At first glance, leaky gut syndrome and psoriasis are two vastly different medical conditions. Since it’s thought that good health begins in your gut, could there be a connection?
What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes skin cells to turn over too quickly. The skin cells don’t shed. Instead, the cells continuously accumulate on the skin’s surface. This causes thick patches of dry, scaly skin.
Psoriasis isn’t contagious. The symptoms can include:
- raised red patches of skin covered in silver scales
- dry, cracked skin
- thickened nails
- pitted nails
- swollen joints
- stiff joints
What is leaky gut syndrome?
Also called intestinal permeability, leaky gut syndrome isn’t a recognized diagnosis by many traditional doctors. Alternative and integrative health practitioners most often give this diagnosis.
According to these practitioners, this syndrome occurs when the lining of the intestines becomes damaged. The lining is unable to prevent waste products from leaking out into the bloodstream due to the damage. These can include bacteria, toxins, and undigested food.
This may occur due to the following conditions:
- inflammatory bowel disease
- celiac disease
- type 1 diabetes
Natural health experts believe it’s also caused by:
- poor diet
- chronic stress
- toxin overload
- bacteria imbalance
Proponents of this syndrome believe the leak in the gut triggers an autoimmune response. This response may lead to a collection of systemic health problems.
These can include:
- gastrointestinal issues
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- skin conditions, such as psoriasis and eczema
- food allergies
What’s the connection between leaky gut and psoriasis?
There’s little scientific evidence to link this to any health condition, including psoriasis. Even still, this doesn’t mean the syndrome or the link doesn’t exist.
According to the Steinmetz Center for Integrative Medicine, the connection between leaky gut and psoriasis is clear. When proteins leak from the gut, the body recognizes them as foreign. The body then attacks them by triggering an autoimmune, inflammatory response in the form of psoriasis. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes an inflammatory skin response. Because of this, it’s within the realm of possibility that the two conditions are related.
A gastroenterologist can do an intestinal permeability assessment to diagnose leaky gut syndrome. The test measures the ability of two non-metabolized sugar molecules to permeate the intestinal mucosa.
The test requires you to drink premeasured amounts of mannitol, which is a natural sugar alcohol and lactulose, which is a synthetic sugar. Intestinal permeability is measured by how much of these compounds are secreted in your urine over a six-hour period.
Other tests your doctor can use to help diagnose leaky gut syndrome include:
- a blood test to measure zonulin, a protein that controls the size of the junctions between the gut and your bloodstream
- stool tests
- food allergy tests
- vitamin and mineral deficiencies tests
According to Natural Medicine Journal, the first step is to treat its underlying cause. For example, changes in diet that reduce gut inflammation due to Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis may improve intestinal barrier function.
Research shows the following treatments may help heal leaky gut:
- antioxidant supplements, such as quercetin, Ginkgo biloba, vitamin C, and vitamin E
- zinc supplementation with nutrients that support healthy intestinal mucosa, such as L-glutamine, phosphatidylcholine, and gamma-linolenic acid
- plant enzymes
- dietary fiber
Eating healing foods is said to mend leaky gut. These can include:
- bone broth
- raw dairy products
- fermented vegetables
- coconut products
- sprouted seeds
Speaking with your doctor
Despite the lack of evidence supporting this syndrome, there’s little doubt that it’s a real condition. Proponents of this syndrome are confident it’s only a matter of time before clear evidence exists it causes systemic health issues.
If you have psoriasis and think leaky gut may play a role, talk to your doctor about exploring treatments for leaky gut. You may also want to consult a nutritionist, an alternative health practitioner, or a natural health practitioner.