For patients with celiac disease, a gluten-free diet is the only treatment option currently. The diet requires total elimination of gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, which when ingested can cause an autoimmune reaction, resulting in mucosal damage to the small intestine. Joseph Murray, M.D., a gastroenterologist at Mayo Clinic shares his expertise with the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA), and provides answers to questions on enzymes, and the current status of some celiac disease therapies.
As diligent as celiacs can be, avoiding gluten can be a challenge, and slip-ups can happen. There are numerous pills, enzymes, and other products being marketed to provide some protection against accidental gluten exposure for people with celiac disease. These treatments are not intended to replace a gluten-free diet, but claim to reduce the reaction to small amounts of unintentionally ingested gluten by breaking down the protein in gluten. While there's some evidence that this theory may eventually prove true, there's no evidence that the enzymes marketed over-the-counter right now have any special action against gluten. Dr. Murray emphasizes that, “It is vitally important that patients with celiac disease do not use any of these preparations that are being touted for reducing gluten. They have no proven benefit for patients with celiac disease."
Fortunately however, researchers are studying a variety of ways to identify and develop new treatment options. "People with celiac disease need to be patient as these can often take many years to put together all of the evidence to show they are both safe and effective.”
Read the full interview here.
For more information about celiac disease, visit mayoclinic.org/celiac disease.
Dr. Murray is a gastroenterologist and celiac disease expert at Mayo Clinic.