Could Leaky Gut Cause Autoimmune Disease?

Could autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Crohn’s disease or even ankylosing spondylitis really start in the gut? Many naturally minded physicians and nutritionists have held this opinion for some time. New research (Ann Rheum Dis 2001;60:65-66) seems to confirm it.

Researchers evaluated indicators of excessive intestinal permeability, so-called “leaky gut syndrome”, in patients suffering from a variety of autoimmune disorders. They found much higher rates of permeability in these patients as compared with healthy individuals. This held true even when there were no digestive symptoms, and the patients had not been taking anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) that are known to damage the lining of the intestinal tract. This study confirms the importance of checking the health of the digestive tract in many immune disorders, something I frequently recommend for my patients.

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