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Is it a symptom or a disease?
Despite many blogs and websites talking about it, there is little explanation of why it starts, what exactly is causing it and what to do about it to make it not leaky again. Here I am explaining this condition based on my knowledge and clinical expertise.
First, I believe Leaky Gut is merely a symptom of a bigger problem. The term comes from gastroenterologists who looked at the results of the biopsies done during endoscopic procedures. People who came with a list of complains which involved gastrointestinal system actually did not have any significant pathology. Biopsy universally showed non-specific inflammation with the walls of the intestine being swollen and distended. They figured out that tight junctions of the intestinal wall were not too tight, allowing parts of the indigested food to “escape” and activate immune response. That is where the name comes from.
Now, there were other changes that first were not paid attention to. For example – lack of mucus layer. You probably would not think much of it either. But the mucus layer is essential for normal digestion:
1.It provides “sliding” of the pieces of the food without scraping and injury of the gut
2. Mucus protects fragile cells of the intestinal mucosa from “burning” by stomach acid and gut enzymes which are needed for food disintegration into simple molecules.
3.Mucus layer contains intestinal bacteria and fungus – those probiotics you have heard about. Without that layer bacteria cannot hold onto the mucosa and being simply washed away. Also, mucins contain food that this fragile bacteria needs for survival – no food means no bacteria. While good bugs are gone, fungus can occupy more spaces leading to candida overgrowth and production of toxic substances.
Next, while mucus is gone the intestinal folds that are responsible for absorption of amino acids, carbs and fatty acids start flattening. That means that most of the food you eat goes to the toilet, leaving you with no resources for cell regeneration and energy.
Patients usually accumulate enormous amounts of tests that are inconclusive or normal, they visit multiple specialists and usually acquire many diagnoses of suspicion such as:
Chronic Lyme Disease
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Mast Cell Activation
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Gluten Sensitivity and even Multiple Sclerosis.
Yet, doctors and tests fail to confirm specific cause and patients continue their medical journey.
Why is it so difficult to diagnose?
The answer is hidden within the syndrome itself – while it starts in the gut, it is actually an immune problem. As immune system is pretty much spread all over the body and is involved in each and every organ function, the symptoms can present as various organs dysfunctions. That is why most treatments fail – if that was a problem of the organ itself (lets say genetic migraines), the usual treatment would work perfectly. Meanwhile the malfunctioning of the brain blood vessels is caused by immune cells that create inflammation – traditional treatment fails and causes side effects instead.
This condition is new and is not yet recorded in textbooks, just like many other new conditions caused by abnormal immune responses. The explanation for this fact comes from modern scientific achievements that happened in a very large magnitude within very short period of time.
Scientists created huge variety of genetically altered proteins and species, biologically active chemicals and synthetic hormones only within last 15 years. While the advantages of these products can be presented, there is a huge problem that is still on the rise – immune system of the body is very rigid and must react to every single contact of the surrounding world with the body.
These are the main problems associated with the leaky gut, but the list is unlimited. While most of the patients experience at least 6 symptoms at the same time, the appearance of problems can be stretched in time masking other diseases at times.
Is Leaky Gut an immune disease?
Immune system is trained to recognize “encounters” by reading the codes of proteins and chemicals, and in order to preserve the body integrity it needs to attack and kill everything that it does not know. It can change responses with adaptation to changes (cultivation of crops or domesticating and breeding of the animals), but it takes generations of humans who can fully digest and accept the change.
The worst it the industry of pesticides, herbicides and biomolecules (such and neonicatinoids that insert themselves in genome of the treated plant). Scientists are smart, and when the goal is set the laboratory will work hard until the desired chemical or biological substance is created. When such goal is to create a substrate that kills, readily attaches to the plant and stays active for a long time…it is silly to think that such chemical is not attaching itself firmly enough not to be present in the food we put in our mouth, and then to our own body tissues.
And what exactly does it do then??? Well, here I definitely would feel much better if the results of some multi-center placebo-controlled study would assure me that such food does not carry the poison into my system, and that it’s not accumulating in my tissues causing all sorts of problems. I also would sleep much better if I knew that all those chemicals sprayed of the fields and soaked into the seeds are not accumulating in the soil, year after year increasing in concentration and spreading into the surrounding ground, water, rivers and ocean.
Well, I found no such studies, and the contrary… I found enough scientific evidence that indeed, we are just blind and unprotected – a generation of people who is undergoing huge experiment that will determine the survival of the fittest. Not the fittest people who go to the gym, but who genetically have the immune systems capable of adapting to all protein modifications and a sea of chemicals. As for now I believe my goal is to study this novel disease and be able to generate treatments that return my patients their health. I am not alone, there are many functional doctors of Eastern and Western medicine who all see same patterns, similar course of disease and are now capable of treating our patients successfully.
Here is another revelation I recently had – Leaky Gut is a part of the bigger picture (together with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and all autoimmune complications such as Adrenal Fatigue and Hypothyroidism), which I call Hyperactive Immune Syndrome.
First of all, the treatment success is in correct diagnosis.
Here is how we approach Leaky Gut or Immune Hyperactivity disorder:
Chart and history review
Special questionnaire that screens for specific symptoms
Laboratory tests – to make sure nothing else is going on and to see if there are positive chromosomes for Celiac disease. Celiac disease is #1 in mimicking this syndrome.
Skin test for common food allergens – we do not use it to search for new allergies. Indeed, this is the best test to confirm the syndrome and to assess the severity of the problem. The number and percent of positive reactions predict perfectly what treatment the patient needs and how long it will take to recover
Our treatment approach helped thouthands over the past 10 years to get better or completely recover. It was presented on European conference by Dr Kushnir, and now is helping even more people. It has 3 stages:
1.Reboot. First month is an intense treatment that calms down immune system and clears autoimmune inflammation – is a mix of detox agents, oils that help regeneration of the gut and unique diet that helps detox and immune recovery. I call it Reboot cycle, but it is actually an ancient system of detox used for centuries in Tibet healing monasteries. In Tibet this stage focuses on calming unnecessary processes in the body, clearing of the toxins from the body and mind clarification.
2.Maintenance. Second stage is directed toward stability – we give the body time to adjust to the new level of functioning and only provide necessary stimulation of regeneration, healing and immune activation of the new cells. In this stage we encourage acupuncture, meditation and light sports on regular basis. We return patients to the regular diet while educating about best practices of product selection, cooking and eating.
3.Rejuvenation. Third stage is stimulatory – we re-introduce variety of foods that previously were not tolerated, and make sure that immune system accepts them and not going back to aggression. In this phase we achieve next level of recovery with return to optimal functioning.
That is the time when our patients start believing that miracle did happen… and what seemed to be impossible indeed was achieved. I can assure you – there is no miracle here – just medicine the way it should be and personal will to get better.
Over and over again, I think – how little do we know, and how fragile our body is. I hope one day we will eradicate all the genetic modifications of food and make a law prohibiting the use of any molecules that have not been shown in appropriate experiments to be harmless to humans. May be my job will not be needed than, and our children will experience a clean and healthy life.
In my mind this disease is a result of modern life convinience – we produce too many artificial ingredient that do not agree with our nature. Immune system gets “clogged” and “confused” when it sees unusual GMO proteins, toxic plastics, hypergrowth synthetic hormones from agriculture and invisible killers VOC molecules in the air. Add pesticides and herbicides that find their way into our food and water – you got it!
For many years I advocate against use of certain chemicals that harm all Nature and harm humans.
I am super-excited! Roundup is being sued and we (physicians and scientists who believe that it is evil) are winning!
But we are far from victory, and many other evil things like GMO foods and neonicatinoid pesticides are still abandon around… Below is some reading that support my opinion and may be useful for you to understand the dangers.
For now, statistics is against these dreams. According to an already old data of 2015… National Health Council states:
“Generally incurable and ongoing, chronic diseases affect approximately 133 million Americans, representing more than 40% of the total population of this country. projected to grow to an estimated 157 million, with 81 million having multiple conditions”. www.nationalhealthcouncil.org/sites/default/files/NHC…/AboutChronicDisease.pdf
We are far from the end of this war, but at least I can help you find the way to live during it and not get sick.