A Fibromyalgia-Gluten Intolerance Connection?

This past October I received Elizabeth Hasselbeck’s book “The G Free Diet.

Is gluten the culprit for your fibromyalgia symptoms?

Only recently did I have to time to begin it.

In the third chapter I was stunned to read that fibromyalgia was a condition that could be caused by untreated celiac disease:

Nine percent of patients eventually diagnosed with celiac disease have at one time been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

Now nine percent doesn’t seem like such a huge number. But when taken in perspective that there are approximately 2 million Americans with celiac disease, that nine percent isn’t so small.

I’m not surprised that gluten may have adverse affects on someone with fibromyalgia since many fibro sufferers have food sensitivities and allergies.

Common symptoms of celiac disease:

  • abdominal bloating and pain
  • chronic diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • constipation
  • pale, foul-smelling, or fatty stool
  • weight loss

At first glance,  the connection to fibromyalgia may seem like a stretch.

However, adults with celiac disease are less likely to have digestive symptoms. Instead they may suffer from one or more of these symptoms:

  • unexplained iron-deficiency anemia
  • fatigue
  • bone or joint pain
  • arthritis
  • bone loss or osteoporosis
  • depression or anxiety
  • tingling numbness in the hands and feet
  • seizures
  • missed menstrual periods
  • infertility or recurrent miscarriage
  • canker sores inside the mouth
  • an itchy skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis

These symptoms match more of the fibromyalgia symptoms. But before I give up gluten, will giving up gluten make my fibromyaglia more manageable?

If anyone has embarked on a g-free diet and seen any changes in their symptoms, please let me know.

Photo courtesy of Dave Pullig.


This entry was posted in chronic pain, fibromyalgia and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to A Fibromyalgia-Gluten Intolerance Connection?

  1. asdmommy says:

    There is most definitely a connection between gluten and many auto-immune disorders – especially arthritis types of AI disorders. I would think think it would be worth your time to give it a try, but you have to be 100% GF – no cheating. It will be hard at first (and do good research because gluten is in all kinds of things you wouldn’t expect – rice krispies, licorice, etc. – there are some errors in the book you are reading right now, btw). Lots of people feel significant relief within a few weeks, but you really have to go for a year or two at least. Good luck!

    • kristenthometz says:

      Thank you for your input! It’s nice to know that cutting out gluten will lead to relief. I know it will be difficult to do, but I’m willing to give it a try.

      -Kristen

    • Tammy Price says:

      Yeah… I Agree. I Believe That All My Autoimmune Was Related To The Celiac. I Now Have So Many Of Them In Remission And My Inflammation Is Way Down… My Thyroid Is Even Starting To Work Again After 30 Years .

      • kristenthometz says:

        Tammy,

        Thank you for your comment, and that is amazing to hear that your symptoms have been drastically reduced.

        Be well,

        Kristen

  2. Christine says:

    This is very interesting, I’ve looked into it before but have found it very hard to eat gluten free, am not there yet :/ I eat out a lot in restaurants with friends, any tips on how to eat out gluten free?!

    • Debbie says:

      A lot of restaurants now have GF areas of their menu. Or you can do the old standby and order a chef salad with no croutons and bring your own GF dressing. Being celiac … I don’t take chances because if I am glutened at all I will wake up the next day with canker sores in my mouth, have an itchy rash in one of like ten places and have intestinal issues and bloating for 3-5 days. There is no such thing as cheating to me. It’s just not worth it. My boyfriend kissed me awake one morning ten minutes after eating a piece of toast and I reacted. He now carries a travel toothbrush and paste in his pocket.

  3. asdmommy says:

    It takes awhile to get the hang of eating out GF. It seems impossible at first – but if you search your town + gf, you’ll find some restaurants. There are some chains that have good GF menus. If you’re really sensitive, you have to be careful of cross-contamination. Overall, if I’m in a restaurant I’m not sure about, I ask the waiter. If they have no idea what I’m talking about, it makes me very nervous. If you are at a good restaurant with a chef as opposed to a cook, they can generally whip up anything for you and they’ll be very familiar with gluten and cross-contamination.

    The thing I missed the most at first was pizza. But now there are LOTS of pizza places that have GF crust. Again, there can be a cross-contamination issue, and you can familiarize yourself with good practices and see if the chef/cook is using them (separate knives, pots/pans, etc.).

    Also, in terms of bread, I hear Udi’s is good. I’ve found a GF bakery in my area (most large cities will have them) to buy bread and bread mix that is every bit as good as regular bread.

    • Debbie says:

      OMG !!!! I love Udi’s !!!! They make the best stuff. Also if you want to bake your own, Bobs Red Mill makes a whole slew of stuff to bake with.

  4. twinmommy2 says:

    Definitely hard to eat GFree when you go out to eat. I have been contemplating going Raw. I have purchased Diana Stobo’s books and she had a long list of medical issues. She began this lifestyle and cured herself. I just wish I had the discipline to stay with it.

  5. Getting patients to change their diet is one of the most difficult tasks of any doctor, which is why I’ve not tried to get my FM patients to change their diet. I’ve done some research into diet, gluten, and grains in general and my admit my attitude is changing and I will be, slowing, trying to persuade my patients, all of them, to get off grains. Gluten sensitivity is only the tip of the iceberg. Anti-nutrients in the hull (bran) bind the metals (minerals) in the grain, preventing their absorption.

    Also, consider giving the other “pillars” of the Standard American Diet (SAD): fructose and polyunsaturated fats (vegetable oil): they are proinflammatory, atherogenic, and lead to metabolic syndrome, etc.

  6. Kathi Hedley says:

    I have been on a gluten free diet for the past 2 years. About 6 months in, I suddenly realized that most of my fibromyalgia symptoms were gone! This after 20 years of trying to figure out what was wrong. Now after completely blowing my diet (eating gluten), I have been not so subtly reminded what fibromyalgia feels like! No Gluten for this gal, anymore! I have learned a valuable lesson. For other suffers, what can it hurt to try? It won’t take 6 months to notice a difference, I assure you.

    • kristenthometz says:

      Kathi,
      Thank you for sharing your story. I keep going back and forth about trying an gluten free diet…I’ve heard great stories like yours about symptom relief. But then I find myself eating cookies and craving carbs. I admire your strength for staying gluten free for 2 years. Hopefully someday soon I too can find the strength to go g-free.

      • Fibro Chick says:

        Me too, I tried for a bit, and had a hard time staying gluten free. Maybe this will inspire me to try again! Thank you!

      • Debbie says:

        Udi’s makes great cookies, breads, pizza crust and they sell them everywhere. Raleys supermarkets has a whole GF section. I made a lasagna with brown rice noodles and no one could tell … and I am known for my lasagna since before going GF. And GF Brownies are the easiest thing in the world to make. I suggest the “Gluten-Free Baking Classics” book by Annalise Roberts. She has done all the chemistry work and trials and all of her recipes are fantastic and not hard to make. I am the only GF person in my house … I use a seal a meal to individually wrap brownies, cookies, lemon bars and I freeze them. Being celiac I have no choice but to be GF. Feeling the way I feel now I will NEVER EVER EVER eat gluten again. To me, most processed foods look like they have barbed wire wrapped around them.

  7. Hazel says:

    Hi, I have cut out gluten since march 2011 and have definitely felt better. It does get easier as the months go on, but I do keep forgetting to read all labels – until i am in pain and then i go back over what I have eaten and realise i have inadvertantly eaten gluten. for example this week I had eaten GF bread, eggs and other foods I know didn’t contain gluten but still had a reaction, pain, bloating, fatigue etc. then I remembered I had eaten a yoghurt, looked at the label and found it did in fact contain gluten. Took 2 days to feel reasonable again. Definitely worth giving up Gluten..

    • kristenthometz says:

      Hazel,
      Hi, thank you for sharing your G-free experience. That’s amazing how little gluten can cause such a reaction. I have not gone G-free yet, but am slowly trying to work myself up to it. The more stories I hear like yours, the more willing I am to go for it.

      Kristen

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