"These people aren’t crazy."
Those four words will be a huge relief and validation for many people who have suffered digestive symptoms and were incorrectly diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or celiac disease (a severe gluten intolerance that blocks absorption of nutrients).
Cynthia Kupper, executive director of the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America (gluten.net), recently told the Wall St. Journal, "Patients have been told if it wasn’t celiac disease, it wasn’t anything. It was all in their heads."
It wasn’t all in their heads.
And they’re not crazy.
Neither fish nor fowl
My friend Janice was starting to feel a bit crazy.
She was at her wits end with symptoms that included headaches, insomnia, fatigue, and–worst of all–frequent bouts of diarrhea.
Her M.D. knew what it was: irritable bowel syndrome. So he sent her to a gastroenterologist. He listened to the list of symptoms and immediately knew what it was too: irritable bowel syndrome.
Some tests were run, which ruled out celiac disease. For her gastroenterologist, this confirmed the IBS diagnosis. He wrote a prescription and told Janice she’d probably see results within a few days.
She didn’t. Not the first week, or the second, or the third.
Finally, out of frustration, Janice did some research on her own, and soon wondered if she might have developed a sensitivity to gluten, a type of protein in wheat, oat, rye and barley grains.
As an experiment, she stopped taking the drug and began avoiding gluten foods.
Within days her symptoms were dramatically reduced.
Today, Janice has what she calls an infallible "gluten radar." Nothing crosses her plate without deep scrutiny. She knows from experience that letting down her guard can bring those symptoms roaring back.
So why did her doctor AND a specialist miss the diagnosis?
Gluten sensitivity is really just starting to emerge as a recognized condition. As Peter Green, director of the Celiac Disease Center, explains to WSJ, today’s gluten sensitivity research is roughly where celiac disease research was 30 years ago.
But that research just took an important step forward.
A new study from the University of Maryland shows that although GS patients have many of the same symptoms as CD patients, they don’t have the typical intestinal conditions as those seen in CD patients.
The lead author of the study told WSJ that this is the first scientific evidence to show that GS does exist and is "very different from celiac disease."
Those who are diagnosed with GS will find it challenging to kick gluten out of their diets. In addition to the four grains I mentioned above, gluten is hidden in many refined foods, such as soy sauce, low-fat and non-fat products, and even in some candies.
Gluten-sensitive newbies can get started at a website called glutenfree.com. It’s basically an online gluten-free grocery store, complete with recipes, a forum, and links to other CD sites.
Jenny Thompson is the Director of the Health Sciences Institute and editor of the HSI e-Alert. Through HSI, she and her team uncover important health information and expose ridiculous health misinformation, most notably through the HSI e-Alert.
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