May 092011
 

Question:
I have been diagnosed with celiac disease and follow a 100% gluten-free lifestyle. Many symptoms have improved but more or less acute pain is still part of my day. Why do I still experience intense itching, skin (and possibly gut) ulcers and other signs?

Answer:
Gluten intolerance often is accompanied by additional sensitivities and/or allergies. One such allergy is that to aspirin (acetyl salicylic acid) and foods containing natural salicylic acid.

We used to put the percentage of those at risk of experiencing or developing gluten intolerance and/or Celiac disease at 43% of the North-American population due to the presence of certain inherited genetic factors. These days, rates of 81% are being rumored. — Presumably, therefore, aspirin reactions may be more frequent too.
Whatever the percentage, the patient numbers being diagnosed with gluten intolerance or full-blown Celiac disease (CD) are growing exponentially. Even, just last summer, Health Canada stated “today, Celiac disease is the most common chronic disease worldwide; even more common than diabetes…”

Carrying one or several of the gluten intolerance causing genes means that a person lacks the enzymes required to digest gluten grains and possibly cope with other substances such as salicylic acid containing foods.
Unfortunately, this has led widely to suggestions of supplementing enzymes. Since we cannot yet duplicate the specific enzymes though, this is a very simplistic and, in fact, possibly dangerous approach. Recently, more monkeys have been found to show all the typical celiac disease genes and symptoms and signs to improve only on the 100% glutenfree diet. We thus can expect more research along these lines in the near future.

In many of our earlier blogs we have discussed how to avoid gluten and where it is found. We also have mentioned how many common and otherwise healthy foods may trigger allergic reactions in celiacs. Here, we would like to address a reason behind accompanying allergies to those common foods.

The most common allergen substance for gluten intolerant or celiac patients is salicylic acid. Sounds familiar? Remember that highly praised aspirin? The “a baby aspirin a day keeps the doctor away” statement may be far from the truth for many individuals who develop new challenges after starting treatment with this synthetic form (acetylsalicylic acid = aspirin) of the birch bark-derived salicylic acid. Many celiacs thus must avoid aspirin.

But birch bark, where salicylic acid occurs naturally, is not the only place to watch out for. Salicylic acid is also found as a possible allergen in many of our “healthy” foods; foods that may have to be avoided if you are sensitive to aspirin as a result of gluten intolerance factors.

Salicylic Acid (Aspirin like) Allergenic Foods:
Fruits and Berries: Apples, Apricots, Cherries, Melon, Nectarines, Oranges, Peaches, Plums, Prunes, Blackberries, Boysenberries, Currants, Dewberries, Gooseberries, Grapes, dried Raisins, Raspberries, Strawberries.
Vegetables: Avocados, Cucumbers, green Bell Peppers, Potatoes, Tomatoes.
Other: Almonds, Cloves, Olives, Pickles.
Condiments and Processed Foods (even some glutenfree products!): Biscuits, Cakes and Cake mixes, Cereals, Crackers, Muffins, Pastries, green and yellow Candies, Cocoa and hot Chocolate mixes, Corned Beef, Gum, Gelatin, Jell-O, Ketchup, Margarine, Mayonnaise, Salad dressings, Tabasco, Tartar sauce, and others.

Unlike gluten intolerance or Celiac disease, (acetyl)salicylic acid allergy is a true allergy. This means that the more of these foods, salicylic acid face washes and/or aspirin products an individual is exposed to the greater the likelihood for them to develop allergic reactions.

Should you suspect any of these triggers the way to go is to follow a strict elimination diet. Start out by avoiding everything listed above for two weeks while following your glutenfree diet. Then, for a couple of days at a time, include one of these products in your daily regimen. All going well, add something else after a few days. If any reaction occurs eliminate the culprit for now.

Just to clarify: this process of elimination and slow re-introduction will not work for gluten-containing products because gluten intolerance is determined by your genetic background, which cannot be overcome.

Only you can make the decision about what will work best for you and your body. Raising relevant questions is important. Have your doctor help you or consult with a qualified natural medicine professional before you decide on your customized plan of action.

 Posted by at 8:43 PM