Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Do you have any of the following symptoms? Abdominal pain and bloating, unexplained weight loss, diarrhea, excessive flatulence, nausea, vomiting? 

These are the symptoms of celiac disease also known as Sprue Celiac (celiac, derived from Greek to mean suffering of the bowels).  It is a medical condition in which the absorptive surface of the small intestine, the villi, is damaged by a substance called gluten. This results in an inability of the body to absorb nutrients: protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals which are necessary for good health.

It is estimated that 1 in 133 persons in Canada are affected by celiac disease. Many more are sufferers that remain undiagnosed or misdiagnosed because celiac factors may resemble those of other conditions such as stomach ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome.
Cross section of normal and damaged intestinal villi.

What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, triticale and, barley. It is the gluten in the flour that helps bread and other baked goods bind and prevents crumbling. This feature has made gluten widely used in the production of many processed and packaged foods.

Celiac disease, is usually diagnosed through blood testing. It seems there are varying degrees of gluten intolerance and because some results are negative or inconclusive, it looks like there is a growing need for more precise testing in this area.

According to the Canadian Celiac Association, when test results are unclear and the patient’s symptoms improve while not eating gluten, this is known as “non-celiac gluten sensitivity”

Whatever the diagnosis or degree of sensitivity, it may be interesting to note that acupuncture concerns itself mainly with the symptoms that each patient presents and treats accordingly.  Bloating, abdominal pain, gas and diarrhea are all symptoms of an imbalance in Spleen energy and each is very treatable with acupuncture. In the Chinese medicine model, the Spleen is responsible for the assimilation of all that we ingest. Because the functioning of the small intestine's villi are impaired by gluten, so is the body’s capacity to absorb and assimilate nutrients.

Acupuncture works to reduce or eliminate the intestinal inflammation, hereby reducing abdominal pain while strengthening the functioning energy of the Spleen, Stomach and entire digestive system.  We often see a return of vital energy and ability to gain weight when acupuncture is used as an adjunct to dietary alterations. Good results can also be had with acupuncture even when a gluten-free diet does not seem to help.

Remember, there are solutions to dealing with celiac dis-ease. Take the first step, start adjusting your diet using the celiac diet suggestions, and see your doctor to get tested.  Consider that acupuncture can provide immediate relief and is widely used as an excellent adjunct therapy to support and maintain good digestive health.

For more information please refer to 
For a personal account about how my family has had to adjust to this condition, please read my blog entry here.