help. my insides are leaking.
You might not think it to look at me, but apparently I have a leaky gut. Here I have been thinking I had high blood pressure (you would not think that to look at me either), but it appears not. Instead I have increased intestinal permeability. Actually that's not entirely true either. I do have high blood pressure, but it might not be the problem so much as a symptom of another problem.
The ongoing saga of my blood pressure came to yet another head when I started feeling awful a couple of weeks ago. The world began spinning in a most disconcerting manner, my skull seemed to have doubled in size and weight, the pressure in my head was immense, my pulse bounded strongly in my abdomen and I just wanted to sleep, sleep, sleep. The sleep thing is nothing new - I always want to sleep, but generally save it up for after 10pm. At work I felt seedy and asked someone to check my BP. Yup. High. 148/100. This sent me into my usual 'oh my goodness, I'm sick, how come I have a chronic disease' tail spin, not helped by the nearby doctor suggesting I gulp down a few beta blockers - not the kind of drugs one really wants to be mucking around with. I spent the next two days feeling stressed and scared as I stared down the barrell of an inevitably shortened life expectancy and no possible way to prevent it.
OK. Stop right there!
Shortened life expectancy and no way to prevent it?
What melodramatic drivel with no basis in reality! Hypertension can be managed, prevented, controlled! So I took a deep breath, started looking at the situation with fresh eyes, found a natropath and made an appointment.
Today was the big day. I dutifully refrained from drinking alcohol in the evening (why is it that when you are instructed to refrain from something you automatically want to do it - I rarely drink alcohol but it was all I could do to hold myself back from imbibing a glass last night), ate my high protein beef burger for tea and this morning captured my second void of the day for a urinary indican test.
I felt kind of strange going to a natropath... aren't they, like, of the devil or something? Quacks? A little dodgy and soft around the edges? As it turns out, this natropath was very nice, listened to my concerns, tested my urine, administered a zinc tally test, and came up with a plausible hypothesis for my problems - leaky gut.
It sounds kinds of strange, this leaky gut - is my abdomen full of oozing, dripping, seeping mush? Is free fluid floating between the folds of my bowell? Are my ovaries bathed in juice? Apparently not. Leaky gut has to do with what moves from the gut into the blood. Normally only small digested particles cross the lining of the bowell. In leaky gut syndrome, 'bad bugs', parasites, stress and other triggers cause the gut to become more permeable. Large particles, or toxins, that would normally be prevented from moving into the blood sneak their way through the bigger holes and mosey on down to the liver. The poor old liver does its best to deal with these imposters but soon finds its cleansing resources overwhelmed by the sheer volume of nastiness. It ships the toxins off around the body, fully intending to retrieve them later and sort them out when everything has calmed down a little. Only it never really does calm down. Toxins just keep on rolling in, building up around the body, potentially causing immune responses or (at best) just getting in the way of the body's normal functioning. And so one begins to feel headaches, dizziness, fatigue, stress, PMT, anxiety and so on. The list of related problems is fairly lengthy.
It sounds reasonable to me, but the jury is out on whether this is all fact or fiction. For now, I'll try it. The natropath took my blood pressure and it was high, although not dangerously so. Then she had me close my eyes and imagine myself in a relaxing place. I was transported to the beach, face turned into the wind, breathing in the freshness. Bingo. My blood pressure dropped down to normal! I was impressed, but still felt dizzy and had a headache, indicating hypertension is not the cause of all my symptoms. So why not give this alternative therapy a try? If it brings my blood pressure back to normal and saves me living on medications for ever it will have been worth it.
The question is, what must I do to restore my leaky gut to its usual semi-permeable state? Detox, zinc supplement and a couple of interesting looking herbal remedies that kill any bad bugs and parasites dead. In three weeks I go back for another urine test to see if there is any improvement before restocking my gut with probiotics. The natropath anticipates I will rapidly begin to feel better.
So tomorrow I begin the cleansing process. I was hoping detox wouldn't be part of the deal - I've always seen it as a bit extreme - but it doesn't look like being too arduous. Cutting out most of the chemicals from our diet means I'm more than half way there already. I don't drink caffeine, rarely have alcohol, and have been reducing my sugar intake for some time. Now I just need to cut out dairy and wheat for a few weeks.
I might not end up looking any different, but I'm hoping that with all this effort (and expense!) I'll be feeling on top of the world in a very short period of time. Fingers crossed! I'll keep you posted.