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Gluten & Hormone Imbalance

Gluten is a Hormone Disruptor

Gluten is EvilYou hear it, read it, and see it everyday. Commercials and ads for hormone therapy. For women it’s fix your thyroid, lose weight, stop your hot flashes, regulate your cycle, and control your acne. For men the message is increase your sex drive, muscle gains, energy, and improve your testosterone. Most of these ads lead to a clinic where a doctor is happy to prescribe any number of hormone treatments, but very few actually look at why your hormone levels are abnormal in the first place. [Enter Gluten] There are many diseases linked to gluten sensitivity. From arthritis to mental disorders to nutritional anemias, gluten can cause and contribute to an array of hormonal related health problems. A recent medical study demonstrates in multiple ways, how this toxic protein can lead to endocrine gland dysfunction
RESULTS: Short stature was the commonest presentation (25%), other presentations included short stature and delayed puberty (20%), delayed puberty (11%), screening for celiac disease in type-1 DM patients (17%), rickets (6%), anemia not responding to oral therapy (6%), type-1 DM with recurrent hypoglycaemia (6%), and osteomalacia (3%). The endocrine manifestations include (after complete evaluation) short stature (58%), delayed puberty (31%), elevated alkaline phospahatase (67%), low calcium (22%), X-rays suggestive of osteomalacia or rickets (8%), capopedal spasm (6%), and night blindness (6%). Anti-TPO antibody positivity was found in 53%, hypothyroidism in 28%, subclinical hypothyroidism in 17%, and type-1 DM in 25% of the patients. A total of 14% patients had no GI symptoms. CONCLUSION: Celiac disease is an endocrine disrupter as well as the great masquerader having varied presentations including short stature, delayed puberty, and rickets. Some patients who have celiac disease may not have any GI symptoms, making the diagnosis all the more difficult. Also, there is significant incidence of celiac disease with hypothyroidism and type-1 DM, making screening for it important in these diseases.  
Source: Indian J Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Dec;16(Suppl 2):S506-8.

Gluten Syndrome

Many experts think that gluten only effects the GI tract. The reality is that gluten can cause or contribute to more than 200 medical conditions. The study above is another demonstration of the far reaching impact of gluten on disease and dysfunction. The findings indicate that gluten can disrupt hormones and contribute to: In addition, gluten has also been linked to:
  • Low testosterone – in men this can contribute to weight gain around the gut, low libido, increased blood pressure and cholesterol, poor energy, and brain fog.
  • Endometriosis
  • Causing elevations in the hormone prolactin – this can contribute to irregular menstrual cycles, infertility, loss of libido, and bone loss.

What to do?

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with any of the above conditions, get genetically screened for gluten sensitivity. I have seen patients with every one of the conditions listed above who improved or resolved the issue with a TRUE gluten free diet. If you have one of the conditions above and you doctor tells you that it is not related to gluten exposure, get a second opinion. If you would like to know more about the spectrum of diseases related to gluten sensitivity, go read this now <<<

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It is time for doctors to start ruling out gluten sensitivity as well as other food intolerances, sensitivities, and allergies. It is time for doctors to start recognizing the therapeutic benefit of diet change. If you think that this information will help someone you love suffering with a hormone imbalance, please forward this along.

11 Responses

  1. I was diagnosed with Celiac’s about 4 months ago. I had no classic GI symptoms and discovered it only after my brother had several health issues that led to his discovery of having Celiac’s. Mine was discovered with the blood test that his doctor told all our family members to have done. I had a colonosocopy/endoscopy done in January and the doctor noticed only what he described as “mild irritation” on the esophigus and intestine. I do experience significant joint(knees, hips, shoulders) and lower back pain, as well as significant muscle stiffness in my legs, upper back and chest and periodic tingling in my legs. This all started about 6 months ago and doesn’t seem to be getting any better regardless of starting on a gluten-free diet about 3 months ago. I have no idea if there is a connection between all of this and the gluten/Celiac’s. Is there much evidence that gluten would cause these symptoms (and if so) why would things not be improving with a gluten-free diet? Thanks for any insight.

    1. Hi Robert,
      Yes, there is ample evidence that gluten can cause your symptoms. You should check out this video and article on what to do when going gluten free doesn’t work –
      It sounds like you might have developed a neuropathy. This is a common side effect of vitamin B12 deficiency.

      Let me know how you do.
      All the best,
      Dr. O

  2. Hello Dr. O – I refer many people to your website. Thanks for your leadership! Q: Does this study indicate that gluten directly disrupts hormones and causes these conditions? Or that once the damage is started in the GI tract from gluten (whether you are aware of the damage or not) all these other conditions are ripe for occurrence? Also, do you recommend that everyone, regardless of genetics, ween themselves off of grains or limit their intake? Should we be aiming towards grain free diet in your opinion? Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Sally,
      There are multiple mechanisms at play. 1. Gluten induced malnutrition causes hormone dysfunction and deficiency. 2. Gluten itself has been shown to create autoimmune hormone disruption.
      There is no one right diet for everyone. I would encourage people to move away from unhealthy foods. Regarding grains, much of them are GMO or hybridized to contain greater quantities of gluten, or highly processed, or grown with chemicals. That being said, I would say people should avoid these types of grains as a general rule because they are not healthy 🙂
      All the best,
      Dr. O

  3. Okay. Now that we have this information, and your doctor isn’t convinced of anything other than going on medicine…where can a person go? Are there doctors who specialize in the whole body for celiac sprue? with all of the conditions, when diet alone doesn’t help? I am currently on a paleo/gluten free lifestyle and I have had Hoshimoto’s hypothyroidism for 18 years along with a mess of other symptoms. What direction should I go?

  4. Dr.O… Me and my brother have extreme muscle tightness leading to subluxation and weak muscles. No amount of stretching has helped to fix our problems. We are both in shape (as well as we can be). It just slowly has taken over our lives. Ive been grain free about a year or 10 months and stopped quinoa about 4-5 months ago. Has not helped. His testosterone is low and while i have not tested, I have noticed a huge increase in labido when i take zinc or a calcium pill that contains boron,zince, vit d. Any guesses ??? Thank you from the bottom of my heart

    1. Jake,
      You both need to have a Spectracell test done to evaluate your nutritional status. As far as zinc and calcium are concerned:
      Zinc is necessary to build testosterone.
      Calcium regulates how your hormones communicate with your DNA.
      Let me know how it turns out.
      All the best,
      Dr. O

  5. I’ve been gf and df for over a decade and still have issues with hormones (amenorrhea, adrenals, thyroid, pcos), and autoimmune and gi issues (chronic constipation, nerve damage resulting in neurogenic bowel and Gastroparesis…). So, going gf and df didn’t do much. What else do I do? My diet is already very limited and centers on green juices, veggies, and other healthy foods. I’ve been to a plethora of docs (allopathic and alternative), to no avail

    Also, thoughts on tests such as the hair mineral analysis and nutreval?

    Ps, I also gave chronic dysbiosis, which I cannot resolve, despite taking enzymes, herbs/supps, eating low carb and no sugar…

    The only way I can have a bm now (due to the nerve damage and sluggish gi tract) is with daily morning coffee enemas, which help ease my pain, muscle soreness (cfs, fms), and toxicity and such.

    Not a fun way to live

  6. Hey, so i’m 19 years old and i was diagnosed with Celiac disease at the age of 12, my stomach is still on the healing process, however i’ve been cheating on my diet and consuming gluten for 2 years now ( i know it’s wrong but i’m getting back on track now) , well i’ve always had irregular periods from time to time but since i got back to gluten i have been skipping periods every once and a while and now it’s been 2 months since i had my last period and i am very worried ( FYI: i stopped having sex before my last period) i’m really confused , could this be caused by gluten?

    1. Jenny,
      The simple answer is YES. Gluten can cause a loss of your cycle. You definitely want to take the diet more seriously.
      All the best,
      Dr. O

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