coeliac disease herbal medicine treatment
Herbal Treatment of Coeliac disease
How many people have coeliac disease in the UK?
Tthere are around 125,000 people who have been diagnosed with coeliac disease. However, recent studies show that 1 in 100 people have coeliac disease which means there are almost another 500,000 people who have undiagnosed coeliac disease.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms are very variable but can include tiredness, diarrhoea, anaemia, abdominal discomfort, weight loss, vomiting and mouth ulcers but some people don’t have any symptoms at all. Children with coeliac disease can have the same symptoms but if left untreated can suffer from weight loss and stunted growth.
Dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) is a skin manifestation of coeliac disease, which also usually affects the gut – although the gut is damaged by gluten, gut symptoms are not always seen. People with DH react to gluten by developing itchy, sore blisters on the skin – particularly on the elbows, knees and buttocks. Some people with previously diagnosed coeliac disease can also get DH
What you do if you think you have coeliac disease?
Your herbal practitioner will advise you to get an appointment with your GP to arrange investigative diagnosis. Diagnosis involves having a blood test followed by a gut biopsy (a fine tube passed down your throat into your stomach) done under sedation at your local hospital by a gastroenterologist. Unfortunately, because general awareness of coeliac disease, even amongst GPs, is poor there are some GPs who are not as familiar with the disease as others. So if you think your symptoms fit the bill, do persevere with your GP and ask for a blood test. Don’t cut out gluten until you are correctly diagnosed, otherwise antibodies necessary for the diagnosis won’t be detected. Once it has been confirmed return to your medical herbalist for treatment.
How is it treated by herbal medicine?
Management is a total gluten-free diet for life under professional dietition. When you are first diagnosed you will see a dietitian who will guide you through the steps of changing your diet. It may take a while to get your diet sorted out but with perseverance you will get there.
You have to remember that before diagnosis the gut has been damaged by taking in gluten, often for a long time. By switching to a gluten-free diet the gut will start to heal but this can take anything from 6 months up to 2 years. However, most people feel better in the first few weeks.
Your medical herbalist will prescribe for you a herbal medicine that will help you with all your symptoms; the herbs will also improve your gut lining.