December 2009


I would like to offer my congratulations to Mr. Tony Deany on his election to the post of president of the Celiac Sprue Association of Greater Chicago. We wish him luck in his coming year and look forward to witnessing his accomplishments. The CSAGC is a wonderful resource for all people in northern Illinois living with celiac disease. From advice to restaurant critiques to fundraising, this organization is an advocate for all of us. I strongly recommend joining and supporting this worthwhile cause. To learn more, please go to csagc.park-ridge.il.us/aboutus.html .

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A patient called me earlier today regarding an antibiotic, amoxicillin, prescribed to her by her dentist. Upon receiving the prescription,  the patient, being the good celiac that she is, called her local pharmacist to confirm that the drug was gluten-free. The pharmacist “double-checked” the ingredients and told her that the drug had wheat, barley, rye and oat in the inert ingredients as fillers. The pharmacist was asked if he was sure of his information, as those just happen to be all the same foods that we as celiac patients cannot have. He stated that he was aware of the restrictions in this condition and he was sure. This same patient then called asking me if there was another antibiotic that would be safe for her to take. At this point, I felt as if I were in a tunnel that was closing in around me.  How many times had I prescribed amoxicillin to my celiac patients without being sure it was gluten-free?  The research bell then went off in my head and the phone calls started. I spoke with a very helpful person at the FDA who gave me an even more helpful PUBLIC website to check on ingredients in drugs. The website is http://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/about.cfm  Once on the website, type in the drug in question. The site will then navigate to a page with a listing of every manufacturer making that drug, both brand and generic forms. Click on the formulation you would like to check and it will take you to the prescribing reference . Scroll down to the bottom of this page and there is a listing of every ingredient in the drug, both active and inert.

 To make a long story a bit shorter, absolutely no formulation of amoxicillin  listed had any gluten. But the whole saga was worth the time and energy to come upon this resource. Good luck!

Dr. Oz had a show on celiac disease yesterday. There has been quite a bit of buzz about it. It is wonderful that the mainstream media is picking up on this topic and bringing it to the forefront. The more attention this topic gets, the more money donated  for research, the closer we get to real pizza!( just kidding!)

 I can admit that I did not see the entire section on celiac disease.  However, there were two points that I felt were misrepresented and would like to comment on. First, Elizabeth Hasselback made a blanket statement that ALL instant coffees have gluten. I can only imagine the thousands of coffee cups that hit the floor at that moment. However, the statement is false. I contacted Nescafe, a very large manufacturer of instant coffee, to determine the validity of this statement. They stated that their instant coffees are made from ground whole bean coffee and nothing else. If anyone has a question regarding the purity of a product, I suggest calling the company directly rather than accepting someone else’s word. Imagine how much could be missed out upon if we all believed the rumors churning in the mill.

 Second,  Mz. Hasselback stated that most people lose weight on a gluten-free diet. This is false on many levels. Acutally, most celiac patients gain weight on a gluten-free diet. In fact, it is one of the positive responses we look for in a newly diagnosed celiac. Following the induction of a gluten-free diet in a celiac patient, the villi of the small intestine begin to heal . It is at this point that nutrients from the food eaten are finally absorbed after years of malabsorption. This is where we begin to see a mild weight gain. Again, this is a positive response. Agreed that one does attain more energy through this process. I am not sure I agree that it is enough to lose the weight that was placed after the initiation of the diet. Further, I find the statement worrisome in that there are many individuals who are desperate for weight loss options. Going gluten-free sounds easy, especially if they think it will help them to lose weight. What will then develop is a subset of partially treated, undiagnosed celiac patients . Going gluten-free requires a large amount of research and should not be used as a weight loss tool. If it not done properly, and the patient has celiac disease ( either known or unknown), small amounts of continued inflammation will continue to occur and lead to all of the detrimental complications we fear so much. Word to the wise, do not engage in a gluten-free lifestyle unless told to by your doctor. It is not to be used as a  weight loss tool!

 I am grateful to people like Dr. Oz who have the power to touch many lives. It is also my hope that many lives were changed by yesterday’s broadcast. I just want to keep all the information valid so people can make fully informed decisions regarding their health.