help the body to digest food and utilise vitamins and minerals and, very importantly, line the bowel wall as a protective layer. Their numbers may fall when you take antibiotics (either prescribed or found inadvertently in processed foods), with the ingestion of some chemical toxins such as pesticides preservatives, and with additives.

Food allergy or intolerance is often associated. A lack of stomach acid and pancreatic enzymes or reduced bile from the liver can all be an issue as larger molecules of undigested food remain present

Stress may also play a role. Stress can trigger an acidic response from the stomach altering the bowel pH levels, and an increase in adrenaline reduces blood flow to the bowel, reducing the supply of oxygen and nutrients so that the bowel wall is not well nourished and the pancreas may slow down it's enzyme production.

Diagnosing Leaky Gut

There are laboratories in the United States and one in the UK that offer a straightforward test for leaky gut and mal-absorption. A solution of inert (indigestible and unusable) molecules is drunk and the urine is then collected for the next 6 or more hours. A portion of the collected urine is sent to the lab and analysed for the presence of two non-metabolized sugars, lactulose and mannitol or an indigestible plastic, PEG.

Dr Sharma can arrange for a kit to be sent to you (we’ll ensure the correct laboratories are used as the accuracy of internet tests cannot be guaranteed). The cost of the test, including a report on the results, is £184.


Dr Sharma’s current initial naturopathic treatment protocol includes a combination of:
  • Probiotics (to replenish bowel bacteria and challenge yeast or candida infection) with nutrients to sooth bowel inflammation
  • Plant extracts acting as antibacterial/yeast/parasitic agent
  • Plant extracts and nutrients to heal the inflamed bowel wall
  • the antioxidant L-glutathione (known to increase the integrity of gut lining cells) and essential for bowel membrane integrity

He generally recommends this alongside an anti-fermentation diet, and offers a consultation to review the effect of treatment after 4 weeks. As Dr Sharma takes an integrated approach, any treatment programme will be carefully personalised to you, and combined with lifestyle advice.

Rheumatoid Arthritis
A study in the British Journal of Nutrition / Volume83 / Issue03 / March 2000, pp 207-217 drew a connection between rheumatoid arthritis and a leaky gut.

Multiple sclerosis.
The New England Journal of Medicine (Albert L J and Inman RD, 2000;341(27):2068-2074) has published a review article supporting the possibility of increased intestinal permeability having an associations with multiple sclerosis. They suggest MS might be associated with the immune system recognising protein sequences in foreign substances which actually resemble the body’s own nerve proteins thereby causing an attack on the nervous system. This has been termed molecular mimicry.

Inflammatory Responses in many conditions.
Another paper suggests intestinal hyperpermeability (a medical term for “leaky gut”) is implicated “ diseases such as systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS), inflammatory bowel disease, type 1 diabetes, allergies, asthma, and autism” It concludes by saying “ A better basic understanding of this structure might lead to prevention or treatment of these diseases using nutritional or other means” ( Z Liu1, N Li2, J Neu2,* Acta Paediatrica Volume 94, Issue 4, pages 386–393, April 2005)

Autoimmune disease
For those with autoimmune issues, please read through the information on this link below which will explain very fully about the situation and provide you with some diet advice and tips.

Medical Disclaimer

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

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