The People's Perspective on Medicine

Show 911: Leaky Gut and an Immune System Run Amok (Archive)

Calming a leaky gut helped the parents of a young child with terrible arthritis soothe his symptoms and return him to a normal life.
Current time

Leaky Gut and an Immune System Run Amok (Archive)

0% played0% buffered

Susannah Meadows’s son was only three years old when he developed terrifying symptoms of a disabling disease, juvenile idiopathic arthritis. His parents were frantic to help him feel better, but conventional medicine was slow to go into effect.

Could a Leaky Gut Have Activated His Immune System?

They decided to explore an alternative approach as well. Could dietary changes have an impact on an immune system gone awry? Find out about the clinical basis for the link between leaky gut and sore joints.

This Episode’s Guests:

Susannah Meadows is a journalist who writes the Newly Released column for The New York Times. Her article, “The Boy With a Thorn in His Joints,” was published in The New York Times Magazine on February 1, 2013.

Leslie Mendoza Temple, MD, is Director of Integrative Medicine at North Shore University Health System in Glenview, IL, and Assistant Professor of Family and Community Medicine at Feinberg School of Medicine of Northwestern University.  The photo is of Dr. Mendoza Temple.

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free for four weeks after the date of broadcast. After that time has passed, digital downloads are available for $2.99. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

Buy the CD

Download the mp3

Rate this article
4.4- 5 ratings
About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
Get the latest health news right in your inbox

Join our daily email newsletter with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies AND you'll get a copy of our brand new full-length health guide — for FREE!

Screenshots of The People's Pharmacy website on mobile devices of various sizes
Join over 150,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

We're empowering you to make wise decisions about your own health, by providing you with essential health information about both medical and alternative treatment options.

Showing 24 comments
Add your comment

I have had flare-ups of joints in which a joint swells up and is very painful for 2 to 3 days, and then subsides without permanent injury to the joint. My doctor has used a blood test called anti-CCP. CCP stands for cyclic citrullinated peptide. My scores are extremely high, over 600 every time. A rheumatologist prescribed methotrexate but I have not taken it. Through trial and error I have found that eating high amounts of red meat appears to be the trigger. Decreasing my red meat consumption has made flare-ups much less frequent, going for months at a time without one. My primary care doctor is content to have me take this approach rather than using methotrexate. I first read of intestinal permeability in the book Fasting and Eating for Health by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, who has been a guest on your show. He reports that high protein diet can be a trigger for autoimmune reactions. Your show about intestinal permeability is very encouraging. Thanks for all you do!

Any problem related to the immune system should be addressed also with LDN. Harmless, and it may help. LDN cured my rather severe psoriasis and some psoriatric arthritis in 2 weeks. My 93 yr old mother in law had every standard treatment in the books for psoriasis, with poor results. Again, 2 weeks on LDN completely cured her.

LDN will reduce business for dermatologists. LDN is safe; likely more so than aspirin. It should be OTC, and cheap.

I also have Fibro, anemia, chronic fatigue, IBS, I feel lousy after eating, and
I have the itching rash in same area. I was told it was fungal like Athlete’s
Foot. Nothing is helping so I made an appointment with dermatologist.
Do you also have a weird sensation in your stomach like when you get frightened?
It hits at weird times. I think it’s gut connected. Doctors do scoping and say it’s fine.

I would have given a 5 star rating except only ONE of the THREE major dietary anti-inflammatory strategies was mentioned. The two that were omitted were 1) reducing omega-6 oils, and, 2) eating a low glycemic index diet to reduce insulin. These strategies are thoughtfully addressed in The People’s Pharmacy radio show: 534 Fighting Inflammation, March 12, 2005. In my view, those who desire more information on the subject of inflammation would find it worth the time; I did. After following the advice given in that show, my multiple-site osteo arthritis disappeared.
The expert on that show was Dr. Barry Sears, known as the creator of the Zone diet. Here’s the link:
Sincerely, Russ

I think that almond milk is usually sold as an alternative to dairy milk, so, it should be lactose-free – check the label to be sure. (Silk has an almond milk variety that contains more protein than other brands.)
I personally am sensitive to whey (as part of my lactose-intolerance), which is an ingredient in many protein powders. The level of intolerance varies from person to person, so you might want to experiment with small portions. If you are trying to heal leaky gut, and suspect that dairy is part of the problem, I would avoid any dairy product that seems to cause digestive discomfort. I find that Lactaid can be helpful, but not a perfect answer.

For elimination for the leaky gut, would it have to include almond milk, and protein powder, as dairy products?

For the people asking about the brand of probiotics used, it’s mentioned in the “Boy With a Thorn in His Joints” article linked to above.
A google search for “vsl3” will point you in the right direction.

In the headlines – the red meat – diabetes association study did not mention sugar, interesting. Red meat in the American diet is closely associated with the consumption of fries from vats with industrial oil abused for indeterminate times at questionable temperatures. Cheap meats are cheaper because the aforementioned fryer oil is discarded and then added to most animal feeds as “restaurant quality oil”. For years, processed meats contain the cheaper meats which are sources of the bad oils. Dietary studies are typically not very clean.
Fat analysis of individuals could be correlated with insulin resistance cleanly but would have trouble making it through the funding process.
Celiac disease causes diabetes and arthritis in addition to bowel symptoms – the arthritis in some people (for instance in prison without a choice) is severe. Retrospective analysis of antibodies showed a four fold increase in gluten antibodies from the 80’s to the 90’s. One of the main culprits as a cause is RoundUp. GMO corn was my concern even though the residual herbicide was small, the BT corn was a similar concern as a cause of gut inflammation. Recently, thanks to Thom Hartmann, I found out about the wheat farmers in the Dakotas and Canada spraying RoundUp just before harvest to kill/dry the wheat – terrible timing for residual herbicide levels and right close to the wheat proteins which cause the gluten problem if the gut is inflamed. This has been common practice in some areas for 22 years.
The other cause of arthritis which looks like RA is post viral infection – especially 5th disease where the arthritis can be severe and last several months. Lyme and midwest’s Lyme version are also possibilities to consider in polyarthritis – the tests are pretty good for the classical Lyme – less so for the midwest/southern tick assoc. syndrome.

L. R. Nazare asks good questions. Would Dr. Temple share the brands of probiotics she recommends to patients? And, yes, how does MOS affect the efficacy of probiotics?
Informative show, as usual.

I HIGHLY recommend the information in this show. I believe that I developed “leaky gut” from being slow to realize that I had become lactose intolerant… the symptoms crept up on me slowly, and I dismissed them, until they became impossible to ignore! Dr. Mendoza-Temple’s advice was a lifesaver. By going lactose-free, and using healing supplements for several months (probiotics, L-Glutamine, DGL, NAC, NAG, Lectin Defense, and digestive enzymes for leaky gut; manuka honey and Gastrazyme when I had a scare of possibly developing ulcers), I have recovered. I went from being able to ingest very few foods without adverse effect to comfortably eating a varied (and dairy-free!) diet.

I have had a colectomy (no colon) and have horrible arthritic problems…does anyone have any suggestions for me? thanks


I’d like to hear medical evidence/info re: the relationship between H pylori, the powerful antibiotic regimen to eradicate it and subsequent Leaky Gut — does the antibiotics used to kill H pylori lead to a permeable gut lining?

I suffered from repeated urinary infections over many years, then the acute body pains started: I practically lived on antibiotics.
After a lot of research, I became vegan, started a regime of probiotics and omega-3s etc. Have not had a urinary infection in seven years.
Your program on Leaky Gut was fascinating and I learned a great deal.
In addition, I have been dismissed as a patient by three doctors because I refused statins!
I am not medical, just an aging woman who becomes incensed because doctors have stopped listening and all I seem to hear is, ” well, at your age….!”.
One may be aging, but that does not mean that we should be dismissed out of hand.
Thank you so much for your work. I am a big fan!

I have recently caught your show on Leaky Gut Syndrome and really heard some valuable information. I have battled stomach problems for many years, been on Prilosec but wanted to get off these drugs. This is very hard to do as my old symptoms of heart burn and all that goes with it has came back.
It just makes me so mad how our AMA is so corrupt along with our law makers who pass these drugs on through just for the money they will make, knowing full well how dangerous lots of these drugs are for us. I think we should really watch who we elect to offices and get these corrupt people out of there.
At any rate I love Public Radio and have supported them and listened for the last 7 years, thanks to my great Guy friend who turned me on to the Public Radio stations. Keep up the good work.

I have had the mannitol-lactulose test and was found to be highly positive for intestinal permiability.
I have struggled with fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue for close to 30 years and have had digestive disturbances my entire life with an irritable bowl diagnoses as well. I am on an elimination diet of sorts,i.e.; gluten-free, grain-free, even copper-free for a time, dairy-free as in no milk but I do have cheese with an emphasis on raw goat cheese.
I have two questions for Dr Mendoza-Temple: does cheese that is aged still have lactose so that it indeed needs to be eliminated on the diet? and has she ever had patients that developed severe skin irritation/itching in and around the anus/rectal and groin areas as a symptom connected with IP? Thank you!

My doctor is treating my cerebellar ataxia by working on my leaky gut. He also recommended a vegan diet. I regained a year of neurological health immediately, and have gained maybe 3 years of nero-health in 2 months. So this leaky gut may have neurological implications as well.

It has taken me about 20 years, 4+ hospital facilities, innumerable Drs. to assemble the info in your excellent presentation & I can’t express the depth of my Appreciation!!! I don’t know how podcasts or streaming online function so I may have difficulty following thru with a backup.

Excellent show! Thanks!
On the show, Dr. Leslie Mendoza Temple, MD, recommended 3 strains of bacteria for Shepherd (The Boy with a Thorn in His Joints): Lactobacillus Rhamnosus, Saccharomyces Boulardii, and Lactobacillus Acidophilus. I have found that many products contain Lactobacillus Acidophilus and Lactobacillus Rhamnosus, but do not contain Saccharomyces Boulardii. Jarrow makes a probiotic that just contains Saccharomyces Boulardii and MOS. Per the Jarrow website, “MOS is an oligosaccharide from the cell walls of S. cerevisiae that can discourage bacteria from adhering to the epithelial cells and reduce the proliferation.”
So I have a couple of questions;
1. Would Dr. Leslie Mendoza Temple, MD, be willing to mention the brands of probiotics that her patients have had success with?
2. What does Dr. Leslie Mendoza Temple, MD think of MOS? Does the presence or absence of MOS affect the probiotic? If yes, how?
Leni Reed Nazare

Very informative show. I have ulcerative colitis and was only able to get it under control after following Brenda Watson’s recommendations which included high doses of fish oil and probiotics. I am now starting to develop joint pain which I suspect may be ankylosing spondylitis. I will definitely be looking into Dr. Mendoza Temple’s regimen for myself.

This show was very informative; the Dr. Temple’s information was most helpful; Susannah Meadows’ methodical approach to healing her son, which must have been truly an emotional rollercoaster ride, caught my attention. Excellent show. Your questions were on the mark, timely and unobtrusive. We needed for these folks to talk, and you let them do so. Very helpful.

This show was very informative and interesting. I really appreciate it!
I have had some issues that continue to return and after hearing some of the symptoms I will check it out with my doctor.

In my early 60’s I developed arthritis in my hands, shoulders and knees.
I read Dr Esselstyn’s book on Reversing and Preventing Heart Disease and decided to become a Vegan. Also I eliminated Gluten from my diet.
My Arthritis symptoms went away after I became a Vegan and stopped gluten intake. I did a Google search and discovered a research study in Stockholm Sweden that showed similar results.

Considering a previous very interesting couple of shows on the microbial ecosystem of the intestines, this approach really makes very good scientific sense. The Professor from NCSU comes to mind. And the show about Fecal transplants also I think reinforces this approach.
Understand, I am not an MD, but my job is to maintain a huge digestive microbial mix to digest wastewater. We in the industry call it the Mixed Liquor :). It is essentially our job to make sure conditions are maximized to make sure a healthy mix of thousands of different microorganism. It is such a complicated ecosystem that no one really does not fully understand it, but one does know when it is working correctly and when it is not. When not, one then systematically tries to figure out what was changed.
Interesting stuff.

* Be nice, and don't over share. View comment policy^