September 13th is National Celiac Disease Awareness Day thanks to Dr. Samuel Gee
Celiac Disease awareness and diagnosis has exploded over the last decade. This is due to many factors including the passionate group of gluten-free individuals who help spread the word through many media outlets, the volunteers at local support groups and those that work for organizations such as the Celiac Sprue Association, Celiac Disease Foundation, The Gluten Intolerance Group, and so on. However, it has been the dedicated medical professionals who have made the biggest impact on the diagnosis, awareness and hopefully eventually the cure for CD.
Being in the medical field I have always found it fascinating to look back on how diseases were discovered. For Celiac Disease it was Dr. Samuel Gee, a British physician who in 1887 was the first to identify the link between Celiac Disease and diet. Thanks Dr. Gee!
Look how far we have come in 125 years! The history of the disease has an interesting one dating all the back to 250AD when a Greek gentleman named Aretaeus of Cappadocia described a condition that caused abdominal pain and diarrhea in patients. He called this condition koiliakos (greek for abdomen). In 1856, Frances Adams translated these Greek writings to English and gave the sufferers the term coeliacs. Next , comes Dr. Samuel Gee who linked diet to Celiac Disease in 1887. Interestingly, it was not until 1952 (65 years later) that the gluten-free diet became the standard of treatment. The next milestone which is monumental was in 1956. GI doctor Margot Shiner developed the gold standard for diagnosis of CD, which holds true even today--the tissue biopsy of the small intestine. In 1997 GI doctor Detlef Schuppan introduced a simple blood screening test for the intial diagnosis of CD. This blood-screening test opened up the flood gates for those with symptoms similar to CD. More and more individuals are able to be tested more rapidly and efficiently thus reducing the time from onset of symptoms to actual diagnosis. Now comes my most favorite part, the possibility of a non-dietary treatment of the disease. Dr. Alessio Fassano at the University of Maryland discovered zonulin. Zonulin is a molecule that he believes increases intestinal permeability. In 2010 clinical trials testing a new nondietary therapy began.
When we look back on this time-line of CD we see rapid gains in knowledge of the disease in the last decade. Hopefully, this next decade gives us a non-dietary treatment that would make our lives more convenient and more spontaneous!
Enjoy National Celiac Disease Awareness day! Make a special gluten-free dish for someone special and give thanks to our dedicated medical professionals!
This is a guest post by Julie! Please visit her twitter @glutenfreejosh and her website http://www.jajosh.com/