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    Is Gluten the Next Billion Dollar Hoax? The Evidence Is In...

    Dr. Stephanie Chaney, DC
    • Journal of Gluten Sensitivity Autumn 2013 Issue

    Is Gluten the Next Billion Dollar Hoax? The Evidence Is In...
    Caption: Image: CC--401(K) 2012

    Celiac.com 01/31/2017 - In my practice, I have had the pleasure and honor of helping hundreds of people reverse their diabetes and put their autoimmune diseases into remission. One of the many things that we test for is gluten reactivity. The research, much of which has been cited in our book on gluten, Lose the Gluten, Lose your Gut. Ditch the Grain, Save your Brain, clearly demonstrates the connection between gluten reactivity and most autoimmune diseases, including but not limited to: Hashimoto's thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. I intentionally didn't mention celiac disease, because, although it is very well established and accepted that gluten triggers celiac disease, what most don't realize is that those with celiac disease represent only a small percentage of people with autoimmunity that are impacted by gluten reactivity.

    What's alarming and disappointing to me is how many doctors 'pooh pooh' the concept of gluten reactivity, especially among their chronically ill patients. Because of this disconnect, patients continue to suffer needlessly with chronic diseases that, with the removal of gluten from the diet, would in many cases, clear up or go into remission. Hundreds of my patients tell me that when they told their health practitioner they had eliminated gluten from their diet, the health care worker didn't believe gluten would make a difference, or that since they didn't have celiac disease, eliminating gluten wouldn't help them. All this was said in the face of autoimmune diseases going into remission, or diabetes reversing right before their eyes, following the elimination of gluten from their diet.

    The issue is that many health care practitioners are just not keeping current with the research. As such, they are inadvertently preventing their patients from truly getting healthy. The additional travesty with this is that so many people look to their health care practitioners as 'experts'. When these providers, who are not 'experts' in a particular subject, (in fact, many are completely ignorant of how dietary changes and supplement therapy can help people thrive) advise a patient against something that the research shows would likely help them, it becomes an issue of negligence and, quite frankly, laziness.

    One patient in particular comes to mind when I think of this disconnect. I had the pleasure of working with a retired nurse who, in her seventies, had come to me with several medical issues. For purposes of this article, I will refer to her as Mary. Mary suffered with hypothyroidism, which we quickly discovered through additional testing, was caused by an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto's thyroiditis. Interestingly, it is estimated that roughly 90% of the 26 million people in the U.S. that have hypothyroidism actually have Hashimoto's. This is an autoimmune disease in which your immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid gland. The research, and our clinical experience, has demonstrated that gluten will cause your immune system to flare-up and attack the thyroid.

    In addition to Hashimoto's, Mary also suffered with cardiac arrhythmia and she had a history of blood clots and strokes. She also had a long-standing issue with another autoimmune disease, called pleva, whereby her skin would rash up, itch and scab. Mary was very overweight, and exhausted all of the time. Mary had a full functional work-up in our office and she was confirmed, with testing, to be very gluten-reactive. After working with her for several months, with one very important instruction to go completely gluten-free, she easily lost over 40 lbs (with no additional exercise), her energy increased to the point where she stated she hadn't felt that good in decades, and her arrhythmia and pleva cleared up completely. Her cardiologist was ecstatic and her general practitioner told her to keep up whatever she was doing because she was so healthy now.

    I hadn't seen Mary for almost 6 months when she emailed me one day to update me on something that had happened with her. She went to a food class taught by a vegan. At the class the guests were told very directly that eating gluten-free was a 'billion dollar hoax' and that eating gluten-free could be dangerous and bad for your health. Mary, even after all of her success, in part from going gluten-free, was suddenly doubtful of her diet. She tested it, and for 3 days brought back gluten-containing foods. She told me she reacted very badly and felt horrible. For Mary, the point was driven home that gluten-reactivity was a very real issue regarding her health. The difference in how she felt was like night and day. Lucky for her, she observed this first hand and immediately went back on her gluten-free diet before her skin disease and arrhythmia flared-up.

    Whether one is a doctor, a nutritionist, or a regular Joe, making statements about any subject without having researched that subject in earnest, is unethical, and may even be harmful. We have done the research and have seen first-hand, with thousands of patients reversing everything from psoriasis to diabetes, that eating gluten-free, while very 'trendy' right now, is a trend that is solidly backed up by the evidence.

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    Nice anecdotes. Absolutely wonderful if they are 100% true. However, although the article cites research, but does provide any references. When a chiropractor gives an anecdote putting a medical doctor in a poor light, a warning alarm should go off and red flags should be raised. Any critical thinker will be skeptical an article without references to studies that follow the full scientific method. But, I could be wrong and it might just be oversight from the other / editor / webmaster and there indeed could be real science, not pseudoscience behind this. Prove me wrong, and I would be thrilled. I read article here because my daughter has verified celiac disease. The signal to noise ratio on this site is lowered with articles like this one.

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    Definitely worth trying. Anyone with an illness in that wide autoimmune spectrum, particularly if there is a family history, has nothing to lose by going gluten-free and keeping a food diary. There is still uncertainty about gluten, leaky bowel and possibly other foods.

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    Funny, how cutting out gluten after my celiac diagnosis did not put my Hashimoto's into remission. My thyroid continues to peter out slowly as the years go by despite the fact that I've been gluten free for years now. My friend has Hashimoto's but not celiac. Going gluten free did absolutely nothing to clear up her psoriasis or her Hashimoto's. There's my anecdotal evidence to counter the anecdotal evidence in this article.

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    It's easier for the medical community to ignore the gluten/auto- immune disorder connection than accept a change in diet is radically more beneficial than the drugs they prescribe. Doctors earn their money via repeat visits from patients who never improve, but come but for the steroids and other medications commonly prescribed for auto-immune diseases. The info is out there, patients need to self-advocate and autonomously take control of their health.

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    Well, here is "N=1": I went 15 years un-diagnosed with celiac, seeing GP MD's and Endos for type one diabetes, explaining symptoms, showing them dermatitis herpetiformis lesions. They scratched their heads, said it was nothing. It was a PA that discovered it. By that time I had significant neurological damage from celiac disease. Contempt prior to investigation is ubiquitous in orthodox medicine. WNL is a standard chart note for within normal limits. The Residents joke is that it also stands for we never looked.

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    My son has celiac, so I have seen first hand the bad effects of gluten in wheat, some other foods. I truly believe this article and think more research should be done to bring this problem out of the dark and into light. More research is needed on genetic engineering of foods.

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    Guest Caryopteris

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    This is an excellent article showing what happens in REAL LIFE. These are people's lives and their actual health at stake. Gluten causes devastating problems in people that expensive pills can't fix, but drug companies are the ones educating doctors, so patients will continue to get lazy advice from MDs much of the time. I have been seeing MDs my entire life, and it wasn't until my 4th decade that a SURGEON told me I had celiac and I needed to stop gluten. He told me testing didn't matter because of my history and the fact that all my issues cleared by stopping gluten. These issues included migraines, Raynaud's, erythema nodosum, nail deformation, skin rashes including apparent dermatitis herpetiformis. I tried to get their precious testing done, but by the time I discovered gluten to be the problem, I weighed 106 lb at 5'6" and I was anemic and deficient in iron, magnesium and vitamins. TOO LATE! If these other docs are so smart they should have tested me sooner, including the dermatologists that I begged to biopsy my skin. They all told me that only people with AIDS could have all the problems I had, so what I had was anxiety. Here take these antidepressants and stop bothering us. Thankfully people are STARTING to be smart enough now to realize that the medical establishment loves to bash anything they don't understand, and all they actually care about is making money, which the pharmaceutical companies are happy to provide for their compliance. So Steve and Aims, we see through your haughty comments for what they actually are: Greed, pride and laziness.

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    What Steve said. Even the mysterious test for "gluten reactivity" is not specified. As celiacs, we are knowledgeable and care about the science related to gluten, not sweeping claims substantiated by anecdote alone. It's not impossible that a gluten free diet may ameliorate symptoms of some other autoimmune diseases, but there is no scientific evidence in this article to support its claims. Could you please fill in details on supporting research here, as well as telling us what this test you use with your patients is called and what it tests exactly? Thanks.

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  • About Me

    Dr. Stephanie Chaney, DC has been practicing Chiropractic since 2001 in Annapolis Maryland. Her clinic, Living Health Integrative Medicine specializes in Chiropractic Care and Functional Medicine. Dr. Chaney currently focuses on Functional Medicine which is helping patients with various health challenges and reversing conditions naturally with nutrition and supplement therapy. Interested in learning more, please visit Living Health Integrative Medicine at mylivinghealth.com

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