Herbs to heal leaky gut syndrome are a good place to start for gut health. Since your gut runs your whole health show, that’s more than just a good idea.
First, two questions:
- Do you have a leaky gut? (Most likely answer: yes.) And I mean a lot more than just a tummy ache or a bit of heartburn.
- What herbs are helpful for preventing or treating it?
Look, I’m an herb guy from WAY back. As a plant chemist, I’ve been studying the chemistry of herbs for more than 50 years (!). That’s been the sweet spot in my career as a research scientist.
So you can bet your bottom dollar I know about herbs to heal leaky gut syndrome. I’ll tell you about the best herbs for gut health below.
Since most folks are unaware of what leaky gut syndrome is (and since doctors rarely even acknowledge its existence), I’ll start by explaining what it is and why you most likely suffer from it.
“All disease begins in the gut” – Hippocrates
Actually, since Hippocrates, the Father of Modern Medicine, was Greek, he more likely said, Όλες οι ασθένειες ξεκινούν από το έντερο (Óles oi asthéneies xekinoún apó to éntero.)
At least that’s what the phrase translates to at LEXILOGOS.
The point is, the gut controls your health. When it’s healthy, so are you. When it’s not, neither are you. This concept applies just as much today as it did in Hippocrates’ time, more than 24 centuries ago.
Of course, modern research has updated it quite a bit.
You probably know about the importance of the brain for controlling your body. However, it’s intimately connected to your gut. Indeed, the gut is now referred to as your ‘second brain’ (yes, seriously – it even has its own name, the ‘enteric nervous system’ [ENS]). That’s why scientists have been delving into the ‘gut-brain axis’ (GBA) to explain how we work.
And it doesn’t stop there. Your optimal gut health also depends on your microbiome – the friendly bacteria in control of your gut. So the GBA is actually a GBMA (‘gut-brain-microbiome axis’).
The whole subject is best explained in Dr. William Davis’s new book, Super Gut: A Four-Week Plan to Reprogram Your Microbiome, Restore Health, and Lose Weight (2022).
Now, although Dr. Davis has a lot to say about achieving gut health and why it’s so important, he has little to say about herbs to heal leaky gut syndrome.
The purpose of this article, therefore, is to fill in some gaps on herbs for gut health for you.
Leaky Gut Confusion
Leaky gut syndrome is an excellent example of a topic characterized by squabbling between the alternative health community and mainstream medicine.
As you can expect, mainstream-leaning sources of information trash it. For example, Wikipedia, the highly censored ‘free encyclopedia’ of all knowledge says this right at the top of the page on leaky gut syndrome:
For the phenomenon whereby the intestine wall exhibits excessive
permeability, see Intestinal permeability.“
In other words – nothing to see here, folks. Keep moving along.
No explanation about why ‘leaky gut syndrome’ and ‘excessive permeability’ might be related! Instead, we see descriptions of something called ‘tight junction (TJ) proteins’ in the gut wall for regulating intestinal permeability and how they can ‘loosen’.
More than 40 TJ proteins are now known for their roles in gut health. Overall, they’re the gatekeepers for what gets through your gut wall and your bloodstream.
Gee, can ‘loosened’ TJ proteins cause gut leakiness. Well, duh!
In spite of such new knowledge, the well-known shill for ‘conventional wisdom’, Dr. Stephen Barrett also felt the need to chime in on his Quackwatch website, here: Be Wary of “Fad” Diagnoses
Even those nice Canadians have piled on, here: Debunking the Myth of ‘Leaky Gut Syndrome’.
Fortunately, not all doctors are buying into all that misdirection. For example, my go-to source for nutrition-based health, Dr. David Brownstein, has a whole book on leaky gut, here: Heal Your Leaky Gut: The Hidden Cause of Many Chronic Diseases.
Just a short list of some of the health issues Dr. Brownstein presents includes:
- Digestive complaints, acid reflux, IBS, Crohn’s disease
- Joint and muscle pain, arthritis
- Headaches, depression, anxiety, ADHD
- Itchy skin, rashes, eczema, acne, rosacea, psoriasis
- Seasonal allergies
- Food allergies
When I say ‘short list’ I’m referring to the extensive number of other disorders associated with leaky gut. The additional ones mentioned in scientific reviews also include:
- Gastric ulcers
- Thyroid disorders
- Respiratory infections
- Infectious diarrhea
- Ulcerative colitis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Small intestine bacterial overgrowth
- Celiac disease
- Esophageal and colorectal cancer
- Chronic inflammatory conditions (such as arthritis)
- Obesity-related metabolic diseases (fatty liver, type II diabetes, heart disease)
- Autoimmune diseases (such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, type I diabetes, Hashimoto’s and more)
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Acute inflammation conditions (sepsis, SIRS, multiple organ failure)
So let’s just dispense with the specious arguments coming out a two-faced medical mainstream and talk about herbs to heal leaky gut.
Herbs to Heal Leaky Gut
The top herbs for gut health have a long track record in folk medicine.
The term ‘herbs’ is used a bit loosely on the following list, since it includes mushrooms. Fungi haven’t been classified in the plant kingdom at least since the 1970s.
The best herbs for gut health (including mushrooms) are:
- Aloe juice (Aloe vera). Early research suggests that aloe could help reduce the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Studies also show the promise of aloe for treating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Recommended source: Aloe Life – Whole Leaf Aloe Vera Juice Concentrate
- Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra). The primary gut health activity of this herb is to support our natural processes for maintaining the mucosal lining of the gut. It’s especially helpful in cases whereby leaky gut is caused by emotional stress. Licorice contains glycyrrhizin, which in high amounts may lead to edema and hypertension. Licorice root supplements either contain too little glycyrrhizin to be of concern, or they’re deglycyrrhizinated (i.e., ‘DGL’ licorice root).
Recommended source: Natural Factors – Chewable DGL
- Marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis). Marshmallow root helps protect from gastric ulcers, particularly in combination with ginger. Marshmallow is widely known as one of the all-time best herbs for gut health.
Recommended source: Double Wood – Marshmallow Root Capsules
- Slippery elm bark (Ulmus fulva). Slippery elm contains mucilage, an ingredient transforming into a slick gel when mixed in water. It coats the stomach and intestines. The herb also stimulates a reflux of nerve endings in the GI to boost protective mucus secretion.
Recommended source: Now Foods – Slippery Elm
- Reishi mushroom extract (Ganoderma lingzhi). Reishi mushrooms enhance the role of the gut for immunity. About 70% of our immune cells are made in the small intestine.
Recommended source: Double Wood – Reishi Mushroom Capsules
- Lion’s mane mushroom extract (Hericium erinaceus). In lab animal research, lion’s mane has been shown to shrink gastric ulcers. This mushroom is also known for helping improve gastritis and IBS).
Recommended source: Double Wood – Lions Mane Mushroom Capsules
If you find yourself noticing any of the symptoms associated with leaky gut syndrome listed above, what else can you do besides supplement with the right herbs?
Well, that’s a loaded question.
I say that because of the many lifestyle choices you make leading to loosened TJ proteins.
Everything from stress, poor sleep, and a terrible diet can contribute.
Since this is such a big story, I’ll hold off digging into those other factors right now. After all, whole books are already written about leaky gut and what to do about it.
As far as herbs for leaky gut go, the list above is just a start.
Rounding out the top supplements for gut health should also include one or more of the following:
- L-Glutamine powder
- Collagen powder
- N-acetyl glucosamine
- Shilajit (i.e., an exudate from high mountain Himalayan rocks – yes, really)
And I haven’t even mentioned the all-time best gut healer in human history – bone broth.
So much to know and so little time!
I’ll be covering these topics soon enough, so stay tuned.
Comments or Questions?
I’d love to hear from you. This and every other post here provides a comment section at the end of the post, exactly for that purpose.
So, by all means, leave me your thoughts.
I would be especially grateful if you point out any flaws in my logic, factual errors, or ordinary typos. (I’ll give you a little ‘huzzah’ in my heart.)
Then I’ll respond as soon as I can.
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All the best in natural health,
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