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      Frequently Asked Questions About Celiac Disease   09/30/2015

      This Celiac.com FAQ on celiac disease will guide you to all of the basic information you will need to know about the disease, its diagnosis, testing methods, a gluten-free diet, etc.   Subscribe to Celiac.com's FREE weekly eNewsletter   What are the major symptoms of celiac disease? Celiac Disease Symptoms What testing is available for celiac disease?  Celiac Disease Screening Interpretation of Celiac Disease Blood Test Results Can I be tested even though I am eating gluten free? How long must gluten be taken for the serological tests to be meaningful? The Gluten-Free Diet 101 - A Beginner's Guide to Going Gluten-Free Is celiac inherited? Should my children be tested? Ten Facts About Celiac Disease Genetic Testing Is there a link between celiac and other autoimmune diseases? Celiac Disease Research: Associated Diseases and Disorders Is there a list of gluten foods to avoid? Unsafe Gluten-Free Food List (Unsafe Ingredients) Is there a list of gluten free foods? Safe Gluten-Free Food List (Safe Ingredients) Gluten-Free Alcoholic Beverages Distilled Spirits (Grain Alcohols) and Vinegar: Are they Gluten-Free? Where does gluten hide? Additional Things to Beware of to Maintain a 100% Gluten-Free Diet What if my doctor won't listen to me? An Open Letter to Skeptical Health Care Practitioners Gluten-Free recipes: Gluten-Free Recipes
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glutton4gluten

I Think My Shampoo Might Have Gluten!

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Hi! I have a question regarding some shampoo and conditioner I recently purchased. The product is Nexxus and the shampoo contains Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein. I've been gluten free for almost 4 years now and have never come across this problem. When I see anything containing wheat I immediately put it down as if the bottle itself will make me sick. I'm worried that I should probably stop using this product. Does hydrolyzed wheat protein contain gluten? Should I stop using the product?

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I try to avoid these products, but more for the allergy. I itch like crazy if I use products with wheat germ oil, wheat protein, oats, etc.

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Hi and welcome!

The product you have there does contain gluten. The question of whether you should use it or not is a personal one. Some Celiacs use topical products that contain gluten and are fine--others of us are too sensitive.

Most experts say that gluten can not be absorbed through the skin, and I tend to agree. I use gluten-free topical products because I'm very sensitive to minute amounts. Shampoo can run down your face in the shower and get into the corners of your mouth.

Likewise, lotions, hair styling products, etc get on your hands and around your nails--that can be a problem if you prepare your food without washing thoroughly, absentmindedly bite your fingernail, etc.

Like I said, it's a personal decision. I choose gluten-free products and I don't have to worry about inadvertently getting any in my mouth. It may not be enough to cause any damage, but it's enough for me to cause a reaction.

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Hi! I have a question regarding some shampoo and conditioner I recently purchased. The product is Nexxus and the shampoo contains Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein. I've been gluten free for almost 4 years now and have never come across this problem. When I see anything containing wheat I immediately put it down as if the bottle itself will make me sick. I'm worried that I should probably stop using this product. Does hydrolyzed wheat protein contain gluten? Should I stop using the product?

Just so you know, gluten is the protein in wheat, therefore saying "hydrolyzed wheat protein" is other words for "hydrolyzed gluten". Same thing.

As far as topical, the comments made are good ones. There are medical professionals that say the protein is too big to be absorbed through the skin. Since I have no professional knowledge on this, I cannot say. What I can say is that when I use a product that has gluten in it topically, I get blisters and very itchy sores, so I don't use them. Then again, when I was diagnosed, they said that Celiac was a very rare disease affecting only one in 5,000 people in the U.S. You do what you are comfortable with.

Case in point for wheat topical products - I was taking down some very old wall paper in my house and started breaking out with itchy blisters on the sides of my hands. Couldn't figure out what was going on till I remembered that wallpaper paste was a wheat based paste. I used gloves from then on and it stopped.

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My shampoo has hydrolyzed wheat protein in it, and I am fine with it. In fact, I have very sensitive skin and there are only a handful of shampoos I can use without a problem; all of which happen to contain gluten.

My Celiac sister, on the other hand, is unable to use cosmetics or shampoo containing gluten because they trigger problems with HER sensitive skin.

If I could find a gluten-free shampoo that also did not make my scalp bleed, I would use it; but since I haven't found one, I will stick with what I got. I am extra careful to rinse all shampoo not only out of my hair but off my hands before I get out of the shower, to avoid accidental contact with my food.

I would not use a toothpaste or any other product that stayed on the hands or went into the mouth (or nose) if it contained gluten.

-Elizabeth

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I am speechless! Thank you so much for your responses. I actually didn't think I would get anything. I've signed up with so many groups and websites and have never gotten the responses that I've received today.

Over the past two weeks or so I have noticed that my hair has been shedding more than normal and feels brittle. My scalp has been itchy as well... I just associated it with stress (since I did just buy a house and I'm getting married in a month!). After seeing "wheat" on the back of my shampoo bottle this morning I had a light bulb go off in my head. I always say that'd I'd rather be safe than sorry. I think I'll switch shampoos immediately... just in case. :)

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I use suave and it is supposed to be gluten free, but my scalp still itches and my hair is falling out. I have a neverending itch on my head that I have had since I was a child. I am going to blame the sulfites and not the gluten.

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Giovanni is a nice gluten-free shampoo. I have been using the Smooth as Silk shampoo and the 50/50 Conditioner--leaves my hair nice and soft.

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    • The reason I think it was the shampoo? Process of elimination. Our house is almost entirely gluten free (except for this shampoo which slipped through the cracks until I read the ingredient label). My husband has bread that he eats at lunch, but he practices something that resembles aseptic technique from the lab when he's making his sandwiches. He's been doing this for years now and I've never been glutened from within my home. The previous week I hadn't eaten out, I cooked all my food, I don't eat processed food and I never eat something from a shared facility.  Usually if I get glutened it's a single dose sort of thing and it follows a very predictable course, to the point where I can estimate when I got glutened within 24 hours of when it happened. However, this time, I was feeling achy and arthritic and moody for about a week before it got bad enough for me to recognize it as the result of gluten exposure, at which point we went searching and found the shampoo (and conditioner, which does leave more of a residue than shampoo), which he immediately stopped using. Within three days I was feeling back to normal (which is the usual course for me).  Sure, it could have been something else, but I know how sensitive I am, and, as silly as it sounds, it was the only thing that made sense. The other thing you said: You're correct, mine was not a rock solid celiac diagnosis, but I have no doubt that gluten is the problem. I was SICK. I went through two different gluten challenges in an effort to get a more straightforward diagnosis during which I was a barely functioning human being. Consuming gluten may not have given me blunted villi or elevated antibodies, but it did inflame my gut, and actually started to damage my liver. If you look at my diagnosis thread, I had elevated liver enzymes, which have been correlated with celiac disease in the past. There was no alternative explanation for the liver enzymes, he checked EVERYTHING.  I too am a scientist and I have spent a lot of time with the literature trying to make sense of my condition.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26150087 I also have no doubt that gluten was damaging my intestines in some way, as any prolonged gluten exposure in the past has inevitably been followed by a severe FODMAP intolerance that goes away once I've eliminated the gluten and given myself a month or so to heal.  I also had a very fast diagnosis following the onset of symptoms (~1 year) so it's possible that the disease never had a chance to manifest as full celiac. I wasn't willing to eat gluten long enough to find out. As a result of my diagnosis, hazy as it was, I am *meticulously* gluten free. It is not a fad for me. I don't occasionally cheat. It is my life, for better or worse. All of that being said, I'm not sure what my diagnosis has to do with your question. You say you're not trying to be rude, but when you bring up my diagnosis in a thread that has nothing to do with diagnostics, it seems like you're trying to undermine the validity of my disease or the validity of my input in this forum. If I'm being hypersensitive, I apologize, but that's how you came across on my end. I'll admit that the fact that my diagnosis wasn't more straight forward does make me a bit defensive, but I promise that even if I didn't have a solid diagnosis, I interact with the world as though I did, and I'm not out there giving people the wrong idea about celiac disease by not taking it seriously. If there was a connection between your question and my diagnostics that I missed I would appreciate you giving me the chance to better understand what you were asking. 
    • I am just curious.  As a scientist (and I am not trying to be rude), how can you determine if hydrologized wheat protein from your husband’s shampoo was actually the culprit?  If I recall at your diagnosis, you were seronegative, Marsh Stage I, gene positive,  but your doctor still  suspected celiac disease.  You improved on a gluten diet.  Other than observation, how do you really know?  Could it not be something else that triggered your symptoms?   I firmly believe that even trace amounts of gluten (under 20 ppm), can impact sensitive celiacs.  But traces of a protein within a shampoo from someone else’s hair that was rinsed?    
    • I also can't have dairy but through a series of experiments and a lot of research I think I've pinpointed my problem. It may or may not be the same for you, but I thought I'd share.  There are two kinds of beta-casein protein A1 and A2. We'll call A1 "bad casein" and A2 "good casein". The two proteins differ only in a single amino acid, but this is enough to make it so that they are processed differently in your guy. Bad casein is actually broken down into a casomorphin, which is an opioid peptide. That does not mean that milk gets you high, or is as addictive as heroin, or anything like that, it just means that it can interact with opioid receptors (which the gut has a bunch of). It's worth noting that opioids cause constipation due to their interaction with the opioid receptors in the gut, and that a lot of people feel like cheese and dairy slow things down, but any connection between the two is pure speculation on my part at this point.  Now here's where things get weird. The vast majority of milk cows in the western world are derived from Holstein-like breeds, meaning black and white cows. In a few select places, you'll see farms that use Jersey-type cows, or brown cows (Jersey cows produce less milk than Holsteins, but many connoisseurs feel it's a higher quality milk, particularly for cheese).  Holstein-like cows have A1 and A2 casein (bad and good), however, Jersey-type cows only have A2 (good casein), unless their genetic line involved a Holstein somewhere in the past, which does happen.  A company in New Zealand figured out how to test their cows for these two genes, and selected their herd down to cows that specifically produce ONLY A2 (good) casein. You might have seen it in the store, it's called A2 milk. Some people have had a lot of luck with this milk, though it still doesn't solve the problem of cheese.  I have suspected, due to trial and error and a few accidental exposures, that I have a problem with A1 casein, but not A2. In line with this: I am able to eat sheep and goat dairy without any difficulty, so at least I can still enjoy those cheeses! I am also fortunate because I'm apparently not too sensitive, as I can still eat cow-milk butter. The process of making butter removes *most* (read: enough for me) of the casein.  However, if I eat cow cheese or a baked good with milk, I get really sick. It's a much faster reaction than if I get glutened. Within minutes I'm dizzy and tired and my limbs are heavy. I have to sleep for a couple of hours, and then, over the next couple of days, I'm vulnerable to moodiness and muscles spasms and stomach upset just as though I'd been glutened (though the brain fog isn't as bad). I actually haven't tried A2 milk yet, mostly due to lack of availability (and motivation, I don't miss milk, I miss CHEESE). However, last year, when I was getting ready to go on a trip to Italy, I had a thought. Once, in the recent past, when I'd been testing dairy, I'd had a slice of parmesan cheese. Miracle of miracles, I was fine. I didn't feel a thing! I was so excited that I ran out and got some brie to eat as a snack. That did not go so well... Turns out parmigiano reggiano is made from the milk of the Reggiana variety of cow which is, you guessed it, a brown cow (they say red). I did a little more research and found that dairies in Italy predominantly use brown cows. So I decided to try something. As some of you may know, Italy is something of a haven for celiacs. It's one of the most gluten-free friendly places I've ever been. You can say "senza glutine" in the smallest little town and they don't even bat their eyelashes. You can buy gluten free foods in the pharmacy because they're considered a MEDICAL NECESSITY. If travelling-while-celiac freaks you out, go to Italy. Check out the website for the AIC (Italy's Celiac society), find some accredited restaurants, and GO NUTS. While I was there, I decided to see if I could eat the dairy. I could.  Friends, I ate gelato Every. Single. Night. after that. It was amazing. Between the dairy being safe for me and the preponderance of gluten free options, it was almost like I didn't have dietary restrictions. It was heaven. I want to go back and never leave.  So that's my story. Almost too crazy to believe.  TL;DR: Black and white cows make me sick, brown cows are my friends.
    • I'm a scientist, and I did a little research into the study. Looks valid and it was published in a respected journal.  http://www.gastrojournal.org/article/S0016-5085(17)36352-7/pdf The science looks solid. As someone who didn't have a super clean cut diagnosis before going gluten free, I'd love to see something like this become available. Then again, there's no doubt in my mind that I can't have gluten, so any additional testing would be purely academic. But like I said, I'm a scientist. I can't help myself. 
    • Update: I have tried calling the company several times and have emailed twice. I have yet to talk to a person on the phone and no one has emailed me back.    I did a little research and they were are already involved with a class action lawsuit about being labeled as salt free and one of the first ingredients is sodium chloride.  I am done with this shampoo because this whole company seems a little shady now! 
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