Leaky Gut Syndrome
Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: Audric
Posted on: February 27, 2007

I was wondering about red clover. Can you tell me if red clover is good for leaky gut syndrome? If you don’t know, can you tell me what herbs are good for the leaky gut syndrome?

Leaky gut is a condition of damage to the intestinal wall, causing permeability or the "leaking" of bacteria, toxins and incompletely digested proteins through the damaged wall into the blood stream. This can cause digestive problems like gas and bloating, autoimmune conditions, fatigue, food sensitivities and skin conditions. As a result of improper digestion and absorption through the gut wall, nutrients from food are not well absorbed into the blood stream. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are often responsible for chronic diseases. Inflammation around the damaged gut wall weakens the ability of the intestine to control and combat candida (fungal) and parasitic infections. The liver is stressed, as it is required to detoxify toxins, normally taken care of within the intestinal system, that have escaped into the blood stream. Leaky gut is not well understood. Possible causes include parasites, food sensitivities, chronic inflammation, lowered immunity, and intestinal damage caused by taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

The healing strategy is to include healing herbs and foods while avoiding foods that are most likely to cause sensitivities, giving the gut time to heal. Because dosages, time periods for taking herbs and individual needs differ, it is best to work with a qualified natural practitioner like a medical or clinical herbalist or a naturopath.

Because antibiotics and non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs make the condition worse, your natural practitioner will need to work with you to find effective replacements if applicable.

Proper diet is an essential part of healing. Healing will not take place until foods that are annoying the condition are eliminated. The foods usually responsible are: dairy, gluten, yeast, sugar and sweetened products, red meat, smoked or cured meats, alcohol, coffee and eggs. These and any other foods that you are sensitive to must be avoided until the gut has healed.. Natural, whole foods, especially fruit and vegetables, should be increased. Oily fish like salmon, cod, mackerel and sardines contain essential fatty acids that help to heal the inflammation.

Probiotics (good gut bacteria) are integral to healing. A broad spectrum product containing some of the following beneficial gut bacteria must be taken after every meal: Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. rhamnosus, L. casei, L. bulgaricus, Streptococcus thermophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, B. longum and Enterococcus faecium.

Anxiety and tension are often a factor in exacerbating the condition. Herbs that can help are chamomile and lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), which are digestives as well as nerviness. All of the stress reducing exercises are helpful: meditation, yoga, tai chi, chi gung, breathing exercises, relaxation exercises choose the ones that suit you best and fit into your day.

Herbs that improve the digestion of food by increasing bile secretion and supporting the liver (e.g. dandelion root) and improving bile flow (e.g. artichoke) can be taken for up to 14 days.

Slippery elm bark powder and licorice root are soothing and healing to the gut wall. Slippery elm can be taken indefinitely, one teaspoon of the powder mixed in water two or three times daily. Licorice should not be taken in high blood pressure or for long periods of time.

Garlic is helpful as an antifungal. Ginger is anti-inflammatory, helping to heal the gut wall. Ginger can be taken as a tea with meals or used in cooking. Fennel is a digestive that is particularly helpful in dispersing gas. Fennel root can be used in salads. Fennel seeds can be taken as a tea.

You ask particularly about red clover flower. Red clover is useful as a "blood cleanser", supporting elimination of toxins through the lymphatic glands. If you are using the dried flowers, make sure that they are pink. Often, they are sold brown, when they have lost their medicinal value.

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