Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Association between Gluten Sensitivity and Hormonal Imbalance



I recently did a radio show about The Gluten Effect and a listener called me and requested that I write a blog post about a comment I made during the show. So as requested, here it is:

When gluten causes damage to the small intestine, the lining, which is supposed to look like shag carpeting begins to resemble indoor/outdoor carpeting instead – it gets flattened. These finger-like projections that get eroded are called villi. The damage that occurs affects ones ability to absorb nutrition from food and especially affects the ability to absorb fat (this would include fat-soluble vitamins).

In the context of the hormonal, mental and emotional symptoms associated with gluten sensitivity this becomes very important. Why? Because hormones are made from fat. Without fat absorption, hormonal balance is all but impossible.

Fat malabsorption is an early change when damage begins, not a later one. The ability to absorb fat is performed by the tips of the villi so early in the erosion process fat malabsorption occurs. While hormonal symptoms may take some time to develop, digestive symptoms such as foul-smelling stools and bowel movements that float are common early changes. Other changes due to the malabsorption of the fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, K) also ensue such as poor night vision, weak immune system, osteoporosis, etc.

If you’re someone that has any of the above symptoms, realize that symptoms of hormonal imbalance are related. Similarly if you notice any of these digestive symptoms in your child, get them checked immediately. It would be wonderful to prevent any further symptoms from developing by addressing their gluten sensitivity early.

To your good health,

Dr Vikki Petersen
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”

5 comments:

Jill C. in Atlanta said...

Thank you so much for sharing this information. I recently found out that I am allergic to wheat. I only learned about it after a terrible allergic reaction, years of untreatable acne, man like facial growth, and most recently, painfully terrible (albeit) infrequent menses. I know you posted this blog years ago, but if you see this, can you please add some details on whether or not the affects of hormone imbalance caused by wheat sensitivity are reversible!

The HealthNOW Doctors said...

Hello Jill,
I'm glad you found this blog post and am very glad that you discovered your "allergy" to wheat.

I have found that while definitely reversible, the hormonal imbalance created by gluten does need a helping hand in order to be normalized.

I invite you to write to us at:
drvikki@healthnowmedical.com or visit our website at:
www.healthnowmedical.com.

We see patients from across the country as well as internationally at our Destination Clinic.

There is no reason for you to continue to suffer from the hormonal imbalance. We normalize such symptoms regularly.

To your good health,
Dr Vikki Petersen

Lil Miz said...

Thank you. I have had a history of borderline anemia and infertility. I also have typically had more gas and more daily bowel movements than most people as well as less energy and a tendency to suffer from mild depression from time to time. I also have excessively dry skin and keratosis pilaris. The digestive problems and all other symptoms were much alleviated during my two hard-won pregnancies and now that I am well into menopause, my symptoms (including anemia) increased to a point where I was miserable. I went dairy free first and found relief. Then I went gluten free and found a great deal of relief. I've been dairy and gluten free for 4 months now and I am starting to feel normal. My keratosis pilars is greatly improved - actually, it's almost gone. My scalp isn't flaking anymore. The dryness of my skin is greatly improved.

I was talking to another woman with gluten sensitivity today and she commented her sensitivities went away when she was pregnant and now that she has delivered, they are back.

Have you observed similar situations in your practice? And do you think estrogen provides a level of protection from gluten sensitivities?

Lil Miz said...

Thank you. I have had a history of borderline anemia and infertility. I also have typically had more gas and more daily bowel movements than most people as well as less energy and a tendency to suffer from mild depression from time to time. I also have excessively dry skin and keratosis pilaris. The digestive problems and all other symptoms were much alleviated during my two hard-won pregnancies and now that I am well into menopause, my symptoms (including anemia) increased to a point where I was miserable. I went dairy free first and found relief. Then I went gluten free and found a great deal of relief. I've been dairy and gluten free for 4 months now and I am starting to feel normal. My keratosis pilars is greatly improved - actually, it's almost gone. My scalp isn't flaking anymore. The dryness of my skin is greatly improved.

I was talking to another woman with gluten sensitivity today and she commented her sensitivities went away when she was pregnant and now that she has delivered, they are back.

Have you observed similar situations in your practice? And do you think estrogen provides a level of protection from gluten sensitivities?

The HealthNOW Doctors said...

@Lil Miz - I am so glad to hear that you are feeling better.
When a woman is pregnant her immune system alters in such a way so as not to attach the fetus (a foreign invader after all!). This change in the immune system will also temporarily improve symptoms of autoimmune diseases and certain food sensitivities.
Unfortunately some women take this 'symptom relief' to mean that they are fine to cheat, which is a very bad idea.
But it is not an estrogen issue so much as an immune shift that naturally occurs during pregnancy.

Best,
Dr Vikki