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Archive for April, 2009

I can sense the uneasiness about this supposed epidemic. It just doesn’t seem right to “villify” (vilify) the “staff of life,” does it? (The definition of “villify” is to slander the staff of life as the destroyer of villi in the intestine. Just couldn’t resist….) Many doctors think this is the new “fad diet.” The new “boutique disease.” Most are bothered and bewildered about this whole thing. We are mad, sick and tired, flummoxed. We don’t want to hear about it. We don’t want to do the diet or learn about GS or whatever the h-e-double hockey sticks she is talking about. I know, I KNOW, I am the big kahuna party pooper. Pasta lovers everywhere hate me and my blog. But then, people who get their lives back love me, so I guess I am even up on the deal. I can stand a little verbal abuse in return for the reward of seeing someone healthy again.

It is time to rip off the mask of this villain causing gluten sensitivity to stare it in the face and to identify what is underneath it all. You instinctively know down deep inside what is behind the mask, but it is hard to put your finger on it, especially when “it” has you in a brain fog headlock. It takes someone who has been pestered and devastated by this masked intruder for thirty years to finally rip off the mask in one desperate swoop.

As you happily travel down the road to gluten hell, a sign appears in the distance. You can just barely make out the words. “You…………….. are…………… going……… the….. wrong…… way. You are going the wrong way. Ha! How do they know which way I want to go!!” You continue down the road, ignoring the signs, when suddenly, headlights appear in both lanes coming toward you. You are going the wrong way.

Celiac disease has been with us. The condition was named, accurately described and written down 2000 years ago. But cultivated grains have also sustained civilizations (they are the reason civilizations could flour-ish) for 10,000 years, albeit with a price to pay health wise. Archaeologists tell us that there were changes in the skeletal remains of humans after the advent of agriculture, so grains are not the perfect food. Bones became diseased, stature shorter and brain size smaller, not exactly a small price to pay.

Grains are the perfect comfort food however, having opioid like substances that have a morphine like effect on the brain, so it is not hard to see why grains became the “staff of life” as comfort foods. Grains are a really a poverty food, an emergency storage food. About 4000 years ago this certain wise man named Joseph heard from God that a famine was coming, so he built a huge barn and filled it with grain for seven years and saved a whole bunch of people from starvation. It worked. They could not have all been doubled over with stomach cramps and frothy diarrhea. What is going on here? Why is this gluten thing seemingly getting worse? What is this supposed epidemic?

There are immunotoxic peptides in gluten that are recalcitrant to being broken down by digestive enzymes. A 33-mer peptide for α-2 gliadin is the principle to gluten immunotoxicity. Celiacs respond to this foreign invader with the production of antibodies. The immunogenetics of the disease implicate certain HLA DZ alleles as necessary for subsequent disease development. Work continues to progress in the unravelling of the molecular interactions involved in the pathogenesis of celiac disease……………………… In the meantime, people are perishing for lack of knowledge.

People for thousands of years knew how to properly grow and process grains to make them safer for consumption. These survivors possessed something called “wisdom,” a gift from our Creator if we take time to observe his ways. As a matter of fact God told us directly in the Bible in Ezekial 4:9 how to make bread so as not to leave us to our own devices. “Take unto thee wheat and barley, and beans and lentils, and millet, and spelt and put them in one vessel, and make bread of it.” We have only begun to understand the wisdom of that recipe, but a new protein is actually formed with this combination of grains and beans. I bet they soaked and sprouted and fermented the grains, too.

Grains contain anti-nutrients. Phytic acid binds with minerals in the intestinal tract and blocks their absorption. There are complex sugars the body cannot break down and enzyme inhibitors that inhibit digestion. Then there is gluten, the protein ready to spring into action when the seed is planted to supply energy to produce a plant. Gluten is very hard to digest and it is the undigested protein of gluten that signals the immune system that a foreign protein is present. All hell breaks loose in the intestines and you may be doubled over in pain or completely unaware of the dramatic warfare going on down below. Our wise ancestors soaked and sprouted and pounded and roasted and fermented their grains and they did it to ALL of their grains, even the ones we consider gluten free and safe.

The Japanese know about this. They make mochi from rice that has been soaked and then pounded into a uniform consistency and made into cakes and baked. The Russians know about it, too. They made tolokno. Oats were soaked for 24 hours and then set in a slow oven overnight. The oats would then be roasted and ground and made into a soup which was good for the digestion. The Africans know about it. They ferment teff to make injera bread. They also soak and ferment corn and millet to produce the sour porridge called ogi. The East Indians know about it, too. They ferment rice and lentils for several days to make dosas. Then there is sourdough bread. The American pioneers were famous for their sourdough breads and biscuits and pancakes. It turns out that all of these methods assist in the breakdown of gluten, anti-nutrients and the other naturally occurring toxins in grains. Fermentation helps to maintain healthy intestinal bacteria that are protective of the immune system and the lining of the gut. Besides that, these wise ancestors respectfully gathered and ground the harvested grain into course flour using huge circular milling stones. Bread was formed and baked by hand, imparting a strong and nurturing energy. The subtle energies of the grain remained intact.

In 2004, the results of a research project aimed at producing a sourdough bread that is tolerated by celiac patients was published in the journal of Applied and Environmental Microbiology. They selected sourdough lactobacilli that had peptidases capable of hydrolyzing the 33-mer peptide. The conclusion was that a bread biotechnology that uses selected lactobacilli, gluten flour and nontoxic flours, and a long fermentation time could decrease the level of gluten intolerance in humans. Apparently digestive enzymes are not able to completely break down gluten, but bacterial enzymes, the kind found in sourdough bread can! Our ancestors knew all about this without some fancy research lab.
DISCLAIMER: This article does not imply that GS persons can safely eat sourdough bread. This was a specific and controlled experiment.

So who is this masked “villi-an?” A “villi-an” is a villain who contrives an evil plot to destroy intestinal villi with gluten. Just couldn’t resist. Villain actually comes from the Latin word “villanus” which means farmhand. I refuse to comment any further on the word villanus. The villain I am referring to really IS a farmhand, however.

This modern villanus has been the contrivance of commercial wheat production. Modern bread wheat is now a very distant relative of the early grasses of our ancestors and is higher in gluten content. In 2006 a paper by T. Pizzuti was published in Gastroenterology reporting that in a study of the early wheat, Triticum monococcum, it shows a “lack of mucosal toxicity in celiac disease patients.” The gluten content of this early wheat was very low.

In addition modern wheat production is a study in pesticide application. The seeds are treated with fungicide and then the harvested wheat is sprayed with hormones to prevent sprouting and pesticides and more fungicide. The fiber and more nutritious part of the grain, the bran and germ are fractionated out and only the starchy endosperm remains for those “gourmet” white flour products. The flour is milled using high speed steel rollers and at high temperatures. Then it is assaulted with chlorine or bromine gas to bleach it. Alloxan is a byproduct of the flour bleaching process. Alloxan is a poison that is used to produce diabetes in laboratory animals so that treatments for diabetes can be researched. It destroys the cells in your pancreas that produce insulin. This is villainous.

The flour now has no natural vitamin E left, about half the calcium, seventy five percent of the phosphorus is gone, eighty percent of the magnesium, and about seventy five percent of the B vitamins are vanquished. The subtle energies of the grains are dead and no loving member of the family will impart his/her strength to the bread for the nurturance of others. Is there anything left? Yes, starch, chemicals, anti-nutrients, opioid components and gluten. This is a recipe from hell.

The flour is now ready to be baked by commercial bakeries into those addictive pastries and breads. They are baked quickly to insure a profit and the gluten and anti-nutrients remain intact. In contrast it takes four days to bake a loaf of traditional Russian sourdough bread. I firmly believe that these highly processed and finely milled particles allow far more undigested gluten peptides to come into contact with the intestinal lining and this is one very important reason for the worsening of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. Undigested gluten is the problem. It damages tissues both in the intestine and in unexpected and far reaching places as the proteins are leaked through the destroyed intestinal lining. If gluten is incubated in a petri dish with healthy tissue, it damages the tissue.

The next sign on the road going the wrong way is this. The…….. canary……. is…….. dead. The gluten sensitive are like the canary that was lowered into the mine to see if dangerous carbon monoxide fumes existed. If he died it was a warning not to go into the mine. We are the sensitive ones. Our dear gluten sensitive friends and relatives are the warning that we have gone the wrong way. The immune system of gluten sensitive people is doing exactly what it is supposed to do given the circumstances, it is just doing it better than most people because of our genetics. So the next time you meet a celiac, stick out your hand, pat him on the back and thank him for saving lives. My daughter and grandson saved mine, but there are still about 90 million lives to go.

So how do we propose fixing this 10,000 year old genetic mismatch that is made worse by the reckless production and processing of grains? How do we go the other way on this road to gluten hell ? The forthcoming answers from experts are making me stare blankly out my window, like a deer caught in those headlights coming the wrong way. One idea is to vaccinate all the gluten sensitive people against the virus researchers are looking for that seems to occur alongside the onset of celiac disease. I definitely won’t stand in line for that one! Another is to genetically engineer grains to be more digestible. Sorry, I won’t sign up to be a guinea pig for that one either! No thank you, Monsanto. How about digestive enzymes so everyone can eat whatever they like? One does exist, but it should only be used to protect against gluten contamination. Some continue to advocate new medications to alleviate symptoms so patients don’t have to implement such a strict diet. I suspect Merck, Monsanto, and Mills will never find the truth even though it is staring them in the face. They have brain fog and greed. Like Diogenes, I have lit a lantern but I am on a search to find the wise people. I can recognize the “villi-an” anywhere and I am most certain this villain has some accomplices that I will expose to view. You will be surprised at who and what they are. In the meantime there is no choice but to eliminate gluten grains for life.

Going the right way,
Margery

Disclaimer

This article is simply an opinion to provoke thought. It is not intended for use in diagnosis, treatment, or any other medical application. See your gluten savvy physician for that.

© 2009 Margery J. Thomas. All rights reserved.

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My saga of gluten woe began in 1975, but in reality years before. It is not unlike the so many stories that I have heard or read about, with the suffering and the searching for a diagnosis. Yet, my journey has some twists and turns that make it unique. There are lots of bits of information that will help you with the new understanding of gluten sensitivity. In the process, you will understand why my blogs are the way they are.

It began with a stomach virus that swept through our family of five with a quick vengeance. We all recovered in 24 hours, except for our one year old baby. Her digestion did not return to normal but persisted with intermittent diarrhea. I sought the advice of our pediatrician and he prescribed an antidiarrheal medicine that was opium based, although I didn’t realize it at the time. It didn’t really help that much and some days she was worse and some days better, with or without it. Thankfully, I instinctively used it sparingly.

I found that she improved for a time when I eliminated milk from her diet. Still, she continued to get worse overall. Thinking I should optimize her nutrition, I emphasized organic foods and grew my own sprouts and baked whole wheat bread….. Her immune system was now weakened and she began to have strep infections which led to a cycle of antibiotics plus medicine for the diarrhea that inevitably worsened from the antibiotics. In spite of “normal” check ups, over the next months her condition became frightening to me. In addition to a very distended abdomen and frothy diarrhea, she was now extremely irritable and spent some part of her days screaming and crying inconsolably. She could not bear to have her hair combed, so I lovingly combed it with my fingers. Her smile was gone. “I think she is becoming autistic,” I whispered. “I have to find an answer.”

On the way to the doctor’s appointment, I mentally rehearsed what I was going to say, but I never could have anticipated our pediatrician’s reply. The scene that day left me in shock for weeks and emotional to write about, even now. After observing her behavior, he glared at me and said, “Your child is not autistic. The reason she is acting this way is because you are not disciplining her!” I was speechless, never even mentioning the frothy diarrhea. I left with another script for an antibiotic and opium. We were in gluten hell.

On the way home, I stopped at the drugstore to fill the prescriptions and I asked the druggist what was in those drugs. He handed me an info sheet since it was before they included one in the packaging. My eyes filled with tears as I read the warning: “Contains opium. Do not use over a long period of time…..” I was horrified. They had given my baby opium over a long period of time!!! Thank God I had not used it very often. I tore up the prescription and fled the pharmacy with a fire to find the answer.

In that moment of desperation, I thought of Dr. Curtis Dohan as if his name were dropped from above into my consciousness. Dr. Curtis Dohan was an MD  who worked where I had worked as a lab tech in biochemistry research. He was investigating the high incidence of celiac disease in schizophrenic patients. I had not paid much attention to that facet of his work, but on this day I had an epiphany. ( Note: Opioid fractions in gluten grains cause addiction and brain fog. With any addiction there is “denial” when confronted with the possibility that a favorite substance may be harmful. You simply can’t hear the truth.) “CELIAC DISEASE!!! She has CELIAC DISEASE,” I cried out. I rushed home and called Dr. Dohan.  His immediate and frantic reply was, “Take her off from gluten now!” And I did and in three weeks she was better.

She was scheduled for an intestinal biopsy, which was, and still is considered by many, to be the gold standard for diagnosing celiac disease. As I sat in the waiting area, I continued to question why she needed a biopsy. “She is better,” I thought, “Isn’t that enough? If this diagnosis required medical treatment, then maybe, but the answer is to be vigilant over her nutrition.” The longer I waited, the less I wanted her to be subjected to a biopsy. She was finally feeling better after months of being sick. Besides, I didn’t even know what the risks of the procedure were and she had to have general anesthesia. I wondered how accurate the biopsy would be. What if they don’t snip a damaged area? Most importantly, what if the results were negative, would I go back to feeding her gluten? I stepped up to the receptionist and announced, “I changed my mind” and we left. We never did the biopsy and she never needed one to prove what she had. The diet proved it.

At the time, and even today, many “experts” believed that as long as there is no diarrhea, some gluten may be ingested to tolerance without consequence. We blindly followed that misinformation and later found that the effects of gluten can be far reaching beyond the intestinal tract and without the obvious symptoms. Never, never, believe the above bit of twisted information. There is no such thing as “low” tolerance. There is only “no” tolerance.

We will now fast forward to about 10 years ago when our daughter began having some frightening symptoms. Our very compassionate doctor told me he cried after he examined her. “Mrs. Thomas, I believe she has MS,” he said sadly. My second epiphany came a short time later. “What if gluten can cause neurological symptoms without the symptoms of celiac disease?” I thought. I encouraged our daughter to be 100% gluten free even though she did not have the former symptoms of celiac disease. The symptoms of MS disappeared, but it was not until we learned the lesson of “contamination.”

At about the same time, our daughter’s beautiful three year old son began showing signs of celiac disease. It arrived insidiously following an intestinal virus, little by little claiming its unwanted place in our family again. Initially, I started to have brief flashbacks as I contemplated our look alike grandson. Then the picture became crystal clear and unmistakable. Our grandson had celiac disease. I had thought celiac disease was “rare” so I was devastated to see it again in our family and it was the last thing I wanted to believe. So the second member of our family became gluten free and he got better. Totally better, in fact, but we were about to learn another lesson.

Our grandson was very sensitive to gluten and in spite of my best efforts, he kept getting “contaminated” at my house. So I cleaned out every speck of gluten, threw out my toaster oven and restocked my kitchen shelves making my home a gluten free safe place. We began investigating food companies and to our horror discovered that many of the GF food lists, even those printed by celiac disease associations, did not take into account contamination during processing or that the ingredients in the products from other sources might be contaminated with small amounts of gluten. We realized that if our immune system can recognize sub microscopic viruses, it can hone in on very small amounts of gluten, even as little as 20 or 30 parts per million. We also realized that eating out in restaurants was like playing Russian roulette. (This appears to be changing, now.) We perfected the definition of “gluten free” and accomplished a very pure gluten free diet. It made all the difference.

In addition, I decided to be gluten free too, so I could walk the same road with my daughter and grandson and be a loving and constant support for them. I did this even though “I had absolutely no” symptoms of GS or so I thought… The first thing that happened was I noticed my brain fog was clearing and I began to see things differently, more realistically as I moved out of “Glutenville.” Secondly, my body aches disappeared and my restless leg syndrome was gone. I could now go to the bathroom regularly and the frequent flu like symptoms disappeared, too. I woke up every morning refreshed and alert. I now was thinking clearly enough to be hot on the trail of a new paradigm.

I discovered a book titled “Dangerous Grains” by Ron Hoggan and Dr. James Brayly (see Resources). I digested the book in one day and it confirmed everything I had learned from my experience and more. The light had dawned. There is more to this gluten thing than celiac disease! I was in the book and I knew I was gluten sensitive and so were other unknowing members of my family.

At this point there were three of us who were gluten free, but one more would soon be added. After our middle daughter’s first baby was born, our daughter began to lose weight at an alarming rate. Once again, no symptoms of classic celiac disease were present, except for loss of weight. Instead of diarrhea, it was constipation. She decided to go to her doctor to request a test for gluten sensitivity. “But you don’t have the symptoms of celiac disease,” the doctor responded in a rather bemused and condescending way. She refused to order the blood work. A short time later, I found out about Enterolabs. (see Links). Her test results were positive for both gluten sensitivity and casein allergy. She became gluten free and her weight normalized and she got better.

Over the next months, one by one, most of our family became gluten free. Here is a list of our collective symptoms that disappeared quite dramatically in most cases:
Abdominal bloating, anxiety, behavioral issues, body aches, brain fog, canker sores, celiac disease, constipation, depression, digestive problems, flu like symptoms, headaches, hypoglycemia, irritability, learning problems, neurological symptoms, restless leg syndrome, skin rashes, weight loss, very bad grumpiness.

That is what gluten hell looks like. It is the portrait of a gluten sensitive family. Our portrait looks much different today because we are gluten free and healthy now.

As I sat one day in quiet contemplation I had my third epiphany. I began reminiscing about my life’s path and how truly blessed I am. I wondered what would have happened if I had not known Dr. Dohan and about the amazing inner guidance that led me to work in that research lab. I grappled with the mystery of gluten sensitivity and gluten’s insolent masquerade as the staff of life. I pondered its addictive nature and the reasons there is so much resistance to looking at the picture of gluten syndrome.

My most dramatic revelation came while looking backward in time at my family portrait. My father had been a “sickly” child and his last days were spent battling rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease. “I think it has to do with something I am eating,” my dad would often remark. He must have been intuitive, but who would have guessed it would take forty years and the next generation to figure out exactly which food it was.

As thoughts about the events surrounding my older sister’s death forced their way into view, I asked myself in quiet desperation, “Could it have been?” She had died before I was born and I grew up with a lingering and silent grief in our household. I began to cry softly. Joanie had died at the age of fifteen months of severe, “intractable” diarrhea following a flu. It was in 1940 and they simply didn’t know.

Margery Thomas

Disclaimer: This is my story and my opinion. It is not meant to advise, diagnose or treat a medical condition. Please seek competent medical help for medical conditions.

© Margery Thomas 2009. All Rights Reserved

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