Gastroenterologists study mind/body techniques for treating celiac disease

January 11, 2010

For adults and children diagnosed with celiac disease, the only treatment is a gluten-free diet, which can be very challenging. Gastroenterologists at Rush University Medical Center are conducting a new study to see if mind/body techniques could help patients with celiac disease adhere to the very strict diet.

Celiac disease is a lifelong affecting children and adults. People who have celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten, a protein found in almost all food products as well as medicines, vitamins and lip balms. Gluten can damage the small intestine and interfere with absorption of nutrients from food.

"Eating even a small amount of gluten can damage the small intestine," said Dr. Ali Keshavarzian, vice chairman of medicine and gastroenterologist at Rush. "The damage will occur in anyone with the disease, including people without noticeable symptoms."

Hidden sources of gluten are sometimes additives such as modified food starch, preservatives and stabilizers made with wheat. Also, many corn and rice products are produced in factories that also manufacture wheat products, and can be contaminated with wheat gluten.

"The purpose of this study is to determine whether participation in one of two mind/body courses can help patients cope with the restricted diet," said Keshavarzian. "It can be very hard and stressful for people with celiac disease to stick to a gluten-free diet."

In order to heal existing intestinal damage and prevent further damage, individuals diagnosed with Celiac disease must avoid gluten for the rest of their lives. Patients have to be trained by a health professional on how to read ingredient lists and identify foods that contain gluten in order to make informed decisions when grocery shopping or eating out.

"Going to restaurants or dinner at a friend's house can pose dangers to a person with ," said Keshavarzian. "It can really impact a person's quality of life."

For most people, following a gluten-free diet will stop symptoms, heal existing intestinal damage, and prevent further damage.

Improvement begins within days of starting the . The small intestine usually heals in three- to six-months in children but may take several years in adults. A healed intestine means a person now has villi that can absorb nutrients from food into the bloodstream.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Exploring how herpes simplex virus changes when passed between family members

October 22, 2017
A new study explores how herpes simplex virus might change when passed from one individual to another, information that may prove useful in future development of therapeutics and vaccines. This rare glimpse into a transmission ...

Pneumonia vaccine under development provides 'most comprehensive coverage' to date, alleviates antimicrobial concerns

October 20, 2017
In 2004, pneumonia killed more than 2 million children worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. By 2015, the number was less than 1 million.

Newly discovered viral marker could help predict flu severity in infected patients

October 20, 2017
Flu viruses contain defective genetic material that may activate the immune system in infected patients, and new research published in PLOS Pathogens suggests that lower levels of these molecules could increase flu severity.

Migraines may be the brain's way of dealing with oxidative stress

October 19, 2017
A new perspective article highlights a compelling theory about migraine attacks: that they are an integrated mechanism by which the brain protects and repairs itself. Recent insightful findings and potential ways to use them ...

H7N9 influenza is both lethal and transmissible in animal model for flu

October 19, 2017
In 2013, an influenza virus that had never before been detected began circulating among poultry in China. It caused several waves of human infection and in late 2016, the number of people to become sick from the H7N9 virus ...

Flu simulations suggest pandemics more likely in spring, early summer

October 19, 2017
New statistical simulations suggest that Northern Hemisphere flu pandemics are most likely to emerge in late spring or early summer at the tail end of the normal flu season, according to a new study published in PLOS Computational ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Sciencebee
not rated yet Jan 12, 2010
I'm not going to lie. I was diagnosed with Celiac a few years ago and after it was explained to me I didn't feel like living anymore. I still struggle with having to live like this but I'm glad I made the correct choice.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.