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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Ten Things to Try if You Accidentally Eat Gluten

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    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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    Recommended Comments

    Ginger, ginger, ginger Mint, Tumeric, Ash waganda Activated Charcoal, Food Grade Bentonite Clay, Psyllium Husk, Apple Cider Vinegar, Lemon Water, Nettle Leaf, Fasting the next day helps 10 fold!!

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    Thanks for the tips. I've maintained gluten-free eating for nearly 9 years. Last night at a Mexican restaurant I was given wrong information in response to my question about their ingredients, then when the food arrived and I was 95% sure it looked to have wheat in it, the owner came out and bold-faced lied to me that their entire kitchen is gluten free, so I ate it. Well, you can lie to my face, but you can't lie to my stomach. After eating gluten I tend towards constipation, among other issues, and I just want to get it OUT. Today I tried a salt water flush (1 liter warm water with 2t salt and juice of 2 lemons--drink it all in 5 minutes, and wait at least 30 minutes before using the bathroom--meanwhile lie down on each side 5 minutes each and massage your belly). So far the salt water flush is "working." This is the second time in 6 months that I've had a gluten disaster with a restaurant; I'm wishing to NEVER eat out again. Emergency.

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    Thank you for some great advice.  I stupidly ate some glutem foods without thinking.  I guess I was beginning to feel too good on my gluten free diet.  I had forgotten the extent of unpleant symptoms that hit me when I slip up and eat gluten.  I will not be so casual about what I eat in the future. 

    The advice here is pretty good - thank you all for reducing my discomfort. 


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    I don't understand why Dr's don't understand, glueten causes an "allergic" reaction in the body therefore, the range of symptoms can be endless as my symptoms almost seem to be. My symptoms are not always the same each time. Fasting and flushing the system always helps. In severe cases it takes approximately 3 days to relieve me sympyoms. It would be too difficult to list all the symptoms i have experienced with glueten reactions here. 

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    I agree with Jeannette and am surprised to not see Activated Charcoal capsules on the list. If accidentally glutenated, I get cramps and diarrhea two hours after ingestion, in addition to nightmares if I'm asleep, followed by headaches and arthritic pain.  If I realize I've eaten gluten ("I'm sorry, I served you the wrong cake," see 'roni in my rice, or visible crouton crumbs on my salad), I take 2 charcoal caps immediately and usually don't have any reaction. If I realize at two hours that I've been glutenated, I take 2 charcoal caps on my way to the toilet, and again every two hours til it settles down - which can be 10 hours if I've eaten an entire serving of something I believed to be gluten-free.  I am extremely careful but travel often so it happens occasionally in 17 years - usually when well-meaning friends/hosts/hostesses serve me something they insist is gluten-free.  We're often in regions with contaminated water and foods where charcoal caps also work well for recovery from food poisoning. The charcoal binds with the "bad guys" in one's digestive system, but also with nutrients and medications so frequent use is not advisable. In addition, a daily regime of probiotics, apple cider vinegar, digestive enzymes, and lemon ginger tea keep my system happy and resilient.

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    Guest Concerned Citizen


    On 7/6/2015 at 5:16 AM, Guest Jonathan Stinson MD said:

    "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.


    Here' my 2 cents Dr. Stinson.

    How about you be proactive and help, instead of tell people not to try these anecdotal remedies that seem to work for some people. How would you know what to put in a research study to get your "proven facts" if no one tried anything at all?

    People try things, if they work they tell others, and if you are personally inclined and have the money backing you, you can use those tried  remedies in a clinical trial. Just because Big pharma hasn't created a synthetic drug to profit from, doesn't mean that there aren't worldly cures that people discover for themselves.

    How on earth did mankind survive without your clinical trials and "proven medicine"? Scurvy was curved with vitamin C and it didn't take a clinical trial. "The soy beans were of particular importance. All the ships carried open tubs in which the soy beans were sprouted in sunlight, developing large quantities of riboflavin, niacin and, most importantly, vitamin C. Daily consumption of sprouted soy would provide more than enough vitamin C to prevent scurvy." (from https://www.pharmaceutical-journal.com/opinion/blogs/who-discovered-how-to-prevent-scurvy/11072182.blog?firstPass=false) According to you, this anecdotal trial of eating sprouted natural foods is worthless and shouldn't be tried. If you really want to help your patients with medical problems, stop waiting for a drug company to  invent something.

    The FDA process to patent and license a drug is corrupt anyway. All those on the vaccine licensing committee, for example, are all insiders anyway, who work for the same drug companies that are asking for approval. The government has already determined this. There's no scientific testing and long-range, randomized double blind placebo control studies going on with those drugs! Have you not seen all the commercials on TV for suing drug companies for things like faulty hernia mesh, and the side effects that Lipitor did not actually lower cholesterol? Even Monsanto has finally been sued 3xs in the last year for causing cancer with their RoundUp weedkiller Glyphosate that is sprayed on over 80% of America's crops, yet the FDA hasn't banned it in America.  

    Another example of human greed and anecdotes is the company Monsanto, which has a history of making DDT for the military. It wasn't a clinical trial that halted DDT manufacturing in the USA, though. It was more anectdotal. According to the EPA, https://www.epa.gov/ingredients-used-pesticide-products/ddt-brief-history-and-status "... regulatory actions in the late 1950s and 1960s to prohibit many of DDT's uses because of mounting evidence of the pesticide's declining benefits and environmental and toxicological effects. The publication in 1962 of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring stimulated widespread public concern over the dangers of improper pesticide use and the need for better pesticide controls. In 1972, EPA issued a cancellation order for DDT based on its adverse environmental effects, such as those to wildlife, as well as its potential human health risks. Since then, studies have continued, and a relationship between DDT exposure and reproductive effects in humans is suspected, based on studies in animals. In addition, some animals exposed to DDT in studies developed liver tumors. As a result, today, DDT is classified as a probable human carcinogen by U.S. and international authorities.  DDT is: known to be very persistent in the environment; will accumulate in fatty tissues; and can travel long distances in the upper atmosphere." Did you noticed how Rachel Carlson used "mounting evidence" and not a clinical trial? In your view, is "mounting evidence" synonymous with "anecdotal" as in your skepticism of anecdotal medicine? Gee, if we get rid of everything anecdotal that doesn't meet your approval, people and animals would all be dead.

    And since regulatory agencies are all run by humans, we have to be careful which ones  to believe and which ones to ignore because many  are driven by greed. Even the ACIP Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which is the department of the FDA that approves more and more vaccines be added to the childhood vaccine schedule, has been found to be in complete financial conflict of interest, although this knowledge isn't being spread by anyone - not the FDA, the pharmaceutical companies, nor the media. Yet, it's true:  https://worldmercuryproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Burton-CDC_ACIP_COI.pdf , which states, "A House Government Reform Committee staff report published this week criticized the FDA and the CDC for routinely allowing scientists with conflicts of interest to serve on two influential advisory committees that make recommendations on vaccine policy....The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) makes recommendations on the approval of new vaccines. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunizations Practices (ACIP) makes recommendations on guidelines for the administration of vaccines. The Government Reform Committee staff report found that the majority of members of both committees have financial ties to vaccine manufacturers or hold patents on vaccines under development....The Committee found that three out of the five full-time FDA advisory committee members who voted for the vaccine had financial ties to Wyeth Lederle or tow companies developing rival rotavirus vaccines…Merck and SmithKline Beecham. Four out of eight CDC advisory committee members who supported the vaccine had conflicts with the same companies. The staff report concludes that the committees demonstrated a “lack of vigilance” in their review...One physician who voted to recommend the rotavirus vaccine on the FDA’s advisory committee received $255,000.00 per year in research funds from the maker of the vaccine, Wyeth Lederle....Another member of the CDC’s advisory committee held a lucrative patent on a rival rotavirus vaccine under development by Merck. Despite this conflict, the doctor voted three times on recommendations regarding Wyeth’s vaccine. It was not until the committee voted to rescind its recommendation of the rotashield that he recused himself because of a “perception of conflict”.

    The name of that last guy is Paul Offit. He sold the patent on the rotavirus back to the drug company and made millions of dollars that he won't disclose. I ofund this online: “Dr. Paul Offit of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia earned millions of dollars as part of a $182-million sale by the hospital of its worldwide royalty interest in the Merck Rotateq vaccine. The amount of income distributed to Offit could be as high as $46 million. Offit has refused to say how much he made from the vaccine.” 

    Yet, Offit's interviews and articles are all over the Internet stating how wonderful and safe the vaccine is, when he stands to make money off every rotavirus vaccine made. Here's one such example - https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/full/10.1377/hlthaff.24.3.622. You think it's a regular article touting the safety of vaccines and pooh-poohing naysayers, until you get to the bottom and see that Paul Offit, himself, wrote it! Why should your patients trust a guy who makes millions of dollars off of the so-called health of children, and can't even disprove anything bad that is said about his product? Why should people trust drug companies or the FDA when there are no scientific studies for safety going on, and  approval of drugs and vaccines are all about the profits for drug companies that the ACIP can get them?  Take the profits out of health care, and start caring for people's health.

    Wake up, doctor!  

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    On 7/6/2015 at 6:59 AM, Guest Naz said:

    Ginger Ale - the strong "stuff" like Reeds Ginger Beer or Trader Joe's is my "go to" when I accidentally get gluten - but, also, I up my Curcumin/Tumeric intake for a couple days. Seems to calm my system down. Then, of course, the old standby of lomotil/immodium for the other unpleasantness of gluten ingestion! Yikes!!

    Not sure if anyone is still following this thread - but according to the manufacturer, immodium is not gluten free, and never has been. 

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    Guest wes.sandifer


    20 hours ago, Jenna1028 said:

    Not sure if anyone is still following this thread - but according to the manufacturer, immodium is not gluten free, and never has been. 

    Personally... Kevita probiotic drinks, aloe vera juice inner leaf filet (not whole leaf) and preservative free, heathers tummy tamers peppermint oil, ginger and chamomille tea. Hope this helps somebody...

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He 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 science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF 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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