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  • John B. Symes, D.V.M.

    Sickle Cell Disease

    John B. Symes, D.V.M.
    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      Journal of Gluten Sensitivity Autumn 2010 Issue. NOTE: This article is from a back issue of our popular subscription-only paper newsletter. Some content may be outdated.

    Image: CC--OpenStax College - Anatomy & Physiology, Connexions Web site.
    Caption: Image: CC--OpenStax College - Anatomy & Physiology, Connexions Web site.

    Celiac.com 05/31/2019 (originally published 10/08/2010) - Hello. My name is Gerald Cooper. My wife was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia at the age of three. She’s 38 now and we are seeking the cure for this disease. I get on website after website and find cures for cancers and just about everything else. I am so thankful that people are getting cured from their problems, for I hate all diseases. I just get frustrated now and then because I have not found ANYONE saying that they have the cure for sickle cell anemia. I am seeking to find right now and we are desperate. We are desperate. My wife had a hip replacement due to the sickle cell anemia causing a vascular necrosis. She was also scheduled to have both shoulders replaced and her other hip. The doctors are also saying that the sickle cell anemia is eating at her spine as well. We need help now. We need help right now. WE NEED HELP RIGHT NOW. PLEASE

    Hi Mr. Cooper,
    I am so sorry that you wife is having this problem and that more help has not been afforded her. You are experiencing the frustration that many, including myself, have experienced when it comes to getting REAL answers to their medical woes. I hope that I can be of some help in getting you and your wife headed in the right direction. As I state in my welcome message, I am NOT an MD (“just a veterinarian”) BUT I can point you to some of the right rocks to look under.

    When it comes to sickle cell disease, the texts imply that they really don’t understand the syndrome very well. And, I guess that statement is true if they are stating that. However, there are some very critical observations to be made that I believe shed abundant light on the disease process. First of all, the sickle cell gene is/was ESSENTIAL to have in those living in Africa and along the Mediterranean where malaria is an issue. Without the sickle cell gene, people would die from malaria. If the sickle cell gene was present, when the malaria organism infected a blood cell, the cell would form a sickle cell, which would not support the malaria organism, thus protecting the individual from the disease. Again, it was ESSENTIAL that this gene be present to PROTECT that individual.

    SO, what happened??? What in the world would turn an essential trait into a lethal one? You need look no further than the diets of those individuals and the catastrophic change that took place when they came to America and started eating the standard American diet. In Africa, they ate NO gluten grains, consumed NO cow milk products, NO soy and NO corn...the four damaging foods that I write so much about. These “Big 4” (or the “four horsemen of the apocalypse” as I now call them) are doing so much harm to susceptible individuals. And who are they doing the most harm to? Those who have had the least amount of time to adapt to those foods, namely Black Americans, American Indians, Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans. This should be no surprise whatsoever when viewed through the eyes of food intolerance, supported by a little stroll through history, which I do in my main paper The Answer.

    What you and your wife need to fully understand is the concept of food intolerance and how the “big 4” damage the gut and block absorption of essential nutrients such as calcium, iron, iodine, B complex vitamins, vitamin C, and trace minerals and how these proteins (lectins) are capable of doing phenomenal amounts of harm to all tissues, including the walls of arteries, blood cells themselves, and every other tissue including the brain. I’m sure that your wife’s medical history will make perfect sense to you when viewed through these eyes, including concurrent and pre-existing symptoms like headaches/migraines, heartburn/IBS, allergies, etc etc. that may have been occurring for years before the serious things started occurring.

    One huge piece of the puzzle lies in the work of Dr. Adamo who has written a number of books concerning eating for your blood type, based on lectins and how individuals with certain blood types are more susceptible to these food issues than others.

    If sickle cell disease were my medical problem, the very first thing I would do would be to begin the elimination diet that I already eat right now...it requires strict avoidance of all gluten (wheat, barley, rye), cow milk products, soy, and corn. This is easier than you may think. I would also avoid all trans fats/hydrogenated oils, which is also getting easier as they are being taken out of prepared foods right and left. I would also consider avoiding the entire legume family (soy, beans except green beans, and peas) as these lectins are problematic for many people, as Dr. D’Adamo and that lectin link above point out. The other thing to consider is having her blood tested, which will show secondary foods to which she may now be intolerant.

    You simply need to see how these dietary proteins are wreaking havoc on our bodies and how they can cause ALL of the symptoms seen in sickle cell disease. As I wrote in The Answer, I called my brother up one night after reading about Sickle Cell in the human Merck manual, a sort of medical encyclopedia of disease. I said “What does this sound like to you?”

    He said “That sounds like celiac disease”, the wheat/gluten intolerance that he and I suffer from. And it did sound just like it. Why? Because the common link is these dietary proteins and the damage they can do to our bodies.

    Ultimately, I am convinced that the sickle cell gene is a viral adaptation, just as most of our adaptations are. That is what viruses do for us in our bodies... they allow for adaptation. And, the presence of the malaria organism stimulates the cell to become a sickle cell, as we stated above. And it is the protein in that organism that the cells (and our immune systems) respond to. However, when this same cell is challenged by other proteins (e.g. lectins in sensitized individuals) long enough and in high enough doses, a multitude of other responses by the viruses in our cells can take place, including the development of cancers. The process that is supposed to be governing/over-seeing this whole dynamic is the (healthy) immune system. But, as the process of food intolerance continues, the immune system fails. As I have stated many times in my writing, the immune system becomes over-worked and under-paid. And when the immune system weakens and ultimately fails, that is when the serious things occur. That is why one could carry the sickle cell gene for years and not be afflicted until later in life. I would also expect post-menopausal women with sickle cell disease to get much worse.

    I hope this helps and at least gives you some insight into this horrible condition. I think you will find plenty of supportive evidence if you start looking for answers along these lines. Again, understanding lectins and Dr. D’Adamo’s work should really help. You may even attempt to contact him through the site mentioned above.

    Please keep in touch. I will try to help as much as I can.


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  • About Me

    John B. Symes, AKA “DogtorJ”, DVM is a veterinarian who has been practicing veterinary medicine for over twenty-five years.  He graduated with honors from Auburn University in 1979 and followed that with an internship at the prestigious Angell Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston.  You can read Dogtor J.'s blog.

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