Celiac Disease or Gluten Allergy according to TCM
Gluten allergy, in other words celiac disease, is a life-long auto-immune disease in the eyes of modern medicine. Gluten is a composite of gliadin and glutenin proteins that can be found in wheat, barley and rye, but some people with the allergy can also react to oats, which contain a protein similar to glutenin – avenin.
Gluten can be commonly found in baked goods and pasta, but it is often hidden in a wide variety of other foods such as salami, salad dressings or beer. A gluten-free diet can offer sufficient nutrition, but there is a danger of fibre deficiency and a resulting indigestion due to the potential lower grain intake. That is why it is important to consume enough fibre-rich foods on a gluten-free diet such as vegetables and legumes. Millet, buckwheat, corn, rice and amaranth are especially recommended.
A strict gluten-free diet is a fundamental therapeutic step for people with a gluten allergy. When it is observed, the gastric mucosa regenerates; however, every violation of the diet, no matter how small, can immediately put strain on the gastric wall and its functionality. Once a gluten allergy has been diagnosed and a gluten-free diet started, it is beneficial, in some cases, to eliminate cow’s milk and products made from cow’s milk from one’s diet for a limited time period.
How to diagnose gluten allergy?
- If someone has unexplained digestive problems, it is recommended to try strictly eliminating the main food allergens, i.e. cow’s milk and/or gluten, for the period of several weeks (approx. 4–6).
- If gluten allergy has been diagnosed, gluten must be completely eliminated from one’s diet, upon which the problems usually disappear and the gastric mucosa regenerates.
If someone is interested in causal treatment of the problem, it is also recommended to try diagnosis and subsequent therapy according to TCM:
The Approach of Traditional Chinese Medicine
According to Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), gluten allergy, allergy to the protein in cow’s milk, lactose intolerance and other food allergies are in fact various forms of energy deficiency at the level of the spleen channel. However, this condition has nothing to do with spleen diseases known in modern medicine. TCM views the spleen as responsible for digestion, and its energy imbalance manifests in digestive problems (e.g. celiac disease). The original cause of energy deficiency in the spleen can be an inherited disposition, unhealthy diet, inappropriate diet, stress, lifestyle or the repeated use of antibiotics and hormones (hormonal contraception included), which “cool down the digestive system”, exhaust yang energy of the spleen and worsen usability of nutrients from food by damaging the relationship between the spleen and the stomach. Digestive problems caused by gluten allergy can therefore be best solved by a combination of a diet and TCM herbal therapy, always after an accurate TCM diagnosis.
Celiac disease therapy according to TCM
will, aside from gluten-free diet, consist of:
- Strengthening the spleen PI QI XU
- Drying dampness SHI
- Cooling (HAN) or warming (RE) of the body depending on the type of constitution
1. Strengthening the spleen
- strengthens the spleen PI QI and XU and drains dampness SHI
- clears phlegm TAN and removes blockades YU
- cools down heat RE and clears heat toxins RE DU
- strengthens energy QI of the kidneys and the lungs
- adjusts energy QI and harmonises the middle burner
The main herb in the herbal mixture is Job’s tears YI YI REN. It is unique in that it strengthens the body (kidneys, spleen, lungs) without “burning own reserves stored in the kidneys” and clears harmful substances from the body (heat toxins, dampness and phlegm), which means the herb does not match its name, “Job’s tears”; on the contrary, it tries to make everything better. It is basically the ideal breakfast for the people of today (in the form of an instant powder) who need to strengthen their body (without side effects) and drain the body of undesirable deposits (from smoked meat etc.); put in today’s jargon – detox and harmonise. The remaining 10% of the blend contains mandarin orange peel CHEN PI – it is sour and can drain, it is pungent and can dissolve, it is warm and can harmonise, it is aromatic and can dry, thereby helping the spleen “awaken”. Its ability to treat hundreds of diseases lies simply in using its effects to regulate qi energy QI and dry dampness and dissolve phlegm TAN.
Daisy turning pink (code 065) also strengthens qi energy of the spleen PI QI XU, drains harmful dampness SHI and nourishes insufficient blood in the liver XUE XU, eliminates food stagnation JI SHI and harmonises digestion. It is the ideal herbal product for people of today, especially women who suffer from digestive problems (celiac disease, flatulence, pressure around the belly button…) that are often linked to the use of hormonal contraceptives.
2. Drying dampness
A. Urination support
Foods that significantly support urination without hurting the kidneys at the same time (like chemical diuretics) are small red adzuki beans, corn, millet, soy beans and garlic.
B. Draining liquids from body tissues
Foods that dry the body are mainly Job’s tears, hyacinth beans and broad bean. They are aromatic foods that absorb water and so stop, for example, even diarrhoea. They exceptionally absorb water from body tissues that is later excreted in urine. These special foods are not grown in our country but they are imported, e.g. Job’s Tears – White Pearl of the East (code 910).
3. Cooling or warming of the body depending on the type of constitution
Whether someone’s constitution is damp/heat or damp/cold can be found out by completing the Good Diet Test, promptly and for free.
A. Cooling of the body supports drainage of dampness – DAMP/HEAT TYPE – SHI/RE
Foods the cool the body are mungo beans and courgette. These foods do not only significantly cool down the body, mungo beans also have a detoxifying, simply said blood-cleansing, effects on our bodies, thereby helping in the treatment of skin inflammation, eczema and internal inflammation in people with the damp/heat constitution. The strategy is to cool the body and so help water to drain. Herbal blends used are e.g. Banquet of five tastes (code 105) or Calming of rough water (code 062).
B. Warming of the body supports drainage of dampness – DAMP/COLD TYPE – SHI/HAN
Foods that warm the body and have a strong, sweet taste are fresh ginger and ground cinnamon (not cinnamon sugar!). These foods have hot or warm energy and a spicy-sweet taste. Hot and warm energy warms the body that subsequently makes dampness evaporate, the spicy taste causes sweating that drains dampness, and the sweet taste supports excretion of urine. A stick of cinnamon checks all of these. Fresh ginger also warms the body and drains dampness through sweat. The goal is to warm the body so that water starts draining from the body either in the form of urine or sweat. Herbal blends used are e.g. Harmony of Magic Change (code 063) or Dancer from the Pear Orchard (code 022).