Yes, I’m crazy


If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.” (Epictetus via Amy-Mae Elliott)

Yesterday a Facebook friend posted about the current gluten-free trend. He shared an article from Sploid, which cited an article from Real Clear Science, which in turn cited a study published in the August 2013 edition of Gastroenterology.

Sploid’s takeaway was that non-celiac gluten sensitivity is a nocebo effect. Now, the study did find a nocebo effect, (not surprising given the gut-brain connection), but the main insight of this study over previous studies is captured in its title: No Effects of Gluten in Patients With Self-Reported Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity After Dietary Reduction of Fermentable, Poorly Absorbed, Short-Chain Carbohydrates.

Basically, FODMAPs. This study bounced around the paleosphere back in November. Here’s my takeaway: it’s an interesting study, it suggests new avenues for further research, but in practical terms, it doesn’t change much yet. If you’re like me, and you’ve improved your symptoms by cutting grains out of your diet, do you really care if it was gluten or FODMAP fructans specific to grains?

Now, armed with this new knowledge, you could cut out grains, but add back “carbohydrate-depleted wheat gluten”. I’m salivating.

So I commented on the post. He commented back, in part: “… trying ridiculous things like soaking and sprouting is symptomatic of a psychosomatic hypochondria that is most likely causing your symptoms in the first place.

There’s nothing like a free diagnosis from Facebook – but he’s right, I’m crazy.

I had mentioned traditional methods of food preparation, but that’s just scratching the surface. How crazy am I? Let me count the ways:

I’m certainly crazy.

But let’s imagine ourselves for a minute in a world where the gut symptoms I developed in 2003 were from psychosomatic hypochondria. How wonderful to be to erase these issues with a simple realization that it was all in my head? I could have clicked my ruby slippers and been pooping like a pro again.

But would I still have the terrible, incurable acne at age 26? Would I be the sickly kid who got every cold that went around, with sinus infections that lasted for weeks at a time? Would I still have the crazy blood sugar fluxuations that made me a slave to mealtimes?

Were all of these symptoms hypochondria born from a fevered mind? If so, I shudder to think how much talk therapy I would have needed to resolve them.

And yet this supposed placebo effect has cleared my symptoms for good one by one. Being crazy gets results!

Is it crazier to take coffee enemas when they’ve been working, or to prescribe a second course of Accutane when the first course didn’t work?

Pour diluted baby shampoo into your nose, or prescribe antibiotics to a patient whose sinus infections have never responded to antibiotics?

Was I crazy to think that my epididymitis had an underlying cause, or was the doctor crazy for showing no interest in further investigation and telling me to take some Aleve?

The scariest side effect of any pharmaceutical quick-fix is that there’s still an underlying problem that you haven’t resolved.

I’ll admit I’m crazy. The nocebo effect is a real thing. Orthorexia may not be in the DSM-IV, but it’s something to watch out for. I turned my life upside-down when I started eating SCD in 2004, and it hasn’t been “normal” since.

Still, I wish someone had told me at age 14, (hell at 12 months!), to drop grains and stick to safe starches. I’d have been forever in their debt.

I may be crazy, but I’m happier for it.

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