Celiac.com 07/03/2015 - For people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, accidentally eating gluten can have numerous undesirable consequences.

Image: CC--Stephan HarlanSymptoms of gluten-exposure among people with celiac disease can vary, but main problems and complaints include: upset stomach, stomach pain, inflammation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, indigestion, heart burn, skin rash or breakouts, and nerve and arthritis pain, among others.

If you're one of these people, then you likely work pretty hard to make sure everything you eat is gluten-free. But what can you do if you accidentally eat gluten?

Officially, beyond simply waiting it out, there is no clinically accepted treatment for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity who accidentally eat gluten. However, there are things that many people claim will reduce the suffering and promote healing when this happens. Here are the best home remedies for accidental gluten ingestion, as submitted by readers to our gluten-free forum.

The main goal is to reduce or eliminate the worst immediate symptoms, including pain, inflammation, diarrhea, gas and or bloating, etc. The secondary goal is to rebuild gut health.

So what works? Or, what do people say works for them? The remedies listed below are not ranked in any particular order of importance or efficacy.

  1. Fasting—Recent studies indicate that fasting for a couple of days can help to reset the immune system, which might be beneficial for those suffering from an adverse gluten reaction. Be sure to check with a doctor before fasting, just to be safe.
  2. Digestive Enzymes-- For many people, digestive enzymes seem to help the bloating. Many people claim that such enzymes help provide relief, especially against small amounts of gluten. Two such products are Eater's Digest by Traditional Medicinals, and Gluten Defense digestive enzymes.
  3. Green tea or peppermint tea. Many people have reported that green tea is also helpful. Peppermint tea is said to promote muscle relaxation, and can help for gassy stomach issues. Strong gluten-free peppermints will work in a pinch.
  4. Imodium seems to help some people control associated diarrhea. If you have diarrhea, be sure to drink water with electrolytes to help replace lost fluids.
  5. Pepto-Bismol—Some people take Pepto-Bismol to help relieve stomach upset.
  6. Marshmallow root can help to sooth stomach and gas pain.
  7. Antihistamines—Some people claim to find relief with antihistamines, such as Benedryl, Clatratin, or Zyrtec. Often these are used in combination with other remedies
  8. Probiotics—Many people find probiotics to be helpful, especially as part of a general gut maintenance program. Probiotics are generally more helpful in advance of accidental gluten exposure, but many people take them after exposure. Either way, it certainly can't hurt.
  9. Broth—Many people with celiac disease, gut and/or nutritional issues turn to broth for help in building gut health and proper nutrition. Good old fashioned beef, chicken or fish broth can be a beneficial part of a healthy gut regimen. Broth also has many health properties beyond gut healing.
  10. Tummy Rescue Smoothie: This recipe was developed by a celiac.com reader in response to his own "gluten emergency.” The healing properties of each ingredient are also listed. Puree in blender until smooth, and slightly thickened. It is most soothing when consumed while still warm from the hot tea.

Tummy Rescue Smoothie:

  • 1 cup hot freshly brewed nettle leaf tea (anti-histamine, anti-spasmodic)
  • ¼ cup Santa-Cruz pear juice (flavoring/sweetener - pears are the least allergenic of fruits)
  • ¼-½ teaspoon whole fennel seed (reduces gas & bloating)
  • 2 Tablespoons slippery elm powder (healing & soothing to mucous membranes and the gut)
  • 1 Tablespoon flax seed oil (soothing, anti-inflammatory)
  • ¼ - ½ cup rice milk (hypoallergenic, use to thin to desired consistency)

This smoothie is best consumed in small sips over an hour or so. Magnesium also helps with pain and relaxes muscle spasms, so taking a little extra magnesium may be of benefit. For severe symptoms, drink the smoothie while reclining in bed, with a warm castor oil pack over the abdomen, covered by a heating pad set on low. Do not leave the pack in place for more than an hour.

Longer-term strategies include rebuilding intestinal health with an anti-inflammatory diet, taking supplements like L-Glutamine, coconut oil, fat-soluble vitamins A, E, D, and K, Calcium, Magnesium, B-Vitamins, Essential Fatty Acids (EFA's), and probiotics, including acidophilus for about a week to get intestinal flora back in order.

This list is not intended to be authoritative or comprehensive. Nor is it intended as medical advice, or as a substitute for medical advice. As with any health remedy, do your research and make the choices that are right for you.

If you have any thoughts or insights on how best to treat accidental gluten ingestion for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, please share them in our comments section below.

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