Can a Gluten Free Diet Treat Asthma?
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Sep 12 2008

Can a Gluten Free Diet Treat Asthma?

For a long time now I’ve failed to find any medical evidence of a link between Asthma and Celiac Disease, but I have read a number of testimonials from people with Asthma that have found an ease of symptoms by being on a gluten free diet.   In fact, my mother (who has both) seems to have fewer Asthma problems the past few years since being on a gluten free diet.   Is the difference due to an advance in Asthma treatment or is it the gluten free diet?

Sometimes the best feedback on the internet is people speaking from experience, so I’d like to ask our readers to share their experiences with us.   Do you have both or know anyone that does?   Does there seem to be a connection between Asthma and Celiac Disease?

Article Written by:

Kyle Eslick is the founder of Gluten Free Media, as well as the creator of the popular Celiac Support Groups page. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and now Google+!

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  • Troy

    I have been a living testimony that gluten causes asthma. Within 15-20 of ingestion of any gluten I’m running for the inhaler. It also is interesting the only other thing that reduces my asthmatic response is aerobic activity for at least 30-40 min.
    If anyone has questions or would like to know more please contact me. I am also very interested in learning more about the gluten asthma link.

    Thanks,
    Troy

    • Heather

      Im online looking for what ive found, I was haveing very bad asthma wheezing ect at night , after eatting subway for lunch for about a weak i dint put any thing togeather till i went on a protien diet in one day my asthma symptoms were gone then i tried a bowl of cereal and within 20 min i was weezing I tried this protien one day then bread or wheat the next and every time no symptoms when eating the protien and bad wheezing when eating wheat products . im going to talk to my doctor asp aboiut this but theres enogh people finding out the same thing there has to be something to it. I also was surprzed that i can be wheezing at home then go to the gym and work out and my asthma will be better.
      hope you have found some answears Heather

    • holly

      Have you tried gluten & casein free diet yet? There seems to be a link between blood types that don’t process gluten & not processing casein either. You should try it if you haven’t & let me know. I am having my step daughter try it now.

  • Cathy

    What a coincidence. Reducing gluten is really the only thing that made a significant impact in my asthma and it came on like a firestorm. I thought I had pleurisy or pneumonia and I still get pains in my back near my shoulderblade.

    But the other strange coincidence is that I also get a reduction in my asthmatic response when I go for a run. Which if I’m bad, takes a real push. Because i only get relief three to four miles in. Also 30-40 min.

    • http://www.atlantametroceliacs.org Jennifer Harris – Program Chair Atlanta Metro Celiacs

      Both gluten and dairy are the highest producers of mucus in the body, so it is no wonder you experienced relief from your asthma symptoms.

      Try cutting dairy/lactose/casein out of your diet and see if you don’t feel even better.

  • Marsha

    I have had asthma for years. I found cutting out milk products helped that, and I was getting stomach issues with it also. I am reading about celiac now, thinking I have that,.
    I agree, if I have gluten, I start coughing, a naggy cough instantly. I have had alot of pain in my back and neck, but shoulderblades definately, so am wondering about the previous post about that.

  • Jennifer

    I gave up gluten in October without thinking about my exercise-induced asthma. I was at the gym yesterday and did the same spinning class I’ve done for years, only my lungs no longer hurt and my breathing was MUCH better than it has ever been. I can’t say if it’s the gluten-free, but it’s the only change I’ve made and I feel much better. I agree with the other Jennifer – much less mucous since giving up gluten and therefore much less exercise-induced asthma.

  • Hanna

    Taking my young son off of gluten two years has caused his asthma symptoms to all but disappear. The only time his symptoms come back are after having wheat.

    • Jeanne

      My 18 yr. old son went off gluten (90%) about four yrs. ago
      and he is almost asthma free. He is completely off all meds for the last couple years. He still seems to get sick more times than most but he is still significantly healthier than he was four plus years ago!

  • Chris

    I have been off Gluten now for 8 weeks. Prior to coming off Gluten I was taking my Ventolin inhaler most days and could do not any exercise with the need to take it. From the day I stopped Gluten, it was the last day that I took my inhaler. I can even now run 6 miles and have no need for Ventolin.

  • http://sugarcreekorganics.blogspot.com joseph allawos

    i have suffered for seven or so years with asthsma and it has gotten progressively worse. also, terrible cronic headaches daily and fatigue and dizzyness. I have also had runny poop my whole life but no typical gluten intolerance symptoms in my gut. I have been off of gluten now for less than a week and the very first thing i noticed is that my asthsma is gone!! i mean, its like a miracle… No more inhaler. today i road my bike to the gym worked out and road back with no asthsma. Generally, I feel so much better. I would highly recommend trying this if you have cronic health issues. Gluten could be the answer.

  • Mary Louise

    I have celiac disease (10 years) and I only got asthma once I’d been gluten free for about a year. It is fairly severe at times. Lately I have suspected it might be the xanthan gum…so I have stopped using it. I have been making gluten-free sourdough which seems somewhat helpful… I have to be careful with all starches, though, as they seem to create mucus….

    I know of a man who also only got asthma once he want gluten free. So maybe a few of us are reacting to the xanthan gum.

  • Geoff

    I came to this site wondering if there may be a connection. Back in August or so I ran a mild fever for three days and since then I have been having daily and nightly asthma attacks (Coughing and wheezing) I have been trying to work out what triggers these attacks. I am going to cut out as much Gluten as I can (That does not look easy!) I’ll let you know…

  • Olive verte

    Hello,

    i used several testimonies found on internet in a french forum, for a discussion about fooded without dairy, gluten, etc. for asthmatic people.

    Some testimonies were copied here ; you’ll find french, spanish, italien and american converging testimonies.

    Each testimony in this french forum is interesting, according to me.
    I can’t translate it, it’s too difficult to me : http://forum.doctissimo.fr/sante/asthme-bronchite/asthme-bpco-alimentation-sujet_149596_2.htm

    Sorry for my very bad english (it’s worse when i’m speaking ….!)

  • chris

    I find all this very interesting…. I was diagnosed at 7 yrs with asthma, and with celiac at age 41… though it took about 10 years to find a doctor to know anything about celiac. I suffered several severe asthma attacks a year requiring emergency room visits during the years it took to find out that I was celiac….. but now, I am off my inhaler and only have some mild asthma when I’m very cold weather conditions. I knew that when I stopped eating gluten i didn’t have problems with my asthma but I never thought it was related!

    • jen

      I believe all your stories. I am off wheat after LEAP tesing and my fibromyalgia is gone. My son at 3 off gluten for 3 months and no asthma. Recently he has some issues but I think it is dairy related and it is so hard to eat out with a 4 year old. I want to get him saliva and LEAP tested. It is amazing.

  • Tim

    After suspecting that my fatigue & mild stomach upsets could be down to gluten I all but cut it out of my diet for about two weeks and feel so much better. But today i could not resist that chilli, and realised that I was using my asthma inhaler for the first time in about two weeks. I have been using it perhaps every other day untill two weeks ago for the last 30 years. So I am convinced that gluten has had an affect on my asthma as I have never found a trigger for it, I think I have now.

  • http://petrus0128@netzero.net Peter J. Dawson

    I have both celiac disease and asthma. As I learned the celiac diet, and began to abide by it, my need for inhalers for asthma diminished about 90%. At age 58, I only need an inhaler about once a week, now.

  • Annie

    Hi, I have suffered with asthma for about six years.immune system almost non existent,got to a very bad stage on my 40th where I coughed so much I was frightened to sleep as breathing was such a struggle.
    I had bad migraines growing up,joint pain and mood and energy was always up and down.Struggled.
    Often felt hungover without any reason to!
    Came off dairy,within a week stronger,then came off gluten,never felt so good!!!!!!
    Have not had to use inhalers (I think once only)since May,have an immune system and am stronger physically and mentally.Total miracle and I am so grateful.

  • Mike Williams

    In January I put myself on a gluten free diet.When I started the diet my breathing was so linited I could only walk 100 yards and had to stop and catch my breath.After a month on the gluten free diet I started waking two miles every day without stopping for rest.
    My pulmonologist gave me a spirometry test in order to test my lung air volume.I thought he was going to do handsprings as he told me I had increased my air volume by 45%.He cut my Dulera prescription in half and told me to stay on the gluten free program.I eat a lot of rice dishes.and WalMart carries an excellent tasting spigetti noodles and macaroni noodles .I make cornbread with cornflour that is used primarily for corn tortillas.I hope this is helpfull .

  • Chris

    I’ve been on a mostly gluten-free diet for a year and a half. Twice during that time, I decided to try wheat again and both times within 48 hours I was having mild difficulty breathing. The best way to describe the feeling would be to say that I had “Elmer’s glue” in my lungs. I actually got a bit antsy and panicky one night after going off the diet for one dinner when my lungs got tight. Never again.

  • George

    Hello everybody

    I was just doing a search on the possible connection between gluten and asthma and came across this article. Very interesting.

    The reason for my search- a week ago, I was at a Thai restaurant and ordered a mock-duck dish. That same night, I suffered through my first asthma attack in 5 months.

    I should probably cut in with a bit of backstory here:
    As far as my diet goes, I am pretty much vegan. I cut out all meat 9 months ago. A few months into my vegetarian diet, I stumbled upon the connection between the connection between dairy and my asthma that I’ve been dealing with for the past 10 years. So I cut out all milk-related products about 4 or 5 months ago (a VAST improvement!). Around the same time I cut out dairy, I cut out gluten (that’s a whole other story). My overall health and well being was greatly improved and I have never felt better in my life.

    So,, back to the night of mock-duck.
    That same night I had an 8 hour-long asthma attack. Persistent wheezing, tight chest, high stress…the whole nine. I didn’t get to sleep until 7:30 am. When I woke up, I figured I’d research mock-duck since I was also experiencing certain tell-tale symptoms of gluten-induced indigestion. Sure enough, mock duck IS gluten, and not much else. For the next two days I was experiencing asthma and indigestion, until it all came…rushing out… The dots were so easy to connect.

    Now, I’m not a nutritionist or a doctor, and all my afflictions are self-diagnosed through trial and error, but I pay close attention to my body and I do quite a bit of research into things. I take all this info, with a heavy dose of logic and common sense, and apply it all to my dietary decisions. Through all this, the biggest “duh! of course it is!” realization I have come to is this: PAIN TRANSFERENCE. It’s ridiculously simple.

    For those of us with gluten intolerances, when we ingest the substance our entire gastro-intestinal tract goes into panic mode and becomes inflamed. This swelling causes a push; a push in a very limited amount of space. Your small intestine pushes outward in all directions causing lower back pain, kidney pain, upper back tension, and diaphragm pain. It’s here where the no-brainer comes in: when your small intestine swells and pushes against the diaphragm, as well as the stomach, the lungs are immediately affected. Less room for the lungs to expand means less air intake. Less air intake means high stress. High stress means panic mode, which results in your immune system going haywire. This is where the mucus comes in and begins to muck things up, literally and figuratively. It’s an insane domino affect, caused by something as stupid as wheat protein. Or dairy. Or any other food allergen for that matter.

    Again, I’m not a doctor, so don’t take this as gospel. But apply some logic to it and it becomes almost self evident.

    I hope this helps some of you realize the (unnecessary) cause of your symptoms. Thanks for reading.