April 19

Supplements for Gut Healing and Health


You already know that a poor diet and lifestyle can be a key-driving factor to some of the difficulties that our clients can experience with their digestive system. 

This article will examine and research the best procedures and protocols that have proved to be effective at resolving digestive problems.

In particular, we will breakdown the '4 R's' protocol which is an evidence based practice for effectively resolving digestive health issues for clients. You'll also discover the best scientifically backed supplements for gut healing

Not everyone will require such a detailed procedure, but if a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle does not promote adequate digestive function then a more detailed approach can be used. 

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Women holding her gut

Fixing The Problems

Due to the extensive list of issues and responses that can occur from a poorly functioning digestive system, it’s important to assess every client’s symptoms and issues on an individual basis. 

We previously noted that the ‘4 R’s’ protocol - remove, replace, repair and re-inoculate - can be one of the most effective and all round advanced protocols to use. 

Let's take a look at how it works:


For those who are continually seeing negative health responses from their existing diets then it’s important to first consider any potential bacteria, infection or food allergies and intolerances.

This is when a carefully planned elimination diet can successfully remove any allergies or intolerances from the diet. The elimination diet we previously covered on the course is perfect for this.

This can resolve most people’s problems but if it doesn’t, then further testing may need to be considered e.g. stool analysis for parasitology, breath test for intestinal bacteria etc. 

This removal phase, or elimination diet, should not only reduce the symptomology for the client, but also alert them to their trigger foods or food groups if completed correctly.

This phase of this protocol is the most important and is essential to complete. 


The second stage of this protocol is focusing on correcting deficiencies in digestion. To do this correctly supplementation can, and should, be used. 

The two main supplements for gut healing to assist with this are betaine hydrochloric acid (HCL) and digestive enzymes. 

Betaine HCL

Betaine HCL increases the level of hydrochloric acid in the stomach which is necessary for proper digestion and assimilation of nutrients from food.

Normal levels of HCL are needed to ensure complete digestion of proteins (via pepsin) and absorption of amino acids.

Betaine helps to restore the proper acid levels in the stomach and maintain healthy GI function.

Another key role of HCL is that it supports the stomach acids that are responsible for sterilizing our food.

With low levels of stomach acid this process is slower which delays emptying, causing a number of digestive problems.

Low HCL levels are commonly noted in those with digestive system issues, so following the removal phase, it makes sense to start the replacement phase with HCL supplementation. 

It’s important to find the right dosage for each individual, as this will bring maximum benefit.

Here’s how: 

1) Eat a small meal containing 20-30grams of protein

2) Halfway through the meal consume 200mg HCL tablet

3) Assess any changes in the body following this i.e.: heaviness, hotness, burning sensation or other GI distress 

4) If no change occurs, try 2 tablets at the following meal and assess again

5) Keep increasing dosage with each meal until some discomfort or changes are noticed

6) When this occurs, the ideal Betaine HCL dosage is 1pill less than the last dosage. This is when optimal dosage has been achieved by the client

7) Stay on that dose until a burning feeling occurs again and reduce. Taking more is not helpful or needed.

Digestive Enzymes

Other digestive enzymes can play an important role in the replacement phase.

These digestive enzymes can break down polymeric macromolecules into their smaller building blocks, in order to facilitate their absorption by the body.

Digestive enzymes are found in the digestive tract, where they aid digestion of food.

They are diverse and are found in the saliva secreted by the salivary glands, in the stomach secreted by cells lining the stomach, in the pancreatic juice secreted by pancreatic exocrine cells, and in the intestinal (small and large) secretions, or as part of the lining of the gastrointestinal tract.

Digestive enzymes are classified based on their target substance:  

  • proteases and peptidases split proteins into small peptides and amino acids
  • lipases split into three fatty acids and a glycerol molecule
  • carbohydrases split carbohydrates such as starch and sugars into simple sugars such as glucose 
  • nucleases split nucleic acids into nucleotides. 

Just like with HCL, they should be a short-term aid used to boost natural levels of digestive enzymes and reduce the load on the GI tract to successfully heal and repair. 

Choose an enzyme formula that contains some or all of the following: trypsin, chymotrypsin, pepsin, pancreatic enzymes, bromelian and papain. 


Now that the problematic foods or chemicals have been removed and deficiencies in digestive enzymes considered for, we should look to address and reduce any further negative responses that the client is suffering from. 

Below are a number of common symptoms that are associated with a disfunctioning digestive system and the processes and supplementations that are proven to work best in resolving them. 

Immune response 

A food allergy or intolerance causes an immune response and thus lowers our immunity. Immunity tends to refer to the capacity of the body to fight off infections, and enhanced immunity results in less sickness. 

Ganoderma Lucidum

A potent immunomodulator (moderating the immune system) that can also reduce stress, and its potency in fighting sickness should not be underestimated.

If using the ethanolic extract, 6mg appears to be the best dosage to get the most out of the triterpenoids. If using a water soluble fragment, doses between 1.44g to 5.2g split throughout the day are commonly used. 

Holy Basil

A small amount of evidence suggests that holy basil can boost immunity by inducing proliferation of T cytokines and T lymphocytes.

500mg of the leaf extract taken twice daily is recommended for neurological and adaptogenic effects of holy basil. 


Fatigue can be a strong symptom of an overworked digestive system, so for clients suffering from chronic fatigue, the following supplements can be used:

Rhodiola Rosea

This traditional Chinese adaptogenic herb appears to be successful in reducing fatigue and exhaustion in prolonged stressful situations.

Supplementation of rhodiola rosea tends to refer to either the SHR-5 extract or an equivalent extract, any of which confer both 3% rosavins and 1% salidroside. 

Acute usage of rhodiola for fatigue and anti-stress is noted to be taken in the 288-680mg ranges. 


L-carnitine is involved in energy metabolism and appears beneficial were there are food deficiencies. It seems to be effective in reducing fatigue in chronic fatigue syndrome.

Supplementation of L-carnitine tends to be in the dosage between 500-2000mg daily. 


Inflammation is part of the complex biological response of vascular tissues to harmful stimuli, such as pathogens, damaged cells, or irritants. Excessive levels occur during times of gut distress or an overactive immune system which can increase signs of aging and disease pathology. 

• Ginger

Ginger is a spice that following consumption of 1-3g daily, inflammatory parameters seem to be reduced.

• Curcumin

Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric, and is also found in limited amounts in ginger. There appears to be a decrease in disease states or conditions characterized by inflammation associated with curcumin ingestion.

Oral supplementation of curcumin in the range of 80-500mg would be required. Pairing curcumin with black pepper is paramount for optimal absorption. 

Ulcerative colitis

Ulcerative colitis is a subset of inflammatory bowel disease. Supplements thought to be preventative or therapeutic to UC are those that increase chance of remission or prolong the time until symptoms arise.

• Curcumin

Symptoms of ulcerative colitis are reduced with supplementation of curcumin.

Oral supplementation of curcumin in the range of 80-500mg would be required. Pairing curcumin with black pepper is paramount for optimal absorption. 

• Andrographis paniculata

Andrographis paniculata appears to be quite effective based on preliminary evidence.

When looking at the basic root extract, the oral dose is in the range of 2000-6000mg. With a root extract, 2000mg appears to be effective if the andrographolide content is around 30% or so. 

Crohn’s disease

• Curcumin

Supplementation of curcumin shows possible reductions of symptoms associated with Crohn’s disease.

Oral supplementation of curcumin in the range of 80-500mg would be required. Pairing curcumin with black pepper is paramount for optimal absorption. 

• Glutamine

A conditionally essential amino acid, this only appears to benefit the body were there is a deficiency. Studies show there may be a possible reduction of symptoms associated with Crohn’s disease.

Supplementation of L-glutamine tends to be dosed at 5g or above, with a recommended upper limit of 14g or 0.75g/kg bodyweight. 

Respiratory diseases

The most common respiratory disease is asthma, which is a long-term condition that causes coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and breathlessness. 

Asthma is an inflammatory breathing condition which can be aggravated by particular stimuli and a small number of supplements appear to help reduce this. 

• Magnesium

Magnesium is a dietary mineral, which is the second most common deficiency after vitamin D.

There appears to be a slight reduction in asthmatic symptoms associated with magnesium supplementation. Magnesium doses range from 200-450mg. 

• Coleus Forskohlii

Coleus Forskohlii is a herb with its component Forskolin being an activator of cells. This type of activation differs depending on the cell.

Although more evidence is required, it appears to be more effective at suppressing asthmatic symptoms then other nutraceuticals. 

Coleus Forskohlii tends to be used at 500mg of a supplement containing 10% forskolin, taken as two divided doses throughout the day. 

Skin issues

Skin quality can be affected by responses to food allergies or intolerances. There is not a lot of research to support supplementation to improve skin quality but green tea catechins, Bladderwrack and pycnogenol may be an option. 

It appears that general diet and lifestyle factors have the largest impact on skin quality. 


The final stage to fixing the digestive system is repopulating the gut with good bacteria. We can do this with the use of probiotics. 

The term ‘probiotic’ is currently the name used for ingested microorganisms associated with beneficial effects to humans and animals. 

A full course (3-4 weeks) of probiotics is advised aiming for a multi-strain containing between 30-50 billion colony forming unit (cfu) daily being the ideal. A maintenance of 1-2 billion cfu daily following the full course is advised too. 

By following the 4 R’s protocol and suggested supplementation, many clients can dramatically improve their digestive issues and resume healthy normal functioning once again. 

If symptoms or responses don’t improve, your client should then seek the help of a medical professional. Remember, we are what we ‘eat, digest, absorb and don’t excrete’.

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