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    Jefferson Adams

    Ten Things to Try if You Accidentally Eat Gluten


    Caption: Image: CC--Stephan Harlan

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

    Symptoms 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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    If you live somewhere where it is legally available...I would add marijuana to this list. It definitely helps. If you don't want the associated high, inquire about CBD (does not contain the active ingredient THC).

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    If I get exposed to gluten, I have horrible gastrointestinal cramps and bloating. In fact, I usually know within 4 hours of getting "dosed." But because the end result is crippling cramping and constipation, I am unlucky. At least diarrhea would give me more warning other than "bloating." My advice to anyone who is IBS-C (intestinal bowel syndrome with constipation), go ahead and do the senna as soon as you notice symptoms. It will make things easier in a few days, even if the next 24-48 hours are painful. Plus, it might save you from other symptoms like skin or joint problems, or more autoimmune problems down the road. But, it is not a "rescue." Gluten in = inflammation. Even a tiny amount, as in spices, will set off the reaction. Trying to eliminate by any other means (e.g., vomiting, laxatives, ) will not remove the offending agent. Only time will eliminate the reaction. For me it is 5 days. Good luck to you all!

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    I appreciate this post, but I feel you need to note that many probiotics that profess to be gluten free were actually found to contain it.

    I used to be a huge fan of probiotic supplements but will now just do my best to get them through fermented food.

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    I have found a glass of home cultured Kefir to be calming and I also take a diarrhea remedy pill if necessary, though so far I've not ingested large amounts by accident.

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    Excellent article, and helpful posts. I have extreme pain within minutes of being glutened. No time to mix elixirs. I thought the "medical marijuana" was interesting since it relaxes the muscles. I have a prescription for Flexeral (Cyclobenzaprine) which is for muscle spasms. It has helped me more than anything else. It is easy for some Doctors to say "just wait it out". The pain is excruciating, not to mention the diarrhea and vomiting. One pill, and by the next day, I am weak but functional.

    Thanks, Jefferson, for sharing the subject.

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    Instead of looking for remedies, if I have any kind of symptoms I go to see the doctor. The doctor would test to determine if I ingested gluten or if there is something else going on( like reactions to other foods or any other complication); some people have posted they get better with Pepto Bismol, i.e.;they should see a celiac disease specialist.The best bet would be avoiding any risky behavior that could expose you to gluten; studies have shown if you keep ingesting gluten after being on a gluten-free diet your small intestine could come to a point of no return. One time incidentally I ingested gluten in a restaurant and I developed vasculitis, which is serious. You cannot be playing with your health; as I said, this is a serious matter.

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    Within 20 minutes of ingesting gluten, I start violently vomiting, violent diarrhea, become extremely weak to the point of near paralyses and near unconsciousness. I have been taken by ambulance to the ER where the only thing the doctors can do is provide fluids with medications i.e. phenergren, calm the symptoms down within 2 to 4 hours. The following week I am so terrified about eating anything but bouillon, Sprite, and rice crackers is the anything I will eat. Pain medication and anti-spasmodics for the gut pain/spasms which, lasts usually two week to four weeks - helps. I become house bound as well. This happened while my daughter and her family were here in late June. When we went out to dinner and everyone had ordered their food, I looked at my plate of "gluten-free" free food and started crying. How awful is that?!!!! They all understood. Especially since my daughter and her two sons have Celiac Disease. What a legacy to give to them! My strength is returning and I am eating more but the fear remains. I have tried homeopathic products that sometime work but in general just eating lightly and carefully. BTW, this is the first time this year I had an attack. Last year I had 3. Each one worse than the other. It doesn't matter how careful you are, eventually you will have an attack. Good Luck!!!

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    I also find the supplement "Gluten Cutter" to be very helpful if I accidentally ingest gluten. It is basically dried mint. Thanks for a very informational article.

    I find Gluten Cutters to work wonderfully for some forms of gluten. Except for biscuits or gravies take 2 tables just before eating and so far works great.

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    An organic banana slightly under ripe contains lectins to speed recovery from accidental gluten exposure if you do not eat banana except as medicine for this problem.

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    Guest Catherine Rose

    Posted

    "Officially, beyond simply waiting it out, there is no clinically accepted treatment for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity who accidentally eat gluten. "

     

    I think the article should have ended there. There is too much folklore and "anecdotal medicine" out there already. We need to stick to medically proven facts.

    If I left it to the medical community and their facts, I would be dead. If it were not for medical folklore, I would not heal.

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    Eater's Digest by Traditional Medicinals does not have any enzymes in it. The sentence above says, "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." This is misleading, as Eater' Digest is an herbal tea made of peppermint, fennel, and ginger. It's very nice, but it's not an enzyme product.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in biology, anatomy, medicine, science, and advanced research, and scientific methods. He previously served as Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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