Leaky gut, medically referred to as intestinal permeability or metabolic endotoxemia, is a condition where toxins are seeping into the blood because of a breach in the mucosal barrier of our intestinal lining (or guts).
When the intestinal barrier becomes weak and develops cracks or breaks in it, this allows food particles, pathogens and toxins to leak into the bloodstream where they do not belong.
As a result, this activates our body’s immune system to release certain antibodies to fight off what it believes are foreign invaders. Eventually, normal healthy foods — think broccoli, tomatoes, potatoes, fruits — are recognized as harmful substances because they do not belong in our bloodstream and our body’s protective mechanisms go into action, creating systemic inflammation and a wide variety of health issues that impact our digestion, skin, mood and cognitive functioning.
Overtime, the body will eventually begin to attack itself, leading to any number of 80+ autoimmune diseases we’ve identified today.
Some, if not most, conventional doctors do not believe that leaky gut is a real condition, but the research speaks for itself. If you’ve ever been told that your illness is “all in your head,” but you know deep down something is off inside, don’t be discouraged. I urge you to fight for what you believe and keep searching for a holistic practitioner who builds you up and supports you.
There are many factors that contribute to intestinal permeability, and I encourage you to read my previous article to better understand how to know if you are suffering from a leaky gut.
Once you determine that, you can then use natural food and supplementation to begin rebuilding the integrity of your gut lining. Below I am sharing the top 8 most effective supplements that work to help heal a leaky gut. This information is for educational purposes only, not medical advice, and I highly recommend working with a holistic practitioner like myself or another healthcare professional to help guide you through this process.
It is also important to note that supplements alone will not remedy leaky gut if you do not also take action to remove trigger foods that are causing GI distress, manage stress accordingly and eat a clean, healthy diet rich in gut nourishing foods. You can expect to start noticing improvements from a proper gut healing protocol between 4-8 weeks. Some studies show that people can experience improvements in their gut lining in as little two weeks, but this is highly individual and you’ll have to take into account those other factors mentioned above.
If you want to feel empowered to take your health into your own hands, I also highly encourage you to sign up for my online gut healing course, Gut Smart Restart, which covers leaky gut extensively!
L-Glutamine is one of the top nutrients for repairing the mucosal lining in your gut. L-glutamine is an amino acid that plays numerous roles in our bodies. One of those roles is providing fuel for our enterocytes and colonocytes, the two most abundant epithelial cells in our large and small intestines responsible for absorbing and exporting nutrients, among other things. In order for l-glutamine to repair the intestinal barrier, it must be consumed in either powder or capsule form in therapeutic doses. Clinical trials have shown that typically 34 grams for an average adult of 150 lbs for a short duration of time can repair the intestinal barrier effectively.
Zinc Carnosine is actually a combination of two nutrients: elemental zinc and the dipeptide, L-carnosine, which form a polymeric structure. Zinc carnosine has also been studied as one of the most effective nutrients for healing the intestinal barrier. It has been used as a safe remedy for digestive health beyond just leaky gut, including stomach ulcers, H. Pylori infections, gastritis and overall GI inflammation. NSAIDS (ibuprofen, aspirin, etc.) have been known to cause damage to the intestinal barrier with long term use, contributing to leaky gut. One study showed that zinc carnosine was able to help repair the damage done to the epithelial lining from NSAIDs. Recommended dosing ranges from 37.5 mg up to 150 mg taken twice daily.
Collagen is the most abundant and vital protein in the body. It is found in nearly all of our tissues and is required for healthy and strong skin, hair, nails, joints and the gut lining. Collagen is found naturally in the marrow of animals and in animal products, but can also be taken in the form of collagen peptides, which is usually an odorless, tasteless powder. There are even marine collagen peptides available if beef-derived peptides aren’t an option. There is a lot of research out there, like this study, showing how collagen peptides are able to prevent further breakdown of the intestinal lining. While I am always an advocate of food-based nutrients first, collagen peptides are a great option in addition to natural foods if you are looking for a therapeutic dose to more rapidly heal your leaky gut. We tend to produce less collagen as we age so it’s also a good idea to start supplementing later on in life as well!
And there’s also something to be said about beef gelatin too, which has a role in healing and sealing the mucosal barrier. You of course get natural gelatin from products like bone broth, marrow and eating beef regularly, but you can also buy it in dehydrated powder form and mix it into your coffee, tea or some other warm beverage. It’s a little sticky/gooey, which is why it’s so good for rebuilding the gut lining… and for making jello and gummies!
N-Acetyl Glucosamine is a derivative of glucose (sugar) from the outer shell of shellfish. It’s been known to help reduce pain and inflammation from osteoarthritis, protect the lining of the stomach and intestines, reduce dark spots from the sun and aging skin, and even help alleviate symptoms in those with the autoimmune condition Crohn’s disease, which is a type of inflammatory bowel disease.
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is another nutrient that’s been proven effective to help with leaky gut syndrome. According to Dr. Josh Axe, MSM “helps stop particles from leaching out the gut through small junction openings, where they can enter the bloodstream and ignite an inflammatory response. This is due in part to the sulfur in an MSM supplement, which is important for digestion.” In some instances, MSM has been proven to be more effective than glucosamine for healing leaky gut, but the verdict is still out in my opinion!
Licorice Root has long been an herbal Chinese remedy for GI distress, however it is an herb that I strongly caution against just diving right into using. You’ll want to gravitate toward DGL licorice, though, which has the glycyrrhizin removed. This is because glycyrrhizin, a compound in the licorice root, can cause disruption to potassium levels leading to a temporary drop that can result in abnormal heart rhythms, high blood pressure, swelling and lethargy. Licorice is also not recommended for pregnant women and certain medications, especially diuretics that lower potassium levels.
DGL licorice can help heal a leaky intestinal barrier by increasing the number of mucus-secreting cells in the digestive tract. It also has soothing and anti-inflammatory properties that make it a good option for people with stomach ulcers, H pylori infections and GI inflammation. There have been quite a few studies done on the effectiveness of DGL licorice, however, few have used DGL in isolation and there is definitely a need for more current analysis.
Marshmallow Root provides a very soothing effect for our intestines. If you have suffered or are suffering currently from leaky gut then you know that it can cause some unpleasant GI distress. Most people have an irritated gut lining, which can make eating food quite difficult and uncomfortable, not to mention constant bloating and constipation. Marshmallow root has long been an herbal remedy for soothing irritation and reducing inflammation in the gut, which is common in those with intestinal permeability. An in vitro study from 2010 revealed that aqueous extracts and polysaccharides from marshmallow root are effective for treating irritated mucous membranes by creating a protective mucosal layer and stimulating growth in cells that support tissue regeneration.
Aloe Vera is another plant that is known to soothe and heal the intestinal lining. You may be familiar with the gelatinous inside of the aloe vera leaf, which is most commonly used topically for sunburns or skin irritations. Well, it has the same effect on the gut lining as well! It works by helping the body replace the lost mucus, which is also good for anyone suffering from ulcers. Some studies show that aloe vera is also effective for those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). I personally love George’s aloe vera because it is distilled and tasteless, unlike a lot of aloe vera gels/juices on the market, which can have a funky taste and unpleasant consistency.
Other supplements that can be complementary to these above ones include high quality soil based or spore-based probiotics for restoring the gut with good bacteria, magnesium for relaxing your muscles and aiding in recovery, digestive enzymes, apple cider vinegar and/or hydrochloric acid (HCl) to help break down your food properly to reduce bowel irregularities and digestive upset. That said, you’ll want to avoid those last two if you are currently suffering from gastric ulcers as acid can aggravate it in some instances.
It is quite common to purchase a blend of these nutrients and herbs that have been specifically and professionally formulated and crafted versus a bunch of individual products. Some of my go-to trusted products as a practitioner are GI Resolve from Biotics Research, Repairvite-SE from Apex Energetics and MegaMucosa from Microbiome Labs. You can always order these from my online supplement store — it’s free to sign up and shop! All you need to do is create an account, regardless of if you are an active client of mine or not!
In addition to supplements, it’s a good idea to eat a clean, whole foods, nutrient dense diet that is rich in gut nourishing foods like bone broth, which contains an abundance of amino acids and collagen known to help heal and seal the gut, as well as other gelatinous foods like chia seed pudding (if tolerated) and okra. Some of my favorite brands of bone broth are Bonafide Provisions, Bare Bones, and Kettle & Fire.
Herbs like turmeric, ginger, fennel, peppermint and chamomile are also great additions to your diet, either as whole foods, dried herbs or teas because of their anti-inflammatory and soothing effects on our entire systems, including the gut! That said, if you truly want to tap into the healing powers of turmeric, which has been studied for years for its anti-inflammatory benefits, you’ll want a high-quality turmeric extract supplement taken in the proper dosage.
Additionally, fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, pickles, coconut yogurt, raw dairy, beet kvass, etc. are full of probiotics that repopulate the gut with good bacteria. Healthy fats like coconut (oil, flakes, yogurt, milk and raw fruit) provide medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) that are easier to digest than other fats and anti-inflammatory in nature, making them a great choice for leaky gut.
If you are looking for a passionate, experienced and knowledgeable holistic practitioner to help guide you through a gut healing protocol, I encourage you to schedule a free discovery call today, and check out my “work with me page” to see my services, access my pricing & packages and learn more about me.
I specialize in gut health and hormone balance because those are two areas where I have previously struggled for over seven years! I’ve suffered from leaky gut, SIBO, IBS, parasites, adrenal dysfunction, hormonal imbalances, and anxiety and depression so chances are, I know exactly what you are going through. And I can promise you this: you CAN find healing. You don’t have to suffer alone. All you need is someone on your side, looking out for your best interests. I’d love to be that person!