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
Alcohol
Fruit
Starchy vegetables
Mushrooms
Aged cheeses, especially blue cheese
Peanuts
Cashews
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
Artichokes
Asparagus
Avocado
Broccoli
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Celery
Cucumber
Unsweetened coffee and tea (caffeine aggravates Candidiasis in some individuals)
Leafy greens – collards, mustard, spinach, kale, endive, Swiss chard
Full-fat dairy
Eggplant
Fish – mackerel, shellfish, sardines, halibut, wild Alaskan salmon
Garlic
Non-glutinous grains such as buckwheat, millet, amaranth, and quinoa
Green beans
Leeks
Okra
Butter and oils – olive, coconut, sesame, flax, sunflower
Onions
Peppers
Radish, especially Daikon
Snow peas
Tomatoes
Turnips (makes a great mash in lieu of potatoes; so does cauliflower)
Zucchini

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.

11 Reasons to Try Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine

  1. It’s customized to fit you and your needs.

Two people might come in with knee pain on the same day, but won’t receive a cookie cutter treatment.  Factors such as lifestyle, digestion, the appearance of your tongue, your energy level, and the sound of your voice factor in to determining the treatment protocol specific to you and your needs.  

In addition to acupuncture, we offer a variety of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) treatments including cupping, gua sha, and Tui Na, as well as massage therapy.  This allows you to get maximum benefit from one visit. 

2)      Even Needlephobes Become Loyal Converts

New client often ask if it will hurt, and many mention a fear of needles.  The fine, sterile needles used in acupuncture are about a tenth the size of a hypodermic needle.  You’ll feel them, sure, but most people describe feeling a pressure, and rarely even feel discomfort.  In fact, we have several clients who feel so relaxed during treatments that they doze off.  Michele Pfeiffer once said that the anticipation of turning 50 was much worse than the actual event.  Many people, even those who don’t like needles, feel the same way and agree that getting past chronic pain, nausea, or illness worth 30 minutes with needles?   

3)      It’s non-invasive.
Unlike surgeries, acupuncture does not cause scar tissue.  There’s no need for anesthesia, or even bandages.  The risk of infection is minimal.  Some clients experience a bit of soreness from the release of lactic acid after an acupuncture session, but it’s more like an intense workout than recovery post-surgery.  In fact, many people are turning to us for cosmetic acupuncture to improve skin tone and decrease wrinkles as an alternative to plastic surgery and injections. 

4)      It treats the problem, not just the symptoms.
Consider infertility, for example.  IVF and hormone therapies can be effective, but they are invasive and disruptive to life, not to mention expensive.  They can help with conception, but they don’t necessarily treat the underlying challenges to conception.  We consider the whole body, and look at the conditions within the male and female body that are making it hard to get pregnant.  Stress levels, digestion, sleep quality, and more all affect reproductive health.  Acupuncture, sometimes in conjunction with herbal remedies, can be highly effective in restoring the body to balance so it can conceive and foster a healthy pregnancy (at a fraction of the cost).  

5)      Its side effects are helpful, not harmful.
Numerous individuals come in for treatment of a specific condition, such as high blood pressure, and find that acupuncture sessions improve their stress level, sleep, overall mood, and digestion also.  Medications for blood pressure, cholesterol, and more can get good results – for treating their target conditions.  They also make the body work incredibly hard to process the foreign substance, and over time can cause damage to the liver and other vital organs, not to mention other side effects.  One of the most common types of overdoses seen in hospitals is over the counter pain medicine.

6)      It works.
Acupuncture has been around since before recorded history.  That’s why it’s difficult to determine if it’s 2,500 years old, 4,000 years old, or more.  Tens of billions of people have used it over the years.  It isn’t as familiar in the US, because we only really started using it here in the 1970s.  Acupuncture is one of the oldest forms of medicine in the world.  Nothing gets that kind of staying power if it doesn’t work.

7)      It’s your time and money – we respect that
Your health is your most important resource, and our job is helping you reach your wellness goals.  You deserve to have someone focus their attention on you for long enough that you get all of your questions answered and receive the treatment that you require.  We reserve at least 60 minutes for each session to make sure you get the time you need.

There are no silver bullets in life.  Healing takes time. You and your health are our priority.  We offer acupuncture, massage therapy, and various forms of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and will schedule enough time to make sure you get all of the treatments that you need. 

8)      It isn’t all in your head.
We get a lot of calls from people who say “I’ve tried everything else,” or “They say it’s XYZ, but I just don’t think so,” or even “I’ve had tons of tests and they’re all inconclusive, but I know something is wrong.”  You know your body and when something is off, but the symptoms you have might not be readily diagnosed with Western medicine.  This is not a criticism of Western medicine, which certainly has its place.  Traditional Chinese Medicine can effectively treat syndromes and symptoms that aren’t clearly defined by Western standards.

9)      It’s a great preventative treatment, too.
Every so often, a client calls and asks for a “general tune up”.  The acupuncture treatments they received several months ago fixed their neck or back pain, but they generally feel out of sorts, or off-balance.  Acupuncture is the practice of restoring balance in your body.  It increases circulation, improves immunity, and much more.

 

10)   It’s more affordable than you think.
We’re so used to having insurance cover our medical expenses that when we’re asked to pay for care out of pocket, it feels expensive.  Minor surgeries cost at least $10,000, and major operations can easily be ten times that.  A year’s worth of cholesterol or blood pressure medication can cost over $1,000 out of pocket, even if you have insurance.  Many of those require other medications to counteract the side effects, too.  Certain surgeries and medications can be avoided with lifestyle changes that include preventative care. 

At Affinity Acupuncture, we charge $75 per treatment, which can often be paid for with an HSA or reimbursed by insurance.  We also have packages and monthly membership programs available.  Certain procedures, such as face lifts and Botox injections, are not covered by insurance.  Our Cosmetic Acupuncture regimen is a fraction of the price without the side effects.  

11)   It’s More Than a Smokescreen
Acupuncture really only started to become popular in the US in the 1970s, and because it’s so new here, the practice has its fair share of critics.  Chiropractic work and yoga went through the same thing.  But roughly two billion people around the world currently use acupuncture as their primary form of medicine.  Insurance companies are extending coverage to acupuncture in their range of covered services, and an increasing number of doctors and nurses are realizing the “pill for every ill” approach to medicine is outdated.  We receive numerous referrals from physicians who realize healthcare can be improved by treating the whole person with a variety of modalities.