This month we are bringing awareness to Celiac disease (CD). A common disorder that is estimated to affect about one percent of the population. It is a condition in which the absorptive surface of the small intestine is damaged by gluten. Gluten is a general name for specific proteins in certain grains. The gluten in wheat, rye, and barley cause a toxic reaction in people with celiac disease preventing the absorption of essential nutrients such as protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.


Symptoms of Celiac Disease can present in many ways, traditionally these include chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain, malabsorption, and weight loss. However, many patients now present with atypical symptoms including anemia, osteoporosis, extreme fatigue, oral ulcers, liver enzyme abnormalities, constipation, infertility, dental enamel defects, neurological problems, etc. 

Celiac disease occurs commonly in patients with other autoimmune disorders such as thyroid disease and type-I diabetes. It can also run in families, both in first and second-degree relatives. 

Celiac is not just a matter of the gut either. Dermatitis herpetiformis is a “celiac disease” of the skin caused by a sensitivity to gluten. It is an intensely itchy skin disease-causing clusters of small blisters and bumps. It typically affects people in their 30s to 50s, but it can happen at any age. This lifelong condition affects more men than women.


At present, there is no cure for Celiac but it can be effectively managed with a gluten-free diet (GFD). A strict gluten-free diet (GFD) is the only effective treatment for Celiac Disease and Dermatitis Herpetiformis and requires the lifelong elimination of all foods containing wheat, barley, rye, related cereal grains, and regular commercial non-gluten-free oats.

A GFD will help your small intestine to heal and will eventually result in the elimination of the signs and symptoms, which can include any or all:

  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • stomach pain/bloating/gas
  • weight loss
  • chronic fatigue/weakness
  • low iron levels
  • muscle cramps
  • bone and joint pain

Be Aware of Gluten in Foods

There are many food items that may contain gluten, often in hidden or unexpected ways. Always read the label of any food product you buy if “gluten-free” is not specified on the label. Gluten-containing foods and ingredients include:

  • Barley
  • Bulgar
  • Couscous
  • Durum
  • Wheat, Wheat Bran, Wheat Germ, and Wheat Starch
  • Different types of wheat:
  • Einkorn
  • Emmer
  • Farro (also known as Dinkel or Spelt)
  • Kamut
  • Asian food comprising of concentrated wheat gluten and wheat flour, used in vegetarian dishes, soups and desserts.
  • Malt, Malt Syrup, Malt Vinegar or Malt Extract
  • Oats and Oat Bran unless from pure, uncontaminated oats and clearly labeled “gluten-free”
  • Rye
  • Semolina
  • Triticale


When you think about avoiding cross-contamination, literally every crumb matters. When preparing “gluten-free” food, you must be careful to avoid cross-contamination with gluten-containing ingredients and foods. This is true both at home and when eating food with a friend or from a restaurant. Even the smallest amounts of gluten can cause a great deal of discomfort and pain.

Tiny amounts of gluten can even be found in medication tablets or capsules. At Dispensaries Ltd we work with many Celiac patients and that is why all our compounded capsules are gluten-free.

Gluten in Cosmetics

Yes! Who would have thought? 

In order for the gluten to cause damage in people with celiac disease, sufficient amounts of gluten must be swallowed and pass into the small intestine where the damage occurs. Having said this, gluten in personal care products and cosmetics can be a concern among patients with celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders. These are often applied around or inside the mouth and tiny amounts could be accidentally ingested, especially lipsticks, lip balms, and toothpaste. 

Gluten absorption through the skin itself has not been shown to aggravate patients with celiac disease. It cannot cross from the skin to blood vessels into the intestines. It is possible that some gluten may be ingested if the person does not wash their hands after touching products prior to eating.

To learn more about Celiac Disease and gluten-free eating visit https://www.celiac.ca

If you are concerned that your medications may have gluten in them or if you would like to learn more about compounded gluten-free capsules speak to one of the pharmacists are any of our Dispensaries Ltd locations.