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Gluten Intolerance and Liver Disease – Is There a Connection?

gluten and liver disease
  Above is a screen shot recently taken from the National Library of Medicine on gluten and liver disease…   More than 250 scientific studies have linked gluten sensitivity to liver and gallbladder disease. In the medical review below, the following liver conditions were linked to gluten intolerance:
  1. Reactive hepatitis ( coeliac hepatitis)
  2. Every one wants to perform a detox at the beginning of the year, but very few people realize that diet change is an essential element for this. Especially as it relates to gluten and your liver function Autoimmune liver disorders including – Autoimmune hepatitis, Autoimmune overlap syndrome, Autoimmune (sclerosing) cholangitis, and Primary biliary cirrhosis
  3. Cholecystitis (gallbladder disease)
  4. Non alcoholic fatty liver disease
  5. Acute liver failure
  6. Cryptogenic cirrhosis
  7. Regenerative nodular hyperplasia
  8. Hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer)
a wide spectrum of liver injuries in children and adults may be related to CD and in particular: (1) a mild parenchymal damage characterised by absence of any clinical sign or symptom suggesting a chronic liver disease and by non-specific histological changes reversible on a gluten-free diet; (2) a chronic inflammatory liver injury of autoimmune mechanism, including autoimmune hepatitis, primary sclerosing cholangitis and primary biliary cirrhosis, that may lead to fibrosis and cirrhosis, generally unaffected by gluten withdrawal and necessitating an immunosuppressive treatment; (3) a severe liver failure potentially treatable by a gluten-free diet. Such different types of liver injuries may represent a spectrum of a same disorder where individual factors, such as genetic predisposition, precocity and duration of exposure to gluten may influence the reversibility of liver damage.”


Indian J Pediatr 2006; 73 (9) : 809-811.

The Gluten Free Warrior’s Stance:

Liver disease can be fatal. It has been well established that viral infection and alcohol can both damage the liver. However; there are many who suffer with liver disease unrelated to either. The cause for many of these conditions is unknown.
  • 500,000 gall bladder surgeries are performed in the U.S. annually. Up to 40% of these surgeries have complications afterwards.
  • Non alcoholic fatty liver (NAFL) disease affects as many as 1/3 or U.S. adults.
The big question is why? What is causing damage to the liver and gallbladder in so many individuals? Is the answer surgery? If gluten intolerance can cause all of the above conditions, shouldn’t we perform routine genetic screening for gluten sensitivity in those with liver disease of unknown origin before taking out their organs? Now consider that liver disease can cause high cholesterol… Cholesterol medications can cause liver disease…Liver disease contributes to blood sugar abnormalities…contributes to fatigue…contributes to weight gain…contributes to fatty liver…

Gluten intolerance linked to liver disease

We can go on and on and on. The point is, gluten intolerance can cause liver problems. Most liver disease in the U.S. has no known cause. It makes sense to investigate gluten as a causative factor. Know someone with liver disease? Please share this with them.

Learn More about Liver Detox Below

Gluten and liver detox   Dr. Osborne – The Gluten Free Warrior

24 Responses

  1. Oh wow is all can say! I was at the piont frm jan tll mar i couldnt eat everything made me sick they removed my gallbladder and i still was sick. In sept i was diagnosed with sooomany food intolerances ive removed all items frm my diet but still do not feel 100% these drs dont want to believe many problems come from food cause they wont mke all the money theymke or sell all these drugs to us. Its sad. Only doctor that believes these food intolerances is my chiro. The drs also said i had some cysts in my liver but thats ‘normal’ i dont knw is it??

  2. I have been diagnosed with CD and have a hard time finding foods for myself and I now have been diagnosed with Lupus and Heb. I now wonder if it all can be related to my health problems.

  3. My mother diet from primary hepatic biliary cirrhosis in 2002, and at the time the doctors had no idea what caused it, two years later I found out it was caused by gluten sensitivity. She didn’t have Celiac disease, she only had migraines caused from the sensitivity to gluten. Interesting that only 30% of all gluten issues are actually gastrointestinal, also interesting is how it shows up in different ways in family members. There are 10 of us in an extended family and 8 of us all have gluten sensitivity: aunt has celiac, didn’t listen to me and found out when she was 75 years old, and found that she could put weight on and didn’t need a nap everyday for the first time in her life after getting off it, cousin has MS, sister has hashimotos, daughter has Graves disease, other sister has migraines, 3 of us have severe constipation affected by dairy and gluten. Scary scary stuff! Wonder what genetically modified foods are going to be causing 10-20 years down the road!

  4. Dr. O,
    Most of my family has gluten issues in one form or another. Only my sister has been dx’d as celiac, but my dad has suffered the most. For years, he suffered from almost daily migraines and itchy rashes. He was also having TIAs (they say they are precursor to stroke), though after much testing the drs. weren’t able to find a cause. Then, about a year ago, he was dx’d with stomach cancer and esophageal varicies, a life threatening condition. The dr. was just sure that Dad was a heavy drinker. I started researching and learned from this site that (since he isn’t a drinker), gluten might be a problem for his liver. While waiting for the drs. to decide how to proceed, my dad gave up all the breads, etc. he loved. Within a couple days, his headaches and rash disappeared. He has not had a TIA since. Most importantly, the esophageal varicies disappeared. The dr. was astonished that they were gone but REFUSED TO ACKNOWLEDGE that it could possibly be attributed to gluten. Honestly, if we didn’t have the drs. pictures before and after we wouldn’t have believed it either. We all feel that it is the only possible explanation. Thank you just doesn’t cover it!

  5. My husband has suffered for years with auto-immune diseases.. thyroid; Crohn’s and liver disease. He had a liver transplant in 2007 due to Autoimmune (sclerosing) cholangitis. I’m just now seeing the connection between what we were told were auto-immunce diseases and gluten allergies. What do we do now to prevent any more gluten related issues?

      1. What food tests do you recommend for food sensitivities? I’ve been GF for 3 years, but have not alleviated all my symptoms. Have Hashimoto’s now and I can’t lower my antibodies. I tried AIP but still felt sick. And I had my gallbladder removed almost 10 years ago. Wish I knew this connection then.

        1. Deborah,
          Sorry to hear of your struggles. There are several different types of tests that need to be assessed to evaluate food allergies and sensitivities. Have you worked with a functional medicine doctor? I would recommend that you do. This can be a very challenging puzzle to solve without proper testing and assessment. You can call my office at 281-240-2229. You might also consider watching the Autoimmune Revolution Summit – particularly the two hour presentation I give called the Autoimmune Matrix.
          All the best,
          Dr. Osborne

  6. WOW!! I was recently diagnosed with a fatty liver that is enlarged! I had my gallbladder out about 6 yrs. ago. I have been suffering for quite some time now from chronic constipation, excessive stomach bloating and pain from my liver! Scared of course I drastically changed my diet to exclude anything white, ie: bread, pasta, rice, as well as soda, refined sugars etc etc. Basically just eating fruits, veggies, lean meats,nuts,etc. I could not believe how much better I felt after just 1 week!! Today, 3 weeks later, I* splurged and ate a sub from Subway (sorry subway! lol) I have been suffering ALL evening!! Does this sound like a gluten problem…im thinking YES!! So gladf to have found this site!

  7. My five years old daughter is suffering from celiac disease and she always compliant of stomach pain what should I do plz tell me?

  8. My son is 19 he’s been suffering now for 12 months he’s list nearly 5 stone he’s just withered away,this started 12 months ago complaining of tummy ache,bloated.vomiting.weight loss bowel problems.he’s been seeing a specialist since January this yr.i also suffer with an intolerance myself so automatically thought ? is it an intolerance that he may have so decided to put him on a gf diet he’s slowly starting to feel well again.only to find out yesterday that is bilirubin is high tests his liver,I’m so worried ? can anyone help me and tell me if this could be gluten causing this liver problem thanx ☺

  9. Diagnosed with a cyst on my liver. Dr said I can have it removed if it bothers me. Sometime after a meal there can be a little ache or pain. My question is do you absolutely have to go with surgery or is there another way to get rid of the cyst. Thax

  10. Hello Dr Osborne,

    I have Hashimoto’s and 5 years ago I stopped eating gluten. I had huge improvement in my health and many of my symptoms disappeared. But some remained to this day. All of my food allergy tests show reaction to gluten and to wheat, and I do react to gluten. Few months ago I did a genetic testing from 23 and me, and it showed that I have 0 variants detected on HLA DQA1 and HLA DQB1, so I do not have Celiac disease. The test limitation, according to 23 and me, is that it does not ” cover other potential gluten or wheat related conditions”.
    So I was searching for the other test that will cover gluten sensitivity and found your web site, but as far as I can see the genetic test you are offering is the same like 23 and me.
    Do you think I should use your test? Will it provide more information i.e. gluten sensitivity?
    Or do you think, since the same genetic variants are tested it is not necessary to do it again?
    Thank you

    1. Unlike 23 and Me, our genetic test covers all known alleles for gluten sensitivity. 23 and me only looks for gene patterns called HLADQ2 and HLA DQ8. Our test measures for additional patterns – Non Celiac gluten sensitive patterns. So the short answer to your question is yes, our test will give you a much more comprehensive look into whether or not the gluten free diet is right for you based on your genetics.
      All the best!

  11. Very very interesting article! I have been gluten free for 15 months as well as dairy, alcohol, processed foods, sugar except for fruits. I was having a lot rashes and am just wondering if this could have been just liver related.

    Would your blood test reveal gluten issues?

  12. I was diagnosed with enlarged liver in 2005 @ 21yrs old, was told to stop alcohol by doc, which I did. Tried vegan, low carb, low sugar, vegetarian, pescatarian, but this niggling pain kept coming back. After 15 years and many n many scans and tests the docs can only tell me there is cysts and I have gilbert’s and the pain is all in my head. The pain I have gone through over the years, to be told its in my head. Anyway, this year I have finally resolved the pain and I feel great. No coffee or tea or alcohol and I cut all grains. I limit dairy to just cheese I eat a bit of dark chocolate, I eat plenty of fruits and vegetables,meat, fish, eggs and 3 ltrs of water per day. I hope this can help someone else in my situation.

  13. There is now a blood test for gluten sensitivity that picks up Transglutaminase 6 (and auto-antibody). This is a different test to Coeliac, but GP’s are not aware of it as it is not available to them.

    This is why gluten sensitivity is still a myth to GP’s. It’s not their fault.

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