Misdiagnosis of Gluten Sensitivity?

Gluten sensitivity/gluten intolerance (not to be confused with Celiac Disease) is an immensely popular buzz phrase right now.  There is a great deal of controversy around whether or not it is a truly legitimate condition, and many speculate that going gluten free is a trend that will quickly pass for those who voluntarily chose it as a lifestyle.  For people who are dealing with very real symptoms, it is a very real problem.  In some instances, though, it is misdiagnosed either by the individual or a health care provider.

Gluten sensitivity has many of the same symptoms as a condition called Candida, or Candidiasis, which is caused by an overgrowth of a naturally occurring yeast (Candida albicans) in the body.  Left untreated, Candida can lead to major health issues down the line.

I’m not saying this to start a panic, and I’m not trying to alarm anyone.  The purpose of this article is to provide information.  If you or someone you know is living with the symptoms below, we strongly encourage consultation with a health care professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.  If you have Candidiasis, going gluten free may not be an effective enough solution.

Shared Symptoms
Gluten Sensitivity and Candidiasis share many of the same chronic symptoms, including:

  • Irritability

  • Mood swings

  • Depression/anxiety, especially after eating

  • Digestive distress (gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea)

  • Mental fogginess

  • ADD/ADHD behaviors

  • Fatigue

  • Headaches/migraines

  • Muscle/joint aches and pains

Candida can lead to the following if untreated:

  • Adult-onset allergies to foods and airborn irritants. Left unchecked, the number of allergies can continue to grow to the point that some individuals essentially become shut-ins.

  • Chronic yeast infections

  • Menstrual complications

  • Infertility

  • Impotence

  • UTIs

  • Thrush

  • Chronic infections (cold, flu, tonsillitis, bronchitis, ear ache) due to weakened immune system

  • Athlete’s foot

  • Psoriasis

  • Rough bumps on the sides of arms

  • Jock itch

These are only partial lists.  One of the reasons that Candida is often misdiagnosed is because it has so many symptoms (and so many shared symptoms with gluten sensitivity), and individuals do not always present with the same cluster of issues.  If not properly treated, Candidiasis can linger for life, especially in individuals who frequently consume eggs, meats, and milk treated with antibiotics, or women on oral contraceptives.

Causes of Candida
Candida albicans is a naturally occurring yeast in our bodies.  Diets heavy in refined flours and sugars trigger yeast growth and its related symptoms, which is one of the reasons that Candida is often misdiagnosed as gluten sensitivity.  Corticosteriods, chemotherapy drugs, and prolonged or frequent broad spectrum antibiotic use kill the bacteria that keep candida albicans in check, allowing for the yeast to flourish.  Additionally, individuals with long-term illnesses, excessive amounts of stress, and those who smoke, drink, or have inadequate exercise and diet programs, are vulnerable to Candida outbreaks.

Treatment of Candidiasis
Anti-yeast treatments and a modified diet help reduce the proliferation of Candida albicans in the body.  Once the yeast levels are regulated, it is necessary to repair the damage done.  Adding nutritional supplements, and acupuncture and/or naturopathy are also effective in treatment.

Candidiasis in Traditional Chinese Medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, defines 6 Yang organs in the body.  When one of the Yang organs is over or under-stimulated, it affects balance with Yin, and overall health.  The Triple Burner is one of the Yang organs.  The Upper Burner is the heart and lungs; Middle Burner regulates spleen and stomach; Lower Burner comprises the liver, intestines, bladder, and kidney.  The spleen processes the foods we ingest into Chi and Blood, which nourish everything in the body.  When Candidiasis affects the Spleen, it can spread and create Damp Heat in the Lower Burner and Heat and Fire in the Upper Burner, leading to a variety of the symptoms listed above.

Acupuncture needles placed along the body’s meridians regulate the Spleen, which can help clear waste, toxins, and phlegm from the body.  Once the body is cleansed, it must be tonified to repair damage and restore balance.

While acupuncture and other forms of Traditional Chinese Medicine are highly effective in treating Candida, it requires more than one session.  It took time for the body to get broken to the point people experience symptoms, and it takes time for the body to heal to the point symptoms are relieved.

The Candida Diet
Foods to Avoid
Highly processed and refined foods
Foods high in sugar (including honey, agave, syrup, and molasses
Starchy vegetables
Aged cheeses, especially blue cheese
Sweetened beverages – coffee, tea, energy drinks, fruit juice
Processed meats – bacon, packaged deli meat, sausages
Condiments/Dressings/Sauces – ketchup, tomato sauce, pickles containing sugar; vinegar based salad dressings (unless apple cider vinegar)

Friendly Foods
Free-range chicken and eggs
Grass-fed beef
Nuts and seeds
Yogurt and kefir
Fermented foods (kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut)
Daikon radish
Unsweetened coffee and tea (caffeine aggravates Candidiasis in some individuals)
Leafy greens – collards, mustard, spinach, kale, endive, Swiss chard
Full-fat dairy
Fish – mackerel, shellfish, sardines, halibut, wild Alaskan salmon
Non-glutinous grains such as buckwheat, millet, amaranth, and quinoa
Green beans
Butter and oils – olive, coconut, sesame, flax, sunflower
Radish, especially Daikon
Snow peas
Turnips (makes a great mash in lieu of potatoes; so does cauliflower)

Self-diagnosis is often mis-diagnosis.  You may have noticed that your body responds negatively to certain foods, and positively when you limit those foods from your diet.  That’s a great first step.  The next step is to carefully examine how effective dietary restrictions have been.  Did they reduce or eliminate all of your symptoms?  Do you have new symptoms that didn’t appear before?  Be mindful of your body, and thoughtful in how you treat it.  Consult a health care provider if you suspect that you may be living with Candidiasis, or if eliminating gluten from your diet has not alleviated the symptoms often ascribed to gluten sensitivity.

Contact Affinity Acupuncture for Nashville Acupuncture treatments and techniques.

Acupuncture and Peripheral Neuropathy

Acupuncture and Peripheral Neuropathy

“I’ve tried everything, and nothing works. Can acupuncture help me? I want to avoid surgery, and don’t want to spend the rest of my life on medication.” We get that phone call several times a week from individuals with a wide variety of conditions. One of the most frequent conditions prompting the call is Peripheral Neuropathy. Recently, I received a call from a client we had been treating for PN, and he said “I had no pain today. I consider that a big win.”

PN is a condition caused by damage to the peripheral nervous system, affecting the pathways from the spinal column into the rest of the body. It usually begins in the feet or hands and can travel up the arms and legs into other areas. Most of the symptoms associated with Peripheral Neuropathy include tingling, pain, or numbness, and they are generally worse at night. In some cases, PN can lead to muscle wasting, paralysis, and even organ/gland dysfunction. 

There are several causes of Peripheral Neuropathy, including other diseases (diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, heavy metal poisoning; as a side effect of some prescription drug use; as the result of trauma or injury; and idiopathic (no exact cause can be pin pointed). 

The good news is, acupuncture can often help with PN. Few, if any, treatments are silver bullets when it comes to chronic conditions. Many clients experience at least some relief with their first visit, but there is a cumulative effect to treatments. Affinity Acupuncture offers an exclusive Monthly Membership program as well as packages for individuals needing multiple treatments. 

There are also things individuals can do at home to increase the success of their acupuncture treatments in treating Peripheral Neuropathy. These include: 

  • Maintaining a healthy weight

  • Avoiding exposure to toxins

  • Specific exercises recommended by a health care professional

  • Keeping a healthy diet

  • Correcting vitamin deficiencies

  • Limiting/avoiding alcohol intake

  • Yoga and meditation to control external factors that trigger pain

Affinity Acupuncture offers nutritional counseling as well as high-quality herbal and vitamin supplements to further support PN care. To learn more about how we can help you or someone you love, call us at 615-939-2787.

Detox Diets – A Silver Bullet or Flawed Fad?

We are constantly inundated with the latest, greatest “solutions” for what to eat and what to omit from our diets for wellness and weight loss. Try this and you’ll lose 20 lbs. in a month, or try that and take inches off of your waistline in no time. What we don’t hear is that almost 100 million Americans are on a diet at any given time, and the weight loss industry makes $20 billion dollars a year. That’s not a typo – $20,000,000,000.

One of the latest trends that has people buzzing is detoxing, which comes in many forms – elimination diets, juicing, special shakes, and so on. Do they work? For some people, yes – to a certain degree. Cutting out certain foods for a few weeks may remove your brain’s “dependence” on them. Certain foods trigger happy chemicals in our brain, leading to cravings. And you may lose several pounds during the diet, but you’re likely to put the weight back on once you return to your old eating habits. 

For others, the effects can be harmful. They become extremely fatigued, which can exacerbate existing medical conditions. Or, they end up craving certain foods so much that they jump off the wagon and binge. 

As far as actually detoxing the body goes, your body is pretty good at detoxing itself. The liver, kidneys, and other organs flush toxins from our systems. And detox diets don’t actually flush fat from the body. 

That being said, doing a detox for a few weeks once or even twice a year is probably ok (so is consulting with your doctor), but keep your expectations realistic. 

When it comes to your health, there are no silver bullets.

It takes time to gain weight. It takes time to lose weight. Most chronic conditions take a lot of time to develop, and a lot of time to recover from (if full recovery is even an option). 

If you want permanent results, you need to make permanent changes – and you probably already know what they are. 

1) Eliminate, or at least reduce, sugar and artificial sweetener from your diet. Sugar leads to inflammation, which leads to a laundry list of physical problems. Many sugar substitutes, especially artificial ones, are also problematic. Do you really need two spoons of sugar or caramel syrup in your morning coffee? 

2) Stand up for what you believe in – your health. Sedentary lifestyles lead to long-term health problems, and some of them are permanent. Standing desks are actually a trend that have legitimate health benefits. 

3) Shop and eat seasonally and locally. When you can, buy organic produce and free-range protein. Better still, start a vegetable garden in your own yard – gardening is some of the best exercise out there. 

4) Be present in the moment. Adopt a few quick mantras that you can incorporate into your day. Practice deep breathing. Thousands of cultures have practiced these traditions for millions of years for a reason. 

5) Spend quality time with people. Humans are social creatures. There are health benefits to live, in-person social time. Smiles, laughter, and hugs actually have positive physical effects on the body. 

6) Cut the crap. Fast-food chains like McDonald’s are losing money because people are opting for healthier alternatives. There are better convenience foods available, but those can have long term effects on the body, as well. 

7) Invest in yourself. If you can afford a daily cup of coffee from a popular chain or weekly take out, you can afford a gym membership, monthly massage, or acupuncture session. They might not be daily indulgences, but they have long-term benefits for your body. If you want more energy, better circulation, restful sleep, and dozens of other benefits, those things come from exercise and Complimentary Alternative Medicine. (Acupuncture can also help jump start stagnated metabolism.) 

8) Limit alcohol. There are health benefits to having a glass of wine or a beer as often as daily, but mixed drinks are empty calories, and mixing alcohol with energy drinks confuses the body. 

9) Reduce or eliminate packaged, refined foods and food products. Need to make meal prep easier? Take an hour over the weekend to cut up all of your vegetables for the week. It reduces cooking time dramatically. Crock pots are your friend. 

10) Sleep. You can do everything else under the sun, but if you don’t give your body the rest it needs, you won’t get the best results from your body. 

Yes, it takes time to prepare food. Yes, it takes time to get prolonged results from exercise, massage therapy, and acupuncture. But you get lasting results. You get more energy to do the things that require your attention on a daily basis. Ideally, you get to keep more money in your pocket in the short and long run because you’ve taken the steps to prevent chronic conditions. 

Take care of yourself. You deserve it.