My Leaky Gut

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UPDATE 8 DEC 2015, I have a different perspective towards my health condition now. I do not believe it is 'leaky gut', for sure I need to restore my bowel condition but my root cause of eczema/allergies/asthma is acidosis, stagnant lymph and kidney filtration issues. Please read my post on Understanding our great lymphathic system 




So I have been doing some reading around leaky gut and have finally sussed out what the heck is actually going on with my health. I will try to explain it here.

The root cause of my eczema, allergies and asthma – LEAKY GUT

From the stuff I have read, it appears that I have a lot of leaky gut symptoms e.g., skin inflammation (no kidding!), asthma, anxiety, depression etc (see image below). I have also taken medications such as antibiotics, NSAIDS (ibuprofen – damnit should have just stuck with Panadol!), immunosuppressants and steroids that further exacerbate my leaky gut syndrome. I have come to the conclusion that I have a candida (yeast) infection – which is a major symptom of leaky gut. My main symptoms for candida infection are chronic sinusitis, itchy scalp and dandruff, brain fog, itchy genitals (this has cleared up since I started TSW though) and refined carbohydrate cravings (instant noodles, potato chips, pasta, rice, pizza, pretty much anything potato!). I need to clear up the candida and also heal my leaky gut in order to fully cure my eczema symptoms and other presenting symptoms.

What the hell does leaky gut have to do with TSW? I thought it was JUST TSW – a severe case of drug rebound and I’d be cured after TSW? Well, yes and no.

First of all, we are all born with a leaky gut. This means we all were born with holes and a pre-developed gut at birth. After the first couple of days of nutritious colostrum and then breast milk from our mother’s breasts, our leaky gut will heal and become stronger (Body Ecology, 2006). Breast milk has many antibodies and billions of healthy bacteria that will be ingested by the baby and the healthy bacteria will multiply in the baby’s gut creating a healthy gut flora. The healthy bacteria in breast milk serve as a shield against pathogens and infections which infant formula cannot provide (Duke University Medical Center, 2012). With a healthy and tight gut it will act as a gatekeeper and prohibit particles to move through the gut and into the circulatory system. However, a gut with holes will let particles slip through the damaged gut and leak into bloodstream or lymphatic system, and move freely throughout the body (Pick, 2014).

When the gut has not been nourished well at the beginning and further factors (such as, drugs, alcohol, stress, offending foods – grains, refined sugars, dairy, processed food, caffeine) that damage the digestive tract more, leaking toxins throughout the body, it sets the stage for a myriad of health problems – including eczema. The skin is the body’s largest elimination organ so it’s not surprising that it comes under assault when toxins careen through the bloodstream.   A skin rash or eczema is a sign that the body is trying to slough out these toxins.  Some people who have eczema or experience increase in acne for example, is really the body trying to eliminate the problem the best way it knows how, and unfortunately the nasty effects of leaky gut manifest in skin problems (Carnahan, 2013).

So it is leaky gut that started my allergies, eczema, and asthma then it was exacerbated by bad food, bad lifestyle and then the use of steroids, antibiotics and immunosuppressants even further exacerbating my leaky gut condition. I have a steroid addiction because I kept using steroids to fix my eczema, but in return steroids continue to damage my leaky causing worsening eczema (more toxins eliminated to the skin), doctors prescribed stronger steroids to manage the eczema but this only caused a toxicity overload in my immune system and gut overtime. This is a vicious cycle. Now withdrawing from all these drugs will cause a rebound effect but also a break for my gut and immune system so it can finally do its work properly - eliminate all these toxins out of my system. So of course my “eczema” will get worse before it gets better. THIS is what I am experiencing now. TSW is the elimination of toxins stored in the body that leaked out from the damaged gut. After the elimination, I will still need to fill up/heal my leaky gut holes so I can break the vicious cycle. Although I won’t be using steroids and other “bad drugs” anymore, I need to make sure my gut is tight so it can filter bad particles when I ingest food in the future. Even the most healthiest food will contain some toxins. That’s why our bodies are designed to have bowel motion to pass out these toxins normally. But if our usual organs aren't functioning properly, toxin elimination will go elsewhere for elimination, like our skin. Worse case if our bodies can’t eliminate it anywhere else. It gets stored in our bodies. This is where more severe diseases come to surface, like cancer. So it is important that I avoid all offending foods so that my leaky gut can be properly repaired and also reintroduce friendly bacteria back into my gut for a healthy gut flora that will function properly.
 

Applying leaky gut theory to my health history

I was a breastfed baby, but not long just one month. My mum said I was a little allergic or intolerant to dairy milk formula but I didn’t have many choices then. Back then formula was also not as nutritious as the ones you get today with added DHA, probiotics and whole lot of nutrients in some brands. So I lacked good nutrients from breast milk that formula milk could not provide. Furthermore, “infant formula contains milk proteins which strip the gut of its flora leaving it wide open to allergens. The milk proteins themselves are allergens and are able to pass freely into the baby’s bloodstream, so susceptible babies will react with common allergies such as asthma and eczema. Not all babies will be susceptible, but for those that are the invasion of allergens at such a young age can cause lifelong battles with allergies” (The Alpha Parent, 2011).

So allergies are already alarm bells ringing for leaky gut syndrome. I also have asthma from a very young age. But of course my family didn’t have this knowledge back then. As a traditional Chinese family, we also ate white rice (offending food for leaky gut) every day. So my eczema was further exacerbated by not treating the leaky gut and bad lifestyle and diet. When I was young, my parents owned a restaurant and I used to eat a lot of chicken back then. The chicken was full of injected steroids and hormones which we all didn’t know that they did this kind of shit back then to animals and even if we did, we didn’t know how damaging steroids were in the meat we ate. I believe that I further damaged my leaky gut from the food I ate too. Then when I was about 5 years old my eczema started to become worrying for my parents. I was taken to my GP and he said: ‘oh no biggie it’s eczema. A lot of children have it. She should grow out of it’. Yes, only if I didn’t get addicted to steroids. But it was almost impossible to NOT get addicted because I already had a leaky gut and guess what? STEROIDS further exacerbated my leaky gut. Toxins continued to leak into my bloodstream and lymphatic system and my body expelled it through skin eruptions. Then to make it worse, my doctor also prescribes oral steroids as well as antibiotics when my eczema gets ‘out of hand’ (a big flare). These drugs are ADDITIONAL damages to my gut. So no shit I have a steroid addiction and a severely damaged gut. I remember using topical steroids daily by primary age and when I was 12 I was on antibiotics daily for about 6 months and the doctor said ‘it’s fine, many people with pimples also take antibiotics long term’. So, of course my mum and I thought it was safe. Unfortunately, antibiotics kill friendly bacteria and promote growth of fungus in the intestinal lining (Fratkin, 2010). This repetitively damages the already-damaged leaky gut and provokes a yeast infection in the gut killing all good bacteria. Leaving all bad bacteria in the gut and my carbs and sugar cravings continually fed those bad bacteria, make the yeast/candida multiplying like mad. I believe this candida is the root cause of my chronic sinusitius. I went to doctors to doctors, dermatologists to dermatologists and they just kept giving me steroids and antibiotics – putting me back into that vicious cycle. So as a child my immune system has been fucked as approximately 75% of our immune system lies in our gut wall (Costello, 2013).

I guess it was just unfortunate that when I was a child in the 1980s, steroids and antibiotics was highly pushed by the medical system as THE prescription to ‘quick fix’ inflammatory skin disorders. Which is ridiculous as Steroid Addiction was found in the 1970s (see Kligman & Frosch, 1979). However, making money was obviously more important and who the heck knows about “leaky gut”?! It is important to note that all this shit it’s not the doctor’s fault. It’s a limited medical model and a non-holistic approach to health that is the key to all this. I am glad some people are actually recognizing this and there are more and more functional medical doctors nowadays to treat root cause of diseases and not symptoms.

So this really explains why my boys have a bit of eczema and allergies, because I have leaky gut and because I wasn’t able to digest my food probably, toxins were stored in my bloodstreams and breast milk which were passed onto my boys (I breastfed both my boys for about 6 months). With toxins passed onto the baby through breast milk when the baby has not fully developed a healthy gut flora and immune system to tackle the toxins; toxins will continue to manifest in the baby’s body and leak through their leaky gut and into their bloodstreams, presenting with skin eruptions – eczema and allergies (Norris-Ryder, 2012). Read up about Digestion issues in baby could be leaky gut in the breastfeeding mother. I have been controlling my boy’s eczema by applying coconut oil on their skin, using coconut oil for cooking their food, reducing offending foods in their diet (refined carbohydrates, sugar and dairy) and using probiotic supplements for them. Their eczema improved dramatically over 2 weeks and are 90% healed. They only have dry skin at the moment along with same old scabs.

wahtueat

 
So how come TCM did not ‘fix’ my leaky gut?

herbsforbones
Leaky gut syndrome is new to TCM. As Dr Fratkin, Oriental Medical Doctor, says that leaky gut is a modern epidemic and antibiotics and steroids were not invented before TCM (Fratkin, 2010). So leaky gut is a modern phenomenon and because of this it may be why I never really had the problem solved.

As seen in my first eczema history post, I have seen many many TCM herbalists over the last 20 years, the ones I have mentioned are probably only half of the herbalists I have seen in my life. My eczema do tend to get better and almost “cured” after I have TCM treatment (concoctions, acupuncture, herbal (non-steroid) creams) for a period. However, aside from the re-introduction of topical steroids again to damage my leaky gut, I also had a bad lifestyle and diet during or after the TCM course was over. Hence, my eczema kept coming back and I kept re-introducing steroids once I flared not knowing about steroid addiction and leaky gut of course!

The most recent Chinese traditional herbalist I have seen (and most of the previous ones) all said I had stomach and spleen issues, which is part of the gut. Which they actually got right! However, aside from the leaky gut I also had other symptoms like itchiness and insomnia for example, which the herbalist would also treat so that’s why I think the TCM never tackled the leaky gut problem as the herbalists were also treating my other symptoms too. So TCM worked for a period and once my bad lifestyle and diet kicked in I went back in the vicious cycle of eczema flares, steroid usage etc etc again. So TCM does cure the eczema – and the root cause of eczema – LEAKY GUT, but I think herbalists just need to focus on the leaky gut issue and patients MUST watch their diet and lifestyle to ensure the leaky gut is not further damaged during treatment. For those interested read Dr. Fratkin’s explanation of Understanding Leaky Gut Syndrome in Terms of TCM article: http://drjakefratkin.com/articles/leaky-gut-syndrome-a-modern-epidemic


My Leaky Gut Vicious Cycle

I made a diagram to make sense of all this - not the best diagram haha but I hope it gives people an idea of how TSW and my presenting symptoms are all linked to leaky gut. Click here to see enlarged image.

Disclaimer: this is MY SYMPTOMS and analysis of MY HEALTH, which may not apply to everyone. But I hope there are some similarities that some people can relate to.


So what are signs that one would have leaky gut syndrome?
According to Dr. Leo Galland, director of the Foundation for Integrated Medicine, the following symptoms might be signs of leaky gut:
  1. Chronic diarrhea, constipation, gas or bloating
  2. Nutritional deficiencies
  3. Poor immune system
  4. Headaches, brain fog, memory loss
  5. Excessive fatigue
  6. Skin rashes and problems such as acne, eczema, or rosacea
  7. Cravings for sugar or carbs
  8. Arthritis or joint pain
  9. Depression, anxiety, ADD, ADHD
  10. Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, celiac disease or Crohn's

How to heal the leaky gut
The 4-Step Plan to Heal Leaky Gut adapated from Axe (2014)
The good news is there’s a solution to healing leaky gut. There is a four step process that includes:
  1. Remove foods and factors that damage the gut
  2. Replace with healing foods
  3. Repair with specific supplements
  4. Rebalance with probiotics
For more information visit Dr. Axe’s tips: http://draxe.com/4-steps-to-heal-leaky-gut-and-autoimmune-disease/

REFERENCES
  • Axe, J. (2014). 4 Steps to Heal Leaky Gut and Autoimmune Disease. Retrieved August 14, 2014, from http://draxe.com/4-steps-to-heal-leaky-gut-and-autoimmune-disease/
  • Body Ecology. (2006). Born with a Leaky Gut (But is Your Gut Lining Causing You Problems? Retrieved August 13, 2014, from http://bodyecology.com/articles/born_with_leaky_gut.php#.U-rZm_mSxR5
  • Carnahan, J. (2013). Is Leaky Gut Causing Your Eczema or Psoriasis? Retrieved August 04, 2014, from http://primaldocs.com/opinion/is-leaky-gut-causing-your-eczema-or-psoriasis/
  • Costello, P. (2013). Healing your brain with nutrition: Reclaiming your best brain health. Retrieved August 13, 2014, from http://drpamelacostello.com/2013/08/
  • Duke University Medical Center. (2012). Breast milk promotes a different gut flora growth than infant formulas. Retrieved August 13, 2014, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120827094353.htm
  • Fratkin, J. (2010). Leaky Gut Syndrome Treatment. Retrieved August 13, 2014, from http://drjakefratkin.com/articles/leaky-gut-syndrome-a-modern-epidemic
  • Kligman, A. M., & Frosch, P. J. (1979). Steroid Addiction. International Journal of Dermatology, 18(1), 23–31. Retrieved from http://www.itsan.org/uploads/Albert_Kligman_Steroid_Addictio_Article.pdf
  • Norris-Ryder, T. (2012). Digestion issues in baby could be leaky gut in the breastfeeding mother. | Harvest of Daily Life. Retrieved August 02, 2014, from http://www.harvestofdailylife.com/digestion-issues-in-baby-could-be-leaky-gut-in-the-breastfeeding-mother
  • Pick, M. (2014). Healing Leaky Gut Syndrome. Retrieved August 13, 2014, from http://www.womentowomen.com/digestive-health/healing-leaky-gut-syndrome-open-the-door-to-good-health-2/
  • The Alpha Parent. (2011). The Virgin Gut: a note for parents. Retrieved August 13, 2014, from http://www.thealphaparent.com/2011/07/virgin-gut-note-for-parents.html?m=1



-ahfaye-

Thank you for reading this post. I wish you great health, happiness and success in everything you do!

7 comments:

  1. Great post! I think that my original problems came from a leaky gut as well. I wasn't breast fead as a baby so never got those good bacteria to begin with.. allergies and asthma my whole life. Its really interesting what you've written about a mother with a leaky gut breast feeding her baby and then the baby having problems! I never even thought about that! Hope your healing well :)

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  2. @muriel Thanks Muriel. Yes the more I look into leaky gut and why it occurs and the symptoms related to it, everything just makes sense and its very interesting. I hope you are doing well too! Happy healing xxx

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  3. It's great that you've done your research for both yourself and other people. I wish you the best in continuing this holistic diet and lifestyle, and in reaping all the possible benefits. Much love from me to you, and may 2015 be a great one :)

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  4. @Anonymous Thank yo so much. I hope to do more research and write more articles in holistic healing :) May 2015 be a prosperous one for you too xxx

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  5. hello! have you found a way to cure your eczema? i'm going through a similar situation and working with an herbalist to get better. i've changed up the way i'm eating, but would love to have a friend who's going through something similar, so we can share information :) mslucyzhu@gmail.com if you'd love to chat

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