Celiac disease

May is Celiac Awareness Month and over the next few weeks the focus of my column will be on the Naturopathic approach to diagnosing and treating Celiac Disease and Wheat Sensitivity. Over the past few weeks I have met and worked with a number of people involved in the Kelowna Chapter of the Canadian Celiac Association. I had the wonderful opportunity to speak in front of about 50 members of their chapter at the most recent general meeting. I learned that it takes on average over 10 years for a person with Celiac Disease to be accurately diagnosed and that there are hundreds if not thousands of people in the Okanagan living with undiagnosed Celiac Disease and Wheat Sensitivity.

Over the next few weeks my column will focus on natural treatments for Celiac Disease including nutrition and lifestyle modification, supplementation, intravenous therapies, and acupuncture and neural therapy.

What is Celiac Disease and what is Wheat Sensitivity?

Celiac Disease occurs when gluten, a protein in wheat and several other grains causes an immune system response in the intestines. The immune system recognizes gluten as a foreign substance and begins attacking it. This creates inflammation in the intestines and damages the lining of the intestines. Wheat sensitivity is different than Celiac Disease because the immune system does not seem to become activated and inflammation in the intestines is not seen. However, when a wheat-sensitive person consumes wheat they get the onset of symptoms.

What symptoms are associated with Celiac Disease and Wheat Sensitivity?

There are so many potential symptoms associated with Celiac Disease and Wheat Sensitivity that it is impossible to discuss all of them. For some people the symptoms will occur soon after wheat or gluten consumption. However, for many people the symptoms will not seem to be correlated with food consumption. This is because the symptoms may occur continuously or occur hours after food consumption.

The most common symptoms include abdominal symptoms like gas and bloating, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, and steatorrhea skin conditions like dermatitis herpetiformis, psoriasis, eczema, and rashes pain symptoms like joint pain, muscle pain, weakness, headaches, and wondering pain systemic symptoms like weight loss, fatigue, nutritional deficiencies, anemia, and edema and Mental/Emotional symptoms like depression, fatigue, irritability, and anxiety.

What causes the symptoms of Celiac Disease?

Many of the symptoms of Celiac Disease are caused by inflammatory damage in the lining of the intestines. When a white blood cell of the immune system attacks a gluten molecule it creates something called an antigen-antibody complex. This is the combination of a white blood cell and a gluten molecule. The white blood cell tries to destroy the gluten molecule by creating free radicals and oxidative products. Unfortunately, many of the antigen-antibody complexes created in the intestines lead to collateral damage to the intestines. Many of the complexes leak through the intestines and end up in the arteries. As the antigen-antibody complexes float through the bloodstream they become lodged in the areas of the body with the smallest blood vessels like the joints, eyes, kidneys, and other capillaries. This is why Celiac Disease causes so many systemic and generalized symptoms.

The other main cause of symptoms is due to malabsorption in the small intestine. This is the inability for nutrients like proteins, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients to be properly absorbed in the inflamed small intestine. This leads to malnutrition and systemic symptoms and diseases associated with malnutrition.

In next week’s column we will investigate how Celiac Disease and Wheat Sensitivity are diagnosed and treated in the conventional system.

More Natural Health News articles

About the Author

Dr. Brent Barlow is a Naturopathic Physician practicing at The Kelowna Wellness Clinic in downtown Kelowna. Dr. Barlow has been in practice in Kelowna since graduating from the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine in Vancouver in 2009.

Naturopathic Doctors are trained as primary care physicians, and primarily use natural medicine to treat disease and promote wellness. Dr. Barlow believes strongly in identifying and treating the causes of disease rather than focusing on the treatment of symptoms.

Naturopathic medicine utilizes diet therapy, botanical medicine, nutritional supplementation, acupuncture, spinal manipulation and other physical medicine treatments to treat the causes of disease. Dr. Barlow also trained in the specialized treatments of prolotherapy, neural therapy, intravenous nutrient infusions, and chelation therapy.

Dr. Barlow is in general practice and welcomes all individuals and families. As a naturopathic physician he is trained to treat all health conditions in the manner that best suits the goals of each individual patient. He also has special interests in natural treatments for pain management and digestive health.

To learn more about Dr. Barlow's treatments or to schedule a consultation, visit his website at www.drbrentbarlownd.com or call 250-448-5610.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories