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What is Intestinal Permeability?
The intestinal epithelium is the most important barrier of protection from the external world in our entire body. It maintains its functional integrity through a network of cells mechanically linked to one another that seal intracellular spaces.
“Intestinal Permeability,” or sometimes referred to as, “Leaky Gut Syndrome,” is a process that has become more widely understood over the past decade. The terms are used to describe what happens when our intestines become hyper-permeable, and allow antigens, proteins, and other pathogens, to pass through the epithelium.
Intestinal permeability has been cited as a major contributor to autoimmune disease, systemic inflammation, allergies, and inflammatory bowel disease.
How Does our GI Tract Become Hyper Permeable?
There are several components involved in influencing the dysfunction of the intestinal epithelium, such as food allergies, gut flora, drugs, toxins, stress and diet. Chronic trauma in the gastrointestinal tract irritates the epithelium on the inner surface of the mucosa, reduces good bacteria, and degrades the cytoskeleton, which is an important protein filament, that maintains the tight junction between cells that support the epithelial tissue. As wear and tear ensues, pores enlarge in the mucosa wall, and cell junctions widen, increasing probability of abnormal immune system function, illness, and disease.
What Does Zonulin Have To Do With It?
The human protein called zonulin, an intestinal modulator, is responsible for governing tight junctions between cells in the digestive tract. Zonulin helps modulate intestinal permeability, by allowing nutrient absorption, and barring pathogenic entry. It does this by attaching to receptor sites along the epithelial cells and inducing permeability through a sequence of biochemical signals. Zonulin levels are dramatically increased in various autoimmune disorders, diseases, and cognitive challenges. Those with celiacs disease have high zonulin levels. Celiacs disease is an immune mediated disease, which means that, the immune system over reacts, or starts attacking the body. Celiacs disease is characterized by the destruction of the small intestine, and is instigated by the consumption of gluten, a protein found in several grains, and commonly used as a flavoring agent. Those who have celiacs disease must strictly avoid all gluten containing products. Studies have shown that gluten increases zonulin levels even in those who do not have celiac’s disease, suggesting that gluten increases cell permeability for all people, to some extent.
Gluten, Zonulin & Auto Immunity
Gluten has been correlated with increased incidence of several autoimmune disorders. A study published by the annals of New York Acedamy Sciences, compared 99 patients with inflammatory myopathies related to various autoimmune diseases, with 100 healthy controls. Results showed Antigliadin IgA (antibodies to gluten) levels were significantly increased in those with inflammatory myopathies, compared to the control group who showed little reaction. Increased zonulin levels have also been indicated in ankylosing spondylitis, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, cronh’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, type 1 diabetes, several forms of cancer, multiple sclerosis and schizophrenia.
Intestinal permeability is strongly indicated in individuals with food allergy, and while some researchers believe it is the cause of allergy, others contest it is a result. Although the exact relationship between disease pathogenesis and epithelial permeability is not collectively agreed upon, certain etiological factors can be observed in many cases. Pro-inflammatory cytokines, are a type of immune cell that cause inflammation in the body. In abnormal conditions, such as autoimmune illness or allergic reactions, pro inflammatory cytokines are found in abnormal amounts.
Allergies & Intestinal Permeability
Food allergy, disease, and intestinal permeability often run in the same pack. A common allergic response to cow dairy, that affects 1 out of every 10 children, is atopic dermatitis, which manifests as itchy patches on the skin. Many times with these children, when cow dairy is eliminated, atopic dermatitis goes away. Children with atopic dermatitis have significantly higher chances of developing asthma down the road. Hypochloridia (low stomach acid), and gluten sensitivity, a are often found in those with hypothyroidism. Recent studies show that intestinal hyperpermeability contributes to the development of diabetes mellitus types 1 and 2. Degradation of the intestinal wall, leads to increased food allergies, and may provoke auto-immune damage to the pancreatic beta cells, causing cytokine production and insulin resistance.
Digestion & Disease
The gastrointestinal tract is the epicenter or our immune system. Almost every disease can be traced to its roots in the gut. Seriousness in healing GI imbalance is required when any imbalance begins to manifest. We spend billions every year on pharmaceuticals to treat poor digestion, and the pain that comes with it. While these drugs can offer immediate relief, the underlying cause of the dysfunction is not understood, nor the consequences that can come from it. We are able to heal, or at least significantly reduce the symptoms of, many diseases, rather inexpensively from our own homes. Personal involvement and commitment are the only requirements to help heal a digestive disorder, or any secondary manifestation. Poor gastrointestinal health is a significant trigger in all known diseases.
What’s Ayurveda Got To Say About It?
Actually ayurveda described intestinal permeability thousands of years ago in what was defined as ‘samprapti’ the pathogenis of disease.
Practitioners of Ayurveda recognize the concept of “intestinal permeability” as a process of “Samprapti” which is the pathogenesis of disease through six distinct stages.
- Sanchaya (Accumulation of Dosha)
- Prakopa (Aggravation of Dosha)
- Prasara (Spreading of Dosha)
- Sthansamshraya (Localization of Dosha)
- Vyakta (Stage of clinical manifestation)
- Bheda (stage of complications of diseases)
This basic pathogenesis described in Samprapti can be applied to all disease manifestation, and is also used as a technique of observation by ayurvedic practitioners to assess, and treat clients and patients. From an ayurvedic perspective, intestinal permeability begins in the same way as many illnesses: with low agni. Agni is the process of assimilating nutrients and breaking down wastes.
Healing the GI tract often begins with appropriate diet and lifestyle practices. If digestion has evolved into severe physical imbalance panchakarma or other powerful measures are strongly indicated.
If you are having a digestive issue, book an appointment with Monica Yearwood at Hamsa Center in Chicago who can construct a program for you.
Learn about this and more at Hamsa Ayurveda & Yoga Center in Chicago.
We’ve had an exciting June month at Hamsa that began our first summer open! Our ayurvedic yoga series led by Margaret Berger and Yoli Maya Yeh has been an extraordinary success, and our therapists Janice Arogones and Nathan Paulus have been busy assisting our clients through the beautiful process of panchakarma. We are excited to share an over view of the month to come, as we continue to grow and establish ourselves as an ayurvedic center in our Chicago community.
Ayurvedic Nutrition Series – July 11th, 18th & 25th
Ayurvedic nutrition can be extremely complicated and confusing to the novice on the ayurvedic path. Take the “Ayurvedic Nutrition Series” at Hamsa to learn about ayurvedic nutrition in a step-by-step manner and break away from going to others for nutritional insights that your body requires. In this three-part series Monica Yearwood will teach you the fundamentals of ayurvedic nutrition, signs your body is not digesting food well, dietary intolerances from an ayurvedic perspective, and how to create a diet for yourself and family. Learn more about the series by following this link!
Lunar Sadhana – July 15th
Our monthly lunar meditation for women continues to grow at Hamsa. Please observe that we have switched our meetings from Tuesday to Monday. Join us July 15th for a 2-hour practice that honors Duti Nitya, who is the aspect of the ‘Divine Female,’ that grants our wishes swiftly. We will experience a guided meditation, accentuated by sound, breath and movement. To learn more and register follow this link.
Practices for Pitta – July 20th
The summer season has been strange and marked by climatic swings, but we have hopes that by the time our resident ayurvedic therapist, Nathan Paulus, teaches, “Practices for Pitta,” we will be in the sweltering midst of a Chicago-true-style-summer. In this 2-hour workshop learn about pitta dosha in the body, mind, and environment. Nathan will show you how to identify pitta excess, and how to reduce it using yoga and ayurvedic lifestyle practices. To learn more and register follow this link.
Free Lecture & Yoga Practice – July 22nd & July 29th
Curious about our series? Take a complimentary yoga class from Hamsa! Our signature ayurvedic yoga series facilitates the heart of lifestyle learning, strategy, and application at Hamsa. Ayurveda and yoga have traditionally been taught together for thousands of years. For anyone who desires to grow into a more ‘ayurvedic based’ lifestyle, this yoga series provides the learning and on-going support necessary to transform. To learn more and register.
During July receive a complimentary abhyanga treatment (normally $125.00) with purchase of an initial consultation or follow-up consultation. Ayurvedic consultations are used to develop programs that integrate diet and lifestyle (meditation, herbs, eating times, etc). They can be used for weight loss, detoxification, emotional release, enhanced mind/body balance, and alternative medicine support. They also enable the Hamsa staff to fully customize your treatments through the choice of oils, herbs, and treatments chosen in our holistic spa.
At Hamsa, our initial consultation and lifestyle assessments now include a ‘Lifestyle Starter Pack’- A tongue scraper, ayurvedic oil, and a month supply of triphala or antioxidants – $75.00 value. If after a consultation you decide to pursue our post consultation coaching services, panchakarma, or multiple day program at Hamsa, you may credit your consultation fee toward your program cost. To learn more and book an appointment follow this link.
Hamsa is a detoxification and rejuvenation center rooted in ayurveda and yoga. Their specialty is creating programs individually tailored and customized for each client. Here are three ways that you can utilize their services to powerfully detoxify your body, mind, & spirit.
1. 3-Day Udvartana Program
Raw Juice Fast, Udvartana, Steam, Month-Long Program
$950.00 Value for $725.00
A short but powerfully effective program consisting of a 3-day series of udvartana, steam, and a juice fast, as well as a a month long regiment of internal herbs and ayurvedic diet. When our lymphatic system is not working properly, toxins and other wastes accumulate in the tissues, and can cause weight gain.Udvartana is a traditional ayurvedic treatment, applied by two therapists, that assists with lymphatic drainage, weight loss, and detoxification. Ayurvedic technicians use specific herbs and strokes over a period of an hour that help to rebalance the lymphatic system, and complete the treatment in a steam infused witch specific herbs. Clients are provided a fasting regiment of all raw fresh pressed fruit and vegetable juices and herbal elixirs. Begin your series with a complimentary 2 hour assessment where Monica tailors a month long lifestyle program and herbal regiment (normally $225.00). Pick up 5 raw juices and fresh pressed herbal elixirs lovingly made by “Healing Earth Cafe.” 3-Day Program includes: treatments, herbs, juices, and assessment. Learn more by following this link…
2. 4-Week Detox Class, $280.00
Includes All Herbal Supplements & Oils ($78.00 Value)
A 4-Week Detox Class focused on self-development and empowerment. Participants implement lifestyle practices that form the foundation of ayurvedic lifestyle, and learn powerful detoxification practices that include: self-massage, skin brushing, steaming, enemas, fasting, etc.
Clients meet once a week for four, consecutive weeks in a small, classroom setting, and learn step-by-step how to utilize practices of self-empowerment in order to rejuvenate and detoxify the system. Included in each series: Detailed Manual and Course Handouts
Beautiful Ayurvedic Lifestyle Starter Pack (Thailam, Nasya, Triphala, Churna, Tongue Scraper, Ubtan) and 20% off additional services at Hamsa. Learn more by following this link…
Next session starts May 6th 6:30-8:30
3. Home Based Cleanse, $425.00
(Includes all Herbal Supplements Hand Crafted for You! $225.00 Value)
The home based cleanse is tailored for each client and is best for someone looking for a moderate level cleanse. Intensity varies according to several important key areas in client’s life including: current stress load, time constraints, and current health status.
The home based cleanse includes a 1-hour initial consultation and two 30-minute follow-up consultations. During an initial consultation Monica gathers the appropriate information to construct the cleanse itself. She uses this information to hand select, craft, and blend each of her client’s herbal supplements to fulfill her client’s needs. No two cleanses are ever alike.
Additional treatments can be integrated into one’s program, making an affective alternative for ‘panchakarma.’ Learn more by following this link…
Curious about Hamsa’s Detox Course? Take a peak of each week!
Shodhana & Dinacharya
The next four weeks are broken into two primary categories chosen to promote a more ayurvedic lifestyle and detoxification: dinacharya and shodhana. These are two words that you will become very familiar with over the next four weeks.
Dinacharya includes all of ayurveda’s daily lifestyle practices. We use these primarily as a way of maintaining health, and to reduce specific doshic influences.
Shodhana refers to all of ayurveda’s stronger detoxification methods (specifically panchakarma), that are not typically part of every day lifestyle, and are reserved for special times of the year when detoxification is required.
You will begin to implement dinacharya practices immediately, and through the course of the next four weeks. These are very powerful practices that form the foundation of ayurvedic lifestyle. They work to develop your self-awareness, enhance intuition, knowledge of your body, digestive strength, immunity and endurance.
The shodhana practices require more planning. They require more involvement and preparation in your process. Shodhana practices include: self-massage, skin brushing, steaming, enemas, fasting, etc. You are not required to do all of these things. Depending on your constitution and lifestyle demands some of them may even be contraindicated. Through the process at Hamsa, we will better be able to determine which of the shodhana practices are best for you at this time.
Week At A Glance
Each week we will have a different theme during the four weeks. Half of the class will be spent focusing on lifestyle, and the other half of the class will be spent discussing detoxification.
Week 1: The Corner Stones of Ayurvedic Lifestyle
Detoxify the Liver, Blood, and Small Intestine through lifestyle changes & optional deeper cleansing therapies.
Week 1 starts with introductions to the cleanse itself and ayurvedic lifestyle. Each person will need to confirm that she or he understands which excess dosha she is working with as this will determine many of the dinacharya practices she chooses.
Topics of ayurvedic theory: Constitution, dinacharya, detoxing in ayurveda, meditation practice, snehana & virechana.
Dinacharya Practices: Sattvic diet, regular eating times, regular sleeping times, tongue scraping, ghee.
Shodhana Practices: Triphala & mahasudarshan, harataki & licorice
Week 2: Learn The Fundamentals of Ayurvedic Diet
Detoxify the colon through lifestyle changes & optional deeper cleansing therapies.
Topics of ayurvedic theory: The tastes & the doshas, fasting & nourishment
Dinacharya: Including every taste in each meal.
Shodhana Practices: Fasting
*Option to begin 10-14 day shodhana procedure that implements snehana, virechana, abhyanga, swedana & fasting.
Week 3: Spices & Seasons
Detoxify the Lymph, Stomach, and Lungs through lifestyle changes & optional deeper cleansing therapies.
Topics of ayurvedic theory: Spices and benefits, seasonal influences & lifestyle augmentations.
Dinacharya: Spring ritucharya practices (skin brushing, lymph brew, emotional release)
Shodhana Practices: Enemas
Week 4: Rejuvenate the immune system through lifestyle changes & optional deeper nourishing therapies.
Topics of ayurvedic theory: Ojas, nourishing diet, self-care
Dinacharya: Systemic Rest Practice
Rejuvenating practices (pitchu, champi, essential oils)