Up front, we have learned and feel it is important to share with you, leaky gut syndrome is not necessarily recognized by many healthcare professionals today as it isn’t being taught in medical school.
“Leaky gut syndrome” is said to have symptoms including bloating, gas, cramps, food sensitivities, and aches and pains. But it’s something of a medical mystery.
“From an MD’s standpoint, it’s a very gray area,” says gastroenterologist Donald Kirby, MD, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the Cleveland Clinic. “Physicians don’t know enough about the gut, which is our biggest immune system organ.”
“Leaky gut syndrome” isn’t a diagnosis taught in medical school.
Instead, “leaky gut really means you’ve got a diagnosis that still needs to be made,” Kirby says. “You hope that your doctor is a good-enough Sherlock Holmes, but sometimes it is very hard to make a diagnosis.”
“We don’t know a lot but we know that it exists,” says Linda A. Lee, MD, a gastroenterologist and director of the John Hopkins Integrative Medicine and Digestive Center. “In the absence of evidence, we don’t know what it means or what therapies can directly address it.”
As we have shared with your regularly, we were shocked to learn the extensive health issues our son had, one of which was a leaky gut syndrome (LGS) condition. In our son’s case, with 100% certainty, healing his “gut wall” is crucial to his Autism recovery.
What is leaky gut syndrome?
You hear the term leaky gut syndrome and imagine holes poked into your intestines. Unfortunately, your image is pretty much spot on.
In a healthy gut, the walls are lined with cells that are sealed together, providing a barrier that contains its contents. Villi, which contain a tiny vessel from the circulatory system and a vessel from the lymphatic system, absorb nutrients from our food. This exchange through the villi is designed to be the only means whereby nutrients enter the bloodstream and the lymphatic system.
When the gut is permeable, the cells lining the wall of the intestines do not provide a proper barrier. Toxins, microbes, and undigested food particles leak through the intestinal wall directly into the bloodstream and the lymphatic system. The immune system goes into overdrive, attacking these foreign particles that do not belong in the blood or the lymph fluid.
What causes leaky gut syndrome?
Parasites, a buildup of bad bacteria, allergens, and toxins can all cause inflammation and destruction of the tight bonds holding the cells together that line the intestines. Some blame gluten for the destruction of the cell lining. Common sense says Candida is the most common, primary cause and most likely the precursor to gluten sensitivity.
Candida begins as a one cell yeast. As it grows and multiplies, it changes into a form called hyphae, filaments that spread and grow, boring into tissue. The filaments exude enzymes that feed off of our tissues, actually digesting our tissues before absorbing nutrients from them.
There is no possibility of sealing the gut wall without elimination of Candida overgrowth, elimination of parasites, and elimination of inflammation.
As with Autism, causation of leaky gut syndrome can be multi-faceted and complex. Some possibilities are as follows:
Mercury (proven neuro-toxin): This is documented in the 25 myths of Autism section, myth#8
Mercury impairs the detoxification system allowing all other toxins, which are ubiquitous in our environment, to accumulate and do damage in the body. Mercury damages the gastrointestinal tract creating dysbiosis (imbalance of good and bad bacteria) and yeast overgrowth. Yeast, by itself, is a neuro-toxin and if allowed to proliferate, can create tiny hole in the lining of the gastrointestinal tract.
For an in-depth look at Candida, please refer to the yeast overgrowth section on this website located within the Digestive System heading.
In February 1998, the Lancet published Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s case series of a group of autistic children with gastric problems, which has become one of the most controversial studies in medicine because part of the patients’ story included regression after receiving the MMR vaccine.
Wakefield is Not the Only Researcher to Look Into the Possible Connection Between MMR Vaccine, Bowel Disease and Autism
While the press continues to battle over Dr. Wakefield’s purported guilt or innocence, the bigger issue — that there appears to be a connection between inflammation, and particularly gut inflammation, and autism — is getting lost in the shuffle. Plus, other research has confirmed Wakefield’s hotly contested findings, linking the MMR triple vaccine with bowel disease and autism — contrary to what you might hear in the press.
The Daily Mail reported:
” … a team from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina are examining 275 children with regressive autism and bowel disease – and of the 82 tested so far, 70 prove positive for the measles virus … the team’s leader, Dr Stephen Walker, said: ‘Of the handful of results we have in so far, all are vaccine strain and none are wild measles.
This research proves that in the gastrointestinal tract of a number of children who have been diagnosed with regressive autism, there is evidence of measles virus. What it means is that the study done earlier by Dr Wakefield and published in 1998 is correct.
That study didn’t draw any conclusions about specifically what it means to find measles virus in the gut, but the implication is it may be coming from the MMR vaccine. If that’s the case, and this live virus is residing in the gastrointestinal tract of some children, and then they have GI inflammation and other problems, it may be related to the MMR.”
The lead researcher, Stephen J. Walker, Ph.D., was also quick to state however, that this does not necessarily mean the MMR vaccine causes autism. Still, his research notes the same connection that Wakefield’s team did, which is that many autistic children have chronic bowel inflammation, and have the vaccine strain of the measles virus in their intestines.
As Linda shared in her book, we don’t know how or when Hunter developed leaky gut syndrome. We can’t confirm or deny that the MMR caused his LGS condition since the testing method we chose only reads the mucous’ lining of the digestive tract checking for “breaks”, leaks if you will. However, with that being said, Hunter’s regression did start after receiving the MMR vaccinations at 15 months of age.
What damage does leaky gut syndrome do to the body?
A constant spillage of toxins, proteins, microbes, and particles into the blood and lymph activates and overworks the immune system. This constant onslaught is believed to be the underlying cause of auto-immune disease as an over-worked and over-taxed immune system loses the ability to differentiate between pathogens and host cells in the body. In addition, the spillage of particles creates an allergic response to foods that would normally be tolerated. Gluten proteins, for example, are leaked into the blood and lymph, creating a gluten intolerance. When gluten is ingested, it inflames the intestines, increasing permeability, and the cycle continues.
How to heal a leaky gut & irritable bowel
The first step to healing a leaky gut is a thorough cleanse and detox (the first two sources below are detoxification articles). Through this process, toxins are flushed from the body and parasites are eliminated. Following a cleanse, Candida overgrowth must be eradicated. The proper gut balance is restored through diet and the addition of probiotics. When the gut is brought back into balance and the body is fed a proper nutrient dense diet, the gut will heal.
In our son’s case, as part of his healing journey, we were directed to the following:
• Whole body cellular cleanse (see “cellular vitality” section)
• Natural, synthetic free holistic protocols to treat Candida overgrowth
• Children’s probiotics that we rotate monthly
• Aloe products that we rotate monthly
• Casein free/gluten free diet along with daily regimen of organic natural juicing
In closing, we encourage you to consult with your healthcare professional regarding leaky gut syndrome and their direction for treatment, if necessary for your child.