This autoimmune disease occurs when ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine.   Gluten is found in wheat, barley, rye and many other grains. It is the protein that makes bread dough elastic and the bread chewy.  While it can occur in genetically predisposed people, estimates show that rates of celiac disease diagnoses have risen by nearly 400 percent since the 1960s, and many health authorities are speculating that there may be many living with undiagnosed celiac issues.

Currently, there is no known cure. It is best to get blood tested for this disease to see if you have the antibodies.  It is good to confirm any results with a physical inspection such as an endoscopy, where the doctor uses a thin, lighted tube to look inside the small intestine.  The surface of the gut is normally covered with tiny projections like fingers called villi.  With a celiac gut, these “fingers” are flattened and have the appearance of a smooth surface.  Severe mucosal lesion or ridges may also be present.  Even these changes are not a certainty for a definite diagnosis, due to potential variables.  A biopsy of tissue may need to be done to positively ascertain presence of the disease.  1 in 100 people are affected at any time, approximately 3 million diagnosed and 2.5 million people could be undiagnosed and at risk.

The typical symptoms of celiac disease tend to be diarrhea, weight loss and malabsorption, chronic fatigue and depression. The results of these issues can include bone loss, anemia, skin rashes, headaches and fatigue, nervous system injury, joint pain, acid reflux and reduction in spleen function. For children, these symptoms can result a failure to thrive, swollen belly, vomiting and muscle wasting, as well as delayed puberty. With a gluten free diet, the symptoms will stop and the gut can actually start to heal.

Going on a celiac diet and completely cutting out gluten helps to control the symptoms. A study in 2010 detailed in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, however, showed that even when followed for 2 years intestine mucosal recovery occurred in only 34% of participants.  It has shown that persistent inflammation in the gut of celiac individuals, even when gluten-free, needs healing and anti-inflammatory foods and supplements. It is important to heal any nutrient deficiencies and take extra probiotics to help digestion.

Sally Warren, PhD
Board Certified Traditional Naturopathic Doctor, Metro Integrative Pharmacy

sallyw@metrointegrative.com

Recommended products to help Celiac Disease:

To help reduce the symptoms of Celiac Disease, avoid all products containing wheat, barley and rye. Get good at reading all food labels and look out for these grains and even couscous, spelt, semolina, and oats. Be aware that many processed foods are made with refined wheat. Avoid added sugars, artificial creamers which have malt flavoring, malt syrup, malt vinegar - all have barley hiding. Sauces, gravy, dressings, veggie burgers, candy, mayonnaise, cooking sprays, instant coffee, even flavored teas can have hidden gluten.

At Metro Integrative we have supplements that help the healing process include gluten-free multivitamins, digestive enzymes, vitamin D3, L-glutamine, and, of course, probiotics – 5 to 10 billion minimum to help balance the good bacteria in the gut. . Also, look at our range of gluten-free make-up, toothpaste, sunscreens, mouthwash, shampoos and body lotions, as well as the many other supplements at Metro Integrative. All of these choices can make a difference.  Consult with our practitioners, who can guide you to the best choices for your individual needs.


Metro Integrative Pharmacy

This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition. The information in this article is for educational purposes only.