Q. About three years ago I developed chronic hives–raging carpets of hives, mysteriously appearing mostly between the hours of 6 pm and 6 am.
We couldn’t figure out what was causing them. When my doctor discovered that I have low thyroid and an anti-immune thyroid disorder, he suggested that I try completely eliminating gluten from my diet.
Thorough avoidance of gluten has completely eliminated the hive problem. When I occasionally slip up and accidentally eat small amounts of gluten, for instance in an improperly labeled sauce at a restaurant, I get small outbreaks of hives. My hives have become an amazingly accurate gluten meter!
A. Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition triggered by exposure to gluten in wheat, barley and rye. Most people, including physicians, think of celiac symptoms in terms of the digestive tract. There is, however, a distinctive skin condition called dermatitis herpetiformis that is associated with celiac disease. This itchy rash can be difficult to diagnose and may be accompanied by thyroid problems.
You may be interested in one of our hour-long interviews on the topic of celiac disease. We have spoken with Peter H. R. Green, MD, of Columbia University. We have also interviewed David Perlmutter, MD, about his book Grain Brain.