Can Mind-Body Techniques
Improve Celiac Disease
For adults and children diagnosed with celiac disease, the only
treatment is a gluten-free diet, which can be very challenging.
Gastroenterologists at Rush University Medical Center are conducting
a new study to see if mind/body techniques could help patients with
celiac disease adhere to the very strict diet.
disease is a lifelong, digestive disease affecting children
and adults. People who have celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten,
a protein found in almost all food products as well as medicines,
vitamins and lip balms. Gluten can damage the small intestine
and interfere with absorption of nutrients from food.
"Eating even a small amount of gluten can damage the small
intestine," said Dr. Ali Keshavarzian, vice chairman of medicine
and gastroenterologist at Rush. "The damage will occur in
anyone with the disease, including people without noticeable symptoms."
Hidden sources of gluten are sometimes additives such as modified
food starch, preservatives and stabilizers made with wheat. Also,
many corn and rice products are produced in factories that also
manufacture wheat products, and can be contaminated with wheat
"The purpose of this study is to determine whether participation
in one of two mind/body courses can help patients cope with the
restricted diet," said Keshavarzian. "It can be very
hard and stressful for people with celiac disease to stick to
a gluten-free diet."
In order to heal existing intestinal damage and prevent further
damage, individuals diagnosed with Celiac disease must avoid gluten
for the rest of their lives. Patients have to be trained by a
health professional on how to read ingredient lists and identify
foods that contain gluten in order to make informed decisions
when grocery shopping or eating out.
"Going to restaurants or dinner at a friend's house can
pose dangers to a person with celiac disease," said Keshavarzian.
"It can really impact a person's quality of life."
For most people, following a gluten-free diet will stop symptoms,
heal existing intestinal damage, and prevent further damage. Improvement
begins within days of starting the diet. The small intestine usually
heals in three- to six-months in children but may take several
years in adults. A healed intestine means a person now has villi
that can absorb nutrients from food into the bloodstream.
Patients enrolled into the Celiac disease and mind/body study
at Rush will be randomly assigned to two course assignments for
eight weeks. Patients eligible for the study must be over 18 years
of age, have received a diagnosis of celiac disease in the past
four weeks or within two weeks of starting a gluten-free diet,
and have not previously attempted a gluten-free diet.
January 18, 2010