Gluten and InflammationMay 2, 2008
Over the 22 years I have been treating people with chronic pain, I have noticed an interesting phenomenon. About 2 years ago I noticed an alarming trend. More and more of our patients were showing signs of gluten sensitivity. Where as in the past some people needed to avoid gluten ( true celiac disease ) long term, and a small percentage of people had to eliminate gluten from their diets for 3 to 6 months while we fixed up their gut through integrative manual therapy; now we were finding that almost all of our clients were showing significant signs of gluten sensitivity. It has come to the point that it is very hard to help chronic pains and other problems if the patient does not eliminate gluten. This is different than even 2 years ago. What has happened? Why are so many of our clients showing this intolerance to gluten? Why do the patients who get off gluten heal; and why do the ones who don’t get off gluten have so many relapses? I think other practitioners must be finding similar things in their patients. Why else would Whole Foods and others have so many gluten free products. The market is paying attention. Others must be telling their patients to get off gluten. Why? What’s going on? Is the world changing? Why is it that to date we personally have over 18,000 scientific references about the links between gluten and diseases, pain and disabilities. Please feel free to ask us and we can get you information on this.
Here are some of the ideas I have seen from a variety of practitioners. I’ve studied with Integrative Manual Therapy practitioners, Functional Medicine practitioners and others and here are some ideas that I see that account for these findings and phenomena.
First off gluten in our foods now is not the same as gluten in our food even 10 years ago. It is preserved with formaldehyde a known carcinogen. Gluten has been genetically modified and the most common carrier to move DNA from one organism to another is e. coli bacteria. Gluten has been added to many food items and now it is nearly impossible to eat the standard american diet without getting a significant amount of gluten. So were getting more gluten in our diets than ever before and it is treated with formaldehyde and it’s been modified using e. coli to move DNA around.
It is know in the field of epigenetics that if you introduce a certain type of toxin to a rat, you will cause the rat to become obese. In this way scientists can study obesity. If these obese rats reproduce they will reproduce rats that are obese. Even the offspring from these rats will be obese and on down the line, the DNA will be expressed in such a way that the rats are all obese.
Well toxins such as genetically modified, formaldehyde laced gluten has been added to our diets over the years. These toxins could be starting to show a long term effect on us and could be at least part of the reason everyone is showing up in our clinic as intolerant to gluten.
Also, gluten is inflammatory and inflammation has been linked to most chronic illnesses and pain syndromes. If you look at the gluten molecule from a biochemistry standpoint what you see is that the gluten molecule is very similar to the cartilage in joints. So, if someone has an allergic type reaction to gluten or if they have an auto-immune problem they could be making it worse by eating gluten. The body is attacking the gluten but then attacking itself too. The biochemistry pathways for anti-inflammation are used when the diet is high in alkaline producing foods such as fruits, vegetables and omega 3’s (fish oils) and the pathways for inflammation are used by the body when the diet is high in processed foods and grains, especially gluten. Inflammation has been linked to most chronic illness including heart disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, macular degeneration, systemic lupus, arthritis and many others.
Clinically what we see is that if we get a patient off gluten 100%, they heal at a predictable rate; they stay well and they can get on with their lives in a painfree way. Clinically what we see is that the clients who take in gluten don’t heal very well; they have significant ups and downs; they don’t have good outcomes.
Like I said this is different than even 2 years ago. Something is going on. Other practitioners and people must see this. Whole Foods has big gluten free sections now. Something is going on. I think part of the reason is due to the way gluten has been modified and the way we have so much gluten in almost all processed foods.
If you want a quick read with alot of scientific references, a good source is Shari Lieberman, PhD’s book “The Gluten Connection”. Check it out and let me know what you think. Health care practitioners, let me know what you are finding. We are picking up alot of cecum and iliocecal valve problems with dysbiosis ( leaky gut) which resolves with gluten free diet and Integrative Manual Therapy. Like I said something is going on here; let me know what you are finding.
Ralph Havens, PT, OCS, IMTC