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Do you know someone who is 100% gluten-free? Maybe they even need to double-check with the restaurant servers to ensure there’s no possible gluten cross-contamination on a cutting board or fryer. Many people who are strictly gluten-free have been diagnosed with a condition called celiac disease.  

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease (coeliac in the UK) is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation and destruction of the small intestine with the consumption of gluten and related proteins. Gluten is found in the cereal grains wheat, barley, rye, and spelt.  

Oats, while listed as gluten-free, are frequently contaminated with wheat; hence, the marketing of “gluten-free oats.” Oats, rice, and corn have their own gluten-like proteins that the body may react to in a similar way to wheat gluten, creating cross-reactivity inflammation. 

In those who are genetically susceptible, exposure to gliadin, a component of gluten, sets off an immune response that can damage the villi in the small intestine. The villi are tiny finger-like projections in the gut that make it look like shag carpet inside and are responsible for nutrient absorption. When damaged, they cannot do their job well, leading to nutrient deficiencies.   

How Common is Celiac Disease?

According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, the condition affects 1 in every 100 people, but only 30% of those who have it have been properly diagnosed. Celiacs must follow a gluten-free diet for life to avoid destruction in their digestive systems. [1] 

Continuing to eat gluten-containing foods leads to worsening health over time, even leading to additional autoimmune diagnoses. Autoimmune thyroid disease is one condition that often accompanies celiac disease. 

Symptoms of Celiac Disease

Some of the main signs and symptoms of celiac disease, particularly before removing gluten from the diet, include: [2] 

  • Gas and bloating 
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort 
  • Chronic constipation or diarrhea (irritable bowel syndrome) 
  • Nausea or vomiting 
  • Headaches or migraines 
  • Anxiety or depression 
  • Low energy 
  • Nutrient deficiencies, including iron and calcium 
  • Weight loss  
  • Characteristic rash: “dermatitis herpetiformis” 
  • Canker sores (mouth ulcers) 
  • Joint pain 

Untreated celiac disease can also lead to infertility, unexplained miscarriages, and several medical conditions due to the malnutrition it causes. Osteoporosis and anemia are two health problems that may result from nutrient malabsorption.   

Other food allergies may also occur due to the damage done to the small intestinal villi. For example, lactose intolerance is a common food intolerance that accompanies celiac disease. 

How is Celiac Disease Diagnosed?

Celiac disease is often first discovered through symptoms like stomach pain or other gastrointestinal symptoms which prompt someone to make an appointment with their doctor. After ruling out other potential causes of the symptoms, a medical professional will order tests, usually the following: [3] 

  • Blood test: Positive anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies (tTGA) or anti-endomysia antibodies (EMA) when on a gluten-containing diet. 
  • Tissue biopsy: Biopsy of the small intestine (the “gold standard” test for celiac disease) 
  • Genetic testing: For human leukocyte antigens (HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8) 

There are additional tests for CD, but these are most used. Often, years will go by without a person knowing they have celiac disease, because it doesn’t always cause noticeable signs or symptoms. 

The Fireman vs. The Carpenter in Healthcare

At The Wellness Way, we talk about the mainstream perspective on healthcare versus our perspective, as the “fireman approach” versus the “carpenter approach.”

Mainstream “fireman” doctors have two tools (treatment options) to take care of people: an axe and a hose. The axe represents cutting things out during a surgical procedure. The hose represents using medications to extinguish the “flames”: inflammation, pain, and other symptoms.

Wellness Way doctors are more like carpenters: They assess the body’s current state with testing and then create a personalized plan to rebuild using nutrients from foods and supplements. Sunshine, rest, and positive relationships are some common natural therapies that support the body in healing.

While these things are considered “complementary medicine” or “alternative medicine,” scientific research backs up their effectiveness in supporting the healing process.

Mainstream Medicine’s Approach to Celiac Disease

Mainstream medicine’s treatment of celiac disease generally includes a recommendation for gluten avoidance for life. Doctors may also prescribe medications to lower inflammation and reduce damage. That’s usually the extent of the treatment plan, unless further diseases develop. 

Common Medications For Celiac Disease:

These are some of the most prescribed medications for celiac disease: [4] 

These medications are used to suppress the inflammatory response, which also means suppressing the immune response. Chronically suppressing the immune system over time may lead to other conditions. These may be serious, like intestinal lymphoma and cancer in the small intestine. No medication is without side effects. 

Celiac Disease Isn’t Just Genetic

While genetics can set a person up for Celiac disease, it’s just one leg on the three-legged stool of autoimmune disease. Genes load the gun, but the environment pulls the trigger. Those environmental factors are described in the chiropractic field as trauma, toxins, and thoughts.  

Traumas (Physical Stressors)

Traumas or physical stressors can be acute or chronic. Chronic subluxations in the spine can inhibit nerve and blood flow to the small intestine, leading to dis-ease there. Other examples of traumas that could eventually contribute to an autoimmune condition like Celiac disease include: 

  • Poor posture
  • Physical abuse  
  • Sexual assault/rape  
  • Car accidents  
  • Severe illness or infection  
  • Having a baby 
  • Surgery  

 These physical traumas may set off a state of chronic stress within the body.

Toxins (Biochemical Stressors)

Toxins are biochemical stressors that may be either natural or synthetic. Even infections like candida can contribute to inflammation in the gut and turn on genes for celiac disease. [5] 

  • Environmental toxins: A July 2020 study published in the journal Environmental Research found that toxic chemicals from pesticides, nonstick cookware (PFAS “forever chemicals”), and fire retardants were associated with diagnoses of celiac disease. [6] 
  • Poor Indoor Air Quality: Off-gassing and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) used to sterilize materials in new cars, mattresses, and carpets can create chronic toxicity in the body.
  • Glyphosate: A common herbicide may also be to blame. Glyphosate, the active compound in Roundup, has been linked to celiac disease. Glyphosate just happens to deplete the same minerals and amino acids that are common deficiencies in celiac disease. [7]
  • Certain Medications: Medications are another toxin that can trigger celiac disease. A 2022 study published in the Journal of Pediatrics found that the use of antibiotics and antacids in babies increased the risk of a celiac diagnosis in early childhood. [8] 

Thoughts (Emotional Stressors)

Emotional stress can also be the last straw that triggers autoimmune conditions like celiac disease. This kind of stress is just as powerful (or more powerful) than physical and biochemical stressors in triggering inflammation and imbalance. A 2013 study confirmed that stressful life events could trigger celiac disease. [9] Emotional stress can come from the following:

  • Relationship issues – Relationships can turn toxic, leading to chronic stress. Prolonged stress can lead to dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which can, in turn, affect the immune response. 
  • Financial stress – Financial struggles can lead to dysbiosis and chronic infections due to the long-term effects of stress and cortisol. 
  • Watching the news – The mainstream media rarely focuses on the positive. Regularly exposing yourself to bad news increases fear, worry, and overall stress. 
  • Feeling overwhelmed – Stress from significant life changes, like a recent marriage, a new baby, graduation, a divorce, or even moving to a new city, can lead to gut dysbiosis and an increased susceptibility to autoimmune disease. 
  • Holding a grudge/pent-up anger – Holding a grudge creates stress in the body.  
  • A death in the family or a close friend – Grief is another form of stress that may create imbalances in the body. 
  • Military combat – PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) or PTSD from other causes can create a chronic sense of dis-ease in the body.  
  • Witnessing violence or a natural disaster – Being a witness to a mass shooting, murder, accident, or natural disaster is another potential cause of PTSD that may cause lasting imbalances.  

The cumulative effect of these traumas, toxins, and thoughts can create inflammation and increase the risk of disease anywhere in the body.  

The Wellness Way Approach For Those With Celiac  

At The Wellness Way, we dig deeper to solve the health challenges others can’t. Celiac disease is rarely a standalone condition, particularly because it’s an autoimmune condition.  

Important Tests For Assessing Your Gut and Immune Health

Here are some commonly recommended tests at The Wellness Way:  

These tests are dependent on which ones your Wellness Way clinic considers most important for your health history. 

Dietary Changes For Those With Celiac and Other Autoimmune Diseases 

A strict gluten-free diet is essential. Beyond that, it’s important to lower inflammation so the gut can heal. That means avoiding your food allergies and following a personalized nutrition program, as recommended by your Wellness Way clinic. These are some basic guidelines: 

  • Only gluten-free foods. (Some may also need to avoid lectins, an anti-nutrient present in many foods like quinoa, corn, oats, tomatoes, and others) [10] 
  • No sugar or processed foods. 
  • Overall low carbohydrate, non-inflammatory diet of organic whole foods.  
  • Personalized Nutrition, based on your food allergy test results  
  • Specific nutrient-dense foods: Liver/organ meats, sauerkraut, and microgreens for added nutrition 

Diet is paramount, but supplements can help the body in healing the digestive tract.  

Supplements For Supporting Gut Health

Every patient is different, but common supplements used at The Wellness Way for those struggling with digestive and immune imbalances including celiac disease are: 

  • Active B12-Folate – Celiac patients are on average 20% likely to be deficient in vitamin B12 and folate. [11] 
  • Digestive Glandular – This supplement includes liver glandular, “nature’s multivitamin,” according to Dr. Patrick Flynn.  
  • D3 & K2 – Vitamin D is important for getting inflammation and autoimmune disease under control. A 2020 study highlighted the role of vitamin D in the health of the mucosal lining of the intestine. [12] 
  • Digest-Well Complex – Betaine HCL with apple cider vinegar. This supplement supports stomach acid and overall digestion. 
  • Well-Zyme Complex -Digestive enzymes like TWW Well-zymes support nutrient breakdown and absorption in the digestive tract. 
  • Megabiotic Formula – These and other probiotic strains help the body keep infections and inflammation under control. 
  • Omega-3 supplement – Fish oil is a natural anti-inflammatory that can lower the autoimmune response and help the small intestine heal. [13] 

An enzyme called DPP-IV or dipeptidyl peptidase IV (in Well-Zymes) may be helpful to bring to restaurants in case of accidental gluten exposure. Your test results will help dictate which supplements will work best for you.   

Where to Start With Celiac Disease

If you feel like you have issues with gluten-containing foods, the first thing is still to get tested. An antibody test may be the first place to start. That way, you’ll know how strict you need to be in avoiding gluten. A food allergy test can help you find out which other foods are causing inflammation. From there, it’s all about healing the gut, making lifestyle changes, and incorporating herbal supplements based on your individual needs.  

Educational Resources For Celiac Disease

Videos & Webinars Related to Celiac Disease

Articles to Support Celiac Disease

Connect With Us!

We invite you to connect with us! Find an event at a clinic near you! Follow us on social media. Tune in to A Different Perspective each Saturday morning LIVE to get cutting-edge training directly from Dr. Patrick Flynn. Set up a no-obligation health consult with one of our doctors today. The best is yet to come! Think differently – and THRIVE. Reach out to a Wellness Way clinic today to get thorough testing and start on your health journey. We are here to help!  

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Disclaimer: This content is for educational purposes only. It’s not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your Wellness Way clinic or personal physician, especially if currently taking prescription or over-the-counter medications. Pregnant women, in particular, should seek the advice of a physician before trying any herb or supplement listed on this website. Always speak with your individual clinic before adding any medication, herb, or nutritional supplement to your health protocol. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

2 Comments

  • Mrs Cameron says:

    I have been following one of your health professionals on IG, l wanted find out if you have a branch in the U.K., she’s kindly sent me a link, l realised the nearest clinic is in Gallway, Ireland . Hope you will open a branch in London or somewhere in UK soon.

    I’m coeliac, l found so many useful information on your website as well.
    Many thanks,
    Mrs Cameron

    • Betsy Schroeder says:

      Hello, Mrs. Cameron. Thank you so much for your message. You’re correct in finding the nearest clinic is currently in Ireland. However, we are planning to open up more overseas clinic locations as soon as possible! In the meantime, you can absolutely work with one of our clinics long-distance — either in Galway or the U.S. Just go to the page https://www.thewellnessway.com/consult-a-doctor/, and you’ll be in touch with one of our team members who can help you find a great clinic to work with.

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