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Gluten Linked to Autoimmune Liver Disease

Another research study investigated the connection between autoimmune liver disease and gluten. This study investigated whether children with combined autoimmune hepatitis and celiac disease had higher remission rates of hepatitis while on a gluten free diet. The conclusion of the study is below…
CONCLUSIONS:: Patients with AIH co-existing with CD achieve treatment-free sustained remission in a significantly higher proportion, when compared to patients with autoimmune liver disease without celiac disease, suggesting a possible long-term adjuvant effect of gluten free diet.
Source: J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2013 Feb 10.

Gluten Can Cause Liver Damage

There are hundreds of published medical studies on gluten and liver damage. The study above is just one more piece of medical evidence. Unfortunately, doctors don’t study nutrition and therefore often overlook this connection. If you want to look at additional studies, click here. I commonly see clients in my office who suffer with different forms of liver and gall bladder diseases. Sometimes the only symptoms are abdominal and right shoulder pain. Often times they have been diagnosed with non alcoholic fatty liver disease or gall stones. Many or these individuals are considering having surgery to remove their gall bladder. I would recommend anyone suffering with liver or gall bladder problems of unknown origin be genetically tested for gluten sensitivity. Celiac testing is too inaccurate and not definitive for those who have non-celiac gluten sensitivity. If you cannot afford testing or if you doctor won’t order it for you, go on a TRUE gluten free diet. You can also take this simple quiz to determine the likelihood for gluten sensitivity. Contrary to popular belief, a gluten free diet is safe even if you don’t have gluten issues. There is no requirement in the human diet for grains. This is simply a manufactured marketing effort by cereal companies.

No Gallbladder = Vitamin Deficiency

Remember, if you opt to have your gall bladder removed, you will lose some of your ability to absorb and digest fat properly. Vitamins A, D, E, and K as well as the omega 3 fatty acids all need a healthy gall bladder for proper absorption. The side effects of these nutritional deficiencies can be devastating. Vitamin D alone has been linked to more than 20 terminal cancers. 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…

Liver Damage = Skin Disease

In addition to gallbladder problems, liver damage can lead to skin damage. When the liver is over stressed, it can lose its ability to detoxify efficiently. Pollutants, drugs, potentially damaging chemical byproducts are all typically processed by the liver. When this vital organ can’t do its job, the skin is recruited to aid in the process. Common skin disorders connected to this are eczema and dermatitis. We can go on and on and on. The point is, gluten intolerance can cause liver and gall bladder problems. Most patients diagnosed with liver disease in the U.S. are told that their disease has no known cause. It makes sense to investigate gluten as a causative factor. Always looking out for you, Dr. Osborne – The Gluten Free Warrior If you found the article helpful, please forward it to someone you love #save100millionlives

30 Responses

  1. So, my diseased gallbladder was removed before I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance, does that mean I will most likely be doomed to a cancer diagnosis in the future? Sure gives me a whole lot to look forward to in life, now doesn’t it.

    1. It means that now that we do not have a gallbladder it is crucially important to supplement with bile salts, check vitamin d levels often, and other nutritional deficiencies. It isn’t so much the cancer that we need to look out for but rather the risk also of autoimmunity. Being ignorant of the importance of avoiding gluten is a major cause of disease it seems. I intend on continuously telling my family what they can do to avoid my mistakes. My life has changed but I better now so maybe I will have a better future outcome as long as I continue to educate myself in the role of diet and exercise.

  2. Its amazing to me the myriad of connections between some sort of gluten issue with a major health problem. Whats even more amazing is that this information is not well known, and is not mainstreamed as a leading cause of again a myriad of health problems.
    I wonder why do you?

  3. Sighhhhhhhh… a little over 3 years ago while talking with cousins about a family reunion I had a conversation with one of them about some of the things happening to my body and mind that alarmed me. The list of things everyone here is familiar with…years of intense migraines of the ophthalmic variety, bloating, achy joints and more recently brain fog. She suggested I try going without gluten for awhile (she had to explain what gluten is …lol )
    I had seen doctors and been given every test imaginable especially for the headaches and had gotten to the point that I refused any further medications to mask the symptoms. I demanded to know why…what is happening??? My Primary Care Physician said “you have too many things going on, I need to address them one at a time. (Wrong answer)
    None of the tests showed any reasons…but my cousin solved the problem. Within days I had a feeling of vitality, even euphoria…wow what a difference!!!
    I since changed doctors…my new doctor actually has CD herself and she concurs that gluten was my problem all along!!! …I have stayed off gluten, including oats and corn ever since,l and that meant it was meaningless to get a blood test for CD.

    Subsequently I had extreme pain one weekend…I had felt the pain under my rib-cage most of the summer, but thought it was just muscle soreness. That weekend the pain was too much so I went to the ER where I had x-rays and sonograms of the painful area, discovering that there was sludge in the bottom of my gallbladder. Under advice of the ER doctor I visited a surgeon seeking guidance. She poked and prodded me and advised I had a choice…get the gallbladder removed or just grin and bear it. I decided to have it removed…wise choice…even though I tolerated the pain well, my gallbladder was dead inside me and ready to burst, it had gangrene in several places and was told I was close to dying! She said it was the worst she had ever seen and couldn’t understand how I let her poke me.

    Now…the dilemma… my gallbladder is gone and tests reveal that Vitamin D is practically non-existent in my body and I am hypoglycemic to the extent that whenever the hospital conducts any tests they check my blood sugar and give me an IV before they can proceed. What can I do at this point to correct this???

    Since the gallbladder incident I have had the genetic tests for CD and biopsies of my upper GI tract and everything was negative for CD…major bummer, since I am so much healthier without gluten and it is so obvious I can’t tolerate it. Doctor’s advice:…continue the rest of my life without gluten…I can handle that, I would do it even without her advice because I am certainly better off without it….what can I do about Vitamin D and other deficiencies wit no gallbladder??? She fails to acknowledge any connection between loss of gallbladder and D deficiency…

  4. Dr.. Osborne what are your recommendations (other than adopting a gluten free diet) for people like me that had their gallbladder removed several years ago? , thank you !

  5. Wonderful information for everyone to know…
    A very important missing link to acquire..
    Much Appreciated,

  6. I too had my gallbladder removed. Tests show I’m not digesting fats properly. What can I do to heal? Please respond.

  7. My whole life I have noticed an elevation in Bilirubin in my blood tests. Even after being gluten free for three years!Can anyone offer an explanation for this?

    1. Yes Gluten Shield is safe for kids. Ages 5 and up can use 1-2 capsules before a meal. If capsules cannot be swallowed, you can break them open and mix with liquids.

  8. Curious as to why no recommendations as to possible next steps, as in what type of practitioner to see or what resources to use, to possibly or definitely remedy or treat the issue??

  9. Wondering what is recommended for a good liver flush/cleanse? I have multiple food sensitivities including apples. I would only be able to tolerate a short-term cleanse….not a week-long one as the same foods ingested on a daily basis will become sensitized to.


  10. Would gluten be an underlying cause of Klatskin Tumor? I am genetically sensitive to gluten and my dad died from this tumor.

      1. my mother no longer has a gallbladder. I did a little research and was told to use a “bile” supplement to help her with digestion but I do not see this in your enzyme formula? curious.

        1. Try Dr. Osborne’s ULTRA DIGEST. It is formulated specifically for those without a gall bladder or who need the additional cofactors found in this product.

  11. Thank you for this article. I’ve been gluten free just over a year due to problems of autoimmune hepatis, iron deficiency, and eczema on top of the typical symptoms. Since I wasn’t diagnosed with celiac disease it sometimes makes me feel that I’m making it all up. I still have some skin problems but thankfully no more liver issues. This is a nice reminder that gluten sensitivity is real and can cause real damage.

    1. Hello Angela,

      I realized this is an old post but hope you can tell me more about your story ? How long you’ve had AIH ? Did you have the autoimmune markers for AIH and how long before you realized that gluten was the problem since you were not celiac ?

      I have been dealing with AIH since 2004 and never had markers until 2014 – now diagnosed. Negative for celiac but I understand now test is not always correct. I have also learned that if condition goes untreated for too long than AIH can be triggered and irreversible – I believe this is now the situation for me.

      Now following gfd on my own since April 2019. I’m I very saddened to learn of how real this connection is and how doctors are aware of studies for decades and not sharing this with patients. If had this information 15 years ago maybe I would never have developed the disease while there was never an explanation for my elevated enzymes and it was all a mystery. It can’t hurt to have a patient try a gfd to see what happens and know you at least tried.

      thank you,

  12. I have been gluten free and grain free for over 2 years and gluten free for 3 years before that. I have suddenly developed dermatitis on my face and my naturopath told me my liver is not functioning as it should so I was happy to read in the article, confirmation that liver problems can cause this. However, what is causing the liver problems? That is the question. It certainly isn’t gluten or grain. Hmmm” Curiouser and curiouser” as Alice would say. Thanks so much for your blog.

  13. Had my gallbladder removed 3 years ago following lots of stones and painful stones in common bile duct. Now I’m experiencing the same agonising pains again. I live in the UK and am currently waiting for tests! I’ve been gluten free for 6 months but eating fats makes my symptoms worse. Had a blood test showed something wrong with liver function but need to see doctor next week. I’m limited on what I can eat and loosing weight now. What can I do?

  14. I stopped eating all breads 2 weeks ago. Everything I ate for breakfast included bread and I would likely eat it again in the evening as well as once or twice as part of a snack food during the day. The first thing I noticed was clearer thinking and more energy within the first week. But another area I noticed a huge improvement was in my bowel movements. For several years I have been suffering with bowel movements that I can only describe as being like modelling-clay in nature – very smooth and sticky in nature. For years I have been struggling to fully empty my bowel each time I visited the toilet and always felt that there was fecal matter still ‘up there’ (for want of a better expression) after wiping. This has led me to spend the last few years worrying that I had something seriously wrong with my bowel. But I am delighted to report that after 2 weeks of quitting bread, biscuits and cereal, this long-standing (and really quite depressing) problem has virtually disappeared! I am now able to just about expel all fecal matter out at each toilet visit, and there is so much more of it! For the first time in years, I feel very healthy ‘down there’ and more importantly…clean! I have still been drinking some beer and the occasional pasta dish, but WITHOUT ANY DOUBT WHATSOEVER it was the bread that has been causing my woes in recent years…or more to the point, the gluten bound within it. My advice to anyone who thinks they are sensitive/intolerant to gluten is to quit the bread first and go from there. I have pan-fried vegetables and tuna now for breakfast rather than a breakfast that includes bread and it has made all the difference. My hunger is far better under control as well!

  15. My liver function bili was up at 30 everything else with liver function is clear. My bowel movements I struggle to get the last bit out… i have terrible wind and bloating tummy at the end of the day… and putting on weight. Do you think i should try a gluten & Wheat free diet?

  16. 2 weeks ago Blood Test Results – Thyroid, Iron and Liver problems.
    Doctor marked it as non-urgent and await telephone consultation next Tuesday
    Not improving my situation because I have to wait for that call – very annoying.

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