UNMASKING THE GREAT PRETENDER: GLUTEN SENSITIVITY*
Martha H. Howard, M.D. combines a knowledge of Traditional Chinese Medicine, including acupuncture and herbal medicine, Family Practice, environmental and preventive medicine, hypnosis, laser and other light-based therapies, and sound-based therapies in her practice. She is a pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, which she has been practicing since l982. An administrator, teacher and speaker as well as a clinician, she is Medical Director of Wellness Associates of Chicago. Dr. Howard has a Master's Degree from Harvard University in Chinese Language and Literature and an M.D. from Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine. She was a board member for three years of the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, and is a current board member of the National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine and NOHA. Dr. Howard has been teaching the Intelligence Qigong form at national conferences since 1992, and is the first woman to teach it here in the United States. She has just finished a new Wellness CD series, Power of Suggestion, that uses combined methods of relaxation and suggestion to support a happier, healthier life, improved memory and learning, stable weight, reaching your highest potential, and many others.
Dr. Howard's true focus is on causes, "What's going on?" and not just on temporary relief of the symptoms. It is estimated that thirty percent of the people in the United States have some form of gluten sensitivity. Dr. Howard has found that the following symptoms specifically can be caused by gluten sensitivity:
Ordinarily, when patients present with some of these symptoms, medical doctors just prescribe medications to combat symptoms and do not search for the fundamental causes. Dr. Howard certainly would prescribe medications on occasion. However, her true focus is on causes, "What's going on?" and not just on temporary relief of the symptoms. In many patients, she has found gluten sensitivity and other exposures to be the basic causes of all the above diseases and of numerous others.
[Most] medical doctors just prescribe medications to combat symptoms and do not search for the fundamental causes. Dr. Howard certainly would prescribe medications on occasion. However, her true focus is on causes, "What's going on?" and not just on temporary relief of the symptoms.
The basic cause of gluten sensitivity
is the failure of the GI tract to break down completely the large gluten protein
molecules. Then, these remaining molecules, which were not properly broken down,
are identified by our bodies as foreign proteinan antigen that must be
attackedand huge numbers of antibodies are cloned in the spleen. These
clones form antibody-antigen complexes that cause a global inflammatory response,
which can be manifested by swelling anywhere from the sinuses to the small intestines;
the blood vessels to the spleen; any part of the body. These complexes even
pass the blood-brain barrier. Dr. Howard compares this situation to "throwing
a handful of dirt in your oil and then starting your car." Of course, many
parts of the engine would be injured. If someone has gluten sensitivity they
need to eliminate all wheat products and other grain products that contain gluten.
Labeling in grocery stores can be highly misleading. For example, spelt and
kamut products are sometimes labeled "gluten free," which is untrue.
They are just "wheat free."
Dr Howard has found that patients
can have only several or many food sensitivities and often also react to chemicals
as well. Wheat she has found to be the most common culprit. However, many people
also are unable to break down completely the protein in the casein from milk
in dairy products. One of her teachers in medical school, Dr. Francis Murthy,
first alerted her to this problem in patients. He himself reacted to both. Individually,
patients can react to the albumin in egg and to many other things, including
chemicals, such as formaldehyde.
How can a patient be tested for sensitivities to the many foods they ingest and to the ubiquitous chemicals in the environment and in food? For many years, Dr. Howard used ELISA/ACT (Enzyme-Linked Immuno-Sorbent Assay/Activated Cell Test), which was developed by NOHA Honorary Member Russell M. Jaffe, MD, PhD, into an amazingly extensive test of foods and chemicals. A patient's blood is drawn, and with this one blood sample, tests can be made of many foods and chemicals. A technician can count the number of "hits." Dr. Howard said she would get numbers like "273," etc., etc. The highest number being "3,000." Sometimes a patient would have a number of "hits" at "3,000," which of course, indicates the desirability of complete elimination of those substances. Sometimes, the number, say for a food, would be relatively small. Then, that food could perhaps be eaten once every four days or so, with no problem. ELISA can be expensive, up to $2,000, depending on the number of panels requested. For the last three and a half years, Dr. Howard has used a computerized non-invasive test, which she has found to be highly accurate and much less expensive ($175). However, if you ask most doctors for a test of gluten sensitivity, you will probably get an anti-gliadin test, which unfortunately gives many false negatives.
. . . can a patient be tested for sensitivities to the many foods they ingest and to the ubiquitous chemicals in the environment and in food? For many years, Dr. Howard used ELISA/ACT . . . . ELISA can be expensive, up to $2,000, depending on the number of panels requested. For the last three and a half years, Dr. Howard has used a computerized non-invasive test, which she has found to be highly accurate and much less expensive ($175).
The fact is that many diseases can be caused by gluten plus other sensitivities. When people have
they and their physicians seldom
think of UNMASKING THE GREAT PRETENDER: GLUTEN SENSITIVITY.
Dr. Howard described a most interesting
multiple sclerosis (MS) patient. Earlier, she had explained to us that the immune
complexes (from incomplete breakdown of gluten) can cross the blood-brain barrier
and cause an immune response that can, for example, eat away at the myelin sheaths
that protect our nerve fibers. MS involves a loss of myelin. This patient was
sensitive to both gluten and casein, plus chemicals, particularly formaldehyde.
On avoidance she recovered completely with just two experiences of reversal:
once when she ate forbidden food and the second time when she got a new car
and was exposed to its formaldehyde.
Dr. Howard described one little girl, who was ordinarily delightful and who became violent and hit her mother, when she ate a forbidden food. We are reminded of the amazing movies of children reacting taken by NOHA Honorary Member Doris Rapp, MD.
This patient was sensitive to both gluten and casein, plus chemicals, particularly formaldehyde. On avoidance she recovered completely with just two experiences of reversal: once when she ate forbidden food and the second time when she got a new car and was exposed to its formaldehyde.
There are interesting deceptions,
for example, many spices contain "food starch," in other words, wheat
and, if you buy canned "tuna with vegetable broth," it probably contains
both gluten and MSG. Wow! An overall recommendation from Dr. Howard is to have
an "All Real Food Diet."
To reach her, phone Well Associates
of Chicago at 773-935-6377, go to her web site: www.wellnessofchicago.com
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, here is a short quotation from her web site:
In the last few hundred years, INTELLIGENCE has been considered primarily to be a quality of the human mind. Now it is beginning to be recognized as a characteristic of all life. Our living network of vibrating intelligence, information, and communication might be called the "Universe-Wide-Web." The intercommunication of cells, the "gut response," and cellular and tissue memory are now being studied by gifted scientists like Candace Pert. Her 1997 book, Molecules of Emotion, is a wonderful guide to human cellular intelligence. . . .
Use your intelligence to clean up your food, water, and air. We hear people say, "There's just so much stuff out there, I don't know what to do! or "I'm just too busy." Yet it's pretty easy to recognize that there are simple things to do that make sense, like providing yourself with additive and pesticide-free fresh food, filtered water, and filtered air. The increased rates of asthma and cancer come mostly from pollutants that are still possible to avoid! **
*From a NOHA lecture by our Professional Advisory Board Member Martha Howard, MD, on April 25, 2006, in Oak Park, Illinois
**Excellent guides for this action are NOHA Member Lynn Lawson's book, Staying Well in a Toxic World and Safe Shopper's Bible by David Steinman and NOHA Professional Advisory Board Member Samuel S. Epstein, MD.
Article from NOHA NEWS,
Vol. XXXI, No. 3, Summer 2006, pages 8-10.
. . .