Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It’s Frustrating!

It can be very frustrating knowing what we know and not being able to get that information to everyone who needs it. I keep reminding myself that our book, The Gluten Effect – How “Innocent” Wheat is Ruining Your Health, is being publishing in January 2009. Only 2 months away but sometimes it seems like an eternity. It took us 5 years to write. Okay, we seriously started last January 2008 but I personally made some feeble attempts over the previous 4 years.

Back to my frustration – a patient came in 9 months ago very overweight and walking with the help of a cane. She hadn’t been suffering silently. She was a bright, proactive woman who was diligently searching for an answer to her problems. She received diagnoses and drugs but no particular improvement of her condition.

We see many patients and while we delight in every success story, sometimes we don’t remember how bad a patient’s symptoms were when they first arrived. When this patient came in last week she had to remind us of her cane. It had disappeared several months ago so it had become a bit “out of sight, out of mind” for us. But for her it was a miracle. She has lost 40 lb and at last week’s visit was proud to announce that she had just completed a half-marathon walk. Yes folks, that’s 13 miles of walking and not a cane in sight!

What changed? She found out that she was sensitive to gluten. Utilizing the HealthNOW Method we restored strength to her immune system and her adrenal glands as well, but the biggest missing ingredient was a life-long gluten sensitivity which had remained undiagnosed.

Do you see what’s so frustrating? I want to shout it from the rooftops. I want to enter every gastroenterologist’s office on the planet and do a lecture about gluten sensitivity to all the patients and staff.

Another patient, one who knows she is gluten sensitive came into the office the other day to receive some chiropractic care along with physical therapy. She told me that she recently went to her general practitioner for her annual physical and informed him that she was avoiding gluten and how much her health had improved as a result. (She had been on the verge of a heart attack about 2 years prior.) Despite relating her tremendous health improvements to her M.D, he insisted that if she didn’t have unrelenting diarrhea it was ridiculous for her to avoid gluten.

Do you see why I’m frustrated?

The number of M.D.s in this country who equate gluten sensitivity with celiac disease is phenomenal. Waiting for a positive celiac diagnosis is akin to waiting for a heart attack to occur before you tell a patient they have high cholesterol. It’s barbaric. And mark my words, within the decade gluten sensitivity WILL be known, understood and the idea of waiting for a positive intestinal biopsy before diagnosing it will be considered malpractice.

To Your Good Health,

Dr Vikki Petersen

Friday, November 14, 2008

Foods Posing the Biggest Hidden Dangers to the Gluten Sensitive

Now that you know you’re sensitive to gluten you’re very carefully avoiding all the wheat bread, bagels, cookies and cakes. You’ve stopped eating oatmeal for breakfast (you know about the contamination of oats) and you watch those protein bars for all signs of glutinous grains. You’re aware that fried chicken and breaded anything is also a problem and you’ve realized the hidden danger of sauces and things like meat loaf.

So where might you get tripped up? The biggest problem we run into with patients is with certain ethnic foods that cook with soy sauce. It’s just not “obvious” that soy sauce has wheat in it. When you cook at home you can definitely enjoy cooking with wheat-free soy sauce (usually known as Tamari) but Chinese and Japanese food very often contains soy sauce and if the sauce is brown you probably just got a nice hit from gluten.

The cautionary tale here is keep learning about food and how it’s prepared. As someone who enjoys cooking I know how many things are prepared so I rarely get fooled.

It you’re sensitive to gluten ANY is too much – way too much!

I hope this helps!

To your good health,

Dr Vikki Petersen

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