Fortunately, Leaky Gut Syndrome testing can help patients get back on the path to a healthy gut biome …
Stress can have a strong negative effect on chronic health issues, including digestive disorders. Statistics show one quarter of the general adult population may have at least one digestive disorder. Making matters even worse, symptoms may be similar across any number of conditions, making it difficult to properly diagnose and treat patients, and stressing the importance of Leaky Gut Syndrome testing.
One article from 2019 noted that, among a cohort of more than 7 million patients with commercial health insurance, four of the five most-prevalent symptoms of digestive disorders were very diffuse.1 Abdominal pain was the most common symptom, showing up in almost 44% of patients, with GERD as the second-most common, at 15%. This would appear to indicate a lack of specificity in both diagnosing and treating chronic digestive disorders, as these symptoms could apply to any number of conditions.
One way to reconsider chronic digestive issues is to look at clusters of common symptoms, rather than individualized disorders. Leaky Gut Syndrome is a good example of how to start by testing for and treating common symptoms across digestive disorders, rather than by looking for a specific disease.
Leaky gut syndrome causes and symptoms
In a healthy gut, digestive enzymes in the stomach and intestine break down nutrients into molecules, which then pass through small openings in the intestinal wall, and then into the bloodstream. The intestinal wall, or gut barrier, consists of tightly-bound immune and epithelial cells, covered by a thick layer of mucus. This barrier is a vital part of the body’s immune system and helps regulate nutrition and water absorption.2
In Leaky Gut Syndrome, however, the openings in the intestinal lining are too large. This allows for food particles, bacteria, and toxins to pass through. If this lining is compromised, an immune response is triggered, which often results in a wide range of symptoms, including:2
- bloating, flatulence, diarrhea, or constipation
- food sensitivities
- headaches and difficulty concentrating
- skin irritation
- anxiety or depression
- hormone imbalance
- joint pain (rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia)
As noted previously, these symptoms can easily be associated with a number of disorders, ranging from irritable bowel syndrome or ulcerative colitis, to neurological or mood issues, to autoimmune conditions that affect the joints. These symptoms are also indicators of a chronic inflammatory process.
Leaky Gut Syndrome testing and treatment
There are several ways to test for leaky gut. However, stool microbiome testing and diet elimination are two of the simplest ways to determine if patients are showing symptoms. Similarly, treatment should involve rebalancing the gut biome with anti-inflammatory foods, including both probiotics and prebiotics.2 Additionally, a number of herbal preparations have been shown useful for treating symptoms of leaky gut, including slippery elm, licorice, and chamomile.
These herbs all have high tannin content, which is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties. Berberine is an anti-inflammatory, and L-glutamine helps regenerate intestinal cells. Both of these herbs also help rebuild the mucus lining of the intestinal wall.3
Testing and diagnosing chronic disorders
Chronic digestive disorders can be very frustrating for patients, not only because symptoms can be very diffuse, but also because they often can be embarrassing to discuss with health care providers. Fortunately, Leaky Gut Syndrome testing can help patients get back on the path to a healthy gut biome, which science is learning, has implications far beyond the gut.
- Mathews SC, Izmailyan S, Brito FA, et al. Prevalence and financial burden of digestive diseases in a commercially insured population. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2022;20(7):1480-1487.
- Camilleri M. Leaky gut: Mechanisms, measurement and clinical implications in humans. Gut. 2019;68(8):1516-1526.
- Mills S, Bone K. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.