Wandering the Desert

A colleague forwarded an article in the Wall Street Journal that appeared today, “Clues to Gluten Sensitivity.” I’m excited that there is more focus now on gluten sensitivity as well as celiac disease. I’ve heard of many people who tested negative for celiac disease but when they finally eliminated gluten from their diet, all of their nagging symptoms went away. So many people are told that gluten isn’t an issue for them because of either false negatives on the tests or this category of gluten sensitivity that few seem to be aware of. (See Healthier Without Wheat by Dr. Stephen Wangen.)

Reading the comments brought even more interesting information. Several people connected the unexplained increase in both CD and allergies with an increase in the use of genetically modified foods (GMOs.) I had never made that connection before, although when I’ve spoken with Jeffrey Smith (Seeds of Deception) he says that since there has been so little testing done on all the GM food, it’s really unknown what the impact is on all of us.

What really interested me even MORE, was the article suggested by one of the comments. It appeared in 2005, also in the Wall Street Journal, but I never saw it: “Illness of the intestines gets late notice in U.S.” In it, there is a discussion of how “blind spots” can develop in the US medical system” based on two apparent factors: 1. No drugs or surgical procedures are used to treat the disease, so there is less interest and less funding; 2. The “we didn’t discover it first so it can’t be valid” mentality that’s part of American culture. The 3 most prominent physicians in the US that have been making a significant impact in both educating the public and spearheading research were all trained outside of the US—namely Italy, Ireland, and Australia! I’ve certainly known that Europe and Australia are way ahead of us in their awareness of celiac disease, and I found this article helpful in its discussion and history of the disease.

Dr. Peter Green (the Australian who heads the Columbia University Celiac Disease Center) notes that the average length of time before a US celiac is diagnosed is 11 years! In my case it was closer to 40. I have often joked that I’ve been like Moses, wandering in the desert for 40 years. But at least I found the Promised Land in my lifetime!

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