Mayo Clinic Leaky Gut Syndrome,

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Fibromyalgia and Gut Health

Fibromyalgia is a syndrome that is characterized by widespread pain, tenderness, sleep disturbances, fatigue and commonly problems of memory or thinking. Currently there are no lab tests available for fibromyalgia. Diagnosis is made by finding 11 of 18 tender points in the absence of any other disease to explain the pain. The prevalence of fibromyalgia is estimated at 2%-4% worldwide with women being more affected than men (9:1 ratio).

Many theories of what causes fibromyalgia have been explored, but neither the etiology nor pathophysiologic mechanisms are known. Some theories include genetic/familial factors, sleep disturbance, neuroendocrine dysfunction, abnormal pain processing and decreased pain inhibition. Likely it is a combination of several of these categories.

In 2004, a study published in Annuals of the Rheumatic Diseases reported that inappropriate colonization of small bowel with colonic bacteria has been reported in patients with fibromyalgia. This study also demonstrated that the severity of colonization of the small bowel correlated to the intensity of pain felt in fibromyalgia patients suggesting a pathophysiological role in the disease process.

In 2008, a study published in Rheumatology demonstrated higher rates of intestinal permeability in patients with fibromyalgia compared to healthy volunteers. This finding in addition to the study mentioned above may indicate that fibromyalgia could be associated with leaky gut syndrome. Dr. Goebel et al. measured permeability in both the gastroduodenal and small bowel in males and females with fibromyalgia. Out of the 40 fibromyalgia patients tested, 13 had gastroduodenal permeability and 15 had small bowel permeability. As compared to the healthy volunteer group where 1 person was found to have increased intestinal permeability. This is significantly higher than healthy control volunteers. The study also noted that fibromyalgia patients had reduced mRNA expression for anti-inflammatory cytokines which could be contributing to the increased inflammation seen in these patients. In addition, many patients report that their symptoms began after an intestinal infection. This study demonstrated that of the 40 fibromyalgia patients tested 11 tested positive for antibodies to Helicobacter pylori and 9 had antibodies for Campylobacter jejuni or Yersina enterocolitica. These are pathogenic organisms which can lead to the formation of ulcers and food poisoning respectively. These finding suggest that these infections could be contributing to the intestinal permeability.Dr. Goebel states that there is evidence that restoration of normal intestinal permeability may improve the disease in certain individuals.

About the author:

Dr. Joseph Humpherys is an expert in Naturopathic Medicine and has been practicing holistic medicine for many years. You can learn more about how to prevent and treat ilnesses naturally by going to our website


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