You may be gluten-free, but still having problems. Have you ever checked your medications or vitamin supplements for hidden sources of gluten? Even a tiny molecule of gluten can be a trigger for some gluten sensitive folks.
Suzie Cohen, a licensed pharmacist and author at www.dearpharmacist.com, has observed catastrophic problems associated with gluten in medications. She has had experience as a pharmacist and in nursing homes and has seen that the side effects of medications could be worse than the original symptoms. Her motto is, think outside the pill.
Suzie’s experience with her husband’s illness and paying tens of thousands of dollars for medications and not getting relief, motivated her to do some further research. She has turned to alternative medicine and can give advice from her experience as a pharmacist.
Gluten Contamination in Supplements and Pharmaceuticals
There is no doubt that there is gluten contamination in medications and supplements. It is the excipients that may contain gluten. The actual medications are almost always gluten free.
Gluten free excipients are; mannitol, xylitol, titanium dioxide, lactose, gelatin, dextran and magnesium stearate.
Excipients with gluten are starches, such as; maltodextrin, dextri-maltose and pregelatinized starch.
Starches are used to absorb the water in the pill so that the pill will hold together to the expiration date:
- Maltodextrin may be extracted from wheat or from corn (of course this would be GM corn as a side issue)
- Dextri-maltose may be from barley malt
- Pregelatinized starch
If you see the word starch, there may be gluten in the product. You must call the manufacturer of the medication to double check – or go on line or call the pharmacist.
Additionally, even if the medications are gluten free and the excipient is from a gluten-free starch (which also may be corn) — the drugs are manufactured in a facility that handles gluten ingredients and so there may be cross contamination issues.
Furthermore, if you switch from a brand to a generic, the excipient may change to one with gluten. And at any time, the excipient may be changed. You need to check that nothing has changed at each prescription renewal.
The patient must take responsibility for checking gluten-free status.
Always check the source of starch or maltodextrin or dextrin. Suzy said,
People will spend ten to twenty minutes looking at a menu at a restaurant for example. But they won’t spend ten to twenty minutes looking at the medications that their doctor prescribed for them and what the potential side effects are. It’s just shocking.
The same goes for over-the-counter medications. The drug excipients may be changed at any time. Again, always check the source of starch or maltodextrin or dextrin. It is up to the patient to check this.
Some medications delete the body of certain vitamins, minerals and hormones. The worst offenders for gluten sensitive folks are the category of drugs for acid suppression. These are Maalox, Zantac, Tagamet, Pepcid as well as the proton pump inhibitors (long lasting).
Reducing acid makes the condition of food allergies and especially celiac disease much worse. The inhibition of digestive enzymes may worsen existing malabsorption in those with gluten related disorder.
If you have to take an acid blocker (why you shouldn’t take one is a whole other issue) but you can find supplemental digestive enzymes that work at a pH of 4 – 5 — papain is an example. Also, get a high quality probiotic.
Reducing acid also reduces the body’s ability to break down proteins. When you are celiac you already have a decreased ability to digest proteins. Inability to digest proteins properly results in impaired production of neurotransmitters and the resulting depression and other neurological conditions, such as ADHD.
Proton Pump Inhibitors Are a Red Flag
There is an FDA black box warning on this category. They have known for years that this category of medicine may impair magnesium absorption which also affects calcium and the heart.
There is an increased risk of pneumonia and other long term effects as well.
Additionally, the affect on the heart is profound. A recent study in the International Journal of General Medicine was published. The study concluded that patients receiving PPIs should be monitored for magnesium deficiency because this may contribute to worsening of arrythmias and further complications.
These medications are: Prilosec, Prevacid, Nexium, Aciphex and Naproxol.
If you’re taking a drug that suppresses your acid and you suddenly develop some kind of cardiac palpitation or arrythmia or some kind of heart disease… this could be your medications, because proton pump inhibitors and acid blockers in general reduce magnesium as well as other minerals…
Natural Herbs for the Gut
Suzie recommends unsweetened slippery elm, marshmallow extract, — these are soothing to mucous membranes (however, not legal on SCD/GAPS) as well as manuka honey, mastic gum, chamomile, and DIM (diindolylmethane).
There is more information at dearpharmacist.com for videos on how to use these herbs.
Probiotics help balance gut bacteria, and can also improve conversion of T4 to T3 (the active form) so they are beneficial for thyroid patients. Probiotics are also immune modulators as we have seen before. There are many benefits to probiotics.
Relationship Between Celiac Disease and Autoimmune Thyroid Disease
Celiac patients are at an increased risk for autoimmune thyroid disease and should be put on a gluten-free diet. The gluten-free diet seems to help prevent the progression of associated autoimmune diseases in celiacs.
This study published in Scandanavian Journal of Gastroenterology in 2002 found an association between celiac disease and autoimmune thyroid.
These folks may want to use other thyroid support supplements such as iodine, tyrosine, selenium, etc.
What can also help is a protease enzyme called Dipeptidyl Peptidase-IV (DPP-IV). This enzyme helps break down gluten and casein. This DOES NOT mean that you can then go and eat gluten. This is a precaution if you think you may be getting hidden gluten exposure and are very sensitive.
Gluten and Headaches
There is a connection with migraine patients and celiac disease. They need to be gluten and casein free. Migraines are more prevalent in celiacs than in the general population.
A study published in Neurology by Dr. Hadjivassiliou in 2002 — Investigated 10 patients who were out on disability with migraines. They found that two out of ten got partial relief from going gluten-free.
Suzy Cohen has an upcoming book called Headache Free. She was interviewed at the Gluten Summit!
I just learned so much more about how gluten can be hidden in many medications and supplements! If you are super sensitive to a molecule of gluten, this can have a major impact on your life!
If you’re like me, and can’t spend much of the day listening to the interviews, you might want to consider purchasing them for access at your own pace.
By popular demand, the Gluten Summit has been extended through Tuesday! You will be able to hear the Encore interviews on Tuesday!
The Gluten Summit is going on now but there is still time to register and enjoy the daily free interviews!
This Summit could be a game changer for you or someone you know, Please share the link below for the opportunity to hear some of the most distinguished scientists and speakers at the cutting edge of gluten research today.
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