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More research connecting gluten to thryoid disease

This article is from Mary Shomon, thyroid patient advocate.


Many of you know my antibody attacks quit after I quit gluten. Though I know the GF diet isn't for everyone, keep in mind that gluten be the source of your thyroid disease.

:) Tamra
83 Responses
Avatar universal
Quoting from the article:

"The researchers studied 172 patients with autoimmune thyroid disease, and two control groups, and found that the 3.4% of patients with autoimmune thyroiditis had celiac disease, and the prevalence was only 0.6% and 0.25% among the control groups. The study also found that undiagnosed celiac disease may actually be part of the process that triggers an underlying autoimmune disease. In their findings they wrote: "We believe that undiagnosed celiac disease can cause other disorders by switching on some as yet unknown immunological mechanism. Untreated celiac patients produce organ-specific autoantibodies."

"Of perhaps greatest importance to thyroid patients, the researchers found that the various antibodies that indicate celiac disease - organ-specific autoantibodies (i.e., thyroid antibodies) -- will disappear after 3 to 6 months of a gluten-free diet."

Paragraph 1 above merely states what we all know already...once you have one autoimmune disease, you are more likely than the general population to develop another...that's a given.  Do you have a link to the original text of this study?  On what do they base their belief that undiagnosed celiac can cause other disorders?  I see no reference to how this conclusion was drawn.  

Likewise, paragraph 2 above...I'd have to see the study...how many subjects (the same 172? or was that a different group?), etc.  Where are the results of the controlled study (one group eating gluten, one not) indicating how many from each group had antibodies "disappear after 3 to 6 months"?  What controls were applied to the two groups?

You will also note that the discussion is about autoimmune celieac disease, not simple "gluten intolerance", which does not involve antibodies.  I don't know how you extrapolate from this that a g/f diet will benefit those with Hashi's who are simply intolerant and further extrapolate that someone who neither has celiac nor is gluten intolerant is going to benefit.  If there is a common link here, it's antibodies, and without confirmed celiac, there are no autoimmune antibodies involved.

With or without Hashi's, someone with celiac is going to have to scrupulously avoid gluten for the rest of their lives.  

BTW, what was your antibody count before going g/f, and what is it now?  

1097839 tn?1344583542
thanks for posting this link TamraW, I'm guessing that there's a typo in Mary's article and what she means to report is that:

"....3.4% of patients with autoimmune thyroiditis had celiac disease, and the prevalence was only 0.6% and 0.25% among the control groups...."

it is a small sample to be considered statistically significant but still really interesting, i think.

If I can muster the energy will check out the source journal she quotes and presume the link to the original research document will be there.

I finally saw an endocrinologist this week, after months of waitiing, and she is going to test me for celiac.

I'm wondering is whether there may be some kind of borderline (maybe subclinical) version of the disease that doesn't give such extreme symptoms as full blown celiac but does mean that gluten causes problems. Perhaps I just mean intolerance....it's a new subject for me I'm only starting to explore. I'm still resisting trialing a gluten free diet as it's such a radical step but my Endo did say it might be worth a try...she hadn't heard of Dr Kharrazzion so I couldn't ask what she thought of his book...I still feel like I'm feeling my way in the dark and it's so good to have this forum to hear what other people are considering...

hmmmm, all info is good and food for though, thanks for sharing.....

hope you're well at the moment. xx

967320 tn?1333203308
if you're going to be tested for celiac disease, you need to make sure you are consuming gluten, because if you are gluten free, the antibodies that they test for will not be being produced. I was just diagnosed with celiac last year and was diagnosed with Hashi's in childhood - celiac just went undiagnosed until I asked my dr to test for it. I didn't really have major symptoms - mainly inability to gain weight, fatigue, diarrhea without the pain usually associated with it, and poor immune system - yet all my antibodies were very high. not everyone with celiac has the awful symptoms, that's why so many people go undiagnosed for so long. I hope you get an answer!
1097839 tn?1344583542
oooh, thank you Jennarie, I didn't know that. I have been eating gluten so that's okay as the test was on Monday.I might get the results tomorrow. I work with a girl who is celiac and did have major symptoms so I thought, in my ignorance, that would be the case for everyone who had it nd kind of assumed that it couldn't apply to me although I definately get the sense that some gluten containing food doesn't really work for me. I will do some reading up now.

I have not had a problem gaining weight, the opposite unfortunately, I've put on around 20 lbs since this whole thing started, though I was super slim to start with so I'm not huge now, it is annoying. Fatigue, poor immune system and upset bowels definately resonate though.

thank you for sharing your experience!
1369218 tn?1282427484
I have Hashimotos and this last year came up IGG positive for gluten intolerance.
I stopped eating gluten and my heavy periods went away. I know that my antibodies are also a lot lower since quitting it too.
1097839 tn?1344583542
Wow aaamommy I now can't wait to see the results of that test! I have super heavy periods too....
Avatar universal
I have just read these postings and have to ask the obvious question.....
Who has had antibody testing down at diagnosis and recently?

I dont have Hashi's but do have Graves Disease and at diagnosis  my antibodies were over 4000 (yes four thousand)....12 months after RAI and TT my antibodies were <30 ..basically in remission.

Sometimes people confuse 'wellness and feeling good' as the antibodies being in remission...this is not always the case.
I have researched and found that Selenium is 'supposed' to lower antibody levels in Hashi's and I say 'supposed' as there are yet no 100% foolproof studies to prove that.

Going by what I have researched for the last 3 years...the only way I know of antibodies going into remission is.....removal of the thyroid or ablation.

In March this year, I was tested for 'other' autoimmune diseases and it was found there were none but that doesnt mean to say that somwehere down the line, I wont get another autoimmune disease ...just as a Diabetic doesnt get rid of Diabetes..I believe we have antibodies for life regardless of what we eat or what supplements we do and do not take.

967320 tn?1333203308
well I was referring to the anti-gliadin antibodies produced in those who have celiac disease. when someone has this disease, their body only produces the antibodies when they consume gluten. if they eat gluten free, the trigger for the antibodies is no longer present in their body, therefore the antibodies are no longer produced. this is why the stomach is able to eventually heal from the damage the antibodies caused after they remove gluten from their diet. that's what's unique about this disease - the antibodies are a response to something you consume (resulting in at attack on the small intestine) rather than to something you cannot easily get rid of (like your thyroid gland). hope that explains it!
Avatar universal
Thats interesting...that IGg antibodies can be suppressed through NOT eating Wheat and/or Gluten.
Anti-gliadin, anti-endomysium, and anti-transglutaminase antibodys are the main antibodys in Celiac and these are what are tested for in Celiac Disease.
There are several steps that take place to generate an immune response and it takes time both for the positive reaction when gluten is present and to clear the antibodies when gluten is eliminated. There has been a great deal of discussion about how much and how long a challenge should be and there is no consensus.
The minimum is 2 slices of bread per day for 6 weeks to get an accurate test. There are basically four tests that can be performed to aid in diagnosing celiac disease. Notice that I say they will aid in diagnosing celiac disease. Immunology is fairly accurate but it is far from being an exact science. All of the lab tests, regardless of the type or source, are presented as aids to diagnosis. They should not be used alone as a basis for diagnosis but rather are intended to be considered in conjunction with the physical examination of the patient as well as the reported symptoms, etc. by a trained physician. There has been a great deal of confusion about what the tests are and I hope to alleviate some of the misunderstandings. There are many terms that we hear. tTG, IgA, IgG, ELISA, etc.

We all have, within our bodies, a family of closely related although not identical proteins which are capable of acting as antibodies. These are collectively referred to as immunoglobulins. Five major types of immunoglobulins are normally present in the human adult. They are IgG, IgA, IgM, IgE and IgD. Each of these is a shorthand way of writing immunoglobulin gamma G (or A or M, etc.) and they each perform a different function in our systems. IgG is the principal immunoglobulin in human serum. It is important in providing immunity in a developing fetus because it will pass across the placental barrier. IgA is the principal immunoglobulin in secretions from respiratory and intestinal mucosa. IgE is a gamma globulin produced by cells lining the intestinal and respiratory tracts. It produces the antibodies associated with most hypersensitivity (allergic) responses. It is associated with asthma, hay fever, etc. IgM is a globulin formed in almost every immune response in the early part of the reaction. IgD is a rare protein present in normal serum in a tiny amount. These designations refer to the type of protein that is carrying the antibody in question. Both IgG and IgA subtypes of anti-gliadin antibody are produced, hence we refer to them as IgG gliadin or IgA gliadin. Collectively they are anti-gliadin antibodies.

Yet there is only one antibody in Graves Disease and one antibody in Hashi's.
When I asked about antibody testing, I was asking about Graves and Hashi's antibodies......sorry for the confusion.
But from what I have researched...it seems that antibodies in Celiac Disease are actually 'proteins' that only arise as an 'allergy' to certain wheats, grains etc whereas Graves and Hashi's antibodies are a completely different type of antibody.

649848 tn?1534637300
Deb said "Sometimes people confuse 'wellness and feeling good' as the antibodies being in remission...this is not always the case.
I have researched and found that Selenium is 'supposed' to lower antibody levels in Hashi's and I say 'supposed' as there are yet no 100% foolproof studies to prove that."

I have to totally agree that feeling good or well, is not the same as having the antibodies in remission.  There are a lot of days during which I feel totally awesome, but over the past 2 yrs, the level of my antibodies and/or inflammation has not changed hardly at all and when they did change, they mostly went up.  

I have Hashi's and I do take selenium; again, over a 2 yr period, I can honestly say that it has done nothing to lower my antibody count; however, it may help minimally with inflammation.  A mircronutrient test showed that I was deficient in selenium; therefore, my thoughts are if you don't have an issue such as deficiency, it might not help a lot.

Same goes for gluten -- if you aren't allergic to it, what good will it do to eliminate it from your diet, since whole grains are generally considered to be an essential part of a healthy diet?

I have not given up gluten, as my doctor said "there's no need if you aren't allergic".

Gluten is not necessarily the source for your thyroid disease.........
967320 tn?1333203308
Right, you definitely should not go gluten free unless you have been diagnosed with celiac disease or a wheat allergy, because for everyone else, it is an essential part of their diet. I would never have gone gluten free otherwise; it is one of the hardest things I've ever dealt with! I miss so much good food! The only connection I have heard between celiac and thyroid disease is that they are both autoimmune diseases and if you have one, you are more likely to have the other. So I think they are correlated, but that one does not cause the other.
Avatar universal
Two interesting comments..."Gluten is not necessarily the source for your thyroid disease......... " and "So I think they are correlated, but that one does not cause the other.."  I agree with both.

Quoting from the study that was cited in the article "...3.4% of patients with autoimmune thyroiditis had celiac disease...".  Of course, since it's pretty much accepted that once you have one autoimmune disease, you are more likely to get another, this is no big surprise.  We would also expect to see a higher incidence of people with both Hashi's and lupus, or Hashi's and pernicious anemia, for example.  However, this is a 2000 study, so it might be WHY we all accept this...it might have been cutting edge research in 2000.

One point that I find interesting is that of that 3.4% with both, which came first?  Did some of that 3.4% actually have Hashi's BEFORE they developed celiac?  This question wasn't answered since it was beyond the scope of the study.

So, 3.4% of people with Hashi's also have celiac, but we might assume that some of them had Hashi's first.  So, I guess that following the logic that gluten might be the source of your thyroid disease, you also have to say that your thyroid disease might be the source of your celiac???  I don't think either causes the other...just trying to follow the logic here.

Another interesting fact is that ONLY 3.4% of the people with Hashi's also had celiac.  Yes, the incidence was higher than in the general population.  But, this definitely begs the question of what causes the other 96.6% (plus, if we adjust for those who had Hashi's FIRST) of Hashi's?  Less than 3.4% of us with Hashi's even have the potential of its source being gluten...not the greatest of odds.  In other words, avoiding gluten can only be expected to help less than three people in a hundred with Hashi's.

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