Is it Celiac Disease or Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity

Posted by on Apr 2, 2020

Is it Celiac Disease or Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity   Gluten-free eating, cooking, and living has been increasing in popularity over the past decade.  Some skeptics consider this a fad, while others swear they feel better eating a strictly gluten-free diet.  Gluten-free bakeries and restaurants speckle metropolitan areas,and now even body-care and cleaning products are hopping on the bandwagon, labeling their lotions and scrubs as “gluten-free”.  So, is it hype, or is there a medical need for eating sans gluten?   It’s definitely not all hype.   Current estimates are that 1% of the US population has celiac disease.  That’s a lot.  That’s one guest at a wedding of a hundred people.  And celiac disease is serious: if a person with celiac continues to be exposed to gluten, they can have chronic diarrhea, malabsorption so severe it can lead to early osteoporosis, chronic rashes, increased risk of developing other autoimmune diseases, and increased risk of many different types of cancer.  And yes, that includes even the gluten in their lotions and scrubs. Celiac disease is an autoimmune reaction to the protein gluten which is found in wheat-derived grains including wheat, rye, and barley.  Genetics can predispose you to celiac disease, but you also need the trigger (gluten) and intestinal hyperpermeability aka “leaky gut” to develop celiac.  (Circle back to my primer on autoimmunity for a refresher on autoimmune disease).   Your doctor can order blood work to determine if you are having an immune response to gluten but you need to be eating one to two pieces of bread (or the equivalent in crackers, whole grains, wheat cereal, etc.) for a good four to eight weeks in order for these blood tests to pick up the immune response.  If your blood work shows you are having a certain type of immune response, your provider will send you to get some biopsy samples taken from your small intestine because celiac disease causes characteristic damage to your small intestine. If you get tested for celiac and there are no signs you have the disease—does that mean you can go back to feasting on glutenous grains?  Maybe, but maybe not.  You might have non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), meaning you are having a reaction to gluten, but it is not autoimmune in nature.   This condition, unlike other food sensitivities, is recognized conventionally and was first introduced at the International Celiac Disease Symposium in 2011.  Similar to celiac, it can cause symptoms and conditions both related to digestion (such as bloating or diarrhea) and unrelated to digestion.  Other symptoms associated with NCGS are many and can include fatigue, headache, joint pain, generalized pain such as fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, and rashes. Testing for non-celiac gluten sensitivity is...

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Top 10 Ways to Support the Endocannabinoid System

Posted by on May 30, 2019

The endocannabinoid system.  This term sounds complex, but it is actually just what it sounds like: the body’s internal (“endo”) system that responds to cannabinoids.  The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is so named because it was first discovered when scientists were studying the effects of cannabis on the body.1  The ECS is perhaps most notable for its role in regulating the limbic system, a part of the brain responsible for emotions, motivation, and our stress response.  This system responds to our body’s own endogenous cannabinoids, anandamide and 2-AG, and to exogenous cannabinoids.  A well-toned endocannabinoid system can help us recover from major stresses, prevent stress-related overwhelm, regulate cortisol levels, and will naturally increase during times of stress. Here are a few ways you can boost your body’s own production of endocannabinoids, and ways to supplement to further support your ECS.   Massage A randomized-controlled study showed that massage and osteopathic manipulation greatly increased levels of endocannabinoids in the blood.2 Another reason to get a massage!   Acupuncture A type of acupuncture called electroacupuncture has been shown to increase levels of anandamide in the blood.3  Acupuncture also supports your hypothalamic-pituitary axis (HPA) by reducing the amount of the stress hormone cortisol.   Dark chocolate Dark chocolate contains anandamide, one of the cannabinoids that our body produces even on its own.  Anandamide is named after “ananda” the Sanskrit word for bliss, which comes as no surprise to chocolate lovers.  Chocolate also contains N-acylethanolamines which are thought to activate our body’s cannabinoid receptors.4   Exercise Medium to high intensity exercise increases endocannabinoids and activates the cannabinoid receptors in your body—making you more responsive to the signals your body is making!5   Alternating hot and cold Try ending your shower with a full minute of cold water.  The rush of cold is not only energizing and good for your circulation, but it increases endocannabinoids and activates their primary receptor CB1.6   Orgasm Orgasm has been shown to increase levels of endocannabinoid 2-AG, or 2-arachidonoylglycerol.  2-AG activates the CB1 receptor, which is associated with pain, cognition, fear, and emotion.7   Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Oils that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids like cold water fish are well-known for their anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties.  These fatty acids also serve as precursors to endocannabinoids, which our body readily converts to help our ECS.8   Botanical medicines Even common kitchen spices can play a role in the ECS.  Nutmeg, for instance, supports the ECS by slowing down the rate at which endocannabinoids are broken down by the body’s enzymes.9 Black pepper also boosts natural endocannabinoids by decreasing their reuptake, thus making more available to your body for longer.10 Other plants have phytocannabinoids, too, including electric daisy, echinacea, and...

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