The Autoimmune Disease Series: Five Naturopathic Strategies for Celiac Disease

October 8, 2016


Overview: Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that results from gluten protein presentation to immune cells and subsequent activation of pro-inflammatory T-cells and production of antibodies against gluten. This process causes destruction of the absorptive lining of the small intestine, called “villous atrophy,” and can lead to malabsorption of various nutrients from the diet.





Goals of Naturopathic Strategies:

  1. Eliminate gluten-containing grains and other food sensitivities from the diet to stop autoimmune reactivity, calm the immune system via immunomodulation

  2. Heal the gut and reduce intestinal permeability to prevent the immune system from encountering proteins like gluten

  3. Replace vitamins and minerals that have been deficient due to malabsorption


1. Find and remove triggers of autoimmunity & inflammation:

In celiac disease, removing gluten-containing grains from the diet ENTIRELY is crucial to resolution of the disease (1.)

To expedite restoration of intestinal integrity, it is essential to also correct a pro-inflammatory diet that is rich in other, non-gluten grains and refined sugar, saturated animal fat, dairy, and lack of fruits and vegetables, lack of exercise, regular exposure to harmful and toxic substances like mold and harsh cleaners, excessive daily stress, chronic infections, presence of genetic SNPs affecting proper metabolism of nutrients and toxin clearance, sleep deprivation, poor sleep quality, hormone imbalances, lack of proper hydration, and more.


2. Heal the gut & promote intestinal cell wall integrity

Eat an anti-inflammatory diet with emphasis on fruits, vegetables, and lean meats, healthy fat sources like coconut and olive oil, and reduction or elimination of grains, refined sugar, and dairy. Glutamine for enterocyte (gut cell) repair (2), a quality probiotic to establish healthy gut flora (3), and supplemental pancreatic enzymes can help restore gut function (4.)


3. Address common nutrient deficiencies associated with malabsorption (5)

Anemias are frequently associated with celiac disease, and should be diagnosed by your primary care physician. DON’T take iron unless you have been diagnosed with anemia! In addition, deficiencies in vitamin B12, folate, and fat-soluble vitamins, especially vitamins A, D, and K are common.


4. Omega 3 fatty acids from fish oil (EPA/DHA) (6)

Immunomodulation: Refers to influencing immune cells to mature into anti-inflammatory T-regulatory cells, rather than pro-inflammatory Th17 cells (7.) DHA/EPA upregulate T-regulatory cell activity and reduce Th17 cell activity by inhibiting the release of pro-inflammatory arachidonic acid and other pro-inflammatory factors in celiac disease.


5. Quercetin (8)

Oxidative stress in Celiac disease plays a significant role in intestinal cell damage and upregulation of inflammatory processes. Substances like quercetin scavenge free radicals and reduce inflammatory load.



Want to learn more about what Naturopathic medicine can offer for autoimmunity?


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