Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease characterized by abnormal mucosa in the small intestines. This disease is aggravated by gluten found in wheat, barley, oats and rye. Coeliac disease usually begins in the first three years of life. However, it may manifest itself for the first time in adult life too. The commonest features are diarrhea, weight loss and anemia. Other features are finger clubbing, dermatitis, amenorrhea and infertility.
Ideally, the body’s immune system is designed to protect it from foreign invaders. But when people with coeliac disease eat foods containing gluten, their immune system regards gluten as a foreign invader and forms antibodies to attack the intestinal lining. This causes inflammation in the intestines and damages the villi, which are hair-like structures on the lining of the small intestine.
Nutrients from food are generally absorbed by the villi – if the villi are damaged an individual cannot absorb nutrients properly and ends up malnourished irrespective of what or how much they eat.
Symptoms of coeliac disease include:
- Digestive problems such as abdominal bloating, gas, diarrhea and weight loss.
- Severe skin rashes.
- Iron deficiency, anemia (low blood count).
- Muscle cramps, joint and bone pain.
- Growth problems and seizures.
- Tingling sensation in the legs.
- Menstrual problems.
Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition, which means it involves a problem with your immune system that causes your disease-fighting white blood cells to attack your own tissue. In coeliac disease, gluten ingestion triggers your white blood cells to attack the lining of your small intestine.
From an Ayurvedic perspective, this condition indicates an imbalance of certain body energies causing weakened immunity and digestion. The digestive system is too sensitive causing an allergic reaction to certain foods. Ayurvedic line of treatment is to use herbs which are immunomodulators, thus balance the immune system and try to revive the villi of intestines. However you need to avoid gluten in beginning, but gradually after proper treatment, we can add gluten gradually in to the diet.
Diet & Lifestyle advice
- Avoid all foods that have gluten, including foods made from wheat, rye, oats and barley.
- Also avoid processed foods that may contain gluten.
- Include yogurt, buttermilk, juices, pulses and fruits in your diet.
- Include rice, ragi, buckwheat, rice, whole corn, millet and gluten-free oats.
Though there are no effective home remedies for Coeliac disease apart from avoiding gluten, pomegranate has been known to be beneficial to individuals with this disease.