Natural Foods Merchandiser logo

Gluten gut check includes body care

Vicky Uhland

September 1, 2009

3 Min Read
Gluten gut check includes body care

The Internet is awash in message boards on which celiac sufferers tell stories of how a doughnut or even a dash of wheat-spiked soy sauce caused their guts to erupt. Surf the chat rooms long enough and you'll also come across the tale of a woman who was so overcome by her gluten intolerance that she scrubbed her face for 10 minutes after a man who had just eaten a sandwich touched her.

Is the fear that gluten would ooze through pores prudent or paranoid?

"Gluten can't be absorbed through the skin, although this is a common misperception," says gastroenterologist Dr. Michael Picco of the Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic. Gluten can only cause inflammation when it's swallowed, he says. Experts at the Children's Hospital in Boston agree:

Gluten molecules are too large to be absorbed through the skin. But Dr. Rodney Ford, a gluten guru and author of The Gluten Syndrome (RRS Global, 2007), says he has seen cases in which topical gluten caused eczema, rashes and other inflammatory skin conditions in people with celiac disease.

While they may disagree over whether a cosmetic that contains wheat, rye or barley can cause havoc for people with gluten sensitivities, experts do agree on one thing: Ingesting any personal care product that has gluten ingredients may contribute to skin—and gut—inflammation for your gluten-intolerant customers. That includes not only the usual suspects like toothpaste and mouthwash, but also lipstick and lip balm, and even cleansers and moisturizers used around the mouth. Kids who regularly put their hair or hands in their mouths may also ingest gluten used in sunscreens, shampoos or conditioners.

As with food, there's currently no government requirement to identify gluten in cosmetics. Here's how to decipher personal care ingredients lists for anxious shoppers, plus a list of some manufacturers that guarantee gluten-free products.

About the Author(s)

Vicky Uhland

Vicky Uhland is a writer and editor based in Lafayette, Colorado.

Subscribe and receive the latest updates on trends, data, events and more.
Join 57,000+ members of the natural products community.

You May Also Like