Celiac disease & TCM

Yesterday I was strangely tested when during a lunch meeting my young friend sternly corrected me that he had Celiac disease and there was no cure available.

I did point out that he might want to study everything there was available about the dilemma he seemed confronted with, especially in fact of his youth and having to deal and balance his ailment for many years – there might be solutions to milder or better his condition. He tested me with a very Western general question: “Are you saying TCM can cure me?”

There is so much response in his rejecting defense and a lunch break in a busy shopping mall is not fitting a scenario to reflect to his high-energy and self-confident loaded ponder. Equally, I remember a sentence expressed by Lao Tzu that “he who knows does not speak; he who speaks does not know.”

For the bloggers searching for a cure or quick solution about Celiac disease, let me put the facts at the beginning. Yes, there are several solutions to better the condition for anyone with digestive or autoimmune disorder. TCM offers no monolithic perspective on treating gluten intolerance as it is diagnosed in modernity, but the symptoms, treatments and positive effects for digestive help are well respected, understood and documented by Eastern medicine practitioners for hundreds of years.

You will never hear a respected TCM practitioner using the word cure or healing. Modern TCM science clearly demonstrates that with precise efforts great results can been achieved in making the condition of people severely affected by Celiac disease manageable and sometimes even reverse the condition to norm.

To the young man at lunch, I wanted to point out that his dilemma had already affected him – not just physiologically. From my humble distance, I think he is a great person, a strong-minded individual because of the inherited genes that have influenced his ways of dealing with his circumstance. Often people will not embrace any idea of change because that would require a changed perspective towards oneself and having to seriously study new ideas and abandon toxic Western medicines concealing the symptoms.

Often, people with a handicap are defined by their condition. I walked away from the lunch meeting with a strong sense that even if I could “cure” him it would be taking away the very essence that gave him the drive to become himself and now was not the time to change what seemingly keeps him in balance with life. A rescue swimmer might know such a scenario: You can’t help someone that screams and fights – they will most likely take you down with them; you have to wait in a safe distance until their energy faints or they come to embrace someone’s intention to aid.

Back to the Celiac dilemma: Being intolerant to food is often a good thing, not a bad one as proclaimed in most information available about gluten intolerant articles.

It is not a disease from the perspective of TCM: It demonstrates merely a disharmony of organ functions and with very little observation (tongue, pulse, talk and touch) – solutions are available to better most people dealing with these conditions.

Since this is a general blog I will give you a general advice: It’s perfectly okay not to consume wheat products that are puffed, sticky and merely fill your belly with quick conversion to carbohydrates. When starch enters the body it is digested by enzymes in your mouth and stomach via amylase – which turns the starch into maltose – which brakes down to maltase, into glucose – which can then be used for respiration. However, if you are not active (exercise, yoga, brain use) it turns to stubborn fat, the kind hard to get rid of!

Celiac is referred to the inability of your body to deal with celiac sprue (a gluten-sensitive enteropathy) This digestive and autoimmune disorder causes damage to the villi, the hair-like structures on the lining of the small intestine (mucosa) when foods with gluten are eaten. Glutens are a form of protein found in some grains and for unknown reasons (current research pins to genetic manipulated food sources) your own digestive enzymes attack your stomach lining instead of breaking down starch. The damage to the intestine makes it hard for the body to absorb nutrients, especially fat, calcium, iron, and folate.

Currently we have a worldwide epidemic of this condition. Kids are born with starch sensitivity, possibly a reaction to our modern food consumption. An inherited gene will cause a series of side-effects that are treated in Western medicine with a combination of medicines that often cause elevated sensitivity and toxicity to the very organs already stressed by the original condition.

Eastern medicine would activate supporting organs to strengthen your digestive track and balance the responsibilities of supporting organs; In this scenario the harmony of Pancreas and Spleen needs to be supported with foods that are ideal for their activity i.e. Yam, Butternut Squash, Mango, Pears, Walnut, Sesame, Lemon and Ginger…

If you have a personal experience or would like to consult with me about your condition please share your thoughts on this public forum.

TCM chef Raphael