Treatment Interventions for the Management of Intestinal Permeability: A Cross-Sectional Survey of Complementary and Integrative Medicine Practitioners

J Altern Complement Med. 2019 Jun;25(6):623-636. doi: 10.1089/acm.2018.0374. Epub 2019 Apr 29.


Objectives: This study aims to explore the treatment interventions complementary and integrative medicine (CIM) practitioners use in the management of an emerging health condition, increased intestinal permeability (IP), and the association these methods have on the observed time to resolve this condition. Design and setting: A cross-sectional survey of Australian naturopaths, nutritionists, and Western herbal medicine practitioners was undertaken (n = 227) through the Practitioner Research and Collaboration Initiative (PRACI) network. Outcome measures: Frequencies and percentages of the treatment methods, including chi-square analysis to examine the associations between treatment methods and observed time to resolve IP. Results: Thirty-six CIM practitioners responded to the survey (response rate 15.9%). CIM practitioners were found to use a multimodal approach in the management of IP with 92.6% of respondents using three or more categories of treatment interventions (nutritional, herbal, dietary, and lifestyle) with a mean total of 43.0 ± 24.89 single treatment interventions frequently prescribed. The main treatments prescribed in the management of IP were zinc (85.2%), probiotics: multistrain (77.8%), vitamin D (75.0%), glutamine (73.1%), Curcuma longa (73.1%), and Saccharomyces boulardii (70.4%). CIM practitioners also advocate patients with IP to reduce alcohol (96.3%), gluten (85.2%), and dairy (75.0%) consumption. Evaluation of antibiotics (75.0%) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (73.1%) prescriptions were frequently advised by CIM practitioners. A longer observed time to resolve IP was seen in CIM practitioners who did not reduce intense exercise in the management of IP (p = 0.02). Conclusions: This study represents the first survey of the treatments prescribed by CIM practitioners for IP and suggests that CIM practitioners use numerous integrative treatment methods for the management of IP. The treatment interventions frequently prescribed by CIM practitioners align with preclinical research, suggesting that CIM practitioners prescribe in accordance with the published literature. The findings of this study contribute to the implementation of clinical research in the management of IP, which considers multiple concurrent treatments.

Keywords: exercise; integrative medicine; intestinal barrier dysfunction; naturopathy; therapeutics; whole system research.

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Complementary Therapies*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Delivery of Health Care / methods*
  • Disease Management
  • Female
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Integrative Medicine*
  • Intestinal Diseases / therapy*
  • Intestine, Small*
  • Male
  • Permeability
  • Surveys and Questionnaires