On Celiac and Remedies for Chance Glutenings (wheat, rye, barley, oats)

by Bea Garth, copyright 2008

The following non italicized paragraphs below compose a post I just sent to a celiac forum here in the SF Bay Area. I think the remedies below could be useful to anyone that suffers either from full blown celiac or just gluten intolerance–or if you know someone who does.

But first a preamble for those who don’t know what celiac is.

As it turns out, celiac (also known as sprue) is a condition that is a lot more common than once was thought. Thirty percent of all North Europeans and Italians have the gene for it and ten percent of the rest of Europe also has it. Here in America they say its as common as high cholesterol–one in 133 people has it whether they are aware of it or not. It takes a stressful experience to bring it out and then you have it for life. It is argued that dementia in old age is often caused by undiagnosed celiac not to mention cataracts, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Basically celiac is a result of certain North European peoples not having made the transition from the hunter gatherer stage to agrarian very well. Some blame the Vikings–who unconsciously made use of this condition to bring on their more wild and violent nature before battle by eating moldy rye bread. Certainly someone who has untreated celiac can become very cantankerous and easily agitated (I speak from direct experience!).

Glutens are found in wheat, rye, barley and to some extent in oats and their derivatives — of which derivatives now are numerous given scientists and others having figured out glutens make things adhere together more smoothly and easily. The glutenous grains contain gliadins which cause people with celiac to react — their auto-immune system attacks the villi in their intestines with its concomitant disastrous effects — causing malabsorption and a variety of severe digestive complaints as well as many degenerative diseases as side effects.

These symptoms can include heart and kidney disease, nervous system and skin problems, depression and even schizophrenia as well as a greater likelihood of getting other reactive auto-immune system diseases such as RA, Sojren’s or Lupus. Celiac also creates a greater chance of getting diabetes or cancer. If contracted as a baby or a child(which is what happened to me), Celiac also causes one to “fail to thrive” and not grow. Unfortunately they used to think you “outgrew” this as you got older and they took the children off their anti-gluten diet (as they also did with me at age four and my mother at age twenty)– not realizing one never does get over celiac although how it presents itself can change.

Glutens are addictive to everyone since they have opiates in them–which is in part why they are so popular. Without them civilization as we know it might have developed very differently since the easily store-able grains allowed us to go off a high meat diet and settle into villages and towns.

It is argued that since no one ate much in the way of grains before 15,000 years ago, no humans are really equipped to eat a high grain diet — and thus many of the degenerative diseases of civilized peoples are a result of that grain diet. By following a more “paleolithic” diet focused on vegetables, roots and squashes, meat, with some fruit, nuts and soured foods, most people become a lot healthier.


Last week I had both the confronting experience of being “glutened” by chance at a supposedly celiac aware restaurant — the bane of most celiacs — and by chance discovered some remedies that actually worked for me. This after having gotten shooting diarrhea just from cross contamination from a food handler who prepared my tea after making someone else a sandwich in February — not to mentions other equivalent experiences since I have gone off all trace hidden glutens!

(Note: Of course the reason I chose to be off all gluten is that overall I am much healthier and more able to be physically and mentally fit. However the down side is that it has made me — and other celiacs — far more easily reactive when the offending gluten asserts itself with us even in just a minuscule amount by activating the auto-immune system.)

What happened is that I asked for and got some pineapple and fresh papaya at the establishment I was eating at after I discovered they had put soy sauce in my dish (after I had been assured they wouldn’t). I had already eaten about 1/2 my portion–and wasn’t paying as much attention as I might since it was supposed to be a “safe” and experienced restaurant concerning the gluten matter. If I had brought along my papain/bromelain caps that would have been the easy equivalent to the pineapple and papaya. As it was the owner ran across the street and bought me some fresh papaya. I also immediately took some pancreatin enzymes I had brought along–a double dose.

Right after dinner my date and I went over to a natural foods store and I bought this new product called Gluten-zyme by Country Life. There was another bottle of a different brand that cost a little more that also looked pretty equivalent. Again I immediately took a double dose. That night I took another dose and two more the next day just to make sure.

Instead of shooting diarrhea I had inflammation in my feet and calves which went down after I took my co-enzyme B vitamins. I wasn’t home where I usually have my herbs and most of my stuff so I didn’t take dandelion (to clean out the liver), cleavers (to clean out the lymphs), marshmallow root (to soothe and heal the lining of the intestines), and nattokinase or serrapeptidase (to counteract scar tissue in the intestines as well as inflammation) etc. until the next day–I probably should have got some at the store but wasn’t feeling quite that rich.

The following day my only other symptom was a small pimple on my face, often a sign of glutening in the old pre pure days before I went off all hidden gluten. I did feel a little depressed (another symptom) but then recovered after going for a long walk and working on clay (clay pulls out toxins through the skin of the hands and feet etc.). I bet going for a sauna would have worked too. Taking the dandelion etc. also helped a great deal.

Another note–in case of shooting diarrhea right away (before you can take action or know you need to), Pepto Bismol tablets or their equivalent work great. They are easy to carry in the purse or pocket or whatever. Another remedy is to make a tea with either blackberry or guava leaves. Meadowsweet I hear also works.

Figuring out that there actually are remedies for chance glutenings like this was a big discovery for me. I keep hearing there is nothing you can do except grin and bear it, but I found that at least for me there are things I can do. I feel like I no longer have to be terrified of going out to eat, especially with these new gluten-eating enzymes out there. I wonder if this could help others? Methinks it would. Please try it in an emergency and let me know if it helps you or a loved one too.

I still think its not wise to court experiences like this, but hey they happen. Especially for someone like me with celiac that is actually trying to have a life outside of my safe cocoon sometimes.

Note: Herbalist, poet and artist Bea Garth is composing a book on the healing effects of herbs etc. on celiac and related disorders.

Categories: Health article by Bea Garth

1 reply

  1. Eighty percent of success is showing up.


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