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Viruses as THE "Cause" of Celiac Disease

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 * Viruses as THE "Cause" of Celiac Disease- This section is one of the posts found on a thread I started on the Celiac/Gluten Sensitivity section of BrainTalk Communities out of Mass General. The thread proposes the idea that a virus could be the true underyling cause of celiac disease and the related food intolerances and that the damage done to the villi of the duodenum is more of a reaction of the virus in situ to the stimulating effects of the lectins from gluten, casein, soy, and corn as they attach to the glycoprotein receptors of the cells lining the intestinal tract. Here is the link to the site if you want to read the entire thread- The entire thread covers a lot of ground.

The last post is a brief review of virology. (A Little Virology for You). Hopefully it will underscore the importance of seeing the virus as something other than a pure pathogen or parasite. He is much much more.

Viruses as THE "Cause" of Celiac Disease
The following is one of the posts from a thread I started on the Celiac/Gluten Sensitivity section of BrainTalk Communities out of Mass General. Here is the link to the site if you want to read the entire thread-
Hi Guys,

Those of you who know me also know why I would post such a thread.

I have been away from the forum recently but have still been very involved in research, writing, and speaking. The most fascinating area of research has been the role of viruses in nature and their role in adaptation, variation, and in heredity, as well as the obvious role they play the development of disease states.

I have referred you to this site before ( to help you to see something very important (and I don't mean the religious implications of the site). Viruses play a CRUCIAL role in nature and once we see that, then we can see the important things that follow.

In celiac disease, the obvious questions are 1) Why does one person have it and another doesn't? 2) How is "heredity" accomplished? 3) Why does it wait such a variable time to raise its ugly head? 4) Why are there such myriads of symptoms and degrees of affliction. All of these questions and many more can be answered when we look at viruses as being (one of) the guys who accomplishes this.

I personally can easily believe that viruses were created for create variation in the species (plant and animal) and to allow the host to adapt to the ever changing environment. BUT, they were created with the sole SURVIVE. They allow us to adapt but only because they want/NEED to adapt to survive. They are "selfish" in this regard, even to the point of destroying their host to accomplish this end. Why do they ultimately form tumors??? To ISOLATE themselves from the immune response in a desperate attempt to survive. They aren't a thinking entity so they don't know that by killing their host that it will be their ultimate undoing. Besides, they have already "survived" by being passed on through infections, casual contact, and "GENETIC" transmission.

So, is it possible that celiac disease is simply a viral "infection" of the intestinal tract (starting in the duodenum and spreading to the jejunum in severe cases) that was acquired vertically from the parents in many cases and later in life in other cases? Is the actual "disease" simply an attempt on the part of the virus to adapt to the gluten that it comes into contact with? Isn't the lectin the trigger? How about this- The lectin (in gluten) is the gun but the virus is the bullet.

How DO lectins like those from gluten, casein, soy, and corn induce a reported 10-12 different reactions from a cell when they attach to a glycoprotein receptor on that cell. Can a little old dietary protein decide which of those 12 reactions will occur? Can the cell itself decide? How about a VIRUS(or viruses) living inside an individual the very genome of that cell? we're getting somewhere.

Here's a little article that may help this idea sink in a bit. Then, let me know what you think.

Originally Posted by R.
If Celiac is caused by a virus, why would the person who stops eating gluten never have problems again like their old Celiac symptoms? I thought viruses mutated more frequently than that...

My Response:
Hey R.,

Great questions!

First of all, why do we recover? I now believe it is because gluten (the lectin) is the "gun" and the virus is the "bullet" when it comes to the damage. The lectin attaches to the glycoprotein receptor on the cell and the virus inside reacts. This would also explain why that same lectin does not do this to everyone or to every cell. How else do we explain that simple fact? The lectin is the same no matter what it attaches to. It is the CELL of the individual that is different. AND, even the cells of that individual are different. If that were not true, the damage would be much more uniform and catastrophic.

Of course, the immune system of that individual has MUCH to do with this as well. The viruses we contain (and there are MANY) are held in check by the immune system. Again, these guys are "selfish" but I firmly believe that they were designed initially to HELP us adapt. BUT, we have put sooooo much pressure on them by overloading with antigens (lectins, as those from gluten, casein, soy, corn, and others) that they are being forced to change into something undesireable. Our initially competent immune system is able to handle these guys when they first become unruly. But, as the process worsens...the malabsorption and subsequent malnutrition of every body part and the immune system...they start to take on the appearance of pathogens.

But let me say right here that it was really cool to see the BENEFITS of malabsorption. Yes, there is an upside to villuos atrophy. These same foods that are causing damage to the villi contain other undesirable components such as estrogens and the lectins themselves. Also, looking at epilepsy as an example, there is even a reason why we would "want" to malabsorb calcium. In the case of seizures, glutamate is the "gun" but calcium is the "bullet". Excess glutamate at the synapse triggers the seizure but it is the influx of calcium into the cell that actually causes the seizure. The same foods that are LOADED with glutamate actually block the absorption of calcium. How cool is that to see?

But, since we are built to survive...adapt, change, and recover...once we remove the threats, we can recover....if that bis possible...which it usually is. Its just that the threats have gotten so varied and pervasive that it seems nearly impossible to do everything right, especially when see how contaminated our diets really are and we throw in the devastating effect of air pollution. The question becoems whether we can do enough right to get better. To some of us, that would involve moving from the highly polluted city in which we live.

The gut heals QUICKLY once we do enough right. It is the fastest healing tissue in the body. But we have to do enough right. That's how I got involved on the forum to start...trying to help other who did not know to see that gluten was only one of the culprits. Many have now found just how much corn was messing them up.

And once we do enough right and remove the threats, the viral activity changes. The threat ebing gone, the "uprising"ends and the immune system suppresses/destroys those viruses and the cells involved. The more competent the immune system, the faster the response. The "worst of the worst" take much longer to get better, partly because they have been cheating (voluntarily and/or involuntarily) AND because they have concurrent food intolerances (casein, soy, corn...which are BIG factors), AND because their immune systems have become the most incompetent. The "worst of the worst" have had the worst malabsorption, malnutrition, and resulting damage to tissues and immune system. And where they live DOES play a role, as air pollution is immune supressive and affects virtually ALL tissues in the body, just as cigarette smoke does.

The spectral nature of celiac disease is actually very understandable, isn't it?

I'll give you a breather.


Originally Posted by g.
--the autoimmune "molecular mimicry" process, such as is suspected in my neuropathy (and which may be an explanatory candidate in many other autoimmune syndromes).

Put succinctly, the theory is that a pathogen (viral, or it could be bacterial in certain cases) invades the bdoy. The body mounts an immune response, and may even succeed in defeating the pathogen. But if the pathogen happened to have a molecular structure similar to that of some tissue in that body (remember, the antibody immune response is primarily one of SHAPE recognition--the body produces proteins that "fit" into the molecular shapes of the pathogens membranes), the now activated immune system may not be able to distinguish those tissues from the pathogen, with the result that the immune response continues on those tissues and results in bodily damage.

My Response:
Thanks for posting this. I have some friends and colleagues that hold tight to the theory/concept of "mimicry". Personally, I have continued to look for a better answer because this theory suggests that our immune system makes a mistake...gets fooled by the virus, if you will. I want to believe that we are put together better than that and as long as I hold to that tenet, I keep finding more plausible answers to some of our pressing questions.

The assumption that our body makes mistakes open the flood gates for all sorts of illogical explanations (like that women with Lupus being allergic to her own body) and all manner of potentially harmful treatments (such as taking fever-reducers for viral fevers...duuuh...and using other immune suppressive drugs for conditions that are actually caused by pathogens that need to be dealt with by a healthier immune system, not one that is being artificially handcuffed.) Much is upside down in the medical realm, isn't it? What year is it again? We have landers on the moon, Mars, Titan (a moon of Saturn) and recently crashed a satellite into a moving asteroid to take sample and we're still taking fever reducers??? Hmmm...

We KNOW that chronic, latent viruses are prevalent. We know that they are the master escape artists, going dormant for months to years, only to emerge in a remitting/relapsing fashion. We are just now finding/reporting mycoplasms in interesting places (e.g. the glial cells of people with ALS) so how long will it be before we can identify the array of viruses in our body's and very genome?

The fun thing to do is to take whaqt we KNOW and apply it to what we don't know. That sounds elementary but it is amazing how few actually do it. That is why I hate the term "idiopathic". It shuts offf the brains of many who speak it. Hey, that was me for years. It was like a curtain to hide behind when a client would ask a specific question. "Uh, that is considered idiopathic. No one knows what really causes that." as if there were an unlimited number of things that could cause something. Here's the news flash I got about 5 years ago- there is a FINITE number of things that cause our problems (pathogens, foods, pollution/chemicals) and if we put our minds to it, we CAN figure these things out.

Identifying THE specific virus, for example, may be a trick but that point is almost moot in that what we do about it is the same thing in each case, right? Only a healthy immune system this time... is the reliable solution to a viral infection. And what we have to do to stay healthy has just been dumped in our laps in a HUGE way...avoid the foods/food additives that are doing us in and try to clean up our environments. Simple but not easy.

And we can work backwards from what we have experienced in the way of MIRACLES that have occurred when we avoid these things. When epileptics stop seizing and schizophrenics improve on restricted diets, we should learn something vital from that, shouldn't we? When years and years of medication stops helping a rheumatoid arthrititis sufferer or can't cure an asthmatic but a diet change manages them in less than three weeks, we should learn something major from that. When an autistic child starts speaking for the first time within 2 weeks of going gluten-free/casein-free and ends up a fourth grader reading on a fifth grade level despite the horrible prognosis his mother was given earlier, then...well, you know.

Originally Posted by C. (partial)
I believe there is seldom a SINGLE cause for any complex problem. When it comes to Celiac Disease/Gluten Sensitivity, and my personal experience and that of others~ I see layers and layers and layers which may differ from one person to the next.

I think many things can trigger celiac disease and/or gluten sensitivity. I absolutely believe a virus can start the immune system on a wild goose chase. I believe bacteria, fungi and spirochettes can as well. And I believe food sensitivity can provoke our bodies into attack mode. Are you suggesting that a virus is responsible for the actual damage, not misguided antibodies?

I think symptoms are wide ranging, and can stem from both nutritional and immunological components. Nutritional deficiency plays a HUGE role on wide ranging symptoms...this I believe because I've experienced it...and I've seen so many things "fixed" with vitamins/supplements.

So, I'm not quite ready to narrow in on any "ONE" thing as "THE" cause of celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. I think the net needs to be broader than that, but I like to entertain all possibilities. H. Pylori is a good one . I also think sometimes there are genetic defects that may come into play...not every body is perfect. I may have dodged the essence of this discussion, but that's all I have for today

My Response:
Hi C.,
Its about time you got in on this thread. What took ya so long? :) :) :)
You always have great things to add. And you are right- this is a very complex situation and we need to understand all of the contributing factors.
But (did you feel a "but" coming? :) ), the thing that has caught my attention the most in studying all of the different medical conditions is that [I]ultimate[/I] question that people love to ask- "Why me?" Why does one individual get something and the other doesn't on the same diet, living in the same city, drinking the same water, breathing the same air, and even driving the same car (which of course has little to do with anything...just thought I'd throw that in. :)  Guess it [I]could [/I]be a factor, tho.). What ultimately causes one person to suffer from celiac sprue or one child to have autism and the other not?
Well, what [I]causes[/I] one person to have cancer and the other not? This is where we have to work hard to break it all down into "causes" and "contributing factors", or causes vs triggers, or in the case of [I]cancer[/I],  cause vs carcinogen.
In the study of cancer, we are rapidly coming to the point where some researchers have been for over 30 years- that [I]ALL[/I] cancer is viral in origin. I now believe this down to my socks. Its what the virus does...they get into the cell and boss it around, causing it to do a number of different things including reproduce the virus or cause the cell to grow out of control.
We just heard about viruses [I]causing [/I]cervical cancer. We have known for years that viruses cause leukemia/lymphoma in numerous species of animals and they are just now telling about those in people.  We know that viruses cause osteosarcoma (bone cancer).Just put "osteosarcoma, virus" in your search engine and read for days and days. Hey, put "virus, cancer"in your search. Wow! Got a year or two to soak it all in??? For the newest info on breast cancer, readers should put "virus, breast cancer" in their search. "Cool!  A breast cancer vaccine is coming???" Vaccine against what? Hmmm...
So, why have most people never heard the word virus and cancer used in the same sentence?  Are the powers at be afraid that the world will panic when they see the truth that cancer is caused by a virus? Are they afraid that they will be overwhelmed with questions about cancer being contagious or not? Or are the average doctors just as ignorant of this subject as the people they treat? The latter question is truer than you think. Most vets don't think this way, I can assure you. You can read every text book on my shelf about osteosarcoma (bone cancer) and there is NO mention of a viral etiology. BUT, do that search I suggested and you will find sites that list all of the viruses that cause bone cancer in the different species. Wow! Why the HUGE gulf between what rsearchers know and what the doctors/public know. Well, the answers are too numerous and involved to really get into.
But, the point is that there are many, many, many contributing causes to the development of cancer...too many to list. And they are POWERFUL contributors.  However, there is likley to be one [I]cause[/I]...the VIRUS. There are many viruses that cause cancer...lots and lots of them. But, it is likely to be a virus that is the only true cause. After all, that [I]is [/I]what they do. And they [I]are[/I] everywhere...ubiquitous in nature and in our bodies, from the blood stream to our very genome....from individual blood cells to every tissue in the body.
Why are they so pantropic? (infecting every cell). Now, not all viruses infect every cell but there are some viruses that do infect just about every cell ([I]paramyxoviruses[/I] being a good example. e.g. Distemper of the dog. Measles and mumps are paramyxos in people.). But, there is some virus that can infect each and every cell of the body. Why would that be?
We have to go back and see why the virus was here to begin with. What does he do that is good??? We KNOW that he has a GOOD purpose. We know this. We KNOW that he facilitates adaptation and variation in nature. We know that he plays a role in why there are so many different phenotypes (appearances) or butterflies...and people. This is how you reconcile Creation and "evolution", for one thing. Yes, "evolution" IS still taking place as scientists say. What is responsible for this continued change? Yep, the virus. Look at the AIDS virus...the absolute MASTER of change. WE can't get a hold of this chameleon, can we? And what IS involved in the genetic modification of foods? Better look into that right quick before we completely destroy our food supply, eh? (What the heck [I]are [/I]"genes", anyway???)
So, how hard [I]is[/I] it to see that the virus was made for good but has become a pathogen in response to what we have done? How hard is it to believe that viruses in the GI tract are simply responding to the challenge that we put to them in the form of gluten, casein, soy, and corn? How [I]does[/I] a dog adapt to a wheat-based diet in 3-4 days (especially when it is mixed in slowly to prevent vomiting and diarrhea)?How long does it take to get over a typical viral infection? How long does it take to respond to a vaccine? Yep, 3-4 days. How long did it take for Morgan Spurlock to adapt to the all McDonald's diet in Supersize Me? Yep...he vomited on day 3 and felt fine on day 4. How long does it take to get over a dose of gluten? 4 days. How long can it take for a food allergy to show up or go away after elimination....4 days.
Hmm...There is something about 4 days, isn't there? (The cool thing is that the number 4 means "new beginning" Biblically speaking.)
So, yes. There are a [I]gazillion [/I]things that contribute to celiac diasease. I think H pylori is like all of the other guys/ opportunist. You'll find him in healthy stomachs waiting for his chance to dive into a superficial ulcer created by something else. And then, when the immune system crashes, he jumos intothe bloodstream and goes to some interesting places like an atherosclerotic plaque. Oh oh. Yes, in a study done by human cardiologists, a whopping 80% of plaques cultured were positive for H pylori. Wow!!! Could H pylori leaving the stomach be one of the triggers for a stroke or MI? Ever hear of heart victims having chronic stomach problems?
The sorting out of cause and effect is THE business to be in if you want to really help, I think. (The epidemiologists of the world should be solving most of our problems.)  And there are things "seen" to help us understand the things "unseen". Not only that, but the things seen are [I]MORE[/I] important. We have thought very superficially for years. We love to jump to quick conclusions because of what we "see". But, we have to think deeper than that, don't we? We can SEE tapeworms and roundworms in the dog. BUT, they actually do little harm. It is the UNSEEN hookworms and whipworms that do the most harm. We can SEE bacteria unde the typical microscope. BUT, it is the deadly virus that is the real culprit. The lits of examples of this amazing principle goes on and on.
So, I would encourage everyone to keep their thinking cap on. Try to sort out in your own mind the difference between a [I]cause[/I] and a contributing factor. Seeing that bacteria, yeast/fungi, and even viruses are [I]opportunists [/I]really helps. They need tissue damage, chronic inflammation, a change in DNA structure (e.g radiation/chemicals), or a change in immune status to take hold and do their thing. That opens up all of the possibilites for the secondary factors. These are [I]powerful [/I]factors... but secondary.
So, who IS the real culprit here?.......................[I]We[/I] are! (You thought I was gonna say "virus", didn't you? :) ).
Food for thought! (I love that expression. LOL)

Originally posted by K.:
It seems to me that I read something awhile ago that gave me the chills - that we are probably fending off cancer every day, and that only a strong immune system is keeping it at bay. That we all have this continuous "opportunity" to succumb to cancer...genetics plays a small role (for instance, most women who have breast cancer did not have mothers or grandmothers who had breast cancer - I think it's only like 30% had mothers with breast cancer versus 70% had healthy mothers). Eating gluten would of course put the body at risk, leaving it vulnerable to lurking viruses. Which virus gets a foothold is probably based on genetics and the environment (pollution, stress, terrible doctors...)
My Response:
Yes, I believe that this is true. And the "worst of the worst" get cancer early and the "best of the worst" (I'm not sure there is a best of the best anymore. ) either get it late or don't at all. Cancer is the number one killer of dogs and more would get it IF they could survive stage 2...the immune mediated diseases (with stage 1 being acquisition of viruses, stage 2 being the immune-mediated diseases and the immune system's desperate attempt to control the virus so that we don't get into stage 3...immune failure and the rise of cancer-causing viruses).

And I love studies like the breast cancer one that you stated because they give us insight into the real role that "genetics" (I always have to put that in quotes. Again, what ARE "genes"?) and environment play. You are right...its a mixture of these and other factors, just as it is in the development of personalities.

We know that viruses are acquired through vertical transmission (from parent to offspring), through natural infection, through vaccines (errrrh), and through casual contact, including airborne means, foods, and contact. Hey, there are over a billion viruses in a tsp of seawater. They are ubiquitous. Thank God that the vast majority are not pathogenic...yet!

Where have many of the pathogenic viruses come from? Animals. Hmmm... Yep, they have been harboring these guys for millennia. Can you think of examples...Swine flu, Rabies, West Nile, SARS, and now...the new Bird Flu. Where did the "Spanish Flu" of 1918...the worst pandemic the world has ever known come, from? Birds. Ahhh...No wonder they are worried about the new one, eh? (

What's the key? You nailed it...a competent immune system.


Originally posted by me:
An Internet friend and colleague just sent me this...right on cue. Anyone ever hear of a "lipoma"...a fatty tumor? What causes tumors again?

Hi John,

Thought you might be interested in this.

A new study has boosted the theory that some cases of obesity are contagious.

For the past 20 years, research has suggested that strains of human and avian adenoviruses can spur fat cell increases.

Antibodies to one strain, Ad-36, has correlated with being very obese, and one study has linked body mass differences in twins with exposure to the virus.

Researchers have now found that another strain of adenovirus makes chickens plump. Scientific American reports:

Physiologist Leah Whigham of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her colleagues inoculated young male chickens with three strains of adenovirus--Ad-2, Ad-31 and Ad-37. She and her team then monitored the chickens for three and a half weeks, recording their food intake throughout. Though the infected chickens and noninfected controls consumed the same amount of food and were exposed to the same conditions, chickens carrying Ad-37 were found to have nearly three times as much fat in their guts and more than two times as much fat over their entire body at the end of the three-and-a-half week period. The other two virus strains appeared to have little effect on weight.

I hope you enjoyed your time here and got something important from your stay. It is my goal to help all of mankind navigate through the jungle of medical information now available on the Internet and find the truth about the origins of what we call "disease" as well as discover the natural solutions for these conditions.
We do have our health's destiny in our own hands more than we've ever imagined, certainly more than most have ever been told. Think naturally and the answer will come.
Dogtor J
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