What is leaky gut syndrome?

In the category of gastrointestinal diseases, the leaky gut syndrome is the most epidemic condition nowadays. 

It is a condition where the lining of the small intestine becomes highly permeable due to inflammation of the lining. This inflammation can occur due to a host of reasons including infection, overdosing of antibiotics, chlorinated water, etc. Due to inflammation, the plasma proteins move from the bloodstream to the tissue spaces. These plasma proteins regulate the osmotic pressure and due to this imbalance, there is an increase in permeability of the intestine wall. 

As a result of this increased permeability, a large number of unwanted products such as bacteria, undigested or semi-digested food, toxins, etc. tend to enter the bloodstream. This increases the vulnerability of the patient towards infections and other immunity-related to health issues.[1]

See: All of my Gut issues are gone with Naturopathic medicine

How can leaky gut syndrome be healed?

The leaky gut syndrome is mainly caused due to poor eating habits, unhealthy lifestyle and also intake of painkillers and antibiotics in larger quantities.[2]

This syndrome may go unidentified in the patient, thereby increasing the severity. However, once it has been diagnosed treatment is essential. To treat the leaky gut syndrome, multiple therapies are available. However, natural cures have shown the best results. 

leaky gut syndrome symptoms

What are leaky gut syndrome symptoms?

The following symptoms might be signs of a leaky gut:

1. Chronic diarrhea, constipation, gas or bloating

2. Nutritional deficiencies

3. Excessive fatigue

4. Headaches, or memory loss

5. Skin rashes and problems

6. Poor immune system

7. Arthritis or joint pain

8. Depression, anxiety, ADD, ADHD

9. Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, celiac disease or Crohn's

Leaky Gut Syndrome Diet & Natural Treatment

Natural treatments for leaky gut syndrome can help. In functional medicine, the practitioner examines the patient as a whole before deciding what's wrong and what's going to repair it. With autoimmune diseases, most functional medicine practitioners begin with repairing the gut. They work with the individual to select the ideal dietary supplements and foods, to repair something called a leaky gut. There are many possible ways to approach the natural healing process: 1. Natural cleansing:

Natural treatments for leaky gut syndrome can help. In functional medicine, the practitioner examines the patient as a whole before deciding what's wrong and what's going to repair it. With autoimmune diseases, most functional medicine practitioners begin with repairing the gut. They work with the individual to select the ideal dietary supplements and foods, to repair something called a leaky gut. There are many possible ways to approach the natural healing process:

1. Natural cleansing

The process of natural cleansing aims at cleaning the colon. It improves the transit time of the colon, reduces inflammation, stimulates the production of bile and other enzymes to clear the toxins produced by the liver. The process mainly involves oral administration of certain herbs, water-soluble fibers, and water. Mucilage a slimy fiber obtained from psyllium, marshmallow, etc is the most preferred fiber. This is combined with herbs which offer adjunct benefits. For example, Artichoke leaves detoxify the liver by enhancing the bile flow, chamomile flowers reduce inflammation and improves the overall digestive health. Similarly, other herbs that can help in improving digestive health can be used.[3]

2. Bovine Colostrum

 It is the milky discharge released from the breasts of the cows' post giving birth. It is issued for a few days until the actual milking starts. This colostrum is rich in antibodies, nutrients, and other supplements. The use of bovine colostrum in treating leaky gut syndrome is also phenomenal. It enhances the efficiency of the gut and also enables sealing of the Gastrointestinal tract (GIT) mucosal walls, making them impermeable towards toxins. Thus, bovine colostrum can prove to be a very efficient natural treatment for the leaky gut syndrome.[4]

3. Fiber supplements

The dietary constituent, fiber has a productive role in controlling the permeability of the gut as well as the bacterial composition. The relation is rather complicated. As a general statement, a diet rich in fiber is good for controlling the leaky gut syndrome. It helps by decreasing the permeability of the mucous membrane. However, soluble fibers such as pectin or guar tend to show a biphasic effect. At lower concentrations, they reduce the permeability while the situation is reversed in case of intake of higher level. This, hypoallergenic insoluble fibers are the best suited for maximum health benefits in a leaky gut syndrome.[5]

4. No Alcohol and smoking

This is one of the most critical steps that anybody suffering from leaky gut syndrome needs to adopt. Alcohol and smoking disturb the microflora ecosystem prevailing in the intestine. This disruption promotes leaky gut syndrome. Thus, bidding goodbye to drinking and tobacco is very important.[6]

5. Coffee

The famous beverage coffee is a rich source of around 1000 compounds. However, out of all the components of coffee, caffeine is the most studied one. According to the studies conducted, the consumption of coffee results in an exaggeration of the leaky gut syndrome due to the presence of caffeine itself. However, it was also studied that decaffeinated coffee is beneficial in reversing the increased permeability of the intestinal mucosa. This effect is due to the high concentration of polyphenols present in the coffee. Polyphenols exhibit anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and prebiotic properties.[7]

6. Fermented fruits 

Fruits are a rich source of vitamins and are nutritious consumable for GIT health. Fermentation of fruit increases their nutritional value and is referred to as the functional food owing to their putative health benefits. The process of fermentation results in functionally rich microbes in the form of probiotics. They aid the proliferation of healthy gut bacteria and biogenic. This modifies the overall endotoxin concentration and also reduces the permeability of the gut. Thus, it supports the natural treatment of leaky gut syndrome.[8]

7. Zinc

Elemental zinc is another potential natural source for the treatment of leaky gut. It has an essential role in protein synthesis, wound healing, and maintaining the digestive health.9 You can either opt for synthetic zinc supplements or adopt for natural food sources of zinc. The absorption of zinc is the best when consumed, along with animal proteins like meat and chicken. Tower, for a vegan diet, zinc supplements or food products must be taken on an empty stomach for the best results. If you're considering zinc supplements, then zinc picolinate is the best source as it is the most bioavailable form of zinc. Zinc therapy for 3-4 weeks will be helpful to treat the leaky gut syndrome.[9]

See: Apple Cider Vinegar for Acid Reflux

Leaky gut syndrome links to other conditions

Leaky gut links to other health concerns

Awareness of the value of the gut to general health has skyrocketed in the last ten years. One recent example of the surge in understanding the link between bowel health and systemic health is rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Inflammatory biomarkers are known to emerge years before a definitive diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is possible.  This concept dates back to the beginning of the 20th century suggested that RA emerges from mucosal cells and dysbiosis, and only afterward do problems occur in the synovial fluid and joints. More recent research supports this series of events.[10]

We know that increased intestinal permeability plays a part in certain gastrointestinal conditions like celiac disease, Crohn's disease, and irritable bowel syndrome. The biggest question is whether or not a leaky gut might cause problems elsewhere in the body. Some studies show that leaky gut may be associated with other autoimmune diseases (arthritis, allergies, asthma, acne, lupus, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis), chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, obesity, and even mental illness. However, we don't yet have clinical trials in people showing this type of cause and effect. [11]

Complementary and integrative medicine practitioners have worked on gut recovery as a first step to deal with chronic diseases for decades. Other cultures around the world often recommend specific diets to make people feel better. Even in the US, it's not uncommon to see people changing their diets after becoming sick. A common first step some professionals take is to eliminate foods that could be inflammatory and might promote changes in the gut flora.

See: Ayurvedic herbs for detoxification


Leaky gut syndrome if left untreated, can result in various complications and an array of other disease conditions. This is mainly due to the absorption of toxins and other undesirable materials in the bloodstream. To avoid such complications, it is imperative to diagnose the condition in earlier stages itself. For the right diagnosis, the patient needs to be very careful about the symptoms and explaining them to the physician. Generally, the leaky gut syndrome remains unnoticed and results in the post complications. Thus, the patients must identify the early signs and symptoms and convey them to the physician for timely treatment. Further, natural treatment for leaky gut syndrome is the best approach to avoid side effects resulting due to allopathic medicines. In fact, these natural treatments listed above can act as an adjunct therapy to promote quicker and better healing of the underlying condition.


1. Wyatt, D. A. (2014). Leaky Gut Syndrome: A Modern Epidemic with an Ancient Solution?. Townsend Letter, 6, 68-72.  

2. Kiefer, D., & Ali-Akbarian, L. (2004). A brief evidence-based review of two gastrointestinal illnesses: irritable bowel and leaky gut syndromes. Alternative Therapy Health Medicine 10 (3): 22, 30. 

3. Horne, S. (2006). Colon cleansing: a popular, but misunderstood natural therapy. Journal of herbal pharmacotherapy, 6(2), 93-100.

4.   Rona, Z. (1998). Clinical applications: bovine colostrum as an immune system regulator. American Journal of Natural Medicine, 5, 19-23. 

5. Galland, L. (1995). Leaky gut syndromes: breaking the vicious cycle. Townsend Letter for Doctors, 145(6), 63-68. 

6. Capurso, G., & Lahner, E. (2017). The interaction between smoking, alcohol and the gut microbiome. Best practice & research Clinical gastroenterology, 31(5), 579-588. 

7. Mazzone, G., Lembo, V., D'Argenio, G., Vitaglione, P., Rossi, A., Guarino, M., ... & Morisco, F. (2016). Decaffeinated coffee consumption induces the expression of tight junction proteins in high-fat diet-fed rats. Funct Foods Health Dis, 6, 602-611. 

8. Aslam, H., Green, J., Jacka, F. N., Collier, F., Berk, M., Pasco, J., & Dawson, S. L. (2018). Fermented foods, the gut and mental health: A mechanistic overview with implications for depression and anxiety. Nutritional neuroscience, 1-13. 

9. Mahmood, A., Fitzgerald, A. J., Marchbank, T., Ntatsaki, E., Murray, D., Ghosh, S., & Playford, R. J. (2007). Zinc carnosine, a health food supplement that stabilizes small bowel integrity and stimulates gut repair processes. Gut, 56(2), 168-175. 

10.   The Connection Between Leaky Gut and Arthritishttps://www.ifm.org/news-insights/ai-connection-leaky-gut-arthritis/

11. Leaky gut: What is it, and what does it mean for you? Marcelo Campos, MD, https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/leaky-gut-what-is-it-and-what-does-it-mean-for-you-2017092212451

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