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Gluten-free for Good: A Naturopathic Approach to Managing Celiac Disease

Written by Portland Clinic of Natural Health on April 21, 2023

Celiac disease is a chronic autoimmune disorder that affects the small intestine when gluten-containing foods are consumed. It is estimated that approximately 1 in 100 people worldwide are affected by this condition. Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, barley, and rye. In individuals with celiac disease, consuming gluten leads to an immune reaction that damages the small intestine, leading to malabsorption of nutrients and a range of other symptoms. (1)

From a naturopathic perspective, the approach to celiac disease involves identifying and addressing the root cause of the condition. This means that treatment focuses on supporting the body's innate ability to heal itself and reducing inflammation, rather than simply masking symptoms.

One of the first steps in treating celiac disease from a naturopathic perspective is to remove all gluten-containing foods from the diet. This is critical in allowing the small intestine to heal and reducing inflammation. A naturopathic doctor may also recommend additional dietary changes, such as increasing fiber intake, reducing sugar and refined carbohydrate consumption, and avoiding processed and packaged foods.

Another important component of treating celiac disease from a naturopathic perspective is to support the gut microbiome. This involves incorporating probiotics and prebiotics into the diet, which can help to restore a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Additionally, addressing any underlying nutrient deficiencies, such as iron or vitamin D, can also be important in supporting gut health. (2)

Naturopathic doctors may also recommend other therapies, such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, or stress reduction techniques, to support the body's ability to heal itself. Acupuncture can help to reduce inflammation and improve circulation, while herbal medicine can be used to support gut health and reduce inflammation. Stress reduction techniques, such as meditation or yoga, can also be helpful in reducing stress and inflammation.

It's important to note that while naturopathic treatments can be effective in managing and treating celiac disease, it is important to have a collaborative care team that is right for your health situation. If you suspect that you may have celiac disease, it is important to consult with a holistic healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and to develop a comprehensive treatment plan.

In conclusion, celiac disease can be effectively managed from a naturopathic perspective by identifying and addressing the root cause of the condition. This includes removing gluten-containing foods from the diet, supporting gut health, and incorporating additional therapies to reduce inflammation and support the body's natural healing processes. By taking a holistic approach, individuals with celiac disease can manage their symptoms and improve their overall health and well-being.

Resources:

  1. Caio G, Volta U, Sapone A, Leffler DA, De Giorgio R, Catassi C, Fasano A. Celiac disease: a comprehensive current review. BMC Med. 2019 Jul 23;17(1):142. doi: 10.1186/s12916-019-1380-z. PMID: 31331324; PMCID: PMC6647104.
  2. Pecora F, Persico F, Gismondi P, Fornaroli F, Iuliano S, de'Angelis GL, Esposito S. Gut Microbiota in Celiac Disease: Is There Any Role for Probiotics? Front Immunol. 2020 May 15;11:957. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2020.00957. PMID: 32499787; PMCID: PMC7243837.

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