NOTICE: This blog is no longer being updated, so medical information may no longer be accurate.

Celiac Disease: The Critical Role of Probiotics in Healing a Leaky Gut

celiac disease, autoimmune disease, leaky gut, probiotics, intestinal flora


Dr. Vikki Petersen recently posted a new video, Celiac Disease: An Epidemic on the Rise and I want to share it with you because it is very important to understand that celiac disease gets “turned on” at some point in a person’s life…one is not born with celiac disease.

In order to develop celiac disease, you at least need the following three things going on:

1). you need the genes

2). you need to be eating gluten

3). you need an unhealthy gut and loss of intestinal barrier function (a.k.a. leaky gut)

With so many different probiotic strains available, how do I know which one(s) to take?

This is the million dollar question that I have been asking myself since I started taking probiotics on a regular basis nearly a year ago.  If I could have just one wish, it would be that Dr. Alessio Fasano, Dr. Peter Green, Dr. Joseph Murray and Dr. Stefano Guandalini co-author a book on all the steps involved in complete healing after a celiac diagnosis.  It is often much more involved than “simply” going on a strict gluten-free diet, but sadly, we’re left to figure it out on our own, usually after more devastating celiac “sidekick” diseases have kicked in (like my 5 autoimmune disorders).

I recently came across a couple of interesting articles and I encourage you to read them as well (I would also recommend sharing the articles with your doctor):

K. Lindfors, T. Blomqvist, K. Juuti-Uusitalo et al. Live probiotic Bifidobacterium Lactis Bacteria Inhibit the Toxic Effects Induced by Wheat Gliadin in Epithelial Cell Culture. British Society for Immunology, Clinical and Experimental Immunology 2008; 152: 552–558.

De Angelis M, Rizzello CG, Fasano A et al. VSL3# probiotic preparation has the capacity to hydrolyse gliadin polypeptides responsible for celiac sprue. Biochim Biophys Acta 2005; 1762: 80–93.

My mother-in-law, whose doctor has suspected that she might have Crohns, has taken VSL#3 for a few years now and she swears by it.  When she doesn’t take VSL#3 for any given amount of time, she can definitely notice some adverse effects.  My husband started taking VSL#3 a few months ago and he has been singing its praises as well.

What stopped me from taking VSL#3 initially was the fact that it *could* contain trace amounts of dairy.

From the VSL#3 website:

Some dairy ingredients are used in the culture medium but are removed during fermentation and concentration. There might be trace amounts at very low levels and, for this reason, VSL#3® is not defined as a dairy-free product but as a non-dairy product.  Click here to continue reading.

I do not have a dairy allergy, but the results of my Cyrex Labs Array #4, showed a clear gluten-associated cross reaction with dairy.  What to do?  Talk with your doctor.  I spoke with mine and he agreed that VSL#3 would certainly be worth trying.  I’m really glad I did, as the benefits have been notable.  You can order VSL#3 online or you can use their pharmacy locator to find a pharmacy near you.  I order mine through our local Costco for $43.65/bottle (a savings of $8.35).

It’s also important to note that you need to feed your feed your intestinal flora in order to keep them healthy and thriving.  Read more about prebiotics over at Mark’s Daily Apple.

Strains of Bacteria in VSL#3:

Streptococcus thermophilus

Bifidobacterium breve

Bifidobacterium longum*

Bifidobacterium infantis*

Lactobacillus acidophilus

Lactobacillus planarum

Lactobacillus paracasei

Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus

*recently reclassified as Bifidobacterium Lactis

How do you know if you need a probiotic supplement?  Check out this post: Hello Flora, How you Doin’?

Do you take probiotic supplements on a regular basis?  If so, which brands/strains do you take? Have you noticed any improvements in your overall health?




  1. These probiotics have corn in them and corn derived ingredients…are you taking the capsules ? you and i have a lot of the same sensitivities.. .go figure

  2. Heidi -thx for sharing, again. As a result of having Lyme disease w/it's crazy co-infections, I'm over 20 various diagnosis with 8 being auto-immune. I wish I had been told about probiotics from the beginning, especially really, really good ones while i was on IV antibiotics. The good news is I take probiotics from Restor Medicine and me and my belly are much happier. I know when I've missed a single day. It does cost $100 a bottle, but it's been a life-saver for me. And it's my prayer that with a 'balanced belly' I'll stop collecting these crazy chronic illnesses and be ready to fight Lyme and win this time. That's just how important probiotics are. I see them as the foundation to my health upon which everything else I do is able to stand and be effective.

    • Hi Moriah,

      I just watched the film, "Under Our Skin" and my heart goes out to you and everyone who has to battle chronic Lyme especially with the health insurance nightmare attached to it. I simply cannot imagine.



  3. Thanks! I saw Dr. Jemsek, a physician in the film, until he dismissed me from his care for in his words, "I was more dead than alive." (to this day there is no medical explanation as to how I am alive. Docs who look at my labs scratch their heads and then say I'm a walking miracle. Four MDs have also said it was due to my nutritional foundation that I didn't die and continue to live another day) Back to the movie, my cousin was also in the film and it was so good to see her in it! Dr. J literally saved her life and the treatment protocol worked amazingly well for her. Because she didn't have the same co-infections as me, her gut was spared so much damage and is no longer living the nightmare. YAY!!! fyi – my costs – $3.8million in med expenses in 11.5 yrs, a move 1/2 across the country, 7 wks at the Mayo Clinic, and nearly $2000 out-of-pocket per month, with an average of 3 doctor visits a week, just to keep me "functioning." However, God has been faithful to me and my family (great hubby for 25 yrs and 5 kids) and, along with probiotics, a happy heart is good medicine. 🙂

    THANKS for all you do. People need to hear what you're saying!!! In some cases, like mine, it could be a matter of life or death….literally. So keep up the amazing work! love and hugs back atcha, chickie!

  4. I take HLC Intensive caps by Pharmax. I have Hashimoto's and Sjogren's and started this whole gf journey when I got really sick 2 years ago. Never had a single doctor tell me to get off gluten. I did my test through Enterolabs (which most of my doctors completely dismiss). I'm not even sure I understand my results. Is this saying that I DON'T have an autoimmune reaction to gluten??

    Fecal Anti-gliadin IgA: 20 Units

    Fecal Anti-tissue Transglutaminase IgA: 8 Units

    Quantitative Microscopic Fecal Fat Score: 844 Units

    Fecal Anti-casein (cow's milk) IgA: 7 Units

    HLA-DQB1 Molecular analysis, Allele 1: 0201

    HLA-DQB1 Molecular analysis, Allele 2: 0602

    Serologic equivalent: HLA-DQ 2,1 (Subtype 2,6)

    I've since had two of my kids tested through Enterolabs and have taken them off gluten. They also tested positive for dairy, but we haven't conquered that road yet. It's all so overwhelming!!

  5. We believe in probiotics! Mostly, we prefer to make our own naturally probiotic foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and lactofermented veggies. You can find many of our probiotic recipes and tips on Real Food Forager's new Probiotic Food Challenge.
    As for the kind that comes in a jar, we've been happy with the GutPro probiotic powder. They do process some gluten containing products in the same factory, but they test at <5 ppm, are very responsive to questions, and now have a product that contains absolutely no fillers!