Monday, November 03, 2008

Case Study

Here is another amazing case study about missing gluten sensitivity in a young woman who's been suffering needlessly. A simple screening for gluten would have prevented a lot of unecessary pain. This case exemplifies why we wrote our book. Hopefully increasing awareness will diminish these types of cases. “The Gluten Effect” is being published early January 2009. Stay tuned!

Recently a young lady age 19 came to see us, referred from a local celiac website. Her story epitomizes why we wrote our book and the medical community’s shameful lack of understanding of gluten and how it can affect the human body.

This patient, at the tender age of 16, began experiencing rather severe neurological problems. She had tremors in her hands and trouble walking due to pain and weakness. She suffered from brain fog and very poor concentration. When her joint pains got too severe she had to get a wheelchair. She also developed hearing problems.

While visiting a neurologist the patient’s mother asked the doctor if gluten or celiac disease could be a possible component in her daughter’s condition. Being a good mother she had done some research and wanted the doctor’s opinion. She had concurrently brought her daughter to a gastroenterologist and had requested a test for celiac disease but at the time of the conversation with the neurologist she had not yet received the results. The neurologist assured her that there was absolutely no way her symptoms could possibly be associated with gluten and proceeded to discuss multiple sclerosis and other possible neurological problems as the likely diagnosis.

Two days later her celiac test came back… positive. Upon removing gluten from her diet her symptoms improved considerably. But, as is often the case, simply removing gluten and doing nothing else is not sufficient.

What are our plans to restore her health? Glad you asked!

First we’re going to rule out any hidden infections lurking in her intestines. Remove gluten was a great first start to improving her health and she did notice some improvement. But what an infectious organism will do is prevent the intestine from healing to a large degree. This lack of healing and inflammation will cause a malabsorption of nutrients to persist which can in turn prevent healing in addition to compromising one’s immune system.

Second it is critical to heal the intestines so that they can effectively provide the function for which they are designed – namely turning food into fuel which then nourishes all the cells of the body. This young lady had very severe symptoms at quite a young age which tells us that her body’s recuperative abilities are very stressed and compromised and she likely suffers from a “leaky gut”. Therefore evaluating the status and integrity of the intestine and using nutrients, probiotics, etc to heal it will be very important.

Next we need to evaluate the status of her adrenal glands. This is the stress gland which is responsible for making many hormones, maintaining joint integrity, controlling inflammation and pain plus much, much more. Her chronic pain for many years has created a great strain on her adrenal glands so their function must be evaluated and supported.

And lastly there may very well be some genetic factors which have predisposed her to developing these various symptoms. Genetics can create the predisposition but targeted nutrition can offset that predisposition such that the patient can regain their good health.

In summary, there are still many avenues to address to restore this young lady’s health and I thought it might be interesting to talk you through our procedures which are producing excellent results in our patients.

The frustration of so few people being properly diagnosed who have gluten sensitivity is compounded by the fact that even when they are diagnosed the necessary follow-up and supportive care is not done.

The good news is that help is available.

To your good health,
Dr Vikki Petersen

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