Could I maybe, possibly, sorta, kinda have RA because I eat gluten products?

Just when I thought I was going to sleep … a rant took over my brain … because this afternoon for the third time this week someone told me that I probably have celiac disease & that it’s probably the source of my RA. And that going gluten-free will make me well. Oooooh-kaaaaay …

I have been told about this connection (usually preceded by “I don’t know if you’ve ever heard this before, but ….”) more times than I can count. And nearly as many times as someone has suggested that dark cherry juice will also be the “solution I need.” At this point I have already had 2 blood tests with negative results. I have absolutely no celiac or early celiac symptoms. And truthfully, my c-reactive protein and ESR numbers are quite low!

Even so, I am now seriously considering spending $300+ on DNA testing and attaching results for that plus the two blood tests to my chest with a safety pin. Just to get people to shut the heck up about “solving” my “problem” when they aren’t qualified or knowledgable.

I just don’t buy celiac disease as a cause for RA. But I do know one person with RA whose inflammation has improved from being gluten-free.

Maybe I will spend 2-3 weeks gluten-free because it certainly can’t hurt. I have been 80-90% gluten-free for a month before – but this was before my symptoms became active. I lost weight and felt terrific, but who knows whether that means it would influence my symptoms.

Or maybe I will just keep doing what I’m doing. It’s working so far and I’m happy. Now all I have to do is fall back to sleep …

6 Comments

  1. Leslie
    May 21, 2010

    I have felt a major difference in going gluten free. BUT, I have had symptoms of celiac since my teens (I am 36). I was told I had IBS and was given medicine. That was until I saw my new doc a couple of months ago who does holistic-type medicine. Also, I can tell now when I eat something by accident with gluten in it….I feel “glutenized” …like brain fog and fatigue and sometimes my face will swell…oh…and lets not talk about the GI symptoms :P The tests for celiac just aren’t accurate. The best thing to do is just go off gluten to see how you do. If you have no symptoms of celiac (and there are tons) and what you are doing is working then why even bother? If it ain’t broke…don’t fix it :)

  2. Hilary
    May 21, 2010

    I have RA and I have been told similar things re going gluten-free, even by my cousin, a Naturopath. I have been tested for Celiac with negative results. Cherry juice is a big one, too. I have gone gluten-free for a couple of months w/o relief of RA symptoms, although I did feel slightly better at night. Cherry juice was a wash.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Hilary
    @hlane

  3. Terry
    May 25, 2010

    I was diagnosed with RA 23 years ago a few months after a biopsy confirmed I had Celiac Disease. I had just started understanding the complexities gluten free diet and believe me in those days there were only a few things that could be purchased, everything else made from scratch. My RA went into remission and has never been a problem since. I had what is called an autoimmune cascade of 3 or more autoimmune related failures at the time, Celiac Disease, Hypothyroidism and RA. Gluten free diet as soon as the RA was diagnosed saved me.

    hope that helps,
    Terry

  4. Jenni
    Jun 18, 2010

    I’ve been managing my RA solely through diet and exercise for 5 years now. I started by going “gluten-free” and later including the elimination of yeast, dairy and eggs as well as limiting sugar, all of which I have found to be foods that trigger my symptoms. Each of these foods I mentionedl belong to the group of common allergens and are also considered foods that create inflammation in our bodies.

    Here’s the deal with allergy testing. Just because you test negative for a food allergy, doesn’t mean you aren’t intolerant to that food source. And celiac disease is a completely different illness all together that isn’t associated with RA. So you can scratch that one off your list!

    75% of your immune system is in our guts and digestive tract, when you are unable to digest a certain food, our immune systems kick in and that’s when the sheet can hit the fan causing all sorts of strange reactions. Cutting out foods that create inflammation will also help you because you’re not, in essence, “fueling the fire.” Make sense?

    Anyway, I came across your blog and wanted to throw in a little word of encouragement for you…I know what you’re feeling because I’ve been were you are!

    You are a strong woman, keep up the good fight!

    Best,

    ~jenni

  5. Eileen
    Nov 27, 2011

    Late to the party as ever – but I thought you might find this info interesting: Coeliac disease is yet another autoimmune disease. If you have one A/I disease you are more likely to develop another because your immune system is messed up anyway. Noone has come up with an idea as to what actually causes our immune sytem to go haywire and start not recognising our own cells as us but as “the enemy”. It is less that one A/I disease causes another but that they often coexist. I have the signs of dermatitis herpatiformis – a form of coeliac disease which is best managed by a gluten-free diet. No gluten = no rash, as in ordinary coeliac disease no gluten = no damaged villi in the gut. In my case it isn’t definitely gluten, only something in highly commercialised wheat. Spelt, kamut, rye and barley don’t cause a problem but gluten-free products made with washed wheat starch make me itch. I also don’t have coeliac antibodies in my blood. My daughter has gut problems that could be coeliac in response to wheat – but has neither antibodies nor damaged gastrointestinal tissues (has had repeated endoscopies).

    I also have an inflammatory arthritis and feel better overall when I don’t eat gluten – but it started during a period when I didn’t eat it having realised wheat caused the rash (using gluten-free products is the easy if expensive way to avoid wheat) and being gluten-free doesn’t make a dramatic difference to the arthritis. Of course – I don’t exclude all the dairy products and so on they seem to think will cure us. I need all the calcium I can get, corticosteroids are the only known way of managing the pain and disability of my arthritis, No option of DMARDs. Life is difficult enough without removing all the pleasures and food preparation of the sort that is often involved is not attractive. The argument I suppose is that IF I did all that I wouldn’t be ill. I’m not convinced enough yet.

    If it were that simple industry would have set up supplies for us to try it – if we didn’t have all the searching for the products and making the ones that don’t exist it would be easy to spend a few months on such exclusion diets. Funny how it is usually people who don’t have such a disease who know how to “cure” it though isn’t it? ;-)

    • thislusciousra
      Nov 27, 2011

      Hi Eileen – thanks for sharing your experiences. I think it helps us all (or at least I feel like it helps me!). :-)

      I have actually begun to wonder lately if I am gluten intolerant. I am looking at doing some different blood tests after the first of the year to look for a variety of food-related issues.

      I still don’t think gluten is the cause of my RA, nor do I think that going gluten-free will bring miraculous results. But … when more than one indicator nudge me that direction, I feel like I should try to gather more info. Reducing gluten does make me feel better too.

      I wrote that post in response to someone who basically tells everyone that everything wrong with our health is related to gluten overload. It’s just not that simple, and I would never presume to give advice if I hadn’t been in the other’s shoes.

      All the best to you!!

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