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Ask the Doc: How long to get gluten out of system?

Posted on May 19th, 2007 by Alison Read 15 Comments - Add Your Own »

questionmarkgreen1.jpgQ. How long does it take to get wheat or gluten out of your system?

A. No one knows for sure, but given the digestive rate, absorption of gluten and glutenin peptide fragments, and the turnover rate of the intestinal cells, about 3-7 days would be a rational guess. How much time it takes to recover from damage done by gluten, however, depends on a number of factors: the dose of HLA DQ2, DQ8 genes that you receive from your parents, the position of the genes of chromosome 6 (genes on the same side of the chromosome-“cis” position are more potent than on opposite sides of the chromosome-“trans” position), the reactivity of your innate system at the level of the intestinal cell, and on the adaptive immune system’s pre-programmed drive. That said, the more advanced your biopsy (Marsh III), the longer it will take to completely reverse the disease. Marsh III’s take about 2 years, while Marsh I’s may take 6 months to a year. All the more reason to have a biopsy at the time of initial diagnosis, and another one one year after being free from gluten.
Health and happiness,
Dr. Aron

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  1. I’ve had a severe itchy skin rash off and on for the past two years. Docs have ruled out Gluten intolerance – my thyroid showed hypo so they started me on synthroid – all other blood results are good other than my Sed rate is 40. Can you get a skin rash that will not clear up if the beginning spot started with a common wart? The initial itch spot turned to a wart and ever since then I have had this rash come and go with no answers and no relief. The rash is normally on my legs, arms and buttocks. Never been on face or neck area. It’s red raised and seems to have tiny water blisters at times (not visible until they burst and become a sore)

  2. A skin problem from gluten may last eight months to a year AFTER giving up all gluten-containing foods. This is because the villi of the small intestine, including perforations, take a long time to heal. Until this healing takes place, food continues to escape into the blood and the body reacts with inflammation and histamine. Further, the initial gluten problem often leads to negative reactions from eating other foods such as eggs, chocolate, tomatoes, and others. Once the gluten problem has resolved, it MAY be possible to resume eating these other foods.

  3. I have been gluten-free for about 3 weeks now. I wake up every morning with a swollen face and very (not just puffy) swollen eyelids. They do not itch and they aren’t red. My thyroid and kidneys have been tested and TSH as well as all kidney function tests were normal. I have low BP and do not eat a lot of salt. Could facial swelling be gluten related? I have noticed a difference since going GF, but I keep accidentally eating gluten! How long should I expect the swelling to continue if it is gluten related? Also, can Celiac cause the body to be very sensitive to salt? Is this an issue that could resolve when the digestive system heals? Thanks so much! I am really confused.

  4. After eating gluten over a week ago, I’ve had lose bowels, or diahrea (sorry). I was doing well, after not eating gluten for years and now can’t eat some of the foods I used to. I took psyllium last night and thought I might get sick. Is this normal? I thought taking the psyllium would help get the gluten out but after one night I don’t know if I want to take it again. Any one else been through something similar?


  5. is hair loss caused by celiacs disease, becuase I have hair loss, stomach aches, and blood in the stool or could that be lactose intolerance

  6. Hi Ted,
    Yes, celiac disease can lead to alopecia areata — see this study from back in 1998: Celiac disease and alopecia areata: report of a new association. Another one more recent: Coeliac disease and alopecia areata in childhood.
    Stomach aches are very common in people with celiac disease. You should definitely ask your doctor to be tested.
    Even if the tests come back negative, you could still have celiac or gluten intolerance. Good luck and keep me posted!

  7. Thanks for the information. Can chronic headaches be caused by gluten intolerance? Thank you.

  8. Monica,
    Yes! Chronic headaches can be caused by gluten. Search migraines and headaches on this blog and you will find a couple of articles about it.

  9. Can gluten allergies in time ruin your immune system down and cause serrobic dermatitis? I am a male been tested for hiv lupus and some other major diseases. I have 2 rheumatologist test and tell me that I don’t have any of those diseases. A friend recomended that I may have food allergies and try a gluten free diet. I have been on it for 2 weeks and some of the histamine types of symptoms are almost non exsistant and the redness from the rash is lighten. Could the dermatitis be my reaction to the allergens??

  10. I had gas,bloating,cramps for about 10 years[?] and severe Hemroids for 8 years.
    After 4 sources said ‘go wheat free’ I finally did.
    Within a few days the GI problems disappeared.
    Now I wonder how many other foods I am allergic to.

  11. I had a really bad case of gastro interitis about a month ago and it lasted for a week. Since then I’ve been feeling constantly sick and have had bad bloating and am passing gas also I have hardly any energy on some days and others I’m a little better, I’m also suffering from a metallic mouth sensation. (it’s a little bit like the early stages of pregnancy, which I’m defiantly not in!) I’ve had lots of tests done and everything is coming bad ‘normal’ I’ve been on a gluten free diet now for 3 days and symptoms are still there. Could it take a bit longer? Am starting to get pretty fed up?

  12. To Laura M (earlier posting),
    Take a look at molluscum contagiosum. and yes, I believe wheat causes millions of issues with skin!!!!

  13. May there be a connection between gluten and lichen sclerosus?

  14. I am new to gluten free. I am healing and continuing to be better constantly. My constipation is gone. My pain is better, however, I eat something without thinking or without reading the label, and I am in amplified pain in my spine and foot (previously broken a year ago). If I accidently eat a gluten item, is there anything that helps cleanse my system. I use lemonade from chic fil a, and if I drink 2 large glasses, I feel better quicker. A person mentioned fiber to pass the mistake through faster. Seems reasonable, but If I eat something, I feel it in my body in 2 hours.

  15. Hi,
    I have had a wheat allergy for several years now. It has caused different health issues including hives for several years and now I have an overactive bladder and possibly IC at 38 years old. I read online that wheat allergies could be causing my bladder problems. I have not been on a GF diet in a long time and I am wondering if this could be true. Anyone ever heard of gluten or wheat causing bladder issues?

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