Malabsorption Syndrome

Malabsorption Syndrome

What is Malabsorption Syndrome?

Malabsorption is the failure of the body to properly absorb vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients from food. Even though his or her diet is adequate, an individual with mal­absorption develops various nutritional deficiencies. This problem can result from impaired digestion, impaired absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream from the digestive tract (especially the small intestine), or both. Regardless of how good your diet is or how many supplements you take, if you suffer from malabsorption syndrome, you will have nutritional deficiencies.

Malabsorption Syndrome Symptoms

Common symptoms of malabsorption syndrome include constipation or diarrhea, dry skin, fatigue, gas, mental difficulties such as depression or an inability to concentrate, muscle cramps and/or weakness, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), steatorrhea (pale, bulky, fatty stools), a tendency to bruise easily, failure to grow normally, thinning hair, unexplained weight loss, and visual difficulties, especially problems with night vision. Abdominal discomfort may be present as well. A combination of anemia, diarrhea, and weight loss is typical. However, in some individuals, paradoxically, obesity may result, if fats are deposited in the tissues rather than being utilized properly by the body. In addition, in an attempt to get the nutrients it needs but is not absorbing, the body may begin to crave more and more food, often leading to the consumption of many empty or fat calories.

Causes of Malabsorption Syndrome

Factors that can contribute to impaired digestion are a lack of adequate levels of digestive enzymes; food allergies; a diet deficient in nutrients, such as the B vitamins, that are needed to produce digestive enzymes; and diseases of the pancreas, gallbladder, liver, and bile ducts that result in a lack of bile and essential enzymes. Although any type of nutrient may be affected by poor digestion, lipids (fats) are affected most often. In addition to causing nutritional deficiencies, the failure to digest food properly causes gas­trointestinal problems. Undigested food ferments in the intestinal tract, causing gas, bloating, and abdominal pain and discomfort.

Even if food is properly digested, there may be a problem that prevents nutrients from being taken up by the blood­stream and used to nourish the body tissues. Damage to the intestinal walls, through which nutrients are absorbed, is one such problem. Disorders such as celiac disease, colitis, Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome, lactose intolerance, parasitic infestation, and excessive consumption of alcohol, antacids, or laxatives can all cause intestinal damage. Chronic constipation or diarrhea can have the same result. Another problem is too-rapid intestinal transit time, which results in nutrients being passed out of the body as waste before they can be absorbed. Radiation therapy, digitalis treatment, and surgery that shortens the intestinal tract all reduce the absorptive area, and therefore the absorptive capacity, of the small bowel.

Other factors that can contribute to a malfunction of the absorption mechanism include a poor diet; excess mucus covering the intestinal lining (most commonly a result of the overconsumption of mucus forming and processed foods); an imbalance in intestinal bacterial flora, such as i.rI. candidiasis; the use of certain medications, such as neo­mycin (an antibiotic), colchicine (an anti gout drug), and cholestyramine (a cholesterol-lowering drug); food allergies; and illnesses such as cancer and AIDS. People with AIDS are particularly prone to malabsorption problems because of chronic diarrhea, loss ofappetite, and an over growth of Candida albicans in the digestive tract. Obstruc­ tions in the lymphatic system may also interfere with nutrient absorption.

Natural home remedies for Malabsorption Syndrome

  1. Eat a diet that is high in complex carbohydrates and low in fats. Include in the diet well-cooked brown rice, millet, oatmeal, and steamed vegetables.
  2. Aloe vera and peppermint aid digestion.
  3. Alfalfa, dandelion root, fennel seed, ginger, and nettle are rich in minerals and can aid the body in absorbing nutrients.
  4. Consume fresh papaya and pineapple often. Chew four to six papaya seeds after meals.
  5. Black pepper contains piperine, which aids in the di­gestion and absorption of nutrients.


  1. Do not eat large meals, as this places too much stress on the digestive system. Instead, eat smaller portions of food throughout the day.
  2. Do not eat meat or meat products. Meats are difficult to digest and are acid-forming.
  3. Do not consume wheat products until healing is complete.
  4. Avoid using mineral oil or other laxatives. Especially avoid using them for extended periods, as dependence and damage to the colon may result.

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