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Ten Things to Try if You Accidentally Eat Gluten 07/03/2015 - For people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, accidentally eating gluten can have numerous undesirable consequences.

Image: CC--Stephan HarlanSymptoms 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.

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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 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. welcomes your comments below (registration is NOT required).

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22 Responses:

Carolyn Pandol
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said this on
03 Jul 2015 4:29:51 PM PDT
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.

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said this on
06 Jul 2015 5:11:26 PM PDT
Gluten Cutters do help me a lot.

Patricia Thomas
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said this on
06 Sep 2016 9:15:08 AM PDT
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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said this on
06 Jul 2015 4:35:43 AM PDT
You have to eat things to move that gluten OUT of your system. Depending on the amount you accidentally ingested. Antihistamines do help a little. Medical Marijuana does help if you have ingested a lot of gluten. If you are flat out on your back from vomiting, flu-like symptoms, brain fog, etc., it will help you function.

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said this on
06 Jul 2015 6:32:40 AM PDT
A few cautionary remarks--both "sports drinks" and probiotics may contain gluten. Watch the labels carefully (especially for "natural flavorings." If you need to re-hydrate, you don't want to make the problem worse!

Clair C
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said this on
06 Jul 2015 10:18:49 AM PDT
For me when I was accidentally glutened one time, I drank a huge amount of ginger ale. It did work in a way. I am usually afflicted with diarrhea, but that time, I was constipated for a couple of days and dizzy the day before. I have also heard that ginger beer would help a little.

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said this on
06 Jul 2015 10:59:58 AM PDT
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!!

Jonathan Stinson MD
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said this on
06 Jul 2015 12:16:20 PM PDT
"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.

Char T
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said this on
06 Jul 2015 12:17:13 PM PDT
I'm glad to have an article start a forum like this. I find that taking Metamucil helps to clear things out faster so the symptoms last for a shorter period.

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said this on
06 Jul 2015 12:26:28 PM PDT
Surprised to see activated charcoal not on your list, that should be #1

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said this on
06 Jul 2015 4:23:45 PM PDT
When I get gluten bombed I go straight to tea. Shave a ginger root, shake some organic cinnamon on pour in hot water and steep into a tea. If you like sweet drop of honey. You can re fill the water a few times before the taste wears out. Very soothing.

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said this on
06 Jul 2015 5:36:04 PM PDT
All should consider taking a tablespoon of turmeric a day, at least, with a dash of pepper to enhance its effects, not only for arthritis not also the sinuses and gut. Tasteless, cheap, natural and alleviates all of the aforementioned.

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said this on
06 Jul 2015 6:08:49 PM PDT
Alka Seltzer actually helped me when I got glutened. I was in extreme amounts of pain, and as soon as I drank it, just felt this warmth taking the pain away. It caused extreme gas, bu at least I wasn't in so much abdominal pain that I couldn't move anymore.

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said this on
06 Jul 2015 6:16:59 PM PDT
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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said this on
06 Jul 2015 7:14:15 PM PDT
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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said this on
06 Jul 2015 9:44:43 PM PDT
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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said this on
07 Jul 2015 4:45:23 AM PDT
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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said this on
07 Jul 2015 5:06:19 PM PDT
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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said this on
08 Jul 2015 9:02:22 AM PDT
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 GF 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.


said this on
27 Jul 2015 2:50:47 PM PDT
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 "GF" 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!!!


said this on
19 Aug 2015 7:20:22 AM PDT
Taking colostrum is also an excellent option. It rebuilds gut health and reduces the impact of accidental gluten ingestion.

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said this on
20 Apr 2017 1:24:43 PM PDT
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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All Activity Celiac Disease & Gluten-Free Diet Forum - All Activity

Yes the first has wheat gluten in the ingredients, the second via the wheat flour. Here in the UK manufacturers HAVE to highlight gluten sources. Check the ingredients and if WHEAT, BARLEY, or RYE are mentioned *usually highlighted, italicised or underlined, then you will know there's gluten. Most of iceland's processed foods will probably be gluten filled to be honest. Any breadcrumbed or battered foods for instance. Ps, you and me both have another disease, the british one of apologising You don't need to, you're very welcome here and all of your questions are valid and understandable. It's going to get better

Hi, I am deeply sorry for posting on here again. As I am scheduled for an Endoscopy on the 9th May, I wanted to make sure that my gluten intake is being kept the same. I was wondering if the ingredients to these products contain gluten even though dextrose is in one of them? Chicken Breast Fillet (60%), Water, Wheat Flour, Breadcrumbs (Wheat Flour, Dextrose, Salt, Yeast), Rapeseed Oil, Salt, Wheat Gluten, Sugar, Yeast Extract, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, White Pepper, Dried Sage. Chicken Breast Fillet (60%), Water, Wheat Flour, Breadcrumbs (Wheat Flour, Dextrose, Salt, Yeast), Rapeseed Oil, Salt, Wheat Gluten, Sugar, Yeast Extract, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, White Pepper, Dried Sage. Thank you for all your help so far,

JMG got it down pretty much, the painful and gluten effects from eating it should clear up in a month, damage symptoms you might notice some differences as early as 2-4months but most do not noticed major improvements til about 6 months to a year. I have been gluten-free for over 3 years all my villi have healed according to the doctor on my last scope. It is very important to not cheat and avoid any kind of CC as it can set you back weeks or months. I would suggest a whole foods only diet for the first month or two, no dairy, simple stews, soups, etc. make for easy to digest and simple meals. Check out the 101 thread for some good information. PS a new combo crockpot, steamer, rice cooker combo and liners for a crock pot will be a life saver for making simple meals and easy clean ups. Quick cook microwave ware will also be handy making sure you have gluten-free cooked meals if you can not get new cookware immediately. I normally suggest cleaning out the entire house, scrubbing down knobs, handles, on the drawers, sink, fridge, cubbards etc. throw out condiment jars, checking ingredients on everything in the house including your hygiene and makeup. Putting in drawer organizers for new utensils, throwing out scratched glass, teflon, plastic, and steel cookware. Throwing out any Tupperware, and cutting boards, some utensils that can not be cleaned well. Some times you can save cast iron and stainless steel cook ware if you can run it in your ovens cleaning cycle over 600F. Gluten is a protein like blood if you can not clean a item where a CSI team will not find it give it up, it is not a germ that can be killed with disinfectant. I use freezer paper for clean prep surfaces, also makes clean up a breeze, I tend to use gloves alot also when fixing foods,

Hi Allie and welcome First off, I know 3 years was a long wait, but at 17 you've figured out celiac way before many people do. That should make a big impact on minimising its effects and helping you with the diet, so, bizarrely enough, congratulations! A lot of good advice has been brought together in this thread: Don't worry that your symptoms are bad now. As you follow the diet your body will begin healing itself and you're still very young so hopefully this will go really smoothly. Think in terms of the next 6 months rather than weeks however, recovery will likely take a little time. Eat as healthily as you can, lots of whole foods and try to avoid the gluten free processed substitutes as your digestive system needs all the help it can get at this moment. You may want to avoid dairy as well for now and think about reintroducing it later. This site has been really helpful to me and others. I hope you find it just as useful. Best of luck! ps, your increased reaction to gluten during the challenge phase was perfectly normal. Many find that reintroducing it much worse than the initial affects and take some time to get over the challenge. That's why you'll see lots of posts here urging folks to 'stay on gluten' till their testing is complete! PPS( ) Inasmuch as your post can convey emotion, your's seemed positive Stay that way! At times the diet can be a bit isolating and some friends and family may struggle to understand. I'm sure it will be difficult at times making good choices and staying vigilant when everyone around you doesn't have to think twice. Stick with it, your health is paramount and it will be worthwhile. In time your good friends will get it and those that don't aren't worth worrying about. There are great foods you can eat and if not, learn to cook them yourself

Hi! My daughter is 19 was diagnosed at age 16. It took about 12-18 month s for her to fully heal from the damage and feel "normal" again. Also because of the damage done she had reactions to dairy, so you may want to try no or minimum dairy until youre fully healed. Just a suggestion. Hope you start feeling well soon!