Is Gluten Intolerance the Cause of Autoimmune Disease?

on Jul5
by Dr. Vikki Petersen | Print the article |

Preventing Autoimmune Disease, How Healing the Gut Can Help

Autoimmune diseases taken together are the third leading cause of death in the US. The list of autoimmune diseases is long and varied:

• M.S.
• Type 1 diabetes
• Celiac disease
• Lupus
• Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
• Rheumatoid arthritis
• Sjogren’s
• Fibromyalgia

to name just a few.  But the autoimmune disease celiac, unlike all the others, has a unique feature– it’s the only autoimmune disease where the exact trigger is known.

What’s Unique About Celiac Disease?

Gluten is the trigger for celiac disease and when that trigger is removed the body stops destroying its own small intestine.

Why is this profound?  Two reasons:

1.    There is no other autoimmune disease where the exact trigger is known.

2.    Gluten and the damage it causes to the small intestine may very well be the root cause of other autoimmune diseases!

We have appreciated the interesting phenomena where people “develop” gluten intolerance at different ages.  It used to be perplexing because it was assumed that if the problem was genetically driven, as soon as the body received its first gluten “insult” damage should begin to occur.

Leaky Gut Plays a Big Role in Creating Autoimmune Disease

In the past, when patients with gluten intolerance stated that they felt perfectly fine eating gluten until a certain age, it was thought that the damage had probably begun far earlier but the patient had simply not been aware of it.  What we have come to realize is that a genetic propensity plus the presence of gluten in the diet are only two of the three necessary constituents of this puzzle – the third is damage to the small intestine that has compromised the health of this vitally important organ.

A completely healthy, intact small intestine seems to be quite able to defend itself against gluten, despite genes that ‘lean towards’ gluten intolerance. But once damage has occurred, the gut becomes “leaky”, the immune system has weakened, and not only can digestive complaints result but symptoms can arise in other systems throughout the body.

There has been proof for many years that the intestine is not the only tissue targeted by the immune reaction to gluten. The prime example of this is a disease called dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) where the gluten sensitivity manifests primarily in the skin, with only mild or no intestinal involvement.

Now, more recent research reveals that perhaps a vast number of autoimmune diseases may also involve an immune response to dietary gluten. It turns out that an enzyme in the gut called tissue transglutaminase (tTG) is a primary player in the cause of why gluten destroys the small intestine in celiac disease. Interestingly this enzyme is not solely present in the gut. It is in fact present throughout the human body.

Now imagine gluten moving through your blood stream. (Remember, it got there due to a leaky gut.) The gluten comes in contact with tTG in the thyroid and autoimmune thyroid disease results. It comes in contact with tTG in the joints and rheumatoid arthritis results. And potentially on and on it goes to include many of the 100s of autoimmune diseases afflicting millions of Americans. Can you now see why gluten has such far-reaching effects that damage other systems of the body?

When examining the cause of a leaky gut it is worth discussing the substance that dictates the permeability, or ‘leakiness’, between the cells that line the small intestine. This substance is called zonulin. Increases in zonulin cause the intestine to become leaky, thereby allowing substances to leave the intestine that shouldn’t normally. It has been seen in research that in patients with celiac disease zonulin is activated by gluten, leading to increased intestinal permeability (a leaky gut). But how does this extend to other autoimmune diseases?

Research Study Prevents Diabetes Successfully

Dr. Alessio Fasano performed a brilliant study on rats that were genetically predisposed to develop type 1 diabetes.  The premise was that if the gut was not affected negatively by zonulin and remained intact and healthy, then perhaps the antibodies made against the pancreas that create diabetes would be prevented from leaving the gut and thereby prevented from causing damage to the pancreas.  Sure enough 2/3 of these rats who were highly predisposed to develop diabetes did not simply because zonulin was prevented from creating a leaky gut!

This study was the first time that an autoimmune disease was prevented by blocking intestinal permeability.  It further puts a new face on the entire concept of how and why autoimmune disease develops.  We’ve always thought that the genetic predisposition was an overriding characteristic of autoimmune diseases that overshadowed any effort to sublimate it.

This study opens a new field of investigation into the relationship between the health of the intestine and the basis of many diseases. Imagine if the “unknown trigger” of autoimmune disease turns out to be gluten and its effect of creating a leaky gut!

It is for this reason that I am so passionate about early diagnosis of gluten intolerance.  Whether it is celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, the affect that gluten imposes on the integrity of the small intestine has far-reaching implications.  I see it clinically in my patients on a daily basis, but the above research puts a point on it that we must consider seriously.

The Longer You Eat Gluten, the Higher Your Risk

A study from Italy showed that the longer gluten sensitive people eat gluten, the more likely they are to develop autoimmune diseases. They found that in childhood celiacs, the prevalence of autoimmune disease rose from a baseline of 5% at age 2 to almost 35% by age 20. Imagine if screening of all children for gluten intolerance resulted in reductions of future autoimmune diseases!

I am currently working on a program with my patients who are gluten intolerant to restore their small intestines to the healthiest possible condition.  This is important from the obvious viewpoint that optimal digestion and absorption is critical to good health.  But it is also vital from the perspective of understanding and managing zonulin and its long-term effects on health.

The 5 Most Important Steps to Healing a Leaky Gut

I would recommend that you take the following steps to ensure that you are doing everything you can to restore your small intestine to optimal functioning.

1.    Have a comprehensive stool analysis performed to ensure that no pathogenic organisms (bacteria, amoeba, parasites, etc) are present.  Such a test should also measure the effect of your body’s enzymes to see how effectively your food is being broken down and absorbed. It should also assess the health of your intestinal bacteria or probiotics.

2.    Eliminate dairy foods from your diet. There is considerable evidence to suggest that consuming milk from other mammals is not conducive to good health, especially in our digestive tracts.  The inflammation that dairy can cause could well be contributing to a leaky gut, despite the elimination of gluten.

3.    Once you have taken the above steps, see how you’re feeling.  Some patients require certain supplements such as anti-oxidants, omega – 3 fatty acids, vitamins A, E, B and D, plus minerals including zinc and magnesium to help the intestinal lining heal fully.

4.    Additionally you should get tested for the presence of cross-reactive foods. For more information on this topic read my blog on the topic. You could also watch a You Tube video describing them and how they are significant.

5.    Finally, once the above have been done, have a lab test performed to assess how successful you have been at healing your gut. Remember that to prevent autoimmune disease, it appears to be crucial to restore health to this large 23 foot long organ. An improved lab test now exists to determine if molecules that are too large are still passing through your intestine or if this is now being prevented due to a healthy small intestine.  This is a non-invasive, non-drug test.

What You Can Do

In summary: Encourage parents you know to have their children evaluated for gluten intolerance, especially if there is any incidence of autoimmune disease in their family tree.  The more we can affect an early diagnosis, the healthier our future generations will be.

If you know someone suffering from an autoimmune disease themselves or if they have a family member afflicted, encourage them as well to get tested for gluten intolerance. Mainstream research doesn’t agree with the statement I’m about to make (yet!) but we do see some very exciting reversals in autoimmune disease symptoms once a patient has removed gluten from their diet.

Last but not least, show your doctor this data.  There is still too much ignorance in our profession about gluten and its broad reaching negative effects.

I hope you find this information helpful.  Many of the steps mentioned above are best administered with the help of an experienced clinician so let me know if I can help you to find the assistance you need.  Unfortunately there are still only a few doctors in this country who are aware of these ramifications of gluten intolerance and who utilize the needed laboratory tests to ensure accurate diagnosis and effective treatment.

It is for this reason that we became a destination clinic and treat patients from across the country as well as internationally. We are here to help. Give us a call!

To your good health,

Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”

Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology. 2006 Apr;41(4):408-19.

Annals N Y Academy Science. 2009 May;1165:195-205.

“Tight junctions, intestinal permeability, and autoimmunity: celiac disease and type 1 diabetes paradigms.”

Clinical Gastroenterology & Hepatology. 2005 Apr;3(4):335-41.
“Permeability, zonulin production, and enteropathy in dermatitis herpetiformis.”

Gut. 2003 Feb;52(2):218-23.
“Early effects of gliadin on enterocyte intracellular signalling involved in intestinal barrier function.”

Permission is granted to re-post this article in its entirety with credit to Dr Vikki Petersen & HealthNOW Medical Center and a clickable link back to this page. Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN is founder of HealthNOW Medical Center and the author of “The Gluten Effect”.  She has been featured in national magazines, international medical journals and is a frequent headlined speaker.

The Author

55 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. jocelyn


    Any relationship with vitiligo? I don’t find vitiligo mentioned very often in glutenfree posts but I’m sure there must be some connection. My elder daughter has generalised v. elbows, knees, armpits, both eyes and now moving up her forehead. I’m pretty sure her pasta habit is correlated with the spread. Any comments?

    05 Jul
  2. 2

    Dear Jocelyn,

    Vitiligo is an autoimmune disease and as such is correlated with gluten intolerance as I mentioned other such diseases are. Not only is gluten highly related to autoimmune disease but gluten intolerance is commonly seen with skin conditions of all types including vitiligo, psoriasis, eczema and more.

    It might be very beneficial for you daughter to be checked for gluten intolerance. We tend to think of skin conditions as topical and more of an aesthetic problem but the skin is our largest organ. Additionally when one autoimmune disease is present, there is a greater likelihood of developing more.

    It would truly be a shame to have your daughter’s health compromised needlessly if gluten was the culprit. If she would like to receive a complimentary consultation we’d be happy to see how best to assist her.

    I hope this helps. Please feel free to ask any further questions.

    To your good health,
    Dr Vikki

    05 Jul
  3. jocelyn


    Thank you,

    I will look into testing, and I am gradually shifting our diet over to gluten free, although it doesn’t seem to be a problem for my husband or son. (it is for me & younger daughter) I have passed on your comments to D. I will check your other posts for testing details, and thanks, you have confirmed my concerns.

    05 Jul
  4. 4

    Hi Vikki,

    You make a good point that there appears to be a link between a variety of autoimmune disease, so that if you have one disease, there’s a slightly increased risk of also having another one. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m not aware that it has been shown that removing the trigger for one disease will affect the progression of another. In other words, I don’t think there’s any proof that a gluten-free diet is beneficial for vitiligo.

    05 Jul
  5. 5

    Hello Peter,
    There actually is precedent. Dr Alessio Fasano from the University of Maryland Celiac Research Center did a study on rats that were genetically ‘programmed’ to develop type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease. Generations of these rats who had the disease were bred with each other so that the chances of the future offspring developing diabetes by puberty was 100%.

    Dr Fasano then did one thing with these rats: he prevented them from developing a leaky gut. The result was that 2/3 of them never developed diabetes! His conclusion was that the health of the small intestine was a definite trigger, over and above a very strong genetic predisposition.

    A leaky gut is a known result of gluten intolerance. Other drugs can cause it as well, but celiac disease is the autoimmune disease most known to create this damage to the small intestine.

    Here at the clinic we don’t find ‘healthy’ small intestines in our patients with autoimmune disease. Plus those patients also reveal an extremely high preponderance of gluten intolerance.

    Therefore my comment specifically addresses gluten as a trigger of autoimmune disease based on its creation of a leaky gut.

    Please let me know if you have any more questions!

    To your good health,
    Dr Vikki

    05 Jul
  6. Nicholas


    Hi Vicki-

    I too developed Vitiligo 2 years ago and would love to come in for a consultation. I attended your seminar tonight at Whole foods and feel like there is hope.

    I think I might need the tests you mentioned…

    Cross Reactive Lab Test-
    Ciliac Disease Test
    Ttg- damage Test
    Genetic Test
    Leaky Gut Test

    I’ll leave it up to you (the Dr) to figure out whats best : )

    05 Jul
  7. 7

    Dear Dr. Vikki,

    Do you believe gluten should be removed from the diets of patients with eosinophilic diseases, even if they did not test positive (via biopsy and blood tests) for celiac? What about patients with only some mild to moderate food allergies?

    05 Jul
  8. 8

    Hello Nick,

    Just give us a call and set up a complimentary consultation – 408-733-0400. We will then determine which tests are best. But you are definitely smart to follow this up as vitiligo is an autoimmune disease and gluten is a common culprit for these types of conditions.

    We look forward to seeing you!

    To your good health,
    Dr Vikki

    05 Jul
  9. Jocelyn


    Hi Dr Vicki,

    Well guess what? One month on, just starting to see some re-pigmentation around my daughters eyes, freckles and a little strip 1cm x .5cm. And she hasn’t been completely glutenfree over that time. So I am feeling very positive that we will see further improvement over the next little while. She is coping fine with the change in diet as long as she gets her pasta, just a gf version! At least now she can see real proof that gf is helping.


    05 Jul
  10. 10

    Hello Jocelyn,

    That is wonderful news. Children heal so quickly! Do keep in touch and let me know if there’s anything else that you need. Hopefully the gluten-free diet is all that she needs but for many we also have to address the secondary effects. If that’s required we are happy to help!

    To your good health,
    Dr Vikki

    05 Jul
  11. Dr. Delsie Dickard


    I have had vitiligo for about five years. I’ve been gluten free for almost 2 years. Within about 3 months gf I started seeing some repigmentation. I had no idea there was a link as I went gf for other reasons. So I began to look it up. Before gf, vitiligo was progressing rapidly but I’ve had no new pigment loss since going gluten free and slowly some of the pigmination seems to be returning.

    I had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Fasano and after the interview asked about my vitilgo. He said, of course, there are no studies yet, but there are single case reports.

    I do agree that gluten may be central to autoimmune and Fasano writes in Scientific America 2009 about the exact process by which gluten impacts zonulin and in turn that begins to break down the tight junctures of the small intestine. He makes it very easy to understand.

    05 Jul
  12. Ed


    Hi Dr Vikki-which test do you believe is best for testing for leaky gut and is this the same test you mentioned in statement number 5 above?? Also, is whey protein still considered possibly a reactive food even though it may not contain any casein or lactose?

    Thank you for your website and reply.


    05 Jul
  13. Mary


    I have been diagnosed with lichen planus, Graham-Little syndrome, which is an autoimmune disease. The symptom I have is hair loss. Do you have any evidence of this being associated to the presence of gluten in one’s diet?

    05 Jul
  14. Anu Oinas


    Dear Dr. Vikki,

    I am a 67 year old female diagnosed with GERD and common variable immune deficiency. I have beeen on a GF with no dairy/eggs diet for a year; have had the celiac serum test (neg), had a Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis (Genova Diagnostics with parasitology) (neg); C-difficile toxin A&B (neg); and Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (neg) yet still continue to have diarrhea, mild lower absominal pain, and gas. I have been on a regimin of doctor ordered probiotics for over a year and recently (three months ago) began taking pancreatic enzymes. Nothing seems to work as I continue to have diarrhea 1-3x a day.

    I have considered getting tested for food sensitivities but my Integrative Medicine doctor wants to do it in house (which Medicare won’t pay). Do you have any suggestions on what other tests to run for chronic diarrhea (8 years now) or should I call to set up a consultation? If so, what information would you need me to prepare for the call?

    Thanks, ALO

    05 Jul
  15. 19

    Hello Anu,

    Yes I think a call would be a good idea. It’s complimentary so you don’t really need to prepare. I’ll just need to get some more data from you in order to get a better idea on how best to assist you.

    Call us at 408-733-0400. I look forward to hearing from you!

    Dr Vikki

    05 Jul
  16. 20

    Hi Dr. Vikki,
    I’m wondering what your favorite test is for food allergens. I have used blood testing (Metametrix) and saliva testing (Diagnostechs).
    Please let me know.

    05 Jul
  17. K


    Hi Dr Vicki,

    have you found any correlation with gluten problems and endometriosis? It varies as to whether it is classified as an auto immune disease from what i have read.


    05 Jul
  18. 22

    Hello Mary,

    I don’t know of any specific research that links those conditions with gluten, other than general evidence that a gluten intolerance is definitely known to increase one’s risk of autoimmune disease.

    Dr Vikki

    05 Jul
  19. 23

    Hello Ed,
    Yes the leaky gut blood test from Cyrex Labs is the one I recommend. Whey is a protein and it is the protein portion of any food that is potentially problematic. Therefore whey can be cross-reactive with gluten protein.

    I hope that helps.

    Dr Vikki

    05 Jul
  20. Cindy


    Dr. Vikki

    My daughter just turned four and was diagnosed with Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria. I have taken her to multiple specialists here in VA and I hit a door everytime I mention the possibility of it being a gluten sensitivity issue. They won’t even test her for it. I’m not sure they even know what to test for!! My husband is sick of hearing about it b/c all the doctors are saying its not gluten related. She had a blood test done for wheat allergy which was negative and that’s all they would do. I have taken her to two Allergy, Asthma and Immunology MD’s.
    Autoimmune diseases are throughout my family (myself-Hasimoto’s, my sister has two-Hasimoto’s and Cervical Dystonia, my dad-Hasimoto’s and aunt-Hasimoto’s and Fibromyalgia(dads sister and 1st cousin-Hasimoto’s). There is just not a lot of research out there to get any backing on my side for testing.
    My daughter’s labs showed antibodies for her urticaria disease but luckily none for her thryoid yet! The specialists just said she will grow out of it and there is nothing to worry about. Can you please give me any feedback that can help me or if you feel it may not even be gluten related (which I highly doubt) And I’m not gluten free yet either …just lazy on my part. I did go gluten free with my daughter for two weeks and most definitely felt better but she showed no signs of improvement (which I know it can take up to 6wks) but with all the docs saying it’s not gluten my husband thought I was crazy and we switched back. Im just at a loss and don’t know where or who I can take her to who is going to take me seriously!!!! Help!!


    05 Jul
  21. Marnie


    Was wondering what you can tell me about the connection between c-diff and Celiacs. My 7 year old son came down with c-diff after 5 days on omnicef…..By the time I had found a doctor to confirm the infection his diarrhea had stopped (about a month after anti-biotic was stopped)…treated only with culterelle pro-biotic 2x a day (had started doing that before actual c-diff diagnoses because I was convinced of it even though my initial pediatricain was trying to tell me he had spontaniously developed a food allergy-I then sought out a new pediatrician who actually ran c-diff test to confirm)

    He still suffers from stomach pain and frequent bowel movements that tend to be light in color and seem to have a mucus film on them. Consulted a GI who ran blood work. His antibodies for celiac were high. Gi Dr had warned me that he sees c-diff trigger autoimmune issues very frequently, but I can not seem to find anything about in on the internet. We are going to wait a few weeks to see if it is just inflammation lingering from the c-diff that is causing the high levels and retest. If still presenting with hight levels he wants to scope him to confirm celiacs or not. Have you seen this befoe and is this type of c-diff induced celiacs something that will eventually go away?

    05 Jul
  22. Adelaida


    I have been browsing on-line greater than 3 hours lately,
    yet I never discovered any attention-grabbing article like yours.
    It’s lovely value enough for me. Personally, if all web owners and bloggers made just right content as you did, the net will be much more helpful than ever before.

    05 Jul
  23. Denise Ravary


    Dear Doctor, I am new to all this. Thank you so much for writing an article that actually makes good sense to me! I have been researching online for weeks now and yours is the best article on gluten intolerance online bar none!

    I see my family doctor on Monday and I am hoping he won’t mind me giving him your article with your testing recommendations.

    I am 56, female living in Ontario, Canada and I have been at this for a very long time. I have been very sick and through a better diet, I am just starting to feel a bit better. I suspect largely that once i get onto a gluten free diet i will feel much better.

    I am obese. I have many diseases and disorders such as type 2 diabetes, fibromyalgia, psoriasis, bipolar disorder, osteoarthritis, incontinence, high blood pressure, high cholesteral and irritable bowel. How can a person exist with so much wrong with them? I get very discouraged but i am hoping that gluten intolerance can be the culprit behind so much of my poor health. I just want half a chance to be whole again.

    I am hoping that you can direct me to do a few things now (even before a diagnosis) to start me on my way to healing. With all that is wrong with me is there something i can be doing now to better myself?

    Thank you for taking the time to read this. I look forward to your reply and i wish you much continued success and i also want to thank you for caring so much to dedicate yourself to helping others that need you so very much.


    05 Jul
  24. rebecca


    I’ve had severe pain in both legs for 8months. Been to 7 specialists including Neuro + vascular.
    No one knows, I can’t afford all the tests for a definite diagnosis.
    3 days ago I googled diet relating to chronic pain.
    I omitted gluten for 3 days, and I have felt a sudden improvement.
    I think I have my life back thanks to people like you

    05 Jul
  25. 29

    Hello ,

    I’m so glad to hear that you enjoy our site. We pride ourselves on providing cutting edge information.

    If you need any assistance in improving your health, please consider calling us for a free health analysis – 408-733-0400. We are here to help! Our destination clinic treats patients from across the country and internationally, therefore you don’t need to live locally to receive assistance.

    To your good health,
    Dr Vikki Petersen

    05 Jul
  26. 30

    Hello Denise,
    I would encourage you to ask your doctor to test you for both celiac and gluten sensitivity. Even if the tests are negative (they are not perfect) it would be fine to try a gluten-free diet for a month and see how you feel. Have you read Dr Marky Hyman’s book “The Blood Sugar Solution”? I think you’d find some good information in there.
    Please let me know how you fare and if you’d like to receive a free health analysis consider giving us a call at 408-733-0400.

    05 Jul
  27. Maureen


    I have had eczema for over 30 years. Since being diagnosed with diabetes 2 and eating low carb, I have found that my eczema is less troublesome. I have assumed it is wheat that has been causing the problem, possibly it is gluten instead.

    05 Jul
  28. Torre


    Hi Vicki, what do you think about healing leaky gut with L-Glutamine and IGG immunogloblulin supplements? Dr. Osborne seems to be recommending them. Have you had much success with L-Glutamine? If so, how much dose do you think is ideal? Thanks

    05 Jul
  29. 33

    L-glutamine is good, we use it often. Immunoglobulin supplements are fine too. One just has to make sure that all underlying causes for the leaky gut are removed also. It’s great to add healing nutrition, but if you have an infection, another food sensitivity, cross-reactive food reactions, toxicity, hormonal imbalance, or a poor general diet…to name a few…. then you need to eliminate those stressors in order to completely address the leaky gut.

    05 Jul
  30. 34

    HI Maureen,

    Yes, it could very possibly be gluten. Try to avoid all sources (which you are mostly doing) and see what happens. Let me know!

    05 Jul
  31. Everette Mcmullins


    Most people will develop some kind of skin condition at some time in their life. Whether you suffer with a rash, itchy skin, skin fungus or infection, skin bumps, or skin tags, talk to your doctor because there’s treatment available. If you have oily or dry skin it makes sense to learn the best methods to clean, treat, and protect your skin type.:;;..

    05 Jul
  32. nadia


    Dear Dr Vikki,

    I have seen your videos on Youtube and am extremely interested in gaining some help from you. In fact i am desperate. I have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease Rheumatoid Arthritis in December 2012. I am taking the horrible immune suppressants and am desperate to come off this.

    I am based in the UK and i would like to work with you in helping me try to reverse this condition with diet. I know it is all about diet and a leaky gut which causes antigens to go into the blood stream. I have been quite in pain from this disease and its taking over my life as i just want to be normal like i was hopefully.

    Please let me know if you can assist. In UK there are not much help with these diseases who believe in natural way of healing.

    Hope to hear from you soon.

    I am desperate and need help fast :(



    05 Jul
  33. 37

    Hello ,

    I’m so glad to hear that you enjoy our site. We pride ourselves on providing cutting edge information.

    If you need any assistance in improving your health, please consider calling us for a free health analysis – 408-733-0400. We are here to help! Our destination clinic treats patients from across the country and internationally, therefore you don’t need to live locally to receive assistance.

    05 Jul
  34. 38

    Hello Nadia,

    I”m sorry that you are feeling bad and having trouble getting assistance in the UK. Sadly, I hear that often. We are a destination clinic and see patients from all over the world. Consider calling us for a free health analysis – 408-733-0400 (US country code first).

    We would be delighted to help and we do have good success with RA.

    Dr Vikki

    05 Jul
  35. Mi.


    I moved from US to UK last year. I am still looking for the doctor who knows about latest gluten research. Doctors here have no idea about leaky gut and problems with gluten. I am on very strict diet for the last year: gluten free, lactose free (plus no corn, no soy, almost no grains and “gluten free” processed food). Of course I do not eat any processed food at all and I drink healthy options: water, juice (no added sugar), tea and sometimes coffee. I can absolutely confirm it changed my life. I have never felt so good in my life: physically, mentally etc. Since I was teenager I have had autoimmune problems (20 years): Graves changed into Hashimoto. I developed as well symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Besides mentioned health problems I had so many other “not related” symptoms – like doctors said: aphthae in my mouth, warts on my neck, chicken skin on my arms and very painful periods. Now it’s been a year I started this diet and I almost forgot I had the beginning of arthritis. My thyroid is on the right track and my weight is unchanged. I do not have anymore painful periods, aphthae are gone, skin on my arms is ideal and slowly warts are going away (I am not sure if that is the reason but the skin on my neck looks much better). I still cannot believe that only diet changed my life completely. It feels like magic. It’s not easy to keep the diet but when I look back, how I felt last year, I know now that I will never put anything which causes inflammation in my body. People around can eat pizza, cakes, cheese and have milkshakes or beer – but I do not mind, because is privilege to feel healthy…to be healthy. I enjoy it and recommend to everyone with autoimmune problems.
    Thank you Dr Vikki for information. Doctors like you teach us that change is possible. Yes, it is reachable. I wish you all the best.

    05 Jul
  36. 40

    That great to hear!
    Let me know if I can assist you in any way in the future.

    05 Jul
  37. Nicholas


    Hallo Vikki,
    I have vitiligo since puberty.
    I discovered by internet the link between vitiligo and gluten a month ago. I started immediately a glutenfree or glutenpoor diet, and a little bit sun. The result came quick and is amaizing. Everywhere the pigmentation comes back!!! The brown dots in the white patches grown everyday.
    Important detail: I remarked just before the pigmentation came back,my skin was peeling on those white patches. Before the diet, my skin never peeled. For me is the renewing of the skin a good indication where the pigmentation will start.
    I hope that my story helps other people with vitiligo.

    05 Jul
  38. 42

    This is excellent Nicholas. Thank you for sharing!
    If you need any further help, consider contacting us for a free health analysis.

    Dr VIkki

    05 Jul
  39. Gaye


    Hi Dr Vikki,

    Thank you very much for your informative article. It really spoke to me as I am currently plodding through changing my diet from my own observations (eliminating dairy and gluten) with the hope of ridding myself of autoimmune problems.

    Throughout my childhood I had asthma, eczema, earaches, stomach aches etc. In my late twenties I developed further problems such as severe stomach pains, alopecia areata, Raynaud’s syndrome and a re-emergence of eczema. I found hair loss very difficult to deal with. A few years ago I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.

    Six years ago, my stomach problems reached nightmare proportions. I had diarrhea so severely that I could barely leave the house. A colonoscopy didn’t reveal any problems. The doctor took a blood test for gluten allergy which was negative. Eventually the doctor ordered a small intestinal bacterial overgrowth hydrogen test. It revealed that I had fructose malabsorption and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. I wasn’t tested for lactose malabsorption at the time, but found that milk caused diarrhea as well.

    I changed my diet to exclude fructose (which is in wheat, so it made me cut out gluten) and dairy. I am prescribed antibiotics a couple of times a year to control the SIBO. It made a huge difference to my health and lifestyle.

    I found it very difficult to cut out dairy and gluten (and my diarrhea had completely gone) and in the last six months I have been eating like a ‘normal’ person (dairy and gluten) – until now! Everything is back. Eczema, Raynaud’s, and Alopecia Areata. I was devastated. I started wondering why I had no autoimmune problems for six years. Then, I made the connection with diet.

    It’s only been two weeks now that I have been off dairy and gluten again – and already my eczema has nearly cleared. I hate eating so restrictively – but my health is definitely worth it.

    I don’t know why the gluten allergy test was negative – but it definitely causes problems despite the result. Your article really helped me – by confirming that I am heading in the right direction.

    Many thanks,


    05 Jul
  40. 45

    Dear Gaye,
    Thank you for writing. Unfortunately gluten tests are not 100% accurate. The good news is that you have spotted what you need to do dietarily and your body seems to respond well to that.

    I would urge you to consider finding a clinician who can address the secondary effects (SIBO is one, but there are others) of being gluten and dairy intolerant such that you can prevent any further autoimmune tendencies.

    If you’d like any assistance, consider calling us for a free health analysis – call 408-733-0400. We are a destination clinic and treat patients from across the country and internationally. You don’t need to live local to us to receive help.

    I look forward to hearing from you!

    Dr Vikki

    05 Jul
  41. 46

    I developed RA

    05 Jul
  42. 47

    I am a 53 yr old male and developed RA and a antibody Antiphospholipid syndrome almost at the same time .Around the age of 45. I also have been battling with stomach issues. I have seen many Dr.’s for the stomach issues but they have found nothing.

    My son is very up on foods and nutrition and recently talked to me about the relationship between gluten and auto disease. He also mentioned a radio program he was listening to that the topic was gluten causing auto diseases and clotting issues. Because I also have clotting issues he felt I really should persue this line of investigation as it relates to gluten.

    Read your information on the subject and felt there are many similarities to the gluten effect. Curious as to your thoughts.

    Sincerely Jerry

    05 Jul
  43. 48

    Hello Jerry,

    I am glad that you wrote and that your son gave you data on gluten and autoimmune disease. We do have good success with patients such as yourself.

    I would like to know more about you and your health history. The best way to do that is to set up a free health analysis over the phone. Just call us at 408-733-0400. We are a destination clinic and we treat patients from across the country and internationally. You don’t need to live local to us to receive assistance. We are here to help!

    I look forward to hearing from you!

    05 Jul
  44. Mary


    Diagnosed Celiac in Nov. of 2010. For nearly 18 years prior, my biggest red flag was chronic erythema nodosum. I could count up to 60 nodules on the front of my legs when I was having a really bad outbreak. No doctor could understand why I was chronic since their experience was treating with prednisone once and the patient would be cured. Fast forward to being diagnosed Celiac and going 100% gluten free: my erythema was cured! The agony was gone. I now know when I’ve been cross contaminated, or there is a high gluten ppm to a food that claims to be gluten free, because I will have a red nodule appear on my legs. This experience definitely makes me understand the relationship between the intestinal health and our whole body health.

    05 Jul
  45. 50

    hello my name is Patricia, and I suffer from vitiligo for 10 years, and is now worse than never. one week ago I started guteen free diet, but I would like someone to guide me as to the meals and if I have to take some vitamin from already thank you very much.

    05 Jul
  46. 51

    Hello Patricia,

    We cannot give you specific advice without having examined you first. If you’d like us to help you find a doctor in your area, give us a call. 408-733-0400. Here at HealthNOW we are a destination clinic and we treat patients from across the country and internationally. Should you like our assistance, consider calling for a free health analysis (same number as mentioned above).

    We look forward to hearing from you!

    Dr Vikki

    05 Jul
  47. 52


    As an autoimmune disease, vitiligo could very well have a digestive component. How do you feel now that you’re gluten-free? I don’t mean specifically your skin, but any other symptoms that have improved.

    We cannot give you specific medical advice over the internet – that’s illegal. But if you would like to assistance, consider contacting us for a free health analysis – call 408-733-0400. This way we could get more data and recommend what our approach would be.

    We look forward to hearing from you.

    Dr Vikki

    05 Jul
  48. Scott Eastham


    Hello Dr Petersen,

    I just wanted to respond to your post and let you know that I have been doing my own research into auto-immune disease and it’s relationship to Gluten and other potential causes and I had arrived at the same possible conclusion you are positing as of the date of this posting. Is there anyway you would consider responding to an occasional email from me so that I could stay current with the conclusions suggested by your research? Also, I would adhere to a strictly confidential policy regarding any information exchanged between us and I would hope you would agree, assuming you are willing to share with me. I am not a doctor or agent of anyone in the medical field, I am simply a person doing research on behalf of the people I care about in the hopes that I can benefit the world at large some day. I am not currently a student at a university or part of any clinical research in any field related to the medical profession and I do not work in the pharmaceutical industry either. If you get the chance, please let me know. It would only be occasionally and I would expect nothing, ever. Thank you for your consideration and I wish you well! Scotty E

    05 Jul
  49. 55

    You can always stay in touch Scott!

    05 Jul
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