Friday, April 16, 2010
How Long Does it Take to Heal After Removing Gluten?
While we tend to think of the small intestine as a long smooth tube or pipe, I’d like to paint a more accurate picture for you. The small intestine is about 23 feet long but because it is folded into many finger-like projections it is anything but smooth (imagine shag carpeting), and its surface area is that of a tennis court. That’s a tremendously large area that is responsible for converting one’s food into available fuel that is then delivered to the trillion cells that you own.
In order the answer the above question completely accurately it would require knowing how much damage the small intestine had sustained. If this individual has celiac disease and was only just diagnosed in her 50s, the likelihood is that it could take several years to heal the intestine. If the individual is gluten sensitive then the healing time is less, maybe 1 ½ to 2 years, as less damage was sustained. While this may sound like a long time, do realize that most people start feeling better in a matter of weeks. And considering how many years the intestine was likely under attack from gluten, it’s only a fraction of that time that is needed to heal it. And when you recall that we’re talking about something the size of a “tennis court”, it makes sense that it takes some time.
What further plays into this equation, is what the person is doing to ensure that healing occurs. Obviously completely removing gluten is most important. But supplementing any nutritional deficiencies such as vitamin D, B12, iron, calcium, etc are also needed to give the body the raw materials it needs to heal itself. Further, identifying and removing any inhospitable organisms such as parasites, amoeba, bacteria or yeast is also necessary to regain health and proper healing of the small intestine. You can’t re-grow the grass on your lawn if every night an animal is digging it up!
In fact, the above paragraph addresses the largest hole we see in addressing gluten intolerance. The prescribed treatment is to remove gluten, but not much else. Neglecting to similarly remove any infectious organism can prevent regaining one’s health. Adding nutrients in which one has become deficient or those specifically designed to assist healing plus probiotics that help restore strength to the intestine’s immune system, are all factors that need to be employed for a truly successful program.
I hope you find this helpful and please let me know if I can be of further assistance.
To your good health,
Dr Vikki Petersen
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”