Alternative medicine supporters have made many claims about “leaky gut syndrome,” a relatively new term gaining popularity in alternative medicine circles.
These groups say it is the root cause for migraines, lupus and several other debilitating conditions for which there is little consensus around a clear cause.
Leaky gut syndrome is a condition where holes in the intestines allow food particles and other toxins into the blood stream.
This syndrome can occur when microscopic holes in the intestines become too big – because of an imbalance between good and bad bacteria in the gut. This can cause food waste, bacteria and other irritants to leak into the blood stream.
“Once in the blood, the irritants trigger an immune response, which some physicians believe to be the underlying cause of lupus, migraines, asthma, food allergies, chronic fatigue syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis,” says Dr. Claudia Johnson, a gastroenterologist at Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago.
Supporters of the leaky gut theory suggest taking probiotic supplements and eating probiotic-rich food in order to balance gut bacteria.
“You should see your doctor and get a diagnosis before making major dietary changes,” Dr. Johnson cautions.
Leaky gut symptoms include food sensitivity, digestive problems, bloating, fatigue, mood swings, headaches and skin conditions, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Currently leaky gut syndrome isn’t very well-understood. Since many of the symptoms present in people suffering from a variety of diseases, most physicians caution their patients against making major diet changes before consulting a physician.
While there is no definitive cause for a leaky gut, many believe stress and gluten can trigger the condition. In addition, medications including antibiotics, steroids or over-the-counter pain relievers like aspirin and acetaminophen can damage the intestinal lining.