Some components were obvious: she was in class (college) until 10:30 at night, not eating until then, and feeling stressed about the amount of work that was required. But her blood work suggested other issues, too. Specially, it showed that she had a liver protein, c reactive protein, present in her urine. The question begged to be asked: what was a preponderance of this protein doing in her urine?
Doug Wyatt is one of the professionals I consulted about her condition (more about him in a moment). He explained that the c reactive protein is suggestive of a condition called Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS). He also was interested in her over-all medical history (several infections), and the additional fact that she wasn't breast-fed. He said these, too, were indicators of this diagnosis.
I had heard of LGS, but knew nothing about it. In my research about it, I learned that when we are born, we all have leaky guts--holes in our gastrointestinal lining--because our digestive systems have not yet matured. In order for complete development to occur, we must eat nature's first food, the pre-milk from our mothers that is colostrum.
Colostrum is rich in growth factors which then assist in closing the holes in the gastrointestinal lining. If we aren't breast-fed, we never ingest the life-supporting substance of our mother's colostrum, and the gut holes may not entirely close. (This was, for my daughter, one contributing factor in her medical history, as she was adopted and not breast-fed.) Or, we may have been breast-fed, but our life style choices later in life can poke new holes in the gastrointestinal lining. (Another contributing factor in my daughter's leaky gut; eating foods that were contributing to the condition.)
The lining of a healthy, well-functioning digestive tract is like a net with extremely small holes in it that allow only specific substances to pass through. The lining acts as a barrier in keeping out large particles that can damage the digestive tract. In LGS, however, these holes are larger than normal. The lining has become too permeable and substances are then allowed to pass through the holes that shouldn't be able to get through the digestive wall. Toxic material that would, in healthier circumstances, be repelled and eliminated then enters into the bloodstream. The gut becomes "leaky" in the sense that pathogenic and waste materials--bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites and their toxins, undigested foods (especially proteins and fats)--are allowed to pass through a damaged, hyper-permeable, porous, or "leaky" gut.
LGS specifically damages the protective coating of antibodies of the immunoglobin A (IgA) family normally present in a healthy gut. Because IgA helps us ward off infections, leaky gut problems make us inherently more vulnerable to viruses, bacteria, parasites and Candida that have passed through the permeable intestinal lining. Once these microbes have invaded the bloodstream, they can colonize any body tissues or organs, thereby causing all manner of disease entities.
The diseases that have been associated with LGS include all auto-immune diseases as well as Crohn's disease, diabetes, autism, lupus, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, arthritis, cholera, Salmonella and E. coli infections, HIV, arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, hepatitis, cystic fibrosis, alcoholism, muscular dystrophy, fibromyalgia, scleroderma, asthma, and allergies.
Food "allergies" and inflammation:
The enlarged spaces between the cells of the gut wall cause larger than usual molecules of food and waste to be absorbed before they have a chance to be completely broken down. The body, then, rather than recognizing the food as a nutrient, instead sees the food as an enemy. When an enemy is recognized within the body, the immune system begins to rev up, getting into the act, and treats these molecules of food as though they themselves are pathogenic, invading substances which must be destroyed. Antibodies are then produced. An inflammatory reaction to food has been triggered. Instead of food giving nourishment to us, now food has become the problem.
Most holistic practitioners that recognize LGS refer to the body's reaction as a food "allergy." A more correct way of understanding the phenomenon is to think of it as mal-absorption, with subsequent inflammation.
The specific diagnosis one gets for disease depends on where the inflammation from the reaction to food or pathogen settles most prominently. If the inflammation occurs in a joint, autoimmune arthritis (rheumatoid arthritis) can develop. If it occurs in the brain, myalgic encephalomyelitis (chronic fatigue syndrome) may be the result. If it occurs in the blood vessels, vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessels) may be the resulting condition. If it occurs in the lungs, asthma may be triggered. If the antibodies end up attacking the lining of the gut itself, the result may be Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), colitis, or Crohn's disease. If the inflammation occurs within the gums, periodontal disease can result. Gingivitis-causing bacteria can "eat" holes in the arterial walls of the cardiovascular system which are subsequently "patched" up with the production of more cholesterol (the body's ill-fated attempt to correct a problem). Arteries then become blocked from the excess cholesterol, restricting blood flow to vital organs; or alternatively, pieces of plaque can break off and lodge in an artery, thereby blocking blood flow.
These inflammatory responses may occur immediately or on a delayed basis, but it is important to understand that the body is reacting each time the food (or pathogen) is consumed that triggered the production of the antibodies in the first place. There is always a tipping point at which the body can't handle these pathogenic processes: what stimulates the condition at one moment may have not created a noticeable prior negative reaction. This change--from a seemingly healthy state to a pathogenic condition--makes it difficult for many people to accept the diagnosis of leaky gut associated with foods that they have always consumed and love. They can't understand--and often resist understanding--how foods that never caused a toxic reaction previously are now being labeled as the culprit in the origin of their symptoms.
The resistance to acknowledging the origin of the problem is not inconsequential. Since my daughter's illness, I have met and talked with a number of people suffering from LGS, with medical practitioners who believe in the diagnosis, and with a food allergy specialist. All agree: the foods that we are "allergic" to are the same foods that we most crave. It may be for sugar, but it may be, as well, for something more odd, like tomato sauce. The craving is a biological/biochemical phenomenon. When you consume the food you are allergic to, you feel better at first because you are feeding those pathogenic critters in your body who are, in fact, waiting and begging to be fed. (Imagine, as I do, that they are yelling in high-pitched pleading screeches "feed me, feed me.") Just as you feel better when you are hungry and then well-fed, so do they. And when you eat the foods you crave, that is the food that is most delicious to them, and sustains their life.
For instance, in my daughter's case, she has always loved pasta. I always thought that it was the wheat that she was so enamored with, but the food allergy test showed that she is allergic to tomatoes. She then revealed that she doesn't care about the pasta at all. She orders the pasta just to get the marinara sauce (and always orders extra). Same situation with a friend of mine. He has been eating chicken almost every day for years. He tested allergic to chicken, and then, subsequently, was diagnosed with a kidney problem. Both my daughter and my friend fought valiantly against the awareness and acceptance that these foods were causing health issues; they resisted mightily giving up the foods that they craved and felt were indispensable to their diet.
Yet, if one doesn't take remedial steps, and continues consuming the foods that trigger the reaction, then the inflammatory responses persist. Without correction, the inflammation becomes a chronic condition. The health situation then can (and most often does) progress into more serious disorders (as my daughter's Mono, and my friend's kidney issue). Symptoms can be multiple, severely debilitating and life-threatening. Finally, at an end stage of chronic inflammation, we see cancer, heart disease or stroke.
How is Leaky Gut Syndrome diagnosed?
The background of the various tests for LGS begins with a Russian scientist, Elie Metchnikoff (1845 - 1916), who termed the condition of "Dysbiosis," describing an imbalance in the micro-ecology of the digestive tract. When the microbial balance of the gut is disturbed, opportunistic "bad," bacteria overgrow, and then mitigate the effects of the "good" bacteria that need to predominate for a healthy gut.
LGS can be verified by intestinal permeability tests through analysis of the by-products of bacteria and yeast that are excreted in urine. Urine contains unique products of microbial metabolism that are not normally produced by human cells. Unfriendly intestinal microorganisms, however, can manufacture these in relatively high quantities. These compounds are absorbed into the blood from the intestines and eventually appear in a urine organic acid test.
Additional tests performed by health practitioners include microscopic examination of the lining of the intestinal wall, dark field microscopy, or food allergy tests. The science of food allergy testing has moved forward in recent years due to advances in systems (such as the Metatron that La Casa now uses) that read frequencies. Instead of skin testing, which is uncomfortable and can takes dozens of hours, frequency systems take only minutes to determine if a food is going to cause a non-resonant response in the body.
Simply examining one's lifestyle is also useful for a quick self-diagnosis. Likely candidates for a leaky gut diagnosis are those who have food or airborne allergies; those who have a gastro-intestinal condition; and those with an auto-immune disease.
What are the causes of Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Inflammation of the gut lining is brought about by any of the following:
* Antibiotics (which lead to the overgrowth of abnormal flora in the gastrointestinal tract: bacteria, parasites, candida, and fungi). Broad spectrum antibiotics wipe out all the friendly gut bacteria that otherwise provide protection against fungi and amoebic infections. These friendly bacteria help the body break down complex foods and synthesize vitamins. Once the friendly bowel flora is killed off by the antibiotics, the body has no local defense against parasites or fungi that are normally held in check, and then an inflammatory reaction follows.
* NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Vicodin, and other prescription pain medications.
* Alcohol and caffeine (strong gut irritants).
* Gluten and other proteins from wheat (see my last Musings on the negative health consequences of wheat and grains).
* Mold and fungal mycotoxins in stored grains, fruit and refined carbohydrates (be weary of soft nuts and all grains).
* Foods and beverages contaminated by parasites (common ones are giardia lamblia, cryptosporidium, blastocystis hominis). I almost always see one or more of these or other parasites in the Metatron readings for people who have inflamed digestive tracts.
* Foods and beverages contaminated by bacteria (common ones are helicobacter pylori, klebsiella, citrobacter, pseudomonas). Similarly, the Metatron picks up these same bacteria in people, and while the Metatron does not give the specific diagnosis of a leaky gut, the presence of these specific pathogens is a strong indicator.
* Chemicals in fermented and processed food (dyes, preservatives, peroxidized fats).
* Enzyme deficiencies (which are seen in Celiac Disease, as well as a lactase deficiency causing lactose intolerance).
* Prescription corticosteroids (e.g. Prednisone).
* Highly refined carbohydrate diet (e.g. candy bars, cookies, cake, soft drinks, white bread).
* Prescription hormones (birth control pills).
LGS creates a long list of mineral deficiencies because the various carrier proteins present in the gastrointestinal tract that are needed to transport minerals from the intestine to the blood are damaged by the inflammation process.
For example, magnesium deficiency (low red blood cell magnesium) is quite a common finding in conditions like fibromyalgia even when there is a high magnesium intake through the diet and supplementation. Muscle pain and spasms are common effects from this deficiency.
Similarly, zinc deficiency, due to malabsorption, can result in hair loss or baldness as occurs in alopecia areata. Copper deficiency can occur in an identical way leading to high blood cholesterol levels and osteoarthritis. Bone problems may develop as a result of the malabsorption of calcium, boron, silicon and manganese.
The ongoing threat:
Pathogenic bacteria and viruses are in us. For instance, I routinely see E coli in people when I do a Metatron scan. Same with Epstein-Barr. It's been suggested that 85% of the population has the Epstein-Barr virus. All of us can handle some amount of pathogenic material. It is when we begin to be over-run by the bad microbes that our health begins to suffer. And reasons for this overgrowth can be because we are feeding our bodies foods that provide a perfect environment for the critters: sugar, wheat and pasteurized dairy being the leading offending substances. But it is also problematic when we eat foods that themselves host pathogenic microbes.
According to an article in the December 2013 issue of Consumer Reports, 97% of raw chicken breasts sampled contained varieties of illness-bearing bacteria. The chicken breasts weren't just your run-of-the-mill, caged-in, junk-food chickens, but included organic brands as well as those labeled "raised without antibiotics." The most common bacteria detected was Enterococcus (occurring in 79.8% percent of the samples); E. coli was the next most common (65.2%); and then, campylobacter (43%), klebsiella pneumonia (13.6%), salmonella (10.8%), and staphylococcus aureus (9.2 %).
To illustrate the danger of hosting these pathogens, as just one example, the most commonly found bacteria on the chicken samples: the critter Enterococcus faecalis can cause life-threatening infections including endocarditis, meningitis, urinary tract as well as kidney infections. It is frequently found (in up to 90% of cases) in root canal-treated teeth.
When we are healthy, we generally have the immune capacity to ward off the destructive effect of these microorganisms. When they get the better of us, however, most of us take antibiotics in the mistaken assumption that the antibiotics can and will "kill" the pathogens.
There are two problems with the antibiotic approach to eradicating the critters. First, the antibiotics don't really kill the bugs. The symptoms of the illness are often temporarily alleviated, and one can "feel" almost immediately better; but the real effect of the antibiotics is that the microorganisms have merely been driven deeper into tissues, hiding ever more effectively. Sooner or later, they will resurrect, come back in full force, and sometimes wreak even greater havoc in your body than the first time.
If you have been treated in the past for pathogenic microorganisms, you will probably recognize that phenomenon--that you get a recurrence of the illness, or yet another manifestation of illness. It may look like a different illness, but, in fact, it is coming from the same pathogen. For instance, one of my psychoanalytic patients has had five kidney infections, and more than that number of urinary tract infections (usually the kidney infections accompany the UTI's, but not always). She has taken antibiotics each time. The source of the infection is always the same, whether it's invading her kidney or her urinary tract: E. coli. The critters just don't want to go away.
The second issue with the use of antibiotics is that increasingly the bugs are out-smarting us. These are the microbes we refer to as "super-bugs," and they are becoming immune to all of the antibiotics that we have developed. Enterococcus, for instance, is one of the most antibiotic-resistant bacterium on the planet.
With those problems in mind, the most disturbing finding reported in the Consumer Reports piece was that nearly half (49.7%) of the chicken samples contained at least one type of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and another 11.5% contained two or more types of multi-drug-resistant bacteria.
A large part of the reason these "super-bugs" have come into existence is because antibiotics are being regularly fed to cattle, pigs, and fish, even in the absence of illness. This practice creates a variety of strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. According to the CDC's report, Antibiotic resistance threats in the United States 2013, two million people become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria annually. Antibiotics fed to the animals are now ending up in our food and water supply, and are a contributing factor in the growth of the specific super-bug of MRSA.
MRSA used to be contracted only in hospitals, but is now increasingly seen in patients who have not been to hospitals. (Parenthetically, my sister-in-law had a severe bout with MRSA, and hadn't been inside a hospital in 30 years. She was treated quickly and aggressively, and while she survived the MRSA, she had three strokes during the treatment, and died a year later of systemic cancer).
Can Leaky Gut Syndrome be reversed?
Yes, but treatments with corticosteroids, prescription antibiotics and immuno-suppressive drugs are temporary band-aids. These may be life-saving treatments for acute episodes of pain, bleeding or severe inflammation as occurs in Crohn's disease, lupus or colitis. In the long run, however, none of these treatments heal the origin of the leaky gut problem.
To reverse LGS, the diet must be changed to one that is hypoallergenic. Foods that must be eliminated in most cases are: sugar, white flour products, all gluten-containing grains (especially wheat, barley, oats and rye, milk and dairy products (except raw when tolerated), too many high fat foods, caffeine products, and alcohol.
Returning to mother's milk for the cure:
If you have LGS, the best substance to take is the initial food that closed the permeability of our digestive tract lining immediately post-birth: colostrum. Bovine colostrum has had extensive testing, and it has been shown to have dramatic benefits to health, and specifically to the restoration of gut integrity. Published peer review studies (over 10,000 studies have been conducted on colostrum) show its unique ability in eliminating and preventing infections of all types as well as in helping to calm down the attendant inflammation.
Alzheimer's and cognition helped by colostrum:
In a recent double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, a component of colostrum (Proline-rich Polypeptides) was found to improve the mental functioning of Alzheimer's patients.
Other research demonstrates that colostrum can assist in healing the origins of Alzheimer's because of its ability to kill the specific bacterium, E. coli. Research at my alma mater, Washington University, shows that E. coli produces amyloid fibers which then form plaques, and these clusters are eerily similar to those that are associated with Alzheimer's.
E. coli (like other pathogenic agents) almost always enters the body through the gastrointestinal tract. In fact, an astonishing 90% of infectious diseases come into the body through the GI. And, the intestinal tract contains nearly 90% of all the immune cells in our bodies. When we heal the gut, we heal the immune system. As well as healing the gut, colostrum also prevents infectious agents from being absorbed into the body, thus preventing it from traveling to the brain where it may play a contributory role in Alzheimer's and cognitive decline due to aging.
The ingredients in colostrum:
* Immunoglobulins and Lactoferrin:
Both substances are found in significant amounts in colostrum and show inhibitory activity against viruses and bacteria within the body. This action can be important in autoimmune diseases, as many autoimmune disorders are triggered or worsened by viral or bacterial invaders. Lactoferrin also inhibits the production of local proinflammatory cytokines, TNF-a and interleukin 1-ß.
* Proline-rich Polypeptides (PRPs):
Also known as Colostrinin, PRPs are powerful immune modulators which can help tone down an overactive immune response. PRPs act by preventing the overproduction of lymphocytes and stimulating the production of helper and suppressor T cells.
* Growth Factors:
Colostrum's growth factors have anti-inflammatory action and help to repair the damage in various cells of the body. Epithelial growth factor (EGF) helps to reverse the destruction of skin cells including intestinal tissue, thus preventing further leakage of toxins into body. Transforming growth factor (TGF) helps to reverse protein breakdown and stimulate tissue repair. Insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) can help stimulate glucose transport in diabetic patients.
* Cytokines and Infopeptides:
Cytokines are hormone-like proteins that have been shown to mediate many vital biological processes, including inflammation. Cytokines also help increase T-cell activity and stimulate production of immunoglobulins. Infopeptides, a protein derivative, reduce inflammation as well as allow the immune system to reorient and correct its response mechanism. Clinical observations of the effects of infopeptides in humans show reductions in inflammation, edema, pain and fever regardless of cause.
Gastrointestinal function can be improved with a juice fast and a hypoallergenic diet and supplements. Beneficial supplementation can be:
* bovine colostrum with protective Liposomal Delivery
* natural digestive enzymes
* lactobacillus acidophilus and biffidus as well as FOS (fructooligosacharides) derived from Jerusalem artichoke, chicory, the dahlia plant or burdock root
* aloe vera juice (having your own aloe plant is the best; mine is quite large, happily sits in my southern-exposure window, and I offer a piece to all Metatron clients who would benefit from its use)
* stomach acidity enhancing supplements: betain and pepsin; amino acids: L-glutamine; N-acetyl-glucosamine (NAG); Omega 3 essential fatty acids (flax seeds, flax seed oil, evening primrose oil, borage oil, olive oil, fish oils, black currant seed oil); soluble fiber (apple or citrus pectin); vitamin B complex (especially B-12, 6 and biotin); vitamins C and E; zinc, selenium, germanium; antioxidants such as Co-enzyme Q10, pycnogenols, grape seed extract, pine bark extract, bilberry; bioflavonoids, especially quercetin, catechin, hesperidins, rutin and proanthocyanidins; various high chlorophyll green drinks (with spirulina, chlorella and blue green algae); also added to green smoothies can be burdock, slippery elm, licorice root, ginger root, bismuth and bentonite (LOVE that bentonite, saving the "mud cure" for a later Musings).
The colostrum we recommend:
I have been trying different brands of colostrum for several years now (long before I knew about LGS). The product I tried first tasted delicious and was taken from the mother cow within the first 12 hours of her giving birth. The timing of acquiring the colostrum is important, as 2 days after the animal has given birth, the colostrum gradually becomes milk proper; the sooner the colostrum is milked from the mother, the richer it is in the ingredients that are helpful to immunity in all animals--human and otherwise. I did like this particular product, but it was ridiculously expensive. I have also tried various colostrum products from New Zealand where the animals are treated well, pasture-fed and hormone-free. However, one of the products had added sugar, and another I couldn't ever acquire a taste for (it tasted "cakey").
For the last year, I have been using a US manufactured colostrum from Sovereign Laboratories. The head of the company producing the product is Doug Wyatt, who I mentioned earlier as one of my consultant's in my daughter's illness. He also heads a research institution called The Center for Nutritional Research.
Sovereign Lab's cows are pasture-fed, antibiotic and hormone-free, and the milking occurs shortly after birth. The babies get the first milkings, and thus are not deprived of the essential colostrum that they need to grow into healthy cows. I find the taste of this product to be irresistible. Frankly, the only problem I have with this product is that I can't stop eating it. I begin my day with it, and end my day with it, and these are LARGE portions that I am consuming.
There is quite a strong advantage in Sovereign's brand of colostrum over the others. When the colostrum is secreted by the mother cow's mammary glands, it is surrounded by a phospholipid cell membrane, protecting the colostrum until it reaches the intestine where it can then be absorbed into the rest of the body. When we take the colostrum from the mother cow for human consumption, we need to insure a similar mechanism so that the colostrum eaten by the human retains its original integrity until it reaches our intestinal tract. Most colostrum products available are dried, frozen, or defatted, and in this processing, the protective membrane is lost; the components of the colostrum are then degraded in the stomach, never reaching the GI tract where they need to go in order to serve us best.
Sovereign Labs, however, has perfected a technique that reconstitutes the phospholipid protective membrane. Utilizing a process called Liposomal Delivery, Sovereign's colostrum has been independently documented to have components that are 1500% more bio-available and effective than colostrum without the reconstituted phospholipds.
The reconstituted phospholipids have another advantage specific to Alzheimer's. Phospholipids are part of the membrane structure of the brain, and play an important role in the chemical make-up of neurotransmitters. It is not possible to over-estimate the role of healthy neurotransmitters, for without them, we would be unable to move, talk, eat, drink, or feel.
Phospholipids are a good source of choline, phosphatidyl serine and acetylcholine, all of which have been shown to increase brain function. As we age, our brain produces less of these components, making it more difficult for the brain to store and retrieve information. Studies have shown that supplemental phospholipids elevate the levels of these neurotransmitters, increasing cognitive ability.
To see Doug talk about his research and product, please watch this video: