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Year : 2009  |  Volume : 30  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 88-105

Leaky Gut Syndrome, Dysbiosis, Ama, Free Radicals, and Natural Antioxidants

Professor Emeritus, College of Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA

Correspondence Address:
Hari Sharma
Professor Emeritus, College of Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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The functioning of the gastrointestinal (G.I.) system has wide-ranging influences on the body that go far beyond the G.I. tract. According to Ayurveda-the ancient natural health care system of India - proper diet and digestion are one of the major pillars of health. Altered digestive functioning can lead to the production of Ama, a toxic material that initiates and promotes disease processes throughout the body. Optimal functioning of the G.I. tract requires proper mucosal integrity and a balanced microflora. Compromised mucosal integrity which leads to 'leaky gut syndrome,' and imbalances in the microflora known as 'dysbiosis,' result in the formation of Ama. Ama is also produced at other levels of the physiology, including the cellular level. Excessive formation of free radicals contributes to the formation of Ama. A variety of free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) are produced during cellular metabolism. Excessive amounts of these reactive molecules can cause damage, starting the disease process. They are believed to be causative agents in nearly every disease. The ability to control their concentrations may be helpful for the prevention and treatment of many disorders. Antioxidants 'scavenge' free radicals and ROS, and render them harmless. Antioxidants can be lipid- or water-soluble; some are produced in the body and others are obtained from food or dietary supplements. Natural antioxidants range from vitamins to enzymes to herbal mixtures. Powerful antioxidants are present in the bioflavonoids found in concentrated form in Ayurvedic herbal mixtures known as Rasayanas. The use of these Rasayanas will be helpful in neutralizing the excessive free radical activity that contributes to Ama formation. However, the accumulated Ama in the body will not be removed by the use of Rasayanas and antioxidants alone. Other Ayurvedic methodologies are required to eradicate accumulated Ama. Rasayanas are best utilized to neutralize ongoing damage to the physiology and regenerate the system.

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