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Leaky Gut
03-26-2013, 06:29 PM
Post: #1
Leaky Gut
Polly: “Leaky gut” is a popular term for increased intestinal permeability. Toxins and larger food molecules than normal pass through the gut and escape into the blood stream. This sets the stage for many food allergies. Toxins, inflammation, parasites and viruses seem to play a part in initiating leaky gut. Toxins from Clostridium difficile (a bacteria), and influenza and vesicular stomatitis viruses have been shown to loosen the tight junctions in the intestinal lining. [1] (These same toxins could also make the blood-brain barrier more permeable.) The common parasites called Giardia and Blastocystis hominis also seem to cause leaky gut. [2] Besides toxins generated in the gut by pathogens, toxins from outside the body, like organophosphate pesticides and mercury, are suspected of contributing to leaky gut.

Leaky gut could be caused by excess calcium entering the cells that line the gut. [3] Cells take up calcium if there is some type of injury (toxins, oxidant stress, hypoxia, metabolic inhibition, tissue acidosis, exposure to nitric oxide or cytokines, endotoxemia, and sepsis). So there are probably many general health problems that need to be corrected if we are to get rid of leaky gut.

Once the yeast or abnormal flora has been minimized, many doctors will start their patients on nutrients that are specific to healing the gut. Like so many other treatment modalities, sometimes these remedies help and sometimes they aren’t tolerated. Besides providing nutrients, perhaps we also need to remove the remaining toxins. For example, cholestyramine will remove certain low molecular weight fat-soluble toxins. In certain cases, it has gotten rid of irritable bowel. Would this or charcoal or another drug be helpful in clearing up leaky gut syndrome?

Here are several excellent articles on the connection of the leaky gut syndrome to the yeast syndrome. “Leaky Gut Syndrome” by Jake Paul Fratkin, OMD “Inflammatory Conditions and the Gastrointestinal Tract” by Myron Lezak, MD Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS) Origins, Effects and Therapies, The “Medical Link” Between Dysbiosis and Many Major Ailments, “Is This the Most Misdiagnosed/Underdiagnosed Condition in Medicine Today?” Contributing Authors: Dan Koontz, NMD; Jack Hinze, NMD, PharmD; Derrick M. DeSilva, MD; Andrea Herr, RN, FBIH; Craig Konzen, RPh in the Herbal Pharm, issue 19, 1999.

Dr. Leo Galland’s Observations on Healing Leaky Gut

Polly: Leo Galland, MD, wrote an excellent article on leaky gut. It can be found at He suggests that diet is the most important factor in healing leaky gut, but that there are several adjuncts to the diet that can help. I’ve summarized some of Dr. Galland’s suggestions here for you.

1) Merely taking the time to chew your food well will help because purified epidermal growth factor (found in saliva) has been shown to heal ulceration of the small intestine.

2) Insoluble fiber like cellulose is helpful. Soluble fiber is helpful too, but be careful not to get too much soluble fiber because in larger quantities it can increase permeability. (Soluble fiber soaks up water, insoluble fiber does not.)

3) Probiotics help.

4) Undenatured whey is valuable for increasing gut IgA (immunoglobulin) levels, which improves your immunity. (IgA is discussed in the autism chapter in book 5.)

5) Since the liver’s glutathione levels are often low in this syndrome, you may want to increase your glutathione levels by using N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) and methionine.

6) Gamma oryzanol from rice bran is helpful.

7) In general, avoid vegetable oils because polyunsaturated oil tends to increase the free radical content of the bile. This damages the gut and pancreas. Yet, you may need some GLA, and he suggests getting your GLA from a concentrated source (like primrose oil), so as to avoid over-exposure to the polyunsaturated oils.

8) Fish oil along with vitamin B6 can increase anti-inflammatory prostaglandin formation and thus help reduce inflammation of the gut.

9) Bioflavonoids like quercetin may block the allergic reactions that increase gut permeability.

I have some comments about his suggestions.

1) Careful with the NAC and whey. Some people with mercury poisoning have high cysteine levels. Whey or NAC aren’t appropriate in this case. Also, too much cysteine can suppress thyroid. Cysteine is harmful if you are copper poisoned.

2) Don’t overdo fish oil either. Fish oil is highly unsaturated. Just like the vegetable oils, it can increase the free radical content of the bile. If you wish to use fish oil, consider using a little fish liver oil for its higher vitamin content. The fat-soluble vitamins found in fish liver oil (A, E, D, and K) control inflammation.

3) Gamma oryzanol may interfere with the interpretation of thyroid blood tests. Typically, doses of about 300 mg per day are used to treat ulcers and gastrointestinal complaints. This amount will lower TSH significantly in people with primary hypothyroidism, even though it does not increase the thyroid hormone level in the blood. [4] Because of its possible effect on hormone levels, it seems wise for pregnant and lactating women to avoid taking supplements of gamma-oryzanol.

4) Don’t overdo bioflavonoids. Bioflavonoids help control inflammation, but they also lower the body’s ability to detoxify other substances. (See the liver health chapter.) Those with impaired sulfation may find some of the bioflavonoids hard to tolerate. Also, the process of removing the bioflavonoids from the body may use up sulfates, which are needed to heal a leaky gut.

5) Other things that help control inflammation are transfer factor, colostrum, bromelain, pancreatic enzymes, progesterone, Mead oil, coconut oil, and emu oil. Butter and aloe vera are soothing to the intestine too.

Dechen: My doctor had told me that aloe gel is one of nature’s strongest anti-inflammatories. I was taking this commercial brand which was pure crap since it was full of citric acid. I then started extracting aloe gel from the plant in my living room! And bingo, my gut feels heavenly! Every morning I take one or two fat leaves, cut the sides with scissors, open and scrape the insides. Then I blend it with my hand blender and water. I add my probiotic and voila! It really really helps. Of course, my house plant looks ravaged... But I’ll just buy another one. I couldn’t find a brand of aloe gel that didn’t contain all kinds of added caca, and I was very unwilling to go without the benefits of aloe. Apart from it’s anti-inflammatory qualities, it’s a cleanser of the digestive system and the liver, a detoxifier, and slight immune booster. So my solution might seem strange but it works very well, and it’s cheap.

Polly: It is extremely easy to ruin the healing properties of aloe vera by processing and heat. The sugars in it are ruined. Very few companies do it right. Mannatech is one of the few companies that know how to do it. Although their product is good, it can get expensive, and if you want to get those good effects from it, you have to use a lot. I think you have a wonderful solution. Just be careful not to use the outer part of the leaves because the yellow sap is a laxative. The old leaves contain more of the mannose sugar, which may help the immune system. There are a few people that are allergic to aloe vera. A good precaution may be to test a dab of it on the skin first. This book is interesting, Sugars that Heal by Emil Mondoa, MD and Mindy Kitei. It talks about many different sugars in our food that are very important to healing and to the immune system.

More Remedies for Leaky Gut

DY: All my vitamin levels are fine. I just don’t know what to take for leaky gut!? Thanks!

Linda in Virginia: L-Glutamine is good for leaky gut. Vitamin A is also good. I am taking Omega Plex (butyric acid) by American Biologics (2 capsules 3 X day) and Intestinal Permeability Support by Biotics Research (2 capsules 3 X day). Tyler also makes something for leaky gut called Permeability Factors. Normally Tyler products can only be purchased through a health care practitioner. However, N.E.E.D.S. (Syracuse, NY) carries the brand because they have a doctor on staff. phone (800) 634-1380. Biotics Research products are harder to find. My local health food store just started carrying their products. Before that I bought them from my health care practitioner.

Jennifer: Are there any other vitamins or amino acids that are helpful? How about single herbs? Combinations like Intestinal Permeability Support are difficult for me to tolerate. Thank you!

Polly: Jennifer, there are so many many different things that you can use. Vitamin A, copper and zinc seem particularly important for a healthy intestine. Other than that, I don’t know what is best. However, here is a list of some ideas.

1. Slippery elm and saffron tea sooth the intestine.

2. There is a book on Chinese herbs for healing the gut called Healing Digestive Disorders by Andrew Gaeddert. He suggests blends of herbs for different intestinal conditions. I guess you have to go to a doctor or herb store familiar with these blends. I’ve never heard of them before. But if you can tolerate herbs, this seems like a good avenue to explore.

3. Elderberries help heal the intestines, but they are pretty pungent and not very sweet?not the best tasting in my opinion. Elderberries also have very good anti-viral properties. Elderberry jam is a verified treatment for intestinal ulceration. The dry berries stop diarrhea. However, Morton Walker, D.P.M. cautions that elderberries should not be eaten raw. [5]

4. In Andy Cutler’s book, Amalgam Illness, he mentions that if you are low on the amino acids arginine or taurine, then supplements of these can help heal leaky gut. But there are precautions one must be aware of when using any amino acid. In particular, several people have mentioned how supplementing with just glutamine increases ammonia levels and can be intolerable. Even though correcting a deficit of arginine will help heal leaky gut, too much arginine will harm the gut. (See the chapter on amino acids in book 6.)

5. Colixen is a product used to reduce intestinal inflammation and heal leaky gut. It is made by Ecological Formulas. It contains mucin, lauric acid, and ricinoleic acid. Mucin is the protective coating in your intestines. The lauric acid should help get rid of viruses. (In the intestines, the lauric acid converts to monolaurin, which is an anti-viral substance. Lauric acid is found in coconut oil.) The ricinoleic acid is essentially castor oil. Castor oil is a treatment for intestinal inflammation and worms. Castor oil is also a laxative. An overdose will cause severe cramping. Castor oil should not be used when you are pregnant. Too much may induce labor and cause stillbirth.

6. Then there are substances that may improve the integrity of the glucosaminoglycans (GAGs) that line the intestines.

Glucosaminoglycans (GAGs)

Polly: Fully sulfated glucosaminoglycans (GAGs) provide a protective barrier in the gut and prevent leaky gut. We shed these GAGs when there is inflammation. For healing, we need to get rid of the inflammation and to provide the basic material for our body to create more fully sulfated GAGs.

What basic material should we supply to the body so that it can create more GAGs? Should we ingest more sulfates, glutamine, chondroitan sulfate, glucosamine sulfate or perhaps N-acetyl-glucosamine? All of these are potential candidates for increasing the formation of GAGs.

Glucosamine is the amino acid glutamine combined with fructose, a sugar. Glucosamine is then used as a building block for more complex GAGs such as chondroitin sulfate. Since glucosamine is the basic building block for GAGs, I’m guessing that it might be the best substance to supply the body. However, I’ve not seen anyone suggest that glucosamine sulfate is good for healing leaky gut. It just seems logical that it would be.

Avandish: Products from a number of manufacturers for leaky gut contain glucosamine sulfate. I have seen it in Biotics research, maybe Tyler, and others. I have not tolerated these blends of ingredient type products for leaky gut and am exploring as you are. I may experiment with more pure glucosamine sulfate in the near future, but right now I am looking into the possible production of some of these gut-healing compounds by various species of bifidobacteria.

Sally: I remember reading somewhere that glucosamine sulfate is the best anti-inflammatory because it doesn’t cause damage to the gut like all the other ones. The article also said it is proven to help heal the gut instead of causing damage and promotes healing of the stomach lining. If I find where I read it I will post it verbatim. I’ve used it for several years for my arthritis-like symptoms with great success and have recommended it to many who have reported back with good results. One person had been having digestive problems and started taking it for arthritis, but commented later that his digestive symptoms had greatly improved shortly after starting it.

Avandish: What dosage do you take? Thanks.

Sally: 1500 mg daily until symptoms are satisfactory. Then after a while I back down to 1000 mg.

Mary in Pennsylvania: I know that when I stopped using N-acetyl-glucosamine (NAG) or any of the products with it in it (like Intestinal Permeability by Tyler), I quickly got my candida under control. Up to this point though, it had been an up hill battle due to the fact that I was attempting to correct leaky gut syndrome (LGS) with the recommended supplements like NAG. What I was doing was making a bad situation even worse. It wasn’t until I read the forum archived posts by Author and JD, which condemned NAG because it was a known inducer of yeast myceliation, that I wised up and stopped all the crazy supplementation. (Yeast can take on several different forms. The mycelial form burrows into tissue.)

Polly: I just did a little rummaging around in medline, and found references that indicate some drawbacks to NAG.

1) NAG causes Candida albicans to form mycelia. [6]

2) NAG increases adherence of Candida albicans to vaginal epithelial cells. [7]

3) The yeast Candida krusei can live on the sugar in NAG. [8]

4) Some bacteria can use the sugar in NAG to grow and some can’t. [9]

Glucosamine has drawbacks too. The information at this website suggests that glucosamine could lower energy production and increase yeast growth. In their opinion, chondroitan sulfate, although more expensive, would be a much better choice. The articles at that site also warn that glucosamine might increase insulin resistance. If you are diabetic, be particularly careful with it.

Besides the obvious importance of building up the intestinal lining with GAGs, there is another aspect to glucosamine sulfate and chondroitan sulfate than may be very helpful. Viral infections can lead to gut inflammation, and glucosamine sulfate and chondroitan sulfate may help control these viral infections. There is an article at the Keep Hope Alive site that talks about using chondroitan sulfate and glucosamine sulfate to control the HIV virus. It is not known if these help control other lipid envelope viruses (measles, CMV, and HHV-6). However, if they do help kill these other lipid envelope viruses, that could make their use very important. [10]

Sheila: Just wanted to share a recent experience with NAG vs glutamine. I switched from glutamine to NAG for about a month. During that time, I experienced a lot of intestinal inflammation and stools went from pretty healthy to very unhealthy looking. I didn’t immediately attribute it to the NAG, but when I switched back to glutamine, those problems immediately disappeared. Since I saw so much improvement, I doubled the glutamine to 1 gram/day & have been getting better & better since. This was an unintentional experiment, but definitely proved to me the benefit of glutamine over NAG, in my case at least.

SK: I like the glucosaminoglycans (GAGs). L-glutamine didn’t work for me. I didn’t like the chondroitin or glucosamine sulfate?ah but the NAG? Nice.

Polly: That proves that everyone’s needs are so different. NAG can protect a person from certain lectins like those found in wheat. I wonder if that is why you found it so helpful? Maybe you don’t have the type of bacteria or yeast that can break down NAG and get to the sugar in it?

Avandish: What is your source of GAGs? Are they isolated or foods high in them naturally?

SK: Enzymatic Aorta-glycan 50mg --- “mixture of highly purified bovine-derived GAGs naturally present in the aorta including derman sulfate, heparin sulfate, hyaluronic acid, chondroitin sulfate and related hexosaminoglycans.” Cow parts, yum.

(The Enzymatic Therapy brand is carried in many vitamin shops. You might have to ask them to order this Aorta-glycan product for you. Or here is a discount vitamin company that carries a lot of Enzymatic Therapy products, or phone 1-800-283-2833.)

Avandish: I have read that the inorganic sulfates must be balanced with organic sulfur compounds like MSM. When one uses a lot of glucosamine sulfate it initially does not show up in the urine in large quantities and the person feels better (arthritis/joint pain study). But after using the inorganic sulfur (sulfates) for a while, the improvement fades and the urine begins to show high levels of inorganic sulfur. When a source of organic sulfur is added, then the improvement often returns and the urine levels of inorganic sulfur drop while continuing with the same oral dose. This seems to suggest the necessity of balance between inorganic and/organic sulfur.

Polly: What were the food and other sources of organic sulfur that were used in the study?

Avandish: You have to realize that the information I mentioned was based on testing done in people using glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin for joint/arthritis problems. Leaky gut was not addressed in the participants. If any of them had it, it was not mentioned. I mentioned this study to show the necessity of balance between organic and inorganic sulfur.

About the organic sulfur, the only supplement mentioned was MSM. Plant enzymes were used with foods typically high in sulfur such as eggs, bell peppers, protein, garlic, etc. I think the MSM was the primary source for organic sulfur. Wish I could give more specifics, but can’t find my notes on this.

Lilian: Have you found glutamine to be a problem with fighting candida and leaky gut? I take it now, but I don’t know if it might be preventing me from getting better.

Polly: Some people find glutamine helpful, and others get sick on it. When I tried glutamine, it seemed to make an infection on my hand worse. So I didn’t continue the glutamine. One person told me that glutamine was wonderful for a while, but then she started to get sick from it. I don’t know why it does this to some people. There is no sugar in glutamine to feed the yeast. (Yet the body can fairly easily convert this amino acid into glucose, a sugar.) Glutamine can increase ammonia levels, which might be the problem. Ammonia interferes with alpha-ketoglutaric acid, which is needed for energy production. Glutamine supplementation may also lower taurine levels, which could be another problem, since many of us may be already low on taurine. A Great Smokies Laboratory article warns that one should get rid of dysbiosis before trying certain amino acids, including glutamine, because the pathogens can act on them creating unwanted substances. Apparently,

“Even glutamine, which helps to keep mucosal tissue healthy, can be changed into succinic acid, which is detrimental when excessive.”[11]

Jock in UK: Glutamate (free), glutamic acid, and glutamine are all on the forbidden substance list at this celiac disease website . Proteins that contain a lot of glutamine and proline appear to be very damaging to the intestines, especially if glutamine and proline are found in a particular sequence in the protein. See

Polly: Like you say, it may be highly dependent on which peptides are present. (Peptides are strings of amino acids.) The proline rich polypeptides found in colostrum are supposed to be excellent for modulating the immune system.

One cannot conclude that any one substance is the best for healing leaky gut. It will depend on the individual. However, I guess the least likely to cause problems would be MSM, mineral sulfates, chondroitan sulfate or Aorta-glycans. Gelatin is quite helpful for joints, but I don’t know if it is effective for healing the gut or not. (Gelatin is high in glycine and proline.) I would not start with NAG, glutamine, or glucosamine because they are more likely to be something your body could not tolerate. Also, I’d be wary of trying a combination of everything we have discussed lately. If you combined everything into one product, you would be bound to get one substance that your body couldn’t tolerate.


Mary J: Taurine reduces the translocation of bacteria and toxins from the gut. [12]

Polly: That is enlightening. Yeast overgrowth and/or alcohol abuse will deplete taurine. Perhaps this is one of the ways that yeast and alcohol cause leaky gut. It is also another reason to try a supplement of taurine. If anyone wishes to try taurine, take it with a meal because taurine can increase the secretion of stomach acid. Also start slowly on taurine, maybe as little as 50 mg per day, because taurine will cause cells to detoxify, and you don’t want to do this too quickly. Later, you may want to try more. As much as 1500 mg per day has proven useful for many conditions.


1. Fasano A, “Regulation of intercellular tight junctions by zonula occludens toxin and its eukaryotic analogue zonulin” Ann N Y Acad Sci 2000;915:214-22

2. Dagci H, Ustun S, Taner MS, Galip E, Ferit K, Budak S. Protozoon infections and intestinal permeability. Acta Tropica 2002;81:1-5 and Di Prisco MC, Hagel I, Lynch NR, Jimenez JC, Rojas R, Gil M, Mata E, “Association between giardiasis and allergy.” Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 1998 Sep;81(3):261-5

3. Naoki Unno 1 MD, PhD Mitchell P. Fink 2 3 MD, “Nutritional, Physiologic, and Pathophysiologic Considerations of the Gastrointestinal Tract, Intestinal Epithelial Hyperpermeability Mechanisms and Relevance to Disease,” Gastroenterology Clinics Volume 27 • Number 2 • June 1998

4. Shimomura Y, Kobayashi I, Maruto S, Ohshima K, Mori M, Kamio N, Fukuda H, “Effect of gamma-oryzanol on serum TSH concentrations in primary hypothyroidism,” Endocrinol Jpn 1980 Feb;27(1):83-6

5. Walker, D.P.M., Elderberry Internal cleansing, Switzerland’s Highly Effective Seven-Day Body Detoxification and Weight Loss Program, New Way of Life, Inc., A Life Enhancement Book, Stamford, Connecticut, 1989

6. Mattia E, Carruba G, Angiolella L, Cassone A, “Induction of hyphal transformation, uptake and incorporation of N-acetyl-D-glucosamine in Candida albicans,” Ann Ist Super Sanita. 1982;18(3):493-6. Italian. And Simonetti N, Strippoli V, Cassone A, “Yeast-mycelial conversion induced by N-acetyl-D-glucosamine in Candida albicans,” Nature 1974 Jul 26;250(464):344-6

7. Reinhart H, Muller G, Sobel JD, “Specificity and mechanism of in vitro adherence of Candida albicans,” Ann Clin Lab Sci 1985 Sep-Oct;15(5):406-13

8. Hayford AE, Jakobsen M, “Characterization of Candida krusei strains from spontaneously fermented maize dough by profiles of assimilation, chromosome profile, polymerase chain reaction and restriction endonuclease analysis,” J Appl Microbiol 1999 Jul;87(1):29-40

9. Brinkkotter A, Kloss H, Alpert C, Lengeler JW, “Pathways for the utilization of N-acetyl-galactosamine and galactosamine in escherichia coli,” Mol Microbiol 2000 Jul;37(1):125-35

10. Konlee M, Progressive Health News, Vol 1 He referenced this article. Basgasra O et al; J. Inject Dis. 1991 Dec; 164(6):1082-90 “Anti-HIV virus type 1 activity of sulfated monosaccharides: comparison with sulfated polysaccharides and other polyions,

11. Pangborn J, PhD. “Question of the Month,” Nutrition and Metabolic Newsletter (Great Smokies) Issue 2, No. 2 - April 2000 page 1 of 4

12. Wang WY. [Intestinal endotoxin translocation in endotoxemic rats] [Article in Chinese] Sheng Li Ke Xue Jin Zhan. 1995 Jan;26(1):41- 4

©2002 by Polly Hattemer, also known as Pauline Hattemer
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