March 2010

There seems to be a bit of controversy over celiac disease and the use of skin care products/cosmetics that contain gluten. It makes sense that if you have celiac disease, the use of these products should be avoided. However, as long as these products are used topically and not ingested, they are safe in most circumstances.  According to Dr. Michael Picco MD,  a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic, gluten-containing skin care products and cosmetics aren’t a problem unless you accidentally swallow them. For this reason, avoid using such products on your lips or around your mouth. For those of my readers with Dermatitis Herpetiformis, this is the cutaneous manifestation of celiac disease and is not actually a disease of the skin. Once again, according to Dr. Picco, although it involves the skin, DH is caused by ingesting gluten, not by skin contact with gluten. For more from Dr. Picco, follow this link,

 If a rash does develop after using a gluten-containing topical product, medical care should be sought. Much of the time, this is more a sign of a wheat/gluten allergy. In this case, care should be taken to avoid all products containing the allergen, both food and otherwise.

 I hope this goes a little way toward clearing up the confusion. I, personally, use a shampoo product that contains gluten. My tissue transglutaminase is perfect, as is the remainder of my celiac panel. I do, however, pay particular attention to my toothpaste, mouthwash and lipsticks. These are definite areas of contamination. Any questions regarding these types of products (ie. toothpaste, lipstick) should be directed to the manufacturing company to be perfectly sure of the ingredient list.

 Here’s to your health, and beauty!


A patient was accompanied by her mother to a recent office visit. Her mother brought me a book that she thought I would be interested in. I thanked her and thought to myself  “what more could this book have that the 50 other books I have read on celiac disease didn’t?” I should know by now that someone always knows more than me! So, I smugly opened the book figuring I would skim it, close it and shelve it. However, once I really started to read the book, I was amazed at how much it had to teach me. The book is called Recognizing Celiac Disease. The author is Cleo J. Libonati, RN, BSN with a forward by Dr. David M. Capuzzi, MD, PhD.

The book begins with an overview of the pathophysiology of celiac disease. There was not much here that most of us do not already know. The book then goes into pages upon pages of related conditions to celiac disease. For those who think this disease is some belly pain and diarrhea, think again. For 160 pages, the author expanded upon conditions with loose to strong associations to celiac disease. There were many conditions mentioned that I was unaware of and found to be fascinating. Conditions such as Cerebral Perfusion abnormalities, hemochromatosis (too much iron), vitiligo (loss of skin pigment), pulmonary hemosiderosis (bleeding into lungs that causes too much iron to accumulate) and many, many more that the author uncovered.

I found this book very helpful. Further, I believe it would be helpful to physicians who do not have as much knowledge of celiac disease. In this day and age, with more and more people being diagnosed, it would behoove everyone to learn more. This is a great place to start. The book is available online at I hope all of you find it as interesting as I did.

Natural Choices is a health food store in New Lenox, Illinois.  Sue, the owner, has a wide variety of gluten-free foods and what you don’t see , she will order for you. She recently got her first shipment of one of my personal favorites, Joan’s Gluten-Free Baked Goods.  She also carries products from The Grainless Baker, Roh and Jo’s, and many  more brands that we do not see everywhere else.  She is always willing to bring in products on someone’s suggestion, so do not hesitate to talk with her. 

 Should you want to visit Natural Choices, she is located at 1340 N. Cedar Road in New Lenox, Illinois. Her phone number is (815) 485-5572. I am sure I will see you there!

It seems as though colleges feel as if they may be immune to the American with Disabilities Act, section 504. Celiac Disease is considered a disability under the law. Today, alone, I had two phone calls regarding colleges not accommodating students with celiac disease.  These students are relying on the schools to provide nutritious meals that are in tuned with the food restrictions of the student. However, I am hearing that no such provisions are occurring.

 Section 504 of the American with Disabilites Act states that if the school accepts federal funding, whether it be in the form of federally funded student loans or otherwise, it must  make accommodations and modifications to address the needs of students with disabilities. Per Wright’s Law website,  “making accommodations and modifications means changing the way things are usually done in order to take into account a child’s disability-related needs. The regulations implementing these laws require that students with disabilities receive benefits and services comparable to those given their nondisabled peers”. Plain and simple, the schools are required by law to provide an equal meal to the gluten-intolerant portion of the school’s population as the gluten-tolerant portion of the student body is served.

 This topic is so important and relevent, that I am addressing it for a second time. If you would like to know more about Section 504, please visit There are many websites explaining the law. I thought this website, in particular, did a very good job of giving a layman’s synopsis.

 I find it imperative to become familiar with the law if you have celiac disease. You have been given certain rights under this law that you may enforce should it be necessary. If the school does not comply, there are several attorneys well-versed in the American with Disabilities Act that would be happy to help.

 If there are any of you who have fought a school on this front, and won,  I would love to hear your story. Please comment back so we can all share in your victory as it is a victory for all of us!

So, as promised, more on Cooper’s Hawk winery and restaurant. My husband and I dined at Cooper’s Hawk last evening and had another very nice experience. While awaiting our table, we participated in a wine tasting of the Cooper’s Hawk Label. The wines were superb. They have an excellent Riesling and a wonderful red holiday wine, served warm. Once seated, we were handed an exclusive gluten-free menu. No worries that we would have to navigate a mixed menu. There are many options to choose from, seafood, chicken and beef. There were several selections for salads and a full-page of sandwiches served on a gluten-free bun.  My husband and I both ordered a chicken dish and both were delicious. For desert, we topped off the meal with a decadent creme brulee.  We  paid a reasonable fee for all the food that we ate. Overall, I would rate this very high! To read more, go to

 I must sound like a food critic of late. However, I am so excited that restaurants here in the southern suburbs are finding  that it is lucrative to cater to those of us living a gluten-free lifestyle. Our lives are improving as are their wallets. It is the epitome of a mutually beneficial relationship. So, bon appetite!