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Can a Leaky Gut (Intestinal Permeability) Cause Arthritis & Other Immune Reactions?

Q. I have an underactive thyroid due to an immune reaction (Hashimoto’s). I also have irritable bowel syndrome and don’t tolerate wheat. My body aches all over and my doctor has diagnosed me with fibromyalgia and leaky gut syndrome.

I don’t really understand this condition and am confused about what I can and cannot eat. I would be grateful for any information you can provide about coping with leaky gut.

A. Leaky gut sounds gross and suspiciously unscientific. There are health professionals who doubt it poses a problem. Nonetheless, gastroenterologists acknowledge that some people develop intestinal permeability (World Journal of Gastroenterology, May 21, 2014). When the barrier lining the digestive tract fails to function properly, the result can be intestinal inflammation and autoimmune disorders.

The thinking goes that the junctions between the cells that line the digestive tract no longer function normally in some people. Antibiotic treatment may set certain patients up for this problem. Others may have an intestinal infection that alters gut physiology. When the gut becomes permeable, food and nutrients passing through the digestive tract may escape into the bloodstream as undigested fragments. These substances could conceivably trigger an unwanted immune reaction.

So you can learn more about this condition and a strategy for reversing the inflammation with diet and supplements, we are sending you a CD of our one-hour radio interview with Susannah Meadows of The New York Times and Leslie Mendoza Temple, MD, Director of Integrative Medicine at North Shore University Health System in Glenview, IL. We had the privilege of interviewing them about this mysterious condition and ways to overcome it.

Susannah’s son Shepherd was only three years old when he developed juvenile idopathic arthritis. This terrible disease is incredibly painful and disabling. Susannah documented their journey out of pain in her fascinating article in The New York Times titled “The Boy With A Thorn in His Joints.”

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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