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Gluten Addiction
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This may be a daft question but does eating gluten cause addictive behaviour and mood changes?

The reason i ask is because i'd been gluten free for a about a month and i noticed within that time that my depression started to lift and i started to feel a lot calmer BUT last week like an idiot i thought i could handle eating a cookie so i did. Then because i didn't have a reaction within a couple of minutes i thought i'd try something else, fast forward 1 hour and i'd consumed several items of gluten filled food. Needless to say i was ill, i had the full works: headache, stomach cramps, foggy headedness, feeling irritable/agitated and vomiting.

The thing is i spent the next 24hrs in agony but my cravings for everything gluten based started to go totally out of control. It's 2 weeks later and i feel like a lunatic, i've got myself into a cycle of stuffing myself stupid with all these foods then spending the next few days in pain feeling like i'm going to die. My mood swings have come back with a vengeance and i'm irritable all of the time. I know it's making me ill but i can't stop!! Why have i lost so much control? Is this normal??? Can gluten cause this or am i just imagining it? I'm so annoyed woth myself.

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No you are not imagining anything. Gluten fits nicely into the opiate receptors in our brains. It is HIGHLY addictive. A lot of people go through "withdrawal" when they go off gluten. And like you, eating a serving of gluten (or more) brings on, not only pain, but cravings for the very drug that is killing you. Think Meth. Yeah....it is powerful stuff and if your body cannot tolerate it, you MUST break the addiction and stay off of it.

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I see. That would explain why i feel like an addict needing a fix. I never felt cravings like this when i gave up smoking or drinking, this is something different entirly. I feel like i'm going to freak out if i don't eat something.

Thank you for the advice.

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Personally, I think your cravings are just cravings. I crave soft pretzels during the third period of hocky games. We always had soft pretzels. Does this mean I am addicted. I don't think so. If there was a decent gluten-free soft pretzel, I would have no problem. It is just a desire to eat the foods that we know and love.

An addiction excuse - while lovely and an excuse - is very dangerous. Once doctors latch onto the idea that all Celiac's have addictive personalities from talk like this, we will no longer be able to get medication when we need surgery.

Before you start spreading these ideas, study what happens to people who suffer chronic severe pain. Every time they go to the ER with a problem, they are immediately written off as "drug seeking". There was one who died from a heart attack because his pain was labeled "drug seeking" and he sat in the waiting room until he stopped breathing.

In decades of dealing with this disease this is the first that anyone has tried to claim that gluten has addictive processes. There is a massive difference between a craving and addiction.

We have to be extremely careful about claiming to be addicted to gluten. Do you really want to go thru surgery without pain meds?

The craving for comfort foods is severe. But it is not an addiction. Lots of people have trouble with this diet.

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I don't think that comparing gluten addiction and people who have chronic severe pain is really fair (I'm speaking as someone who has chronic, severe pain). Craving gluten is not drug-seeking behavior- it's different in many ways and I don't think doctors will begin to label gluten addicts as drug-seekers.

I do think that foods have the potential to influence brain chemistry (chocolate is believed by some to have similar properties to marijuana). Others like oysters are thought to be aphrodisiac.

Maybe by eating gluten, you can trigger something in your brain that makes you crave more. Many people on this board have claimed to have gone through withdrawal after going gluten-free.

Regardless, you definitely need to stay off the gluten- what a horrible experience you had!!!!!!!!

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For twenty some years I avoided bread because I knew I had a problem with wheat, particularly yeasty breads (didn't understand about gluten) I knew I had a problem because I couldn't eat just one cookie, or one piece of bread, if I started I ate the whole box, the whole loaf and would end up feeling sick and bloated, you know. :rolleyes: So stupid on my part

Often it would start out at some social occasion where I couldn't avoid wheat without being weird and I wasn't okay with that, now I am. :lol: But one bite seemed to shut off the part of my brain that knew fullness and leave me with an insatiable hunger for bread, cake......so by the time I got home, for sure I would stop and buy donuts or something that I never ate and never had in the house.

So is it addictive, I don't know, does it have a powerful influence on appetite,digestion, health? YES. Given the number of people with digestive and weight issues in our society perhaps it should be a substance you must have a prescription for. :lol: Everybody would be tested and only those who have perfect guts would be allowed to eat it.

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No you are not imagining anything. Gluten fits nicely into the opiate receptors in our brains. It is HIGHLY addictive. A lot of people go through "withdrawal" when they go off gluten. And like you, eating a serving of gluten (or more) brings on, not only pain, but cravings for the very drug that is killing you. Think Meth. Yeah....it is powerful stuff and if your body cannot tolerate it, you MUST break the addiction and stay off of it.

I totally agree and have seen it in my daughter and myself!

s

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Here's an extract from Killer Cravings (all cravings not just Gluten)

.

Addictive substances cause the body to become dependent on an unnatural substance for homeostatic balance. Removing it causes withdrawals. During withdrawal, the addict suffers through the painful readjustment as the body cries out for the missing substance.

In a desperate attempt to maintain homeostasis (chemical balance), the body demands the very substance that caused the imbalance.

The body

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.......

Your favorite foods are usually the ones to which you are addicted.

You usually feel better immediately after eating the food that you are addicted to, but shortly afterward the allergic reaction produces a feeling of irritability.

.

....

Thanks David, that was very informative. :)

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Personally, I think your cravings are just cravings. I crave soft pretzels during the third period of hocky games. We always had soft pretzels. Does this mean I am addicted. I don't think so. If there was a decent gluten-free soft pretzel, I would have no problem. It is just a desire to eat the foods that we know and love.

An addiction excuse - while lovely and an excuse - is very dangerous. Once doctors latch onto the idea that all Celiac's have addictive personalities from talk like this, we will no longer be able to get medication when we need surgery.

Before you start spreading these ideas, study what happens to people who suffer chronic severe pain. Every time they go to the ER with a problem, they are immediately written off as "drug seeking". There was one who died from a heart attack because his pain was labeled "drug seeking" and he sat in the waiting room until he stopped breathing.

In decades of dealing with this disease this is the first that anyone has tried to claim that gluten has addictive processes. There is a massive difference between a craving and addiction.

We have to be extremely careful about claiming to be addicted to gluten. Do you really want to go thru surgery without pain meds?

The craving for comfort foods is severe. But it is not an addiction. Lots of people have trouble with this diet.

I totally agree with you on this! I think in today's world, we throw the addiction word around freely and apply it liberally because it removes guilt and responsibility. Now we have people who overeat themselves into obesity but instead of calling it what it is, a behavior issue, we classify another "addiction".

One of the reasons for this is because once a behavior is classified this way, the medical profession can make money from treatments because insurance will cover the problem.

My niece is a recovering heroin addict...that's an addiction, folks! If you don't get the junk when you need it, you can convulse and die. This does not happen with food. Food, cigarettes and alcohol are powerful substances that may affect brain chemistry to a degree but you will not die from withdrawal. It will be terribly unpleasant until you break the emotional bond with whatever substance is the problem but it can be done and it is not an addiction. It's also nothing to be ashamed of either. Personal responsibility and acceptance of emotion as being the root cause goes a long way towards healing. If it were truly an addiction, you would never be able to break it without medical intervention and even then, that may not work. But we all know food, butts and booze can be conquered with hard work and the right mind set. It's natural to be upset about it and have difficulty with it but don't go into that place where you label yourself an addict. It will make a solution all the harder to achieve.

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My niece is a recovering heroin addict...that's an addiction, folks! If you don't get the junk when you need it, you can convulse and die. This does not happen with food. Food, cigarettes and alcohol are powerful substances that may affect brain chemistry to a degree but you will not die from withdrawal. It will be terribly unpleasant until you break the emotional bond with whatever substance is the problem but it can be done and it is not an addiction. It's also nothing to be ashamed of either. Personal responsibility and acceptance of emotion as being the root cause goes a long way towards healing. If it were truly an addiction, you would never be able to break it without medical intervention and even then, that may not work. But we all know food, butts and booze can be conquered with hard work and the right mind set. It's natural to be upset about it and have difficulty with it but don't go into that place where you label yourself an addict. It will make a solution all the harder to achieve.

I always wonder how someone could be an alcoholic, it has no appeal to me. Sometimes I catch myself thinking that about a lot of addictions, pffft, why would someone even start using heroin, let alone let it become an addiction. I've taken opiates for years and had no problem leaving them. I can go out and get completely drunk and have no desire to do it again. I've been through some heavy oxycodone withdrawal, but didn't think the answer was more. I gave up gluten by eliminating foods that made me sick, there is no positive effect there for me.

But then I remember, I'm a smoker. I cannot function without cigarettes, brain fog and unpleasantness does not begin to describe the depth of misery, emptiness and desire for a cigarette that I have. I am a horrible person to even be near if I don't smoke. I feel it after only a few hours. I cannot tell you how many times I have walked MILES or driven like mad to the closest gas station at 2am because the day before I had been committed to quitting. I have no doubt in my mind that leaving opiates would be more painful physically, but easier all in all than ever leaving cigarettes for me. BTW, very few heroin addicts die from withdrawal.

While heroin withdrawal is seldom fatal, it can cause death if heavy users who are in poor health suddenly stop taking the drug. It is worth noting that alcohol withdrawal is often considered more dangerous.

-- http://www.heroinabuse.us/withdrawal.html

Most die from overdose after rehab, not knowing their current tolerance level, they go back to what they used to use, which is way too much. There are several other drugs that are much more likely to kill you during withdrawal, including alcohol :

Five percent of acute ethanol withdrawal cases progress to delirium tremens.[3] Unlike the withdrawal syndrome associated with opiate dependence, delirium tremens (and alcohol withdrawal in general) can be fatal. Mortality can be up to 35% if untreated; if treated early, death rates range from 5-15%.

-- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delirium_tremens

-- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benzodiazepin...drawal_syndrome

I think you are misusing the term "addiction." Addiction is a behavior. You are confusing it with tolerance. The two are completely separate.

The addiction comes in when something in your brain or psychological make up causes you to seek relief from the same thing you are trying to quit. Tolerance is easily mistaken for addiction. Generally, opiates, cigarettes, food... everyone will have some degree of a tolerance issue, in that your body is used to it, so removing it all at once is going to throw the brain and body out of whack. These degrees of tolerance vary on a lot of factors. Addiction however, is a behavior that causes a person to continue to seek to fulfill this tolerance even when it's not in their best interest. For instance, I take opiates for 2 years and then the doctor won't give me any more, I will have a tolerance, I will have withdrawal to some degree. Addiction is me psychologically needing to find more when they are no longer a necessary treatment for an ailment.

At any rate, the point I'm trying to make, is that everyone has different pathways in their brain. Some people drop cigarettes fairly easily. Some people can drop opiates fairly easily. Some people don't, some people have different body chemistry and have horrendous withdrawal symptoms. It's very hard to judge what someone else goes through with their own addictions. It's very easy for me to not understand alcoholism, or opiate abuse, or even abuse of food... but if that person is wired the same way I am for nicotine... if I frame it that way, then it's understandable. I know what that is like, and I know how hard it is.

So, while it's easy to make statements about which addictions or withdrawals are worse or easier psychologically, you can only base that off your own experience. You cannot really know what someone else may be going through with their own addiction.

Just my input.

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ha thats sooo funny.. cause when ever I have accidentally or purposly injected glutinous poisions into my body my bf knows! "you ate gluten today didnt you?" he says! Horrible! Glad i have someone who can tell right away and understands my mood swings when i am poisoned.. :lol::lol::lol:

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Wow, I doubt that someone isn't addicted to something just because the withdrawal isn't going to kill them. Everyone's brain chemistry is slightly different and different people can become addicted to different things. Many people in my family are alcoholics, they cannot function without alcohol. My father had to be medicated when he detoxed because his liver and other organs were such a mess. He couldn't walk for 2 days. I have never been addicted to alcohol so its hard for me to understand what that would feel like but I'm not going to tell him that he wasn't addicted and he just liked it a lot.

I myself experienced gluten addiction. Growing up i would have bread cravings so bad that it altered my life. I would bring bread in baggies to school for snacks. I would wake up in the middle of the night and eat all of the hot dog buns. When the first GI said she thought i had "sprue" I went home and read about it and said... "oh, that can't be it... I would die WITHOUT bread" Finally I got so sick that I hoped I would die so I stopped eating wheat. I felt like I had the flu for 4 days and I had 3 panic attacks, my heart was pounding out of my chest. I was told by my doctor that it was withdrawal symptoms. I felt nuts... but on that fourth day I woke up and felt like a totally different person. I felt like I could fly. I've been gluten free now for 4 years and it's made the biggest improvement in everything. I do cheat every now and then if I go out to eat somewhere and I'm sure I will get glutened anyway... the bread has very little appeal for me now. Addiction is gone. I do crash afterward though, i get very grumpy and depressed for days.

I've heard doctors are diagnosing people now with gluten addiction, maybe we will hear more about it in the future.

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Wow, I doubt that someone isn't addicted to something just because the withdrawal isn't going to kill them. Everyone's brain chemistry is slightly different and different people can become addicted to different things. Many people in my family are alcoholics, they cannot function without alcohol. My father had to be medicated when he detoxed because his liver and other organs were such a mess. He couldn't walk for 2 days. I have never been addicted to alcohol so its hard for me to understand what that would feel like but I'm not going to tell him that he wasn't addicted and he just liked it a lot.

I myself experienced gluten addiction. Growing up i would have bread cravings so bad that it altered my life. I would bring bread in baggies to school for snacks. I would wake up in the middle of the night and eat all of the hot dog buns. When the first GI said she thought i had "sprue" I went home and read about it and said... "oh, that can't be it... I would die WITHOUT bread" Finally I got so sick that I hoped I would die so I stopped eating wheat. I felt like I had the flu for 4 days and I had 3 panic attacks, my heart was pounding out of my chest. I was told by my doctor that it was withdrawal symptoms. I felt nuts... but on that fourth day I woke up and felt like a totally different person. I felt like I could fly. I've been gluten free now for 4 years and it's made the biggest improvement in everything. I do cheat every now and then if I go out to eat somewhere and I'm sure I will get glutened anyway... the bread has very little appeal for me now. Addiction is gone. I do crash afterward though, i get very grumpy and depressed for days.

I've heard doctors are diagnosing people now with gluten addiction, maybe we will hear more about it in the future.

Just so you know...your post has been an inspiration to me, and I can closely identify with you on your gluten addiction story...thank you so much. Right now, I'm trying to recover from this bad habit myself. People tell me that all I need is a gluten-free diet to stop the symptoms I have (mood swings and other annoying mental problems, bad headaches, anemia, fatigue, joint pain, the list goes on...). So I stop cheating for a few days and end up actually feeling worst!! I get so discouraged and often wonder what my body really wants to do with itself!

I felt so alone in this situation until I came to this discussion board, so thank you so much. I feel like that, as an active college student having fun with friends and working hard, I have to live two separate lives...one is the one I just described, and the other is an opposing, more dreary lifestyle indulging (or averting, depends on my mood) in anything I am prohibited to eat.

I certainly hope that doctors diagnose individuals with this condition (if applicable to their situation). It allows people to get the help and support they may need...nutritional, psychological, medical. I know firsthand the detrimental effects of being addicted to something that your body needs, even when your mind tries to override that need...It's a very, very serious problem that requires a certain degree of intervention. I do agree that other people can very easily get over some negative habits that others have a hard time with, but I am most certainly not one of them...haha :-)

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Here's an extract from Killer Cravings (all cravings not just Gluten)

.

Addictive substances cause the body to become dependent on an unnatural substance for homeostatic balance. Removing it causes withdrawals. During withdrawal, the addict suffers through the painful readjustment as the body cries out for the missing substance.

In a desperate attempt to maintain homeostasis (chemical balance), the body demands the very substance that caused the imbalance.

The body

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I can definitely relate to this post!

Call it what you may, addiction, cravings, etc. I know that when I eat certain foods, my behavior changes, and I become a different person. I could regale you with stories about baking cookies and eating 3 dozen of them before my boyfriend got home. (I would double or triple the recipe so it wouldn't look like I'd eaten any.)

Or about how I'd eat breakfast at my apartment, then eat breakfast again (a bagel-y sandwich) in secret, then meet a friend for a snack (a scone), then eat lunch, then a snack (pretzels or cookies) then pasta for dinner (then I'd sneak more breadsticks afterwards in secret, while I "pretended" to be getting up to go to the bathroom or something.)

All of my horrible stories have two things in common--gluten and secrecy. I would feast on gluten (I didn't realize it at the time, but now it's crystal clear what I was drawn to) and do everything in my power to keep it a secret. I would lie, I would hide, I would calculate when I could eat next and I would keep a mental list of the people who had seen me eat, reminding myself that I couldn't eat again in front of them that day.

If I didn't eat my secret meals, I'd become a monster, I'd feel deprived and nutty, I'd snap at anybody. I used to think it was mainly a carb/sugar thing, but now since going gluten-free, I am realizing it was the gluten! Hindsight is always 20/20.

I firmly believe that certain foods can cause an addiction, or at least, can cause addictive behaviors to manifest. In some ways, a food addiction is not nearly as serious as a drug-addiction, for obvious reasons. It's not illegal. It won't get you arrested. You won't DIE from withdrawal (though you may feel like it.) But in many ways it's worse. A drug addict has the choice to AVOID the drugs. An alcoholic has the option to AVOID alcohol. We all have to eat.

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I firmly believe that certain foods can cause an addiction, or at least, can cause addictive behaviors to manifest. In some ways, a food addiction is not nearly as serious as a drug-addiction, for obvious reasons. It's not illegal. It won't get you arrested. You won't DIE from withdrawal (though you may feel like it.) But in many ways it's worse. A drug addict has the choice to AVOID the drugs. An alcoholic has the option to AVOID alcohol. We all have to eat.

Amen to that!!!

So, out of curiosity, has anyone on this board thought about receiving therapy for this? I have an appt with a new psychologist tomorrow, and I'm going to give it a run...

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I did research on addiction as part of a project for school. There are two areas that are triggered from addiction and it normally depends on the individual which area is triggered, or both or none. An example is that cocaine triggers one area, meth the other. Alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana, opiates, all of them trigger one or the other of the areas. No substance has been found to date that triggers both areas. Granted, I am referring only to the mental addiction, not the physical. Some drugs like heroin trip both the mental addiction (again, only one area in the brain, not both) AND they form a physical dependence. But you know what? Bulimia and anorexia also trip one area or another. Ever wonder why some people tend to prefer one substance over another or tend to get addicted to meth but not cocaine? These two areas are the reason. If one person is sensitive only to one area, only the things that trip that area will be addicting to them. If a person is sensitive to neither, they will most likely not be addicted to anything. If both areas are sensitive, that person is likely to be a highly addictive personality. Food, behavior, drugs, pretty much every type of thing that can be done to the body can affect these regions of the brain.

So why not gluten? Why can't gluten, a protein found in FOOD, become a mental addiction the same as cigarettes? I wish I still had those scientific articles saved...

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As a recovering addict who has experienced narcotic withdrawal (from major narcotics, cocaine, cigarettes) in both hospital settings and at home....gluten CAN be addictive. Check out the research on children with autism who seek gluten and casein. When I began detoxing from gluten, I would eat it in my sleep and find food wrappers all over the place with no memory of eating, only to be sick and glutened. As for the paranoia of celiacs not receiving pain meds during surgery....my doctor knowing I am recovering, gave me all the meds I needed for surgery, and closely monitored my use of pain meds until I recovered. As most cases, it will depend on the doctor. By the way, quitting the pain meds was sooo much easier being gluten-free. Hang in there!

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By the way, quitting the pain meds was sooo much easier being gluten-free. Hang in there!

Wow... :blink:

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I can definitely relate to gluten cravings/addiction, whatever you want to call it. And I definitely think I am still going through some withdrawal even though it has been two months already. I have to say it is very tough. I will be full but will still want more. It's very difficult when you are receiving mixed signals: your brain tells you you want more, but your stomach says stop.

What seems to help is eating at set intervals, three meals a day: NO SNACKING. Stop eating when you are full and wait at least 3 and a half hours before your next meal.

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I can definitely relate to gluten cravings/addiction, whatever you want to call it. And I definitely think I am still going through some withdrawal even though it has been two months already. I have to say it is very tough. I will be full but will still want more. It's very difficult when you are receiving mixed signals: your brain tells you you want more, but your stomach says stop.

What seems to help is eating at set intervals, three meals a day: NO SNACKING. Stop eating when you are full and wait at least 3 and a half hours before your next meal.

Do what my parent's always used to say "You aren't hungry, you're thirsty. Drink some water." =]

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You bring up another good point. Sometimes the signal for thirst can be misconstrued as the signal for hunger. SO if you think you are hungry drink some water and see if you are still hungry afterwords.

Do what my parent's always used to say "You aren't hungry, you're thirsty. Drink some water." =]
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The lack Booze will also cause some big problems if you are addicted to it. DT's can kill.

For me the Gluten was a physical addiction. It was hard for me to stop eating it due to the cravings and the fact that at every single meal or snack time I always ate gluten. I would eat gluten at night till i passed out. I would eat it till I felt numb if something bugged me. I would eat it if it was in the house, or in my car. I would head to the begal store like a crack addict, almost ran someone over once who got in my way. I would mix butter, white flour and sugar and eat that if there was not gluten in the house. Social events were always about what there was there to eat, gluten of course.

As a recovering addict I know the signs. Getting off the stuff was hard for me. but I used what I was taught in a 12 step program. I thought the bite through. I knew what every bite would cost me and that one bite of gluten was not enough.

I also surrendered. Once I put gluten in my body I am powerless over what will happen. Gluten has kicked my butt! I do not fear it or need to save the world from it but I need to stay away from it. That helped me come to peace with something that has cost me a great deal in my life.

I also read an article about it setting up a morphine like addiction in your intestine. That is what got me to this web site. I noticed that if i did not eat it I went a little nuts till I did.

I feel bad for some of you that do not have the tools of a 12 step program to avoid the stuff. And yes for me the first few days of withdraw involved sleeping, and laying like a baby holding my gut and a month of D. But now that I have been with out the stuff for a half a year I am amazed at the difference in me. So Is my Doctor. He wanted to know what I was doing, My BP and hart rate have dropped and so has my weight and my blood sugar is closer to normal My hdl is now out of hart attack range.

After years of him griping at me he said, you are almost there!

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reading all of this is scary! I'm new to Celiac Disease and did not realize the extent of it. I also just caved after going a few days not eating gluten. I did feel better. I feel sick now. Someone please help me!

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