Research today has shown that celiac disease has been around for centuries. With the similarities in symptoms of celiac disease and other chronic issues such as IBS, a lot of people have gone undiagnosed. Only until the last decade has celiac become a well known disease throughout the world. Although with a little bit of digging, one can find that celiac has been around a lot longer then just a few decades.
Going back to first century AD, a Greek physician named Aretaeus of Cappadocia wrote about “The Coeliac Affection.” He named the affection Koiliakos, the word in Greek meaning abdomen or belly. Many centuries past before another man in the nineteenth century named Dr. Mathew Baillie wrote about a similar disorder which he called, chronic diarrhoeal disorder. Dr. Matthew Baillie noted many of the same symptoms that is common of a person with celiac disease. Although what we know as coeliac disease today was accredited 75 years later to a man named Samuel Gee who went as far in his recommendations to suggest patients should change their diet. “Gee sensed that “if the patient can be cured at all, it must be by means of diet.” He added that “the allowance of farinaceous food must be small”” In Dr. Matthew Baillie’s research, he recommended that a child go on what we know today as the gluten free diet. He noted that once the child was off gluten he became well again but relapsed after the intake of gluten.
Even though the evidence of celiac disease has been noted over 8000 years. No one had yet to figure out what was causing the intestines to be destroyed by gluten. Autopsies were performed on deceased victims of this terrible disease, yet known could answer the age old question of what was causing this affliction. Then, in the 1924 a paediatrician named Sidney Haas introduced the banana diet to America. In his studies he applied his diet to children with celiac disease and found the change in the children immediate. The children that were not put on the banana diet later died from celiac disease. He found the elimination of gluten, starches and refined sugar were the best cure and restoration of the intestines. He later went on to write a book with his son called, “The Management of Celiac Disease”.
In the mid-1950’s a woman by the name of Margot Shiner described a type of jejunal biopsy apparatus that would allow doctors to safely and successfully biopsy the distal duodenum (connects the stomach to the small intestine). With this new found knowledge it gave the ability to take a closer look at what gluten does to the intestines. Doctors were now able to realize that the gluten was destroying the vili in the small intestine. Once the vili was destroyed, nutrition was no longer able to be absorbed causing malnutrition and anorexia. After 1990 celiac disease became more widely accepted as an autoimmune disease. Although studies still have not found a reason why the human body rejects the gluten in wheat. Perhaps in the coming years they can find the reason and possibly reverse the disease. Only time will tell, until then we can only do the best we can through diet and the avoidance of gluten.