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Gluten Sensitivity: Nonsense or New Disease?

The internet has been ablaze with testimonials and dire warnings regarding what many see as a psychological and physical assault on the well being of mind and body by what could be for some as seemingly inconsequential a thing as a crust of bread. This "new" condition has been termed "nonceliac gluten sensitivity." Read More

gluten sensitivity

You make an excellent point. For people who are responsive to the nocebo effect, nonceliac gluten sensitivity may be a form of health anxiety.


It is possible for gluten

It is possible for gluten sensitivity to be in someone's head. But its possible for anything to be in anyone's head. No matter what, gluten is not a necessary part of anyone's diet and is bad for you. I am gluten sensitive and glad its out of my diet because its terrible for you.

Unorthodox (meaning non health insurance) tests for Gluten sensitivity

Four years ago, I found myself in the office of a holistic chiropractor. I was there because of an allergy to my dogs that the best doctor I could find said had only one solution - get rid of Fred & Ginger! I also had an inexplicable condition called eosinophilic esophagitis. Again, some of the best GI guys said "no real understanding".

I was tested for anti-bodies to gluten, dairy and soy and egg-whites. The net result - yes I HAD gluten antibodies. I have avoided 80% of it for four years and most of my allergy symptoms are gone as well as the surface inflammation in my esophagus. If I eat the bread with the olive oil, I don't get really sick. I just get tired and stuffy.

There are tests out there. I don't know who administers them and I know they aren't legal in certain states. I would lobby strongly in favor of that changing across the USA. The costs I bill to my health insurance company have gone down by probably 80%.

I'm a big fan of advocating

I'm a big fan of advocating people to just try a month without gluten. Every since I gave up gluten, I've notice several objective markers improve, such as joint pain, skin rashes and relief of allergy symptoms. There is no other reason why these symptoms would disappear other than cutting out bread. I also notice that whenever I do have gluten containing products, my symptoms return. It may just be the nocebo affect, but I highly doubt it can manifest as skin rashes and joint pain.

If you can survive cocaine and hookers for a month, you can survive a month without bread. If you simply feel better after that month, then cut out bread entirely. It's mostly empty calories anyways and the only nutrition in bread comes from chemistry, not nature.

In my head?

There is a metric ton of data accumulating that would say otherwise. Google Dr. Tom O'Bryan, Cyrex Labs, Dr. Rodney Ford, Dr. Peter Osborne, or Healthnow Medical Clinic in California and do your research before you go saying it is all in our heads. If it is in my head and I can get rid of a rash and swollen thyroid just through placebo when I had no idea these things would disappear...well I should be a millionaire with those powers.

And that doesn't touch on the depression, heart palpatations, insomnia, night sweats, muscle spasms, menstrual cramps, night blindness, etc...that cleared up getting this junk out of my diet.

Please do your research before you write, Gluten Syndrome is established science in the Journal of Gastroenterology among others. Otherwise we'll just assume you are another shill of the wheat lobby.

your last statement is erroneous

Your last statement is erroneous. The jury is NOT still out on gluten-sensitivity. An international panel of experts on celiac disease and gluten-intolerance actually gave Gluten Sensitivity its own recognized classification last month. See the article here:


Also, see Dr. Vikki Petersen's explanation of it: http://www.stuffed-pepper.com/gluten-free-blogs/dr-vikki-petersen/gluten...

article tagline

From the subtitle "The psychopathology in that Artisan Loaf", I get what the writer is trying to do. That is, plant the seed that people who choose to live gluten-free are trying to separate themselves from others by their choices in what to eat. If you look at Domino's pizza's campaign right now by visiting their site, Dominos.com, they're promoting Artisan pizza (gluten filled).

So, this "psychopathology" must then be across the board. Really, what is happening with regard to food marketing is that everyone is trying "mimic" the Whole Foods culture. This is in no way separated by people's need or desire to live gluten-free. It's just a shift.

Also...think about this. If you're a c-level executive at a company like Domino's, you're probably shopping at Whole Foods and eating a $20 Artisan pizza. So, the reality is, there's an internal identity crisis going on within food companies trying hard to adapt rapidly to the spread of information due to the internet in general, but spread like wild fire through social media.

The overnight collapse of Beef Products Inc is the extreme example. The "free", "health-focused" culture is sweeping 1st world countries. To be quite honest, I'm sitting dead in the middle on this and not even saying whether it's a good thing or bad thing. But it's not going anywhere. Will it drive up the cost of living for everyone? I'd say probably. But, gluten-free is not to blame.

So, if someone who never had

So, if someone who never had a reaction to wheat bread or other such foods starts to get reactions like diarrhea or abdominal cramps after eating only those foods, you're saying it's all in their head? I also remember when psychiatrists thought homosexuality was a disease. But you're not a psychiatrist....oh, wait....you're not even a Gastro. So how do you know this, exactly?

Science and Doctors do not have all the answers...........

Science and doctors do not have all the answers. Gluten intolerance is an autoimmune condition, among one of the most difficult types medical conditions to identify and manage. I have had autoimmune conditions since birth: excema, hayfever, severe reactions to contact with nickel. When I do not eat gluten, these reactions reduce and I feel a whole lot better, emotionally and psychologically. If staying off gluten even slightly increases my chances of avoiding other autoimmune conditions such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, I will be evangelical in my insistence on not eating anything (or wearing make that contains) gluten!


last line should read ........ "or wear make up"..........that contains gluten


"and in the interest of forestalling the possibly unjustified transformation of gluten preoccupation to an urban dogma that gluten is toxic for most living beings"

What are we back in the dark ages? The millions of people worldwide that suffer after eating gluten surely must all be mental?
How many valid illnesses have been treated this way over time only to find out they are real? Any symptom can be in your head.
Reactions to toxins in our environment have been treated exactly this way for many years in the interest of big business not losing money which is exactly what this appears to be. Wheat farmers are likely to be in an uproar. Too bad.
I have an 18 yr old that is gluten sensitive. After yrs of suffering I finally figured it out. How do I know? She has CP and is unable to walk or talk so I can only tell by her symptoms. She is not capable of the nocebo effect. She is neg. for Celiacs yet after 40 days of no gluten her severe symptoms disappeared. Severe pain, severe rash that ate the top 2 layers of skin(gladly supply pics) severe constipation (was able to have a bm on her own for first time ever) no more headaches (of course that's my assumption as she would scream out when a loud noise happened, only wanted to be in her room, lights off)inability to sleep for extended periods & more. We are on yr 2 of gluten free and occasionally inadvertently cross contaminate her food (using a knife in mayo or butter that had been used on our bread or forgetting to wash our hands after handling bread then touching her. A red horrid rash appears and other symptoms re-appear. After many years of no sleep for days (her record is 5 days) it is nothing short of a miracle verified by 3 dif. sleep studies.
To assume we are all weak & influenced by this unreal disease as you infer is an insult and unprofessional.

Nocebo No Way!!

..At least not for me. Celiac Sprue is a very real thing, which for literally 45 years had me in its grip. The cultural phenomenon has truly benefitted those of us who have sickness of the body. I have developed at least four other autoimmune diseases as a result, all of which have been affirmed by use of the scientific method and personal experience, as opposed to the relative Witchcraft of Psychiatry and Psychology and the rife bigotry that medicine has remained captive of as a completely unsuitable substitute for actual KNOWLEDGE and SKILL.
So doc, heal thyself first, and shove the nocebo up where the sun doesn't shine first, and then perhaps thou may find a way forward to seest the beam in thine own eye so that then you mayest be able to pulleth the twig out of thy patient's eye. It might help if you went into Gastroenterology too--although as a Rheumy you ought be well familiar with autoimmune disease, and due to this, there is really no EXCUSE for your rant here IMHO. I may in fact agree with you in part on the percent of the populace this does effect;however, I most certainly cannot and DO NOT AGREE as to the abject HELP this has made for those of us which find a veritable and verifiable LIFELINE in a strict gluten free diet. Thank you.

On Further Thought...

We Americans don't know our own history with respect to a famous elected official who was Assassinated while in office during the baby boomer's generation who had serious Celiac Sprue.
Doctors misdiagnosed him, as they still do with millions of
Americans who do suffer with Celiac Sprue(to me it's like being " a little pregnant"--you either are a Celiac or are not--but this gluten sensitivity thing is LESS about the cultural phenomenon which has formed over gluten than the insistence of the nutty medical profession to minimize their own hopeless cycle of missing this diagnosis.
Now there is a very good reason President John F. Kennedy did not need to follow a strict gluten free diet during his adulthood(would've helped him from birth, since he had to suffer serious infections including Scarlet Fever). That reason is he was put on daily Corticosteroids under the presumption--which was arguably wrong but what the medical profession refuses to admit because a goof in the care of the President lifts a veil on what ignorance can do medically, from his early twenties until the day he died, of "Addison's Disease", a condition he clearly never suffered. He most certainly did suffer Celiac Sprue. Now, they never actually measured low cortisol output which is characteristic of Addison's, and a study did when he had a back operation also proved he had no Addisonian crisis, which is a strain on the stress mechanism which would shoot his adrenaline output out and drop his cortisol to dangerously low levels IF such a hypothesis were CORRECT. The final nail in the coffin of that diagnosis was at autopsy his adrenals were examined and found to be perfectly normal. Kennedy was told he had Addison's Disease based upon basically two signs--one, a bronzing of his skin even during winter months and the most significant one, unceasing and unbearable fatigue(which of course cuts across literally thousands of different medical conditions thus is often stated as "nonspecific"--which many physicians equate to "AIYH"--ie, "all in your head").
But most Celiac patients are not so fortunate. That is, if one considers that daily steroid use over years and decades eventually worsens the bone loss that Celiac fosters anyway(in JFK's day, long term steroid use was untested thus the negative effects of same were not known when he was first prescribed these agents). The strict gluten free diet is NECESSARY. It is necessary to take a person from a MISERABLE life to a reasonably good life--when one follows the regimen strictly. Don't condescend to me, doc, I have no time for such crap. Neither would JFK--but we obviously con't osk him to affirm this as he has been dead since 1963. Oh, and a natty little item for the hardcore naysayers--Dr. Peter Green wrote his opinion on JFK online at the history news network. He avoided the peer-reviewed journals because this type of opinion is tantamount in the peer-brutal world of medicine to challenging Putin on Pussy Riot. Dr. Green is a Gastroenterologist who heads the Celiac research program at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital in NYC. I met him and his Australian accent is still quite pronounced. Wonderful man--unfortunately the huge EGO so prevalent in medicine in this ridiculous nation for healthcare prevails more. "Sick."

NGCS does not exist

"No Effects of Gluten in Patients With Self-Reported Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS) After Dietary Reduction of Fermentable, Poorly Absorbed, Short-Chain Carbohydrates

"In a placebo-controlled, cross-over rechallenge study, we found no evidence of specific or dose-dependent effects of gluten in patients with NCGS placed diets low in FODMAPs"


Comments on "Gluten Sensitivity: Nonsense or New Disease?" | Psychology Today

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Mark Borigini, M.D., is a board-certified rheumatologist who has devoted his career to treating illnesses that cause chronic pain and disability.


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