Doctors And Leaky Gut Syndrome
January 29, 2014
What is it with Doctors in the UK and discussion of Leaky Gut Syndrome?
I have seen four different consultants up until now with regard to various tests I have had, and none of them will discuss the possibility that my Gluten intolerance is caused by another factor. My GP did seem quite interested when I mentioned it to him that I thought Candida overgrowth was the underlying condition, but was keener to know where I had got this mad notion from. Not a very encouraging response, but I can’t be too critical, as he does his best within the framework he has. An article by Dr. Humiston caught my attention, with a remark he makes summing the situation nicely;
Candida is so common that it’s likely your own doctor has it. It’s hard to pin down what’s wrong with your patients when you yourself may be suffering with similar things but can’t figure out what the cause is. Also, it’s harder to distinguish an illness as truly abnormal when so many people have it and the illness doesn’t have any single definite identifying symptom.
Dr. Hummiston also states that modern medical practice has become focused on symptom treatment, rather than the correction of underlying abnormalities.
It is disheartening to know that doctors are looking for an easy solution to your problems. ‘Give them a prescription, and get rid of them’ is how it sometimes feels.
However, I could not fault the doctors, nurses and the NHS for the treatment I received whilst undergoing an endoscopy procedure. The caring staff made the diagnosis of flattened Villi slightly more bearable. However, I do not believe that the Villi have failed on their own. From the research I have carried out via the internet, I have come to the conclusion that a bacterial, or yeast overgrowth (possibly Candida) has caused my Villi to fail, and given me a condition called ‘Leaky Gut Syndrome’ or intestinal permeability to be scientifically correct. But, according to the NHS website
‘Leaky gut syndrome’ is not a recognised medical diagnosis
They go on to say;
There is little evidence to support this theory, and no evidence that so-called ‘treatments’ for ‘leaky gut syndrome’, such as nutritional supplements and a gluten-free diet, have any beneficial effect for most of the conditions they are claimed to help.
Perhaps I am being too simplistic, as according to WebMD, this condition is anything but an easy problem to solve. All we have are various claims by individuals that a particular diet, or supplement will give a cure. Apparently, there is no hard evidence, and no official case studies for the medical community to take seriously. From the WebMD page;
“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.”
Quackwatch is another website where Leaky Gut Syndrome is attacked as mere nonsense, but a statement suggesting Leaky Gut is a recognized condition is confusing;
Some medical scientists use the term “leaky gut” for problems associated with abnormal intestinal permeabilty, but “leaky gut syndrome” is not one of them.
I would argue that nit picking between the terms Leaky Gut Syndrome, and Leaky Gut as two different conditions is contradictory. I would suggest that some people are looking to attack the alternative medical community, trying to ridicule the whole movement as mumbo jumbo – akin to snake oil peddling. As has been mentioned on several websites, perhaps the real reason is just this; the medical community cannot prescribe a simple pill for this complicated condition, so therefore cannot make any money from it. After all, there is plenty of money to be made from treating the symptoms. With no hope of ever being cured.
Attitudes like this abound in the medical community. It appears that even after numerous practitioners have documented their own experiences with the treatment of various gut problems, doctors (on the whole) do not want to recognise this condition.
There is also plenty of money being made by alternative health practitioners, who are selling books, and supplements in order to capitalise on the new revolution in gut awareness. Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride has written extensively about the GAPS diet, and what she says makes a lot of sense with her theory for a healthy diet;
The reason for allergies and food intolerances is so-called “leaky gut” when the gut lining is damaged by abnormal micro flora.
There are accounts from other respected practitioners, such as Elaine Gottschall who are firm believers of the theory. She promotes the SCD (Selective Carbohydrate Diet) as started by Sidney V. Haas in 1924.
Intestinal permeability, commonly called “leaky gut”, means that there are larger than normal spaces present between the cells of the gut wall. When these large spaces exist in the small intestine, it allows undigested food and other toxins to enter the blood stream. When incompletely broken down foods enter the body, the immune system mounts an attack against the “foreigner” resulting in food allergies and sensitivities.
There are countless websites who extol the virtues of the SCD of which SCD LIfestyle seems to be very authoritative. Jordan Reasoner wrote a very good article about Leaky Gut Syndrome where he explains in layman’s language the theory;
Symptoms of Leaky Gut can vary from person to person depending on the level of damage and the tissues being affected. Multiple Food Sensitivities can be a sign that your immune system is developing antibodies to everything you’re eating.
Crohns.net promotes the SCD lifestyle. They defend the theory extensively with statements such as this;
What happens next with Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Once the lining of the digestive tract becomes inflamed or damaged it disrupts the way the digestive system functions. The spaces that open up allow large food antigens to be absorbed into the body, which are regarded as ‘foreign’ to the body’s defence system. This results in the production of antibodies against what was once harmless and innocuous foods. This is how food allergies are created as well as new symptoms with target organs. e.g. arthritis and fibromyalgia.
On the other hand, there is another respected alternative practitioner, who extolls the virtues of a healthy diet in order to rid themselves of a Candida overgrowth. However, Bee Wilder has written a damning article on the theory of Leaky Gut;
Another argument against the leaky gut theory is even “if” large undigested food particles could possibly get into the blood steam, then how does the gut or the blood stream select which types of undigested food are allowed entry, and which are not?
When I have mentioned to doctors about my theory of my problems being connected, there is an immediate change in their demeanor, or worse, they find it comical. Doctors do not like it when patients have their own opinion, which makes it even more difficult to get to the bottom of the cause. Then you hear of patients who are miss-diagnosed, or worse, being kept on symptom supportive drugs for years. The risk to patients who rely on their doctor for help only to get gradually worse is high. Doctors seem good at preventing a premature death, with the payment being a poor quality of life for an extended period.
My take on all of this, whether practitioners call it ‘Leaky Gut’, or ‘Leaky Gut Syndrome’, or ‘Candida Overgrowth’ or more scientific terms including ‘Intestinal Permeability’, or ‘Gut Lining Inflammation’, or even ‘Dysbiosis’. It doesn’t really matter what it’s called, because at the end of the day the only way to cure it is to adjust your diet, by cutting out all unhealthy foods. There doesn’t appear to be a quick fix – if there was, the medical community would be quick to give you a pill. You just can’t afford to rely on your doctor to help you.