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8 signs you may have a leaky gut

Your intestines are the gateway to your health. If your gut is healthy, chances are your overall state of health is good. Whereas if your digestive health is poor, you probably experience several varied health problems. One of the most common is fatigue.

You may have heard of leaky gut syndrome. It is increasingly being recognised as an underlying factor in most inflammatory and immune mediated health problems.

What is a leaky gut?

Your intestine is naturally permeable to very small molecules in order to absorb vital nutrients. At the same time, it is designed in a way to prevent large or harmful molecules from gaining entry to the bloodstream. In some circumstances, the healthy intestinal barrier can become inflamed or irritated, leaving it excessively permeable to harmful substances.

In some people, gluten can cause the gut cells to release zonulin, which is a protein that can break apart tight junctions in the intestinal lining. Other factors can also break down the gut lining and make it excessively leaky; most commonly gut infections, parasites, alcohol, stress, antibiotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

When these tight junctions get broken apart, you have a leaky gut. When your gut is leaky, harmful things like bacteria, toxins, heavy metals and undigested food particles can leak through your intestines into your bloodstream. Once they get into your bloodstream, the first place they head is your liver. This puts a great strain on your liver function and it’s not surprising that most people who have had a leaky gut for some time eventually go on to develop poor liver health. Sometimes they even develop elevated liver enzymes.

What causes leaky gut?

The number one cause of leaky gut syndrome is gluten. A large percentage of the population just cannot digest gluten properly, and it triggers inflammation in the intestinal lining. You do not need to have celiac disease in order for gluten to make you very sick. Other common culprit foods are dairy products (casein), sugar and any food you are allergic to (eg. Nuts, eggs, soy, corn). Alcohol promotes increased intestinal permeability as well as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.

Gut infections promote a leaky gut. The most common infectious causes are Candida overgrowth, intestinal parasites, and small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). You can develop these types of infections from consuming too much sugar, poor hygiene or food poisoning.

The most common medications to promote leaky gut are antibiotics, particularly if taken long term such as for acne or bladder infections. The non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Motrin and Advil are common culprits. Steroids and stomach acid suppressing drugs also promote leaky gut.

8 Signs You May Have a Leaky Gut

If you suffer from any of the following conditions, it’s likely that you have a leaky gut.

  1. Digestive problems like gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  2. Hay fever, allergic rhinitis or sinusitis. Seasonal allergies, or year round allergies usually indicate compromised digestive health. I’ve found that quercetin and bromelain are fantastic for providing symptom relief quickly, and they are found in Allergy Relief tablets. To reduce the risk of developing these kinds of allergies in the first place, it is vital to restore your gut health.
  3. Food allergy, intolerance or sensitivity. These are clues that indicate you are not digesting your food thoroughly, and the resulting immune reaction in your intestines is inflaming the delicate gut lining.
  4. Skin problems like itchy skin, acne vulgaris or acne rosacea, cystic acne, psoriasis, dermatitis or eczema. If the skin on the outside of your body is inflamed, you can be certain that the skin on the inside is inflamed too. The lining of your insides, from your mouth right down to your anus is really like an internal skin. Healing the skin on your inside is the key to glowing, radiant, healthy skin on the outside.
  5. Mood disorders such as anxiety or depression, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Harmful bugs in your intestines produce toxins that can travel right through your bloodstream and they can even cross through your blood brain barrier. These toxins can disrupt the production of neurotransmitters in your brain and negatively affect your mood.
  6. Diagnosis of an autoimmune disease. There is a great deal of solid research to confirm the link between autoimmune disease and leaky gut syndrome. An excessively permeable gut lining is thought to be a trigger for the development of an autoimmune disease, as well as a driving force in flare ups. There are 81 recognized autoimmune diseases; the most common ones are Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.
  7. Autism. Autism is a very complex disorder and there are several factors that can trigger autism in a genetically susceptible child. According to Professor Alessio Fasano, a leaky gut is necessary but not sufficient to promote the development of autism.
  8. Joint pain. This is a classic symptom of an inflamed gut. Toxins that enter the bloodstream through the gut lining typically lodge in the joints and create pain and inflammation. If this is allowed to continue for years, it can wear away the protective cartilage and create structural problems. Serrapeptase is a powerful anti-inflammatory enzyme that can reduce inflammation in the joints, helping to relieve pain.

How can you heal a leaky gut?

  • Remove all known and suspected problematic foods. Gluten, dairy products and sugar should be eliminated. Since they very commonly cause food intolerance or allergy, it may be necessary to temporarily eliminate other foods such as soy, corn, nuts and eggs. It is best to be guided by a naturopath or nutritionist in this matter.
  • Kill harmful gut microbes. Berberine is an herbal extract with the ability to kill a range of different pathogens and is strongly recommended for anyone dealing with a parasitic gut infection or SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth). It has shown efficacy against various bacterial strains, including cholera, giardia, shigella, and salmonella, along with staphylococcus, streptococcus, and clostridium. Berberine also has anti-protozoal effects against Giardia lamblia, Trichomonas vaginalis and Leishmania donovani. Berberine has remarkable abilities to heal a leaky gut. It helps to strengthen tight junctions between cells of the small intestine, thereby reducing intestinal permeability. Berberine also protects gut cells from the damaging effects of bacterial endotoxins (such as lipopolysaccharide), and reduces the amount of lipopolysaccharide absorbed into the bloodstream and entering the liver.
  • Heal the lining of your intestines with a glutamine supplement. Glutamine literally helps to heal and seal the gut because it provides fuel for the intestinal cells; helping to repair and regenerate them.
  • Re-inoculate your intestines with beneficial microbes. A good quality probiotic is helpful, as is including fermented foods in your diet, such as sauerkraut, kefir and kimchi.

There is more information about leaky gut syndrome in our book, The Ultimate Detox.


The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.


  1. I have battled leaky gut for over 12 years now. I have successes and flares. I’m in a season of flare and am noticing more digestive distress, itchy ears and skin, fatigue and some vitamin deficiencies. I was told it would be good to treat for H. Pylori or even SIBO. I truly believe if my gut heals a lot of this will clear up. It’s happened before. I am gluten/dairy free and low sugar, moderate carb. I am interested in buying the Selenomune but was not sure whether the Berberine or the Bacto clear would be better? I am already planning on adding an HCl supplement to my digestive enzyme so maybe I do not need the berberine? Not sure though because low blood sugar is an issue for me. Does IT cause leaky gut or does leaky gut cause IT? Thank you for your help!!

    • Hi Natalie,

      Dr Cabot has recently released her 15 Day Cleanse – Two weeks to begin your journey toward improved liver health and function, utilising both supplements and a tasty, easy to prepare dietary regimen. Please go to http://www.drcabotcleanse.com to place an order. The diet that accompanies the Cleanse supplements, is low sugar and very friendly for those with sugar dysregulation.

      Alternatively, you would benefit from taking
      Bactoclear 1 caps twice daily as it is a powerful antimicrobial and will help treat H. pylori or any bacterial overgrowth.
      Bactoclear can be purchased here: http://shop.liverdoctor.com/bacto-clear-60-capsules.html
      Ultimate Gut Health one scoop into a glass of water as it is designed to soothe and heal the entire lining of the digestive tract.
      This can be purchased here: https://www.drcabotcleanse.com/maintenance-program/

      Kind Regards,
      Jessah Robinson
      Nutritionist for Liverdoctor.com

      • Thank you! I definitely want to at least start with BactoClear because I was told I need something similar. I’ve been eyeing it for a while 🙂 How many ’rounds’ do you suggest? Also, would the Selenomune be a good ADDITION to it? A recent scan indicated my liver is taxed and it certainly seems so to me!
        I will definitely look into her new cleanse program as a follow-up. Thank you very much!

        • Hi Natalie,

          The Selenomune is excellent for liver health as it contains selenium which is a powerful antioxidant to hasten liver healing.

          One round of Bactoclear should be efficient, and then you could stay on the Ultimate Gut Health after that.

          Good luck with it all.

          Kind Regards,
          Jessah Robinson
          Nutritionist for Liverdoctor.com

  2. Hi, Im very glad I came across this site. I have had hives for 3 months, morning and nite. I have gotten allergy shots for environmental allergies for almost 1 1/2 years. I have developed all sorts of food allergies, nuts, diary peanut butter, and all other nut butters, coconut, and have recently had a bad reaction to my hair color. I am a hairdresser and was diagnosed with bladder cancer in June. Surgery removed the cancer. Im not sure why all the sudden I have hives and just recently was tested for food allergies and my dermatologist will be doing a patch test next week. I have also been Paleo for 3 years, sometimes I cheat with potato chips or fritos lol. I recently ran across the link between leaky gut and hives. Any suggestions

    • Hi Debi,

      We recommend you eliminate gluten, sugar and dairy from your diet as these are rather inflammatory foods.
      Please follow the eating plan in Dr Cabot’s book ‘Healthy Bowel, Healthy Body’.
      We recommend you take
      Glutamine 1/2 tsp twice daily, this is a natural amino acid which heals and seals the gut lining.
      Floratone-10 1 cap twice daily to recolonise your gut with good bacteria and restore the integrity of the gut lining.
      Selenomune 1 cap daily with food to help reduce inflammation in the body, strengthen liver detoxification pathways and deficiency is linked to cancer.
      These can be purchased here: https://shop.liverdoctor.com/
      Let us know how you get on.

      Kind Regards,
      Jessah Robinson
      Nutrition Consultant for Liverdoctor.com

  3. I have been suffering from hives every night for the past 6 months…literally only happens through the night and goes away during the day. I have seen 2 different allergist specialist who couldn’t really find anything other than outside environmental allergies, dust mites, and pesticides that I’m allergic to. I hate taking meds, but unfortunately I’m taking anti-histamines to help with the issue. I’m also taking a vitamin B complex and probiotic. This has never happened before and I eat all organic produce and meats. Have you ever heard of this happening to anyone? Especially only at night? I’ve also had my hormones checked and a bunch of bloodwork and everything is coming back normal. Super Frustrating and embarrassing! Any insight would be awesome, along with how long it would take to see improvements. Thanks!!

    • Hi Addy,

      We recommend you eliminate any inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, sugar, processed food and take out meals.
      There is more information in this article: https://www.cabothealth.com.au/what-are-allergies/
      We recommend you get a liver function test.
      There is a great anti-inflammatory diet in Dr Cabot’s book: ‘Healthy Bowel, Healthy Body’.
      Raw juicing is excellent, there are some great recipes in Dr Cabot’s book: ‘Raw Juices Can Save Your Life’.
      Dr Cabot recommends you take
      Livatone Plus 2 caps twice daily to improve liver function.
      N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) 2 caps twice daily at least 2 hours away from food, if any upset occurs please take with meals. NAC is the precursor to glutathione; the body’s most potent antioxidant. This supplement works well with Livatone Plus to get the liver better faster.
      MSM Plus Vitamin C powder 1/2 tsp in a glass of water or juice, twice daily before meals to reduce inflammation, reduce free radical damage and improve liver detoxification.
      These supplements can be purchased here: https://shop.liverdoctor.com/
      Let us know how you get on.

      Kind Regards,
      Jessah Robinson
      Nutritional Consultant for Liverdoctor.com

    • Yes! Me, been to every doctor had every test they recommended and no answer. Rounds of steroids gained 60 lbs. 7-8 different allergy meds and finally two years later, I don’t wake up every morning with hives. Sometimes I have a few and that’s usually on high stress days. I also would have swollen face after eating some foods high in histamines. Or foods that I may have had a sensitivity to before hand. I started eating only foods that were made fresh. And steered clear of foods that I would have any sort of reaction to. No premise anything. No restaurant foods that weren’t cut up in the back. No frozen meats. I am now ok with any good. I still out of fear monitor how much of some food I eat. I am now off all allergy meds ish. I do have some in hand if I feel something may be going wrong. And they also had given me ranatidine or over the counter it would be Zantac, it has a H2 blocker in it that allergy meds and other stomach meds do not have I still take this daily. Indicating to me that whatever is wrong must be internal in my stomach. So I am still looking for something natural to alleviate all the mess.

  4. Dallas Ledford

    I’m wondering if you know about the connection between cystic acne and dairy? Anytime I have one bite or drink if dairy, I get really bad acne. I’ve also been on birth control pills for 25 years. I miss dairy so much, I cut it out and now my skin is clear. Any thoughts on this? I’m sure I have leaky gut, but I’m pretty much on the paleo diet. I’ve read about upping my vitamin A to help my acne with dairy consumption. Thanks:)

    • Hi Dallas,

      It sounds like you have an intolerance to dairy since the symptoms stopped when you eliminated dairy.
      Dr Cabot recommends you take
      Livatone Plus 2 caps twice daily to increase elimination of toxins and boost liver function.
      Glutamine 1 scoop daily in water or juice preferably apart from protein to heal and seal the gut lining.
      These supplements can be purchased here: https://shop.liverdoctor.com/
      Leaky gut can lead to autoimmune disease. There is an excellent eating plan in Dr Cabot’s book: ‘Healing Autoimmune Disease’.
      Let us know how you get on.

      Kind Regards,
      Jessah Robinson
      Nutritional Consultant for Liverdoctor.com

  5. My daughter has had pain in her upper abdomen for almost 18 months. (She is 18) She has had every test you can imagine – endoscopy colonoscopy, MRI and we found she has celiacs disease (not too severe at that stage) and did have H Pylori but that was treated successfully in the beginning. She has been gluten free for 15 months and sugar free for 3 years. We have also tried elimination diets with no success. Her symptoms are just the same as they were – daily chronic pain in the area below her sternum and feelings of nausea, plus some acid reflux

    My GP recommended the breath test for SIBO and results were really high – hydrogen up to 179 methane elevated as well. It was treated with 2 rounds of antibiotics and the second test showed much improved results.

    She has been following a SIBO diet for 2 months (no dairy,starchy vegetables, grains or sugar) and now also takes Glutamine and other supplements such as probiotics prescribed by the GP. However after 4 weeks there’s still no improvement. Do you think she may have leaky gut and is it normal to take so long to get improvement in pain or would you look at something else by now?

    Any help would be appreciated as we are going out of our minds with worry and helplessness. Thank you.

    • Hi Anya,

      We recommend she eliminate gluten, dairy and sugar which she has already done, so that’s excellent.
      It is essential that the gut be healed. We understand she is already taking glutamine and probiotics.
      In addition we recommend she take
      Berberine 1 cap twice daily to heal the SIBO and leaky gut.
      Selenomune 1 cap daily with a meal as it is essential for all autoimmune conditions in order to improve immune function.
      These supplements are available here: https://shop.liverdoctor.com/
      There is an excellent diet plan to follow in Dr Cabot’s books: ‘Healing Autoimmune Disease’ or ‘Gluten: Is it Making you Sick or Fat?’.
      Fermented foods are extremely beneficial for gluten intolerant people/coeliacs to heal and keep their gut healthy. Fermented foods include yoghurt, certain cheeses, miso, sauerkraut, etc.
      Let us know how you get on.

      Kind Regards,
      Jessah Robinson
      Nutritional Consultant for Liverdoctor.com

  6. What do you think about Zinc carnosine, MSM, biotin to heal leaky gut within a month?

    • Hi Val,

      Healing a leaky gut takes time.
      We recommend eliminating any inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy and sugar, or any other known problematic foods.
      Dr Cabot recommends you take
      Berberine 1 cap twice daily as it kills off pathogens and reduces intestinal permeability to help heal a leaky gut.
      Glutamine 1 scoop daily to help heal and seal the gut which repairs and regenerates the intestinal cells.
      A good probiotic such as Floratone-10 1 cap twice daily to reinoculate your intestines with beneficial microbes.
      These supplements are available here: https://shop.liverdoctor.com/

      Kind Regards,
      Jessah Robinson
      Nutritional Consultant for Liverdoctor.com

  7. The seemingly complex and what may seem very difficult can become very simple and easy to fix! I have helped many with this issue and yes, it does require a temporary hypoallergenic diet and the right program to heal the wall of the intestines.

    I think Dr. Mercola, Dr. Axe, and Mike Adams from NaturalNews, seems to have really good insights and information. I provide information and support for clients all over the world for this issue!

    Don’t feel overwhelmed, there are answers to everything, and we are not interconnected by the net and it’s wonderful! I love helping people, and love sites like these where information is here for those who need it!!

    Michael Giammusso, HHP
    Holistic Health Practitioner
    Buffalo Natural Wellness Center

  8. I feel bloated and liver enzymes are a little elevated although nothing came out in the ultrasound..but i urinate a lot and muscles feel loose and feel as if I loose water from body when urinate

  9. Not sure if I have leaky gut I’m have a appointment with alternitve doctor .I was recently treated for sibo 2rounds of xifaxin .the g.I.doctor says it is gone but didn’t retest or anything. It caused me to develop rosecea ..xifaxin helped the rosecea to a great extent but some still there its only etherma rosecea.so I’m wondering if sibo caused leaky gut in the process and maybe that’s why some little rosecea still resides I’m confused at this point?

    • Hi Donita,

      Hi Donita,

      SIBO may be an indication that your immune function is depleted and often leads to inflammation in the small intestines. Leaky gut may induce SIBO or SIBO may result from Leaky Gut.

      It seems like the antibiotics used to rid the SIBO has caused liver stress and Dr Cabot recommends you begin having 1 to 2 cups of fresh vegetable juices daily and remove all gluten and processed foods from your diet.

      Dr Cabot also recommends you begin taking

      Livatone Plus – 2 capsules twice daily, to improve liver function.

      N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC 600mg) – 2 capsules twice daily well away from food, if any upset occurs take at the beginning of your meals. As you will see from the attached pamphlet this supplement works well with Livatone Plus to get your liver better faster. This supplement hastens liver healing. This supplement is the precursor nutrient of glutathione; the body’s strongest anti-oxidant.

      Berberine – 1 capsule three times daily. To balance blood glucose, lower cholesterol and triglycerides, reduce anxiety, alleviate depression, and support a healthy intestinal flora.

      Glutamine Powder – 1 teaspoon in water twice daily to calm, soothe, and heal your gut lining and resolve Leaky Gut in conjunction with an anti-inflammatory diet, to help resolve Leaky Gut.

      Floratone – 1 capsule after the main meal of the day, to restore your beneficial gut flora after the antibiotic treatment.

      You may purchase these supplements at http://shop.liverdoctor.com/supplements.html

      Kind Regards,
      Jessah Robinson
      Nutritional Consultant for Liverdoctor.com

  10. Deborah Hendrickson

    I was just dx with an autoimmune disease but are unsure what type, possibly Fibromyalgia. I’ve had IBS for over 15 years after I had a parasite. I’m miserable. Please give me some knowledge o how to fight this and become healthy again. Thank you

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