What is gluten? How common is gluten allergy?
Gluten is a protein found in grains, such as wheat, barley, and rye. Some people are allergic to wheat, but that is not the same as a gluten allergy. Gluten allergy is a misleading term commonly confused with wheat allergy, or sometimes celiac disease. There is no such thing as a gluten allergy, but there is a condition called Celiac Disease. Celiac Disease is a digestive condition that is potentially serious if not diagnosed or treated.
A gluten intolerance is not an allergy, and there are currently no tests for accurate diagnosis. People with certain symptoms might need to be tested for celiac disease, but few people with gluten intolerance have celiac disease. Gluten intolerance is not an indication for allergy testing and is not a condition where an allergist could offer help. There are many people who label themselves as “allergic” to gluten, and unfortunately limit their diet without having seen a specialist. People with gluten intolerance should be seen by their primary care provider or referred to a gastroenterologist if there is concern about celiac disease. [Read more: Stop blaming gluten health problems for it could be good for you] [Read more: Cook your food - digestive system explained in Traditional Chinese medicine]
How does TCM understand gluten intolerance?
Celiac disease and Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS) are problems sharing with a same origin--- Spleen deficiency. When we understand the normal Spleen functions and the symptoms of gluten intolerance could be easily explained.
The Spleen Is Responsible For Transformation and Transportation The Spleen (working together with Stomach) is responsible for the intake, processing and distribution of nutrients extracted from food and drink. The Stomach and Spleen takes these nutrients and creates Qi and Blood, both vital substances for all the body’s functions and maintaining proper health. If transformation and transportation is functioning properly, the Qi is strong, digestion is smooth and the body is kept moist. When malfunctioning, the Qi is weak, the appetite is poor, digestion is sluggish and the stools are loose and watery. [Read more: Rice- the origin of Qi energy]
The Spleen supports Muscles and Limbs The Spleen is responsible for circulating nutrients to the muscles and tissues. If the Spleen is weak, then the muscles and limbs are not nourished and become weak and tired.
The Spleen regulates blood The Spleen is responsible for purifying the Blood and assist the Blood manufacturing using the Kidney essence.If Spleen Qi is weak, a person will be anemic, bruise easily, and/or will have bleeding problems.
The Common Signs of Gluten Intolerance explained with TCM theory
Bloating - Qi stagnation resulted from weak Stomach and Spleen function
Abdominal Pain - Congestion of toxin result from weak circulation of Spleen energy
Feeling Tired - Insufficient energy transformation from food
Skin Problems (Psoriasis, Alopecia areata, Chronic urticaria) - Accumulation of phlegm due to weak transportation function of Spleen
Depression and Anxiety - Insufficient energy support to the Heart system because the Spleen fails to transformate and transport (Read more here)
Unexplained Weight Loss - Spleen fails to make muscles
Iron-Deficiency Anemia - Spleen and Kidney are not manufacturing good blood cells
Autoimmune Disorders - Liver stagnation due to poor transportation of energy support by Spleen
Joint and Muscle Pain - Toxin accumulation in Spleen and Liver
Leg or Arm Numbness - Poor circulation
Brain Fog - Weak energy support plus accumulation of phlegm
Management by TCM
It is a very complicated process that always starts with adjustment of diet. [Read more: TCM Dietary Advice]