Celiac, Hashimoto’s, and Gluten
Question from one of my fellow skeptical scientists…
I received this question and, being a skeptical scientist myself, I was excited to answer it.
“Dear Izabella, forgive me for being the skeptic scientist but perhaps, you could explain to me logically, how it is possible to overcome severe autoimmune disease?”
Here is my answer…
As a pharmacist, I have been trained to be extremely skeptical. And I was very skeptical of the impact that lifestyle changes would make on autoimmunity as well until I did my research and testing. I have been trained in scientific literature evaluation and have access to most medical journals and references as an alumnus of my university. We are so lucky to be living in the digital age, where we can search and pull up scientific articles from all over the world from our very own laptops.
Here is basically how I came into this…
PubMed, the largest archive of medical publications, has numerous studies of people eliminating autoimmune conditions following gluten free diets, including Hashimoto’s. Gluten free helped me but did not work for eliminating my autoimmune condition.
So I hypothesized that there must be other triggers, and if I can identify them, it could result in remission. I then came across the research of Dr. Alessio Fasano on zonulin, a protein that is expressed in all autoimmune conditions and associated with increased intestinal permeability.
Gluten is a trigger for zonulin expression, and through further research, I have been able to identify 30+ additional triggers, such as infections in the small intestine.
When there is an increase in intestinal permeability, we are exposed to things in the gut such as foods and bacteria, which can trigger autoimmunity through molecular mimicry (an autoimmune theory).
As a result of Dr. Fasano’s research, Larazotide, a zonulin inhibitor was developed by a pharmaceutical company and is currently in clinical trials. I thought hey if pharmaceutical companies are interested, this must be good. If this drug can effectively block the release of zonulin for a prolonged time, it would be a new blockbuster effective for Celiac disease, all autoimmune conditions and perhaps even cancer.
But the zonulin inhibitor would only be masking the symptoms by blocking zonulin release, it would not address the root causes or zonulin release, such as infections. This drug would most likely have to be taken on a daily basis. You can learn more about Larazotide @ www.albatherapeutics.com
In my research, I also found lifestyle interventions that would have a permanent effect on zonulin release, such as removing gluten, food intolerances, and infections in the small intestine. Lifestyle interventions are slower than taking a pill (which is not available yet anyway) but will result in healing rather than masking symptoms…
Due to my skepticism, I fully researched most interventions for over a year before I reluctantly tried them myself, delaying my own progress. Eventually, curiosity, another one of my predominant traits, won over skepticism.
So, thus, eliminating intestinal permeability in autoimmunity is my working hypothesis as to why the many lifestyle interventions work so well. I have seen really amazing results so far! But I have only worked with Hashimoto’s, not all of the other autoimmune conditions…
Based on Dr. Fasano’s research, the same approach should apply to all autoimmune conditions, although triggers may be different for the particular target organ that is affected. Nonetheless, the intestinal permeability needs to be addressed in ALL cases of autoimmunity. Eliminating gluten should be the first step for everyone with an autoimmune condition.
Hope that isn’t too technical for those of you that aren’t science nerds like me. I explain it to a more lay audience in my book but have all of the references cited so that my fellow scientists can do their own research and cross reference my work.
For my fellow science gurus, here are two of Dr. Fasano’s articles:
- Fasano A. Leaky Gut and autoimmune disease. Clin Rev Allergy Immunol. 2012 Feb;42(1):71-8.
- Fasano A. Zonulin and Its Regulation of Intestinal Barrier Function: The Biological Door to Inflammation, Autoimmunity, and Cancer. Physiol Rev. Vol 91. Jan 2011. 151-175
I also researched a multitude of other triggers that are not mentioned in Dr. Fasano’s articles but are in my book, Hashimoto’s: The Root Cause.
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