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Intestinal Permeability(Leaky Gut Syndrome)

Intestinal Permeability
(Leaky Gut Syndrome)

Food allergies are typically associated with excessive permeability of the intestinal
lining (leaky gut disorder). This allows potential allergy-causing proteins to be
absorbed into the bloodstream intact. The amino acid glutamine is a major component
and energy source of the intestinal lining and supplementation has been shown to
restore proper integrity to this tissue.

The effects of harmful intestinal bacteria and yeasts/fungi can damage the intestinal
wall and lead to imbalances in immune factors in the gut, potentially causing more
allergy-triggering food proteins to be absorbed. Studies suggest that probiotic bacteria
such a lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacteria strains help control the colonies of
these harmful organisms, promote intestinal immune system health and ensure healthy
bowel ecology – all important factors in preventing allergies.

Betaine Hydrochloride and Digestive Enzymes
The activity of hydrochloric acid and pancreatic protease enzymes is often deficient in
those with food allergies. Stomach acid is required for the vital first step of protein
digestion, therefore hypochlorhydria, or low stomach acid, is implicated in the
development of allergies, where the immune system is triggered by incompletely
digested proteins. Similarly, a lack of pancreatic enzymes also contributes to
incomplete protein digestion and the potential for allergies. Support of stomach acid
production and pancreatic enzymes is therefore a priority for those with food allergies.

Incomplete protein digestion can lead to the formation of toxic polyamines, which are
produced via the action of certain intestinal bacteria on indigested proteins. Toxic
polyamines are thought to disrupt the integrity of the intestinal cells, leading to
inflammation and leakiness. The active constituents of the herb goldenseal kill harmful
bacteria, including species associated with triggering polyamine formation. Goldenseal
also possesses an anti-inflammatory and soothing effect on intestinal mucous
membranes. It also has anti fungal properties, which makes it useful where intestinal
permeability is associated with candida overgrowth.


Parasites, pathogenic bacteria and yeast/fungi are all implicated in the development of
intestinal permeability and oregano oil has been shown in studies to kill all of these
pathogens. Eradication of pathogenic organisms, whilst promoting a healthy intestinal
ecology with probiotic bacteria and fibre, is a basic strategy in a number of digestive
conditions, especially intestinal permeability. Importantly, oregano does not appear to
adversely affect levels of good bacteria in the gut.

Psyllium Seed Husks
Increased fibre intake is the cornerstone of many digestive protocols. However, the
right fibre choice is important. Wheat-based products have the potential to trigger an
allergic response in the individual with leaky gut disorder, so fibre from other whole
grain, vegetables and fruits are preferable. Psyllium husks aid intestinal cleansing and
detoxification through their content of both soluble and insoluble fibre.

Intestinal Permeability Summary
Nutrient/Herb Typical intake range
L-Glutamine1 2000 – 5000mg per day (away from food)
Probiotics (broad spectrum) 2 – 15 billion organisms per day
Digestive enzymes and Betaine Hydrochloride2 1 -2 tablets of each with main meals
Goldenseal (10% alkaloids)3 150 – 450mg per day
Oregano oil4 30 – 80mg per day
Psyllium husk fibre 3 – 5g per day

Common allergens (e.g. wheat, dairy,
soy protein, eggs)
Trans/hydrogenated fats
Refined/processed foods
Caffeinated beverages


Complex carbohydrates
Fibre (Not from wheat)
Nuts and seeds
Oily fish
Whole grains

Lifestyle Factors

Investigate and eliminate potential allergens
Investigate possibility of parasites, candida and bacterial pathogens as a causative factor
Stress is a major factor in the development of intestinal permeability and allergies. Employ
stress management techniques.
NSAID medication causes damage to intestinal integrity and may trigger/exacerbate leaky

1. High dosages of glutamine may affect anticonvulsant medication. Avoid if sensitive to
monosodium glutamate or suffering kidney or liver problems
2. Those with stomach or duodenal ulcers should not use betaine hydrochloride. Intake may need to
be altered based on the amount and type of food consumed.
3. Do not use concurrently with antiarrhythmics, anticoagulants, anti-hypertensives, or beta
blockers without medical supervision. May disrupt B-vitamin absorption – use with B-complex
4. Do not use in pregnancy or lactation