The following list includes only a few of the substances that functional medicine practitioners use for CAID symptoms. They believe that if taken daily, these nutrients will reduce symptoms and restore a normal intestinal permeability.
■ Probiotics. As mentioned in category 4, these helpful bacteria are crucial for intestinal health. They are even more crucial for treating CAID, for which antibiotics are extensively used.
■ Glutamine. L-glutamine is a fuel for the cells of the colon and small intestine and provides energy for the rapidly dividing cells of the immune system. Without glutamine, the gut cells cannot reproduce.
■ Zinc. Zinc may be useful in fighting viral infections. Many functional medicine practitioners believe that a significant number of the population is deficient in zinc.
■ Bee pollen and propolis. Bee pollen is produced by the anthers of flowering plants and is gathered by bees. Propolis is a collection of various plant secretions that act as a binding substance for beehives. Both are reported to be effective for people with allergies, as they provide the enzymes and complex proteins needed to restore damaged cells within the immune system. Both also reduce the inflammatory response from overproduction of histamines.
■ Berberine. The active ingredient found in goldenseal, an herb native to North America, berberine has important antibacterial and antifungal effects.
■ Butyrate. A short-chained fatty acid produced in the colon by a fermentation of fiber, butyrate is a major source of fuel for the colon’s cells.
* Curcumin. A chemical found in tumeric (a spice used in curry), curcumin has been found to be a potent anti-inflammatory as well as having a beneficial effect on the liver, stimulating the flow of bile and the breakdown of fat.
■ Essential fatty acids (EFAs). These fats cannot be produced by the body but must be supplemented in one’s diet. There are two types of EFAs: omega-6 and omega-3. Omega-3s are found primarily in fish and are known to reduce leukotrienes, which are found in the cells responsible for inflammation. They also increase the activity of killer cells, which are critical to fighting infection and controlling the proliferation of cancer cells. Omega-3s help normalize the immune system, have been successfully used to treat many chronic inflammatory conditions, and are specifically useful in chronic sinusitis. To ensure the safety of fish oil supplements, always check to see that the label says “pharmaceutical grade” to be certain that the supplements have been cleared of residual mercury or cadmium. Omega-6s are primarily found in plant based oils. There are “healthy” omega-6 fatty acids found in primrose oil. There is increasing evidence that deficiencies of omega-3 fatty acids and increases in omega-6s found in margarine and fried food have contributed to inflammatory conditions, such as asthma. A balance between omega-3 and omega-6 is crucial for a healthy body.
■ Gingerroot. Ginger contains an enzyme that increases the digestion of protein. It is used to relax the smooth muscle of the intestines. Ginger also inhibits leukotrienes, the cells that trigger inflammation.
■ N-Acetylcysteine (NAC). NAC is useful for enhancing liver detoxification, pulmonary function, and intestinal health. This
amino acid is also produced naturally by the body. It is converted to glutathione, which is a crucial antioxidant and is the primary agent used by the liver for detoxification.
■ Niacinamide. This form of vitamin B increases the levels of anti-inflammatory enzymes, which is useful in chronic sinusitis.
■ Quercitin. A bioflavonoid found in the skin of red apples and in the skin of all onions, quercitin is a natural antihistime and an effective remedy for allergies. It has important anti-inflammatory effects and stabilizes mast cells, the cells that release histamines. It is also a potent antioxidant and can calm an overactive immune system.
■ Vitamin A and beta-carotene. Most vitamin A comes from the precursor beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the GI tract and is vital to maintaining the integrity of mucous membranes that line the sinuses and respiratory tract. Beta-carotene is found in yellow, orange, and red fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, yams, cantaloupe, peaches, and papayas. Vitamin A can be taken directly as a supplement from cod liver oil, but due to the danger of toxicity and its link to osteoporosis at high doses, it should be supplemented only under medical supervision.
Pregnant women are advised against taking all of the above supplements.