Gluten and Your Whole Body Health

Many people think of Celiac Disease or Gluten Intolerance as an intestinal problem.  I’m sure many of you have heard, like I have many times, “I can’t possibly be gluten intolerant; I don’t have diarrhea.”

Of course, there are the “typical” Celiacs, those who have diarrhea and bloating, but look like they are anorexic because their body just doesn’t absorb many nutrients.  In reality, that is only a very small percentage of the Celiac or Gluten Intolerant population.  There are fat Celiacs and skinny Celiacs, white to black and every shade in between, tall or short…

Celiac Disease and Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance can manifest in ANY body system.

When I was young, I had many problems with my joints, and spent a lot of time on crutches.  “Growing pains” was the constant diagnosis from doctors.  I had a doctor tell me I had Fibromyalgia when I was 10, but since it was an “old white women’s disease” at the time, I didn’t get a diagnosis.  All through high school, I saw doctor after doctor after doctor.  I had such severe abdominal pains, with no apparent cause.  My mom was told by one doctor “there is no way that a girl her age could be experiencing the type of pain she is describing.  Just make her eat more whole wheat bread; she just needs more fiber.”  Oh, right, because I’m lying, and I just like to pretend I feel like I’m dying.  A neurologist eventually diagnosed me with “abdominal migraines”, and put me on a 10% dosage of antidepressants.

After I graduated from college, things greatly intensified.  My fibromyalgia-like symptoms became so great that I could not get up in the morning until 10:00 or 11:00, even though I awoke at 5:00.  The pain was too great and I just couldn’t get them to move.  I started having diarrhea 4 or 5 times a week, nearly every night, to accompany the severe abdominal pains.

After I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance and went gluten-free, within a month I had no more joint and muscle problems and almost never had diarrhea.  Gone were the pains that had haunted me for years.

Since being gluten-free, I realize that when I am glutened, I do not think as clearly for the next couple of weeks.  “Brain fog” is what we commonly call it.

Meeting others with Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance, I definitely know someone who has just about any imaginable symptom related to gluten in their body.  A good friend of mine suffers from severe depression if she eats gluten.  Unfortunately, when she gets glutened and depressed, she eats more gluten because the depression makes her feel bad about the intolerance and it’s a nasty cycle.  Another friend, who very strictly avoids gluten, whenever he is accidentally glutened, he hallucinates.  Yes, he sees and hear things that do not exist, just because of something he ate.

Coincidence?  Definitely not.

In 1988, F. Curtis Dohan published a scientific paper on the Genetic Hypothesis of Idiopathic Schizophrenia: Its Exorphin Connection.  Schizophrenic patients, he found, had 50-100 times the incidence of Celiac Disease (diagnosed as children, but no longer following the diet) as was found in the general population.  During the study, patients that had randomly been put on the “cereal-free, milk-free” diet were discharged twice as fast as those that were put on the “high cereal” diet.

The University of Maryland’s Center for Celiac Research website has a good partial listing of symptoms.  Dental enamel defects, unexplained short stature (why did I quit growing when I was 10, even though I was the tallest kid in the 4th grade?), mouth ulcers, and hair loss are just a few.

An article posted today in the Anchorage Press, has an interesting story about a little girl who went from happy to super hysterical in a few months.  I encourage you all to read it.  Perhaps you know a child like this, and a mom as desperate as this one.

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