Wheat and endometriosis

Dr. Davis
Wheat Belly
Wed, 27 Feb 2013 10:52 CST

Female followers of the Wheat Belly arguments who have endometriosis often report marked relief with wheat elimination. I, too, have witnessed this, though it is outside of my day-to-day experience (in heart issues). 

There is a recent study that, while retrospective, suggests that the success we have been observing is not an accident. Here’s what they found (full abstract here):

Gluten-free diet: a new strategy for management of painful endometriosis related symptoms? 
Marziali M, Venza M, Lazzaro S, Lazzaro A, Micossi C, Stolfi VM. 

Pelvic pain affects 4% to 39% of women and accounts for 10-40% of all outpatient gynecologic visits. The etiology of painful endometriosis has not been fully delineated. No studies have been published concerning gluten-free diet administered to achieved relief of painful symptoms endometriosis-related. The aim of this retrospective study was to evaluate the effectiveness for the outcomes of endometriosis-related pain and quality of life of gluten-free diet in a follow-up of 12 months in patients with chronic pelvic pain endometriosis-related. 

Two hundred seven patients with severe painful endometriosis-related symptoms entered the study. At enrollment, the baseline values of painful symptoms were assessed by Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) for dysmenorrhoea [painful menses], non-menstrual pelvic pain, and dyspareunia [painful sexual intercourse]. According to VAS, pain severity was scored from 0-10; 0 indicating the absence of pain, and 1-4, 5-7 and 8-10 mild, moderate and severe, respectively. A gluten-free diet was submitted to all patients and a new evaluation was performed after 12 months of diet. Student’s t-test was used for statistical analysis. 

At 12 month follow-up, 156 patients (75%) reported statistically significant change in painful symptoms (P<0.005), 51 patients (25%) reported not improvement of symptoms. No patients reported worsening of pain. A considerable increase of scores for all domains of physical functioning, general health perception, vitality, social functioning, and mental health was observed in all patients (P<0.005). 

Conclusion: In our experience, painful symptoms of endometriosis decrease after 12 months of gluten free diet.

75% of women responded favorably: I found that astounding. Anyone who has experienced endometriosis or witnessed the suffering of someone with the condition appreciates how profoundly it can affect health, including chronic and often incapacitating pain. 

Now why wheat/gluten elimination would lead to a reduction or elimination of endometriosis symptoms is not clear. Is it due to the removal of the gliadin protein that is responsible for abnormal bowel permeability that triggers inflammation in other regions of the body? Is it due to the removal of wheat germ agglutinin that, upon entering the bloodstream, triggers an array of inflammatory and direct toxic effects (in addition to being a direct intestinal toxin)? Could it be due to one or more of the 10,000+ other proteins in wheat, many of which have undergone changes in amino acid sequence due to the manipulations of genetics research and agribusiness? To my knowledge, why such an extravagant benefit develops with endometriosis is not understood.

Should we wait several years for the science to catch up and tell women suffering with the pain and disability of endometriosis to continue to eat wheat, take their drugs, and continue to submit to laparoscopic and other surgeries to remove the abnormal tissue? Given the benign nature of wheat elimination, given the many other and often unexpected health benefits of wheat elimination, given that it is without side-effects nor expense, I say there is NO reason to delay: Lose the wheat.


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