Welcome to the blog website of Anne Heffron: writer, mother, adoptee.

Day 32 - Leaky Gut and the Primal Wound and the What You Don't Know is Hurting You

Day 32 - Leaky Gut and the Primal Wound and the What You Don't Know is Hurting You

I am here to argue that for those babies who interpreted losing their first mothers as a traumatic event, they have an increased likelihood of suffering from a condition known as leaky gut.

I have news for you. I’m not a doctor. so this post is an invitation for you to go do as much learning on your own as you want about this subject if you are interested. I’m just a curious person who has pooped her pants five times in the last three years (that, as you can guess, is five times too many), and who now can’t eat gluten, eggs, sugar, honeydew melon, or avocado without abdominal distress or facial swelling, and who has officially had it. 

If digestion weren’t an issue for me, maybe I’d be able to come up with a more cohesive post, but it is what is is: a leaky mess. One problem is that this issue makes me really angry. I’ll tell you why at the end.

I’m going to pull from a lot of sources in this post and just let them speak for themselves instead of trying to digest them and spoon feed them to you. 

We’re going big on leaky gut today. Leaky gut. Remember those words. If you have almost any kind of health issue, and in particular if you were relinquished at birth or put into an incubator or not breast fed, they could radically change your life. 

1.     Let’s start with what Dr. Andrew Weil has to say about leaky gut:


Leaky gut syndrome is not generally recognized by conventional physicians, but evidence is accumulating that it is a real condition that affects the lining of the intestines. The theory is that leaky gut syndrome (also called increased intestinal permeability), is the result of damage to the intestinal lining, making it less able to protect the internal environment as well as to filter needed nutrients and other biological substances. As a consequence, some bacteria and their toxins, incompletely digested proteins and fats, and waste not normally absorbed may “leak” out of the intestines into the blood stream. This triggers an autoimmune reaction, which can lead to gastrointestinal problems such as abdominal bloating, excessive gas and cramps, fatigue, food sensitivities, joint pain, skin rashes, and autoimmunity. The cause of this syndrome may be chronic inflammation, food sensitivity, damage from taking large amounts of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), cytotoxic drugs and radiation or certain antibiotics, excessive alcohol consumption, or compromised immunity.

Leaky gut syndrome may trigger or worsen such disorders as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and asthma.

My colleague, pediatrician Sandy Newmark, M.D., who deals with leaky gut syndrome in children, tells me that it isn’t clear how many people have this disorder or exactly what problems can be attributed to it. Dr. Newmark says that it has been established that a significant percentage of children with autism have increased intestinal permeability, but it isn’t known whether this is a cause or an effect of food sensitivities and an underlying metabolic problem.

Some alternative medicine practitioners blame such unrelated problems as migraines, bad breath and insomnia on leaky gut syndrome and recommend buying home test kits purportedly capable of measuring intestinal permeability. I doubt it. For treatment, some of these practitioners recommend an assortment of dietary supplements.

I would be wary of any diagnosis of leaky gut syndrome if you don’t have inflammatory bowel conditions (Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome), rheumatoid arthritis, or asthma.

The leaky gut treatment I recommend involves avoiding alcohol and NSAIDS as well as any foods that you’re allergic to. Make sure you’re eating plenty of fiber. Take Culturelle or another probiotic supplement containing Lactobacillus GG. I would also recommend eating an anti-inflammatory diet, including essential fatty acids like fish oil and GLA. In addition, you might try supplementing with glutamine, an amino acid that helps maintain intestinal metabolism and function and seems to benefit patients who have had intestinal injury from chemotherapy and radiation.

2.     Here’s what Web MD has to say about the subject: (https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/features/leaky-gut-syndrome#1)

"Leaky gut syndrome" is said to have symptoms including bloating, gas, cramps, food sensitivities, and aches and pains. But it's something of a medical mystery.

“From an MD’s standpoint, it’s a very gray area,” says gastroenterologist Donald Kirby, MD, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the Cleveland Clinic. “Physicians don’t know enough about the gut, which is our biggest immune system organ.”

"Leaky gut syndrome" isn't a diagnosis taught in medical school. Instead, "leaky gut really means you’ve got a diagnosis that still needs to be made,” Kirby says. “You hope that your doctor is a good-enough Sherlock Holmes, but sometimes it is very hard to make a diagnosis.”

“We don’t know a lot but we know that it exists,” says Linda A. Lee, MD, a gastroenterologist and director of the Johns Hopkins Integrative Medicine and Digestive Center. “In the absence of evidence, we don’t know what it means or what therapies can directly address it.”

Intestinal Permeability

A possible cause of leaky gut is increased intestinal permeability or intestinal hyperpermeability.

3.     I just ordered Dr. Axe’s book on leaky gut entitled Eat Dirt. Here is what he has to say about the syndrome on his webpage: (https://draxe.com/7-signs-symptoms-you-have-leaky-gut/)

Here are 7 Leaky Gut Symptoms and Signs

How do you know if you have leaky gut? Below you’ll find seven leaky gut symptoms and early occurring conditions that may point to an issue with your gut health.

1. Food Sensitivities

Because of the onslaught of toxins that enter the bloodstream, the immune systems of people with intestinal hyperpermeability are on overdrive mass-producing various antibodies, which may make their bodies more susceptible to antigens in certain foods (especially gluten and dairy). In studies involving rats and human children, leaky gut and food allergies have been linked.  Allergies are believed to be one of the most common leaky gut symptoms.

2. Inflammatory Bowel Disease 

Researchers from Hungary uncovered in 2012 that elevated gut permeability is oftentimes localized to the colon in people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis.  As far back as 1988, scientists suggested that Crohn’s disease may be more of a risk for people with leaky gut. 

A small study (observing 12 patients) discovered that zinc supplementation may help resolve the tight junction dysfunction in these cases, although more research is required on a larger scale to confirm these results. 

3. Autoimmune Disease

The key to understanding how leaky gut can cause an autoimmune disease is through the research done on a protein known as “zonulin.” According to a 2011 article published in the journal Physiologic Reviews

Zonulin is the only physiological modulator of intercellular tight junctions described so far that is involved in trafficking of macromolecules and, therefore, in tolerance/immune response balance. When the finely tuned zonulin pathway is deregulated in genetically susceptible individuals, both intestinal and extraintestinal autoimmune, inflammatory, and neoplastic disorders can occur.

Eating gluten may trigger this dangerous cascade. University of Maryland School of Medicine researchers have uncovered that gluten “activates zonulin signaling irrespective of the genetic expression of autoimmunity, leading to increased intestinal permeability to macromolecules.” 

The good news is that, at least as far as leaky gut plays a role in autoimmune conditions, it is reversible and could potentially alleviate some of these problematic immune responses. 

4. Thyroid Problems 

One of the autoimmune diseases that leaky gut syndrome may directly affect is Hashimoto’s disease.  Also known as “chronic thyroiditis,” this disorder is displayed with hypothyroidism (low thyroid function), impaired metabolism, fatigue, depression, weight gain and a host of other concerns.

5. Nutrient Malabsorption

In my own patients, I’ve observed various nutritional deficiencies resulting from leaky gut, including vitamin B12, magnesium and digestive enzymes. Those common nutrient deficiencies are one reason why many functional medicine practitioners prescribe a whole-food multivitamin in addition to probiotics for people suffering leaky gut problems.

6. Inflammatory Skin Conditions 

First described over 70 years ago, the gut-skin connection theory has described how intestinal hyperpermeability can cause a slew of skin conditions, particularly acne and psoriasis. Creams and drugs with endless lists of (sometimes dangerous) side effects are often prescribed for these skin disorders, yet there has been evidence for several decades that part of the root cause might exist in the gut.

7. Mood Issues and Autism

According to a study published in the journal Neuroendocrinology Letters, leaky gut has been shown to cause various neurocognitive disorders. For example, the inflammatory response characteristic of intestinal hyperpermeability triggers the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines and other chemicals that are thought to induce depression

A study published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience described the “vicious circle between immune system impairment and increasing dysbiosis that leads to leaky gut and neurochemical compounds and/or neurotoxic xenobiotics production and absorption.”

The authors go on to describe findings from a number of studies that point to their theory that autism may be connected to problems in the gut microbiome, particularly within the first year of life. It is actually a common hypothesis in modern science that leaky gut is strongly related to autism.

This is Anne. I'm back now. 

Here’s why I get so mad. The trauma of separating mother and child could lead to life-long physical damage to the child, and, I suspect, the mother as well through the trauma of loss, and yet, as far as I can tell, there is so little done to prevent or address this. Where are the health clinics for those affected by early mother loss? Where are the health protocols? 

Our guts need the mother. Read on. 

4.     Here’s part of an article on leaky gut and newborns: (https://bodyecology.com/articles/born_with_leaky_gut.php)


All babies are born with a leaking or permeable gut lining so that they can fully benefit from the nourishment of their mother's colostrum. This "first milk" from the mother delivers powerful nutrients and immune boosting substances like lactoferrin, immunoglobulins, sugars and antibodies to the fragile newborn infant.

These must be absorbed thru the gut lining quickly because the baby has moved from the fairly protected environment of the womb into a world literally covered with bacteria…some good and some potentially bad. At this time a porous gut wall is critical for the baby's survival.

The permeable lining in the intestines of each newborn baby allows them to absorb nutrients quickly and boosts immunity until a vibrant inner ecosystem can be established that help provide the immunity we all need to live safely and happily upon this earth. A healthy inner ecosystem is made up of the friendly microflora (good bacteria) that reside in our intestines and keep us healthy and strong.

Soon after birth the gut lining begins to form a barrier and in approximately three days the colostrum is replaced by milk. Both colostrum and mother's milk are important for feeding the beneficial bacteria and good yeast to help them grow and multiply. This process can't be replicated from baby formula.

If a baby's mother doesn't have plenty of microflora in her digestive system, she won't be able to pass on healthy bacteria to her baby. Also, if a mother gives her baby formula instead of her own milk, then her baby misses out on all the healthy bacteria and antibodies of breast milk.


I'm back again. 

What if my stomach has hurt almost my entire life and it was something that could have been addressed by having my first mother breast feed me for the first three days of my life. What if those three days were considered a medical emergency, and so the mother and child were allowed the shelter of the law for health considerations? 

It’s not just that I walk around with pings of cramps in my stomach. It’s that my life is seriously compromised because of the state of my digestion. And I’m one of the healthy ones. When you meet an adopted person, gently ask about health issues. Look into their eyes. See if they can hold your gaze; watch to see if their eyes move about as if looking for something. Do they look comfortable in their bodies? 

I believe the primal wound is held in the gut. The good news is there is reams of information out there on how to help heal, if not cure, leaky gut. Supposedly it takes six months to a year to really see change in your health if you follow the diet, exercise, and lifestyle protocols. That sounds like such a long time, until you realize that you have been suffering for decades.

Then it’s a blink of an eye.

See you tomorrow.


As a postscript, I recently read an interesting, well-written article on hair loss and a troubled gut, and I’m going to link it here so you can know even more about your body and how it works. https://www.hairlossrevolution.com/gut-health-hair-connection/

Day 33 - Frosty Hesson Part 2 - Ways We Say Goodbye and I Love You

Day 33 - Frosty Hesson Part 2 - Ways We Say Goodbye and I Love You

Phoning Home with This is Us

Phoning Home with This is Us