Coeliac disease is a disease in which the small intestine is hypersensitive to gluten, leading to difficulty in digesting food.
It is a permanent, autoimmune disorder that causes a reaction to gluten which is found in wheat, barley, rye and oats.
Coeliac disease (pronounced see-lee-ak) is a permanent intestinal reaction to dietary gluten. In Coeliac disease the cells lining the small bowel (intestine) are damaged and inflamed. This causes flattening of the tiny, finger like projections, called villi, which line the inside of the bowel.
The function of the villi is to break down and absorb nutrients in food. When these villi become flat, the surface area of the bowel is greatly decreased, which interferes with the absorption of nutrients from food. This may lead to deficiencies in vitamins (such as folic acid) and minerals (e.g. iron and calcium).
This type of allergy is seen more in the countries with high consumption of wheat products that contain gluten.
Coeliac disease is caused by an abnormal immune system reaction to the protein gluten, it is found in foods such as bread, pasta, cereals and biscuits.
It’s an autoimmune condition, where the immune system mistakes healthy cells and substances for harmful ones and produces antibodies against them (antibodies usually fight off bacteria and viruses).
Some gene variations appear to increase the risk of developing the disease.
The most common signs for adults are diarrhea, fatigue and weight loss.
Adults may also experience bloating and gas, abdominal pain, nausea, constipation, and vomiting.
Other symptoms include:
- Anemia, usually resulting from iron deficiency
- Loss of bone density (osteoporosis) or softening of bone (Osteomalacia)
- Itchy, blistery skin rash (dermatitis Herpetiformis)
- Damage to dental enamel
- Mouth ulcers
- Headaches and fatigue
- Nervous system injury, including numbness and tingling in the feet and hands, possible problems with balance, and cognitive impairment
- Joint pain
- Reduced functioning of the spleen (Hyposplenism)
- Acid reflux and heartburn
Celiac disease can affect anyone. However, it tends to be more common in people who have:
- A family member with celiac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis
- Type 1 diabetes
- Down syndrome or Turner syndrome
- Autoimmune thyroid disease
- Microscopic colitis (lymphocytic or collagenous colitis)
- Addison’s disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Untreated, Coeliac disease can cause:
- The damage to your small intestine means it can’t absorb enough nutrients. Malnutrition can lead to anemia and weight loss. In children, malnutrition can cause slow growth and short stature.
- Loss of calcium and bone density. Malabsorption of calcium and vitamin D may lead to a softening of the bone (Osteomalacia or rickets) in children and a loss of bone density (osteoporosis) in adults.
- Infertility and miscarriage. Malabsorption of calcium and vitamin D can contribute to reproductive issues.
- Lactose intolerance.Damage to your small intestine may cause you to experience abdominal pain and diarrhea after eating lactose-containing dairy products, even though they don’t contain gluten. Once your intestine has healed, you may be able to tolerate dairy products again. However, some people continue to experience lactose intolerance despite successful management of Coeliac disease.
- People with Coeliac disease who don’t maintain a gluten-free diet have a greater risk of developing several forms of cancer, including intestinal lymphoma and small bowel cancer.
- Neurological problems.Some people with Coeliac disease may develop neurological problems such as seizures or peripheral neuropathy (disease of the nerves that lead to the hands and feet).
- In children, Coeliac disease can also lead to failure to thrive, delayed puberty, weight loss, irritability and dental enamel defects, anemia, arthritis, and epilepsy.
Testing for Coeliac disease involves having:
- blood tests: to help identify people who may have Coeliac disease
- a biopsy: to confirm the diagnosis
Coeliac disease is usually treated by simply excluding foods that contain gluten from your diet. This prevents damage to the lining of your intestines (gut) and the associated symptoms, such as Diarrhea and stomach pain.
- Gluten free diet is recommended.
- Nutritional Supplements
According to Ayurveda, this can be related with annavaha srotas dushti. The signs and symptoms of Coeliac disease can be corelated with Grahani roga in Ayurveda. Agnimandya (low digestive fire) results in formation of Aama and the disease manifests. If koshthagni does not work properly, it leads to vidagdha paka, acting like a poison and gives rise to several diseases.
Management of disease through Ayurveda
Treating Pitta dosha normalizes the liver and the immune system. Primary treatment should be planned such that the agni (digestive fire) of the patient increases and stabilizes. Ayurvedic diet is planned accordingly. Easy to digest and nutritive foods are advised. Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle play a significant role in managing the symptoms and treating the disease.
Ayurvedic diets are designed to balance the elements in your body, cleanse toxins, build immune strength, cultivate a peaceful mind and, importantly, to encourage strong, balanced digestion.
Ayurvedic treatment for Coeliac disease includes correcting the immune system, calming down the gut brain, correcting the digestive disturbance, improving the absorption of nutrients from the food through yoga, lifestyle recommendations, Panchakarma therapy and internal medication.
- Panchakarma treatment- Ksheerabasti
Single herbs beneficial in this conditions are:
- Bhallatak beeja
Medicines usefull in this disease are:
- Hingvadi Vati
- Chitrakadi Vati
- Triphala Churna
- Trikatu Churna
- Shivakshara Churna
- Guduchi satva
- Kutaja ghana vati
- Pravala panchamrita
- Take a green food supplement once a day.
- Have three cups of horsetail tea in a day to control inflammation and strengthen intestinal lining.
- Have herbal decoctions containing saffron and dandelion to cleanse the blood.
- Eat pickled ginger to reduce the inflammation.
- Add cayenne pepper in the food. This will help to produce the sweat and aid in the elimination of toxins.
- Take thousand micrograms of primrose oil three times a day.
- Drink medicinal clay in four ounces of water two times a day.
- Take three or four silica gel capsules.
- Avoid all those food items that contain gluten like those made from wheat, rye, oats and barley.
- Avoid processed foods that contain gluten.
- Avoid bread crumbs, soya sauce, vegetable starch, natural flavouring.
- Avoid tea, coffee and caffeine as they contain ingredients that can stimulate the intestines and cause diarrhoea.
- Include yoghurt, buttermilk, juices, pulses and fruits in your diet.
- Include old rice, buckwheat, ragi, whole corn, millets and gluten free oats.
- Include ginger, coriander leaves, lentil, green gram soup, black pepper, nutmeg and skimmed milk in your diet.
- Include herbs like ginger, fennel and cumin in your diet that will stimulate digestive enzyme secretions which will further improve digestion, absorption and clear away the accumulated toxins out of the body.
- Foods items rich in mono-saturated fats such as olive or canola oil are healthy as well as easily digestible.
Dr. Keerthi Shetty