Archive for December, 2008

Let’s take a look at how far we have come in the thirty years since celiac disease became a sign post on my journey.  Remember, celiac disease has been with us for a very long time, probably since the cultivation of grains 10,000 years ago.  It was first quite accurately described about 2000 years ago in the writings of a Greek physician, Aretaeus of Cappadocia, who called it “koiliakos” after the word for abdomen, “koelia.”  In 1857, Dr. Gee of London, England published a lecture on the ‘celiac affection’ in which he prescribed a diet low in ‘farinaceous food.’ But it was in the 1930’s that the Dutch pediatrician, Dr. Dicke, demonstrated that the removal of gluten grains was the cure for celiac disease.  This is a ridicously short history lesson, but I want to fast forward to where I came in, about 30 years ago, and compare what was understood then with what we understand now.

Back then in 1976, celiac disease was thought to be quite rare afflicting about 1:5000.  Celiac disease (and perhaps dermatitis herpetiformis) was thought to be the only symptom of gluten intolerance. Blood work that came back negative was the definitive proof that the patient did not have celiac disease.   The only signs and symptoms of celiac disease were diarrhea, weight loss, muscle wasting, failure to thrive, smelly stools, abdominal bloating, muscle cramping and irritability.  They believed that celiac disease was primarily a disease of malabsorption due to the destruction of the intestinal wall and secondarily a disease of vitamin and mineral deficiency.  As long as the patient did not have diarrhea, it was believed that it was safe to consume small amounts of gluten.  

Now we know that celiac disease is found in 1:111 individuals.  Celiac disease is only one subset of disorders caused by gluten intolerance and possibly as many as 1 in 3 is gluten sensitive.   Blood work is sometimes false negative for celiac disease.  The above listed symptoms are the obvious ones for celiac disease, but just as often, constipation or other digestive complaints are present.  In addition, there are many seemingly unrelated symptoms to celiac disease that can indicate an individual is gluten sensitive.  The most common symptom is depression.  Chronic liver disease, fibromyalgia, autoimmune disorders, neurological diseases, chronic pain syndromes, epilepsy, infertility, premature births, and skin rashes can point to gluten sensitivity.  Celiac disease is not only a malabsorption syndrome, it is an autoimmune disease and just one of the autoimmune diseases associated with gluten sensitivity.  And very importantly , it is never safe for a gluten sensitive individual to consume gluten.

Back then, in 1976, I knew of not one other parent of a child with celiac disease.  There were no certified gluten free foods and I had only 1 cookbook.  Now, I meet gluten sensitive people everywhere, there are certified gluten free foods in abundance and cookbooks galore.  What a difference 30 years and the gift of knowledge from heroic thinkers has made.  But then, without knowledge, people perish.

Many blessings,



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Gluten is the protein part of wheat, rye, spelt, barley and oats  (BROWS)  and the products derived from them:   barley malt, triticale, spelt, kamut, semolina, durum, couscous, farina, hydrolyzed wheat protein, vital gluten, wheat bran, wheat germ.  Oats are technically gluten free, but there is such a high level of comingling of oats with prohibited grains during production that they are included in the list.  Also, it may be that some people are intolerant of oat gluten, so eliminate oats. You can try them later.

Gluten Sensitivity is a general term that implies that an immune reaction is going on in response to gluten (gliaden/glutenin) protein in the diet. It is the term I will use in my discussions and includes the many subsets of autoimmune diseases and other conditions associated with gluten sensitivity. Gluten syndrome is another term which is inclusive of all the symptoms that gluten can cause. Celiac disease is just one of the many autoimmune conditions that can present itself as explained in the book “Dangerous Grains” by Dr. James Brayly, M.D.  In Appendix C of the book, Dr. Brayly lists 20 autoimmune diseases frequently found in celiac disease. These include: alopecia areata, arthritis, cirrhosis, Crohn’s disease, fibromyalgia, colitis, multiple sclerosis, optic neuritis, sarcoidosis, trigeminal neuritis, vasculitis. Then, in Appendix D, Dr. Brayly lists 187 Gluten-associated medical conditions!    Gluten sensitivity is a serious condition and those who embark on the journey to wellness by adopting a gluten free lifestyle when they see the signposts, have chosen their path well.
Happy Travels,

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Hello world!

Welcome to my blog site!  I am glad you found your way here on your path to gluten free living. I pray that you will be blessed and encouraged and enlightened!  After thirty two years of living with and studying gluten sensitivity, I am thrilled to begin sharing my wisdom, experiences,  and resources with many others on my blog.  

You are welcomed and understood and appreciated.

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