Functional medicine blends biochemistry, anatomy, and naturopathy into an approach that is both conceptually and practically useful for the treatment of CAID. One of their key premises is that a leaky gut or increased intestinal permeability underlies chronic inflammation.
LEAKY GUT SYNDROME
Both functional and traditional physicians agree that the small and large intestines are lined by mucus cells linked together by bridges called desmosomes. This lining creates a barrier that is impermeable to all substances, allowing only electrolytes to move freely across the wall. This barrier prevents unwanted molecules from entering into our bloodstream.
Our body absorbs nutrients when larger proteins and carbohydrates are broken down into smaller units until they fit into receptors on the
cell’s membrane, like a lock and key, and are actually engulfed by protoplasm from the cell. Nutrients can then be transported to our bloodstream and circulatory system. However, there are many factors that can partially disrupt the desmosomes, allowing larger particles to pass through this barrier or enter directly into the bloodstream before they are adequately broken down. When this occurs, they are seen by the body as antigenic, “foreign invaders,” which sets off a low level inflammatory reaction meant to protect the body.
This low-grade inflammatory response is what functional medicine believes is the key to understanding a host of conditions, ranging from arthritis and eczema to chronic sinusitis and asthma. Factors that can disrupt the desmosomes fall into five common categories.