Plugging the Holes in Lyme Disease Leaky Gut

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For people with Lyme disease who have digestion problems aggravated by antibiotics, poor diet, and gut inflammation
by Greg Lee

Have you heard the story of the Dutch boy who sticks his finger in a dike? He plugs a small trickle of water which would have turned into a stream, then a torrent, and then a flood which would have washed away the town. He saves his town by acting quickly and averting a disaster.

How is a trickle of water in a damaged dike similar to a person with a leaky gut?

Just like water that seeps through a dike, a leaky gut can let food, pathogens, and toxins out of the intestines and into the blood
People with leaky gut have toxic pathogens which live in and alter the lining of the intestines. A diet high in inflammatory foods can also increase the holes in the lining of the intestines¹. Pathogens which open up holes in the intestines can come from eating food contaminated with parasites or other infections². Alcoholics with increased bacterial lipopolysaccharides³ and children with autism have a high incidence of leaky gut⁴. People with Lyme disease who receive antibiotic treatment can have their healthy gut microbes killed off which allows unhealthy germs like Clostridium difficile and drug resistant microbes⁵ to grow and create holes in the intestine walls. Pathogenic toxins from mold⁶ can also irritate the gut. These irritants can lead to wide range of local and systemic symptoms.

Leaky gut syndrome can produce a wide range of symptoms
Inflammatory compounds irritate the lining of the intestines which leads to an increased number of leaks in the intestinal walls. This increases symptoms of bloating, distention, and pain in the gut⁷. These leaks allow larger food particles, pathogens, toxins, and inflammatory compounds to seep into the blood stream⁸. As these compounds circulate through the body, they can also lead to increased symptoms of allergic reactions, heart problems, metabolic weight gain⁹, joint pain and inflammation¹⁰, migraines¹¹, and depression¹². In response to these compounds coming into the blood stream, the immune system mounts a response.

The immune system sees the intestinal compounds that are seeping into the blood as invaders to be attacked
In response to pathogenic toxins leaking from the intestines, the immune system produces multiple inflammatory compounds: Transforming growth factor beta-1 (TGF Beta-1), Matrix metallopeptidase 9 (MMP-9), Interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β), and Plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1)¹³. These inflammatory compounds affect multiple systems of the body. Because of the inflammatory compounds that become elevated in people with Lyme disease or co-infections, they are at greater risk of leaky gut. In a study on Lyme disease patients, Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα) and Interleukin-13 (IL-13) were found to be elevated in different phases of infection¹⁴. TNFα has also been found to be elevated in Bartonella infections¹⁵, mice infected with Babesia¹⁶, mice receiving Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever antigens¹⁷, Ehrlichia infections¹⁸, and in Brucellosis patients¹⁹. Both TNFα and IL-13 have a direct effect on increasing intestinal lining leakage²⁰. Unfortunately, western medicine lacks a way to accurately diagnose and to treat leaky gut syndrome.

If medications are not known to be effective, what else can help you to heal leaky gut syndrome?

Here are four strategies for helping to heal leaky gut syndrome
There are several steps to healing leaky gut
● Neutralize or drain toxins, inflammatory compounds, and accumulated congestion which aggravate the intestinal lining and different areas of the body (liver, gall bladder, and brain)
● Heal the leaks in the intestinal walls
● Kill pathogens embedded in intestines
● Improve diet to reduce / eliminate inflammatory foods, xeno-estrogen meats, and / or pathogens

Healing Leaky Gut Strategy #1: Neutralize toxins and drain congestion and inflammation
Toxins from parasites and other germs trigger the body to produce inflammation. Neutralizing the toxins helps to reduce the irritation in the intestines. There are several herbs and essential oils that neutralize toxins as well as reduce the inflammatory compounds which aggravate leaky gut symptoms.

Scutellaria baicalensis, Chinese name: Huang Qin²¹, contains multiple compounds that neutralize bacterial endotoxins also know as lipopolysaccharides in animal and lab studies. These compounds also inhibit TNFα: baicalein, baicalin²², flavonoids²³, wogonin²⁴, and wogonoside²⁵. Baicalein²⁶ and scutellaria²⁷ repaired the inflammatory damage caused by IL-13 in mouse studies.

Licorice, Chinese name: Gan Cao, also contains multiple anti-toxin and anti-inflammatory compounds including: 18β-Glycyrrhetinic acid²⁸, flavonoids, glycyrrhizin acid²⁹, and licochalcone Av³⁰. All these compounds inhibit TNFα and the latter three also inhibit IL-13 in animal studies. One of the most recommended forms is deglycyrrhizinated licorice for treating leaky gut³¹.

Nutmeg, Chinese name: Rou Dou Kou, has been used traditionally for treating diarrhea, dysentery, abdominal pain, fullness, distention, and coldness. It has also been effective in combination with other herbs in treating ulcerative colitis and infantile diarrhea in China³². Nutmeg also contains neolignans³³, Malabaricone C³⁴, and Macelignan³⁵ which inhibit endotoxin inflammation in animal and lab studies. Macelignan also inhibits IL-13 and TNF alpha in a rat study³⁶.

Lavender essential oil has been used traditionally to treat gastrointestinal disorders. In animal studies, lavender oil inhibits TNFα³⁷ and IL-13³⁸. In a lab study, lavender oil inhibited the effects of endotoxins on human monocytes³⁹. In addition to herbs and supplements, Frequency Specific Microcurrent can help to neutralize toxins and inflammation.

Frequency Specific Microcurrent uses low level electrical currents to neutralize toxins, lower inflammation, and reduce allergic reactions⁴⁰. It also uses frequencies to target the different parts of the digestion system like the small intestine (22), large intestine (85), and the iliocecal valve (31) that can be affected by leaky gut. In addition to removing toxins and inflammation, the leaks need to be sealed up.

Healing Leaky Gut Strategy #2: Heal the leaks in the intestinal walls
There are supplements and herbs which help to plug the leaks and protect the walls of the intestines. These remedies help to plug up the holes in the intestinal barrier, provide healthy microbes to add another layer of protection for the intestines, and reduce toxicity in human and animals studies.

Probiotics are healthy bacteria and microbes which digest food and provide protection to the walls of the intestines. In human⁴¹ and animal subjects, probiotics including Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus acidophilus⁴² have improved intestinal wall permeability in irritable bowel syndrome studies. Animals in these studies also showed a decrease in levels of endotoxins or lipopolysaccharides⁴³.

Arabinogalactan from larch bark helps to feed healthy probiotic bacteria and impede the growth of pathogenic organisms in the intestines⁴⁴. This supplement also reduced ammonia in human fecal samples⁴⁵.

L-Glutamine in multiple animal studies had a range of beneficial effects on healing damage to the intestines⁴⁶ of the type caused by TNFα and IL-13. In a pig study, this supplement enhanced the expression of tight junction protein expression in the intestines⁴⁷. In a mouse study, glutamine provided significant protection against gut injury and inflammation⁴⁸. In a rat study, glutamine repaired intestinal damage⁴⁹. In a human study, glutamine significantly attenuates the IgA and IgM responses to gram negative endotoxins. Up to 24 patients showed significant clinical improvement or remission 0 – 14 months after taking glutamine, n-acetyl cysteine, and zinc along with a leaky gut diet⁵⁰.

Zinc helps also with repairing intestinal permeability in study with Crohn’s patients⁵¹.

Melatonin in one rat study, significantly reduced ethanol or wine induced intestinal permeability.⁵² In another rat study, melatonin prevented gut barrier dysfunction, reduced bacterial translocation, and decreased early mortality⁵³. In another mouse study, melatonin limited intestinal damage and permeability and preserved aspects of mitochondrial function⁵⁴.

Honeysuckle flowers, Chinese name: Jin Yin Hua regulated gut flora distribution and gut permeabiltiy in one rat study⁵⁵. This herb is also highly effective at neutralizing endotoxins in other animal studies.

Curcumin derived from turmeric is an immunomodulator, anti-inflammatory, and oxidative stress reducing compound. It relieves irritable bowel symptoms in animal studies⁵⁶. Unfortunately, curcumin is not well absorbed through the intestines. Fortunately, liposomal curcumin in a cow study had greater local tissue absorption⁵⁷, which would suggest that using enteric coated capsules or a retention enema for more effective delivery into the intestines.

Agaricus mushroom combined with selenium protected against heat stress ileum permeability in a rat study⁵⁸. As the intestinal barrier gets repaired, the damaging microbes need to be eliminated.

Healing Leaky Gut Strategy #3: Kill pathogens that are embedded in the intestinal walls
Many different pathogens can increase intestinal wall permeability like E. Coli⁵⁹, Salmonella enteritidis⁶⁰, Streptococcus pneumoniae⁶¹, Hafnia alvei, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Morganella morganii, Pseudomonas putida, Citrobacter koseri, and Klebsiella pneumoniae⁶². The food borne infection Listeria monocytogenes can produce symptoms of gastroenteritis, sepsis, and meningitis. This bacteria is capable of invading the blood through the epithelial lining of the intestines⁶³. Multiple remedies have been helpful are reducing bloating, pain, and nausea from leaky gut.

Ozonated oils have antifungal and broad antibacterial properties. Ozonated sesame oil inhibited the growth of Candida albicans, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli, and Enterococcus faecalis in a lab study⁶⁴. Patients will take them in capsules, drink them in water or use them in retention enemas. Ozonated oils are often combined with essential oils.

Essential oils also have broad antifungal, antibacterial, and antiparasitic properties. These oils are delivered into the intestines via capsules, retention enemas, and liposomal mixtures.

Artemisia annua essential oil has been shown to inhibit a wide range of pathogens including gram-positive bacteria (Enterococcus, Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, Bacillus, and Listeria spp.), and gram-negative bacteria (Escherichia, Shigella, Salmonella, Haemophilus, Klebsiella, and Pseudomonas spp.) and other microorganisms (Candida, Saccharomyces, and Aspergillus spp.) It also contains the anti-malarial compound artemisinin⁶⁵, which has also been used clinically to treat protozoa infections like Babesia and Leishmaniasis⁶⁶.

Lemongrass, oregano, and bay essential oils inhibited Acinetobacter baumanii, Aeromonas veronii biogroup sobria, Candida albicans, Enterococcus faecalis, Escherichia col, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serotype typhimurium, Serratia marcescens and Staphylococcus aureus at less than or equal to 2% (v/v) in another lab study⁶⁷.

Clove essential oil had a marked germicidal effect on Candida albicans. Staphylococcus aureus (five strains), Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Clostridium perfringens, and Escherichia coli at 0.4% (v/v) dispersed in a sugar solution in a third lab study⁶8. This oil has also been shown to inhibit protozoa infections that can infect the intestines including Leishmaniasis⁶⁹ and Giardia⁷⁰ in lab studies. In addition to purging pathogens, dietary improvements help to maintain and improve intestinal wall integrity.

Healing Leaky Gut Strategy #4: Improve diet to reduce / eliminate intestinal leaks and increase anti-inflammatory foods
Reduce or eliminate foods with gluten like wheat, rye, and barley. In one study, gliadin which is found in gluten increased intestinal permeability which was correlated with depression⁷¹.

Reduce foods made with commonly used industrial food additives including: glucose, salt, emulsifiers, organic solvents, microbial transglutaminase, and nanoparticles which increase intestinal permeability⁷².

Avoid taking ascorbic acid in combination with aspirin which increases the excretion of lactulose in a human study, a sign of increased intestinal permeability⁷³

Reduce alcohol consumption⁷⁴. Dietary changes can also help with reducing inflammatory compounds which can injure the gut.

The Mediterranean diet can help with reducing systemic inflammation.⁷⁵ It consists of anti-oxidant rich fruits and vegetables, and whole grains, preferably without gluten. This diet also recommends eating legumes and nuts, replacing butter with healthy fats, such as olive oil, using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods, limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month, and eating fish and poultry at least twice a week⁷⁶. This diet can help to limit systemic TNFα and its impact on intestinal permeability⁷⁷. A multipronged strategy helps you to repair the damage in a leaky gut.

Remedies, treatments, and a healthy diet can help to reduce symptoms of leaky gut caused by antibiotics, intestinal pathogens, and poor diet
Just like plugging a leaky dike, a combination of herbs, supplements, Frequency Specific Microcurrent treatment, and dietary modifications can help to repair the holes in the intestines and reverse the discomfort of leaky gut syndrome. Since some of these remedies and treatments require specialized training, work with a Lyme literate Chinese medicine practitioner to develop a proper, safe, and effective strategy for your condition.

– Greg

>> Next step: Click here to take our What Lyme Brain Type are You? Quiz to help identify underlying causes of neurological Lyme.

P.S. Do you have experiences where treatments or remedies improved your abdominal bloating, pain, and distention from Lyme disease leaky gut? Tell us about it.

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Image courtesy of: By user:Pieter1 (Own work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Comments 4

  1. Greg,

    Great picture and even better article. I was planning on having a glass of wine tonight, I think I will take some melatonin afterwards now, too.

    Ozonated oils: I would really like to start taking ozonated oils or water. I did IV ozone therapy and it work fantastically. Do you think the ozonated oils hold the ozone?

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  2. 1st comment was accidentally sent so here is the COMPLETED VERSION.

    I recently found out I had chronic Lyme (possibly over 16 years ago when diagnosed with lupus with a symptom-free 7 years in between then and now OR perhaps I got it when I moved to New England the last 4 yearsa). I also tested positive for Epstein Barr virus, mycoplasma pneumoniae, klebsiella, candida, leaky gut and heavy metals (lead and thallium on a 6 hr challenge test). Could you please share what would be a logical order to address these issues?

    1. Of the conditions listed, is there one or 2 things that is a MUST to treat first before all the others such as candida and leaky gut first, metals second and then the pathogens OR do it all simultaneously? Is there one thing that should be addressed first before the others; otherwise, a person will continue to have a hindrance to healing?
    2. Since one should ensure detox pathways are working properly, would a a a kidney and or liver cleanse be a good idea first as well before jumping into any treatment?

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      Hi Shari, I’m sorry to hear about your multiple infections and metals. It really depends up on which infection or metal is creating the biggest burden on your health. We use an electrodermal scan to prioritize treatment in patients similar to you. Depending upon the level of toxicity and inflammation in a patient, we will use gentle methods at first and then increase cleansing as needed.

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