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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Fybromyalgia and Gluten Sensitivity

The Fibromyalgia-Gluten Link
My husband and I have been doing our best to avoid gluten-containing foods for a few weeks now in response to what I have been feeling and reading about over the past couple of years. We are serious but it is hard... I definitely have an addiction to gluten, or maybe just the grains that are part-and-parcel with the gluey protein called gluten.

For the past few months I have been experiencing a lot of pain in my feet and ankles. No, not plantar's fasciitis. Sometimes I have burning pain at night so that I can not sleep at all. My husband, bless his heart, does some reflexology and I wear magnetic insoles and orthotics (help a lot, most of the time) and sometimes I use shea butter with cayenne powder mixed in on the soles of my feet when I go to bed. This all helps, but it doesn't seem to 'cure it' entirely.

A couple of weeks ago I made some 'raw energy balls' that called for flour made from oats in the Vitamix. I put them into the freezer as a Christmas treat. Friends and family love these little cookies and they have become a bit of a signature treat for me (if such a thing exists) but unfortunately, if I ever thought that oats didn't have gluten, I was wrong. I ate a couple of these puppies and almost immediately had all sorts of 'effects' including foot pain (how does that happen?)and a general malaise.

Yes, I have begun to feel like the hypochondria-cal sort of person I didn't have much patience or compassion for in my healthier past. I also feel old, shuffling around in my swollen ankles, sleeping in a half-upright position, feeling pain when least expecting it.

So, of course, I have begun to do a little research online and find that gluten is connected to all sorts of unexpected 'issues' such as fibromyalgia and thyroid problems.

Dr. Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN, has co-authored a book called "The Gluten Effect" and she and her "Gluten Doctor" colleagues (a community of MDs, naturopaths, etc. in the Silicon Valley, California) claim there is a clear link between fibromyalgia and gluten intolerance/sensitivity.

Consider this: In the United States (and probably Canada), roughly 2% of the population-- 90% women-- have fibromyalgia.  Irritable bowel syndrome is highly visible within this fibromyalgia population as well (as many as 3/4 of a study's population had both fibromyalgia and irritable bowel sydrome.)  In another research study, there was a strong link shown between irritable bowel syndrome and undiagnosed gluten intolerance.  Anecdotally, the "Gluten Doctors" have noticed repeatedly that when they prescribe an elimination diet (i.e., eliminating gluten-containing foods) for clients with fibromyalgia, that there has been a resolution of the tender points and muscle aches classic to fibromyalgia, as well as the healing of 'hidden infections', adrenal fatigue, and improvement in blood sugar control, all common complaints for both sufferers of fibromyalgia and gluten- sensitivity conditions.

In her blog at The Gluten Doctors, Dr. Petersen suggests that people with fibromyalgia are likely dealing with a multiple stream of 'causes' for the disease, gluten-intolerance being only one possible cause, but that a trial following of a gluten free diet would go a long way to improving the symptoms of fibromyalgia.  This is definitely something I am interested in pursuing.
Disclaimer:This blog reflects my own personal beliefs about the health benefits of being gluten-free. I am not a Medical or Health Care professional and any information or products contained in this blog are not meant to replace your responsibility to consult with the appropriate health care provider about your own circumstances and concerns.
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