I first learned of celiac disease while studying for my masters in nutrition and immunology at Texas A&M University. Prior to this, I had been sick for over six years with unexplained health problems. After discussing my options with a local physician, I decided to try the gluten free diet. Within days the symptoms had resolved! Ten years and two healthy children later, I am still gluten free. In an effort to help bring celiac disease into the mainstream, I have recently published a Christian romance novel, Trusting for Tomorrow, that highlights the struggles of diagnosing and living with celiac disease. Follow my blog at www.jenniferinjupiter.wordpress.com.
Celiac.com 10/12/2009 - I recently read an article in The Economist, of all places, that intrigued me. Titled, “Breathe Easy”, (The Economist, May 23, 2009, page 85) it explained a link between eczema and asthma. What intrigued me was the mechanism: researchers showed that a signaling molecule called thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) secreted by damaged skin cells can enter the blood stream and eventually sensitize the lungs to react to what should be harmless allergens.
So, why my intrigue? Well, I am severely gluten intolerant and have had psoriasis my entire life. Natural doctors bemoan the fact that my ultra sensitivity to anything and everything (from vitamins and whole-food supplements to Chinese herbs) prevents them from being able to help me. I wondered if TSLP from damaged psoriatic skin cells had sensitized my gut to react to what would otherwise be harmless food substances.
A quick search proved quite helpful. First and foremost, Scott Adams had already reviewed an article that established a link between celiac disease and psoriasis back in November of 2004 (Br.J. Dermatol. 2004 Oct;151(4):891-4) 2004). Also, a peer-reviewed journal search yielded hundreds of results that showed this was not one isolated study. So, what about celiac disease and asthma? Well, once again, a quick search of the celiac.com site showed many bloggers and authors personally discussing this very link.
Next, I went to the medical literature in the hopes of finding whether or not TSLP could be considered the culprit for hyper sensitizing me to an ever increasing list of food substances—gluten is only the start. Researchers have proven that elevated T cells (Bulletin of Experimental Biology & Medicine. 2004 Mar; 137(3):302-7) and eosinophils ( Allergy & Asthma Proceedings. 2004 Jul-Aug; 25(4): 253-9) are found in the intestinal mucosa of patients with asthma thus proving a link of lung mucosa to gut mucosa. If elevated TSLP from damaged skin cells could lead to asthma, and the mucosa of the lungs is linked to the mucosa of the gut, then hypothetically elevated TSLP could lead to a hypersensitive gut.
In other words, damaged skin cells from psoriasis elevate levels of TSLP and patients with psoriasis often have celiac disease. There is also a link between TSLP and asthma and a link between asthma and celiac disease. Thus, it could be argued that the TSLP from damaged skin cells plays a role in sensitizing the gut to previously harmless food substances. Now if only a researcher out there would design a study to prove me right!
What does this to for me? Not much at the moment, although, I do find it incredibly interesting. What can this exercise in possible commutability do for all of us? Maybe train us to view our bodies as an entire, interrelated system and to take our skin lesions seriously. What do I do to keep my psoriasis at bay? I hold fast to the gluten free diet and consume vast quantities of fish oil which, incidentally, also aids in restoring a damaged intestinal lining…