Monthly Archives: March 2013

Going Gluten Free by Melissa McCarty ND

I often recommend patients try a gluten-free diet because it is one of the most inflammatory and reactive proteins we eat. Gluten is found in many grains including:

·         Wheat (durum, kamut, graham, semolina, spelt)

·         Rye

·         Barley

·         Triticale

·         Bulgur

·         Couscous

·         Einkorn

·         Emmer

·         Faro

·         Malt extract, malt flavoring, malt syrup

·         Oats** (Oats are naturally gluten free but they are processed or rolled in the same facilities as gluten products. Gluten is sticky and sticks to the machines and attaches to oats this way.)

·                           Be aware that “wheat-free” does NOT guarantee gluten-free. Breads made from carob-soy flour can contain up to 80% wheat flour.


Grains that are gluten-free and safe to have on a gluten-free diet are: rice, corn, soy, potato, tapioca, beans, garfava, sorghum, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, arrowroot, amaranth, teff and nut flours

 The extreme form of gluten intolerance is called Celiac Disease. In this autoimmune process, the body has an immune response to gluten that causes it to attack it’s own intestinal walls and damages them, making it very difficult for the body to absorb nutrients.  Celiac disease is screened for with a blood test and often confirmed with a biopsy of the intestinal wall. Sometimes if the blood test is negative but there is a high suspicion of the disease, a biopsy will be done anyway.

 If you don’t have Celiac Disease, the best way to know if gluten is a problem is to eliminate it from your diet for a few weeks (I usually recommend 3-4 weeks) and see if you feel any difference. Most people have a symptom (or many symptoms) that is irritating enough to them that they want to give elimination a shot. Some of the more common symptoms I see are:

Skin:  eczema, dermatitis, itching, hives, swelling, redness, acne, dark circles under eyes

Gastrointestinal:  diarrhea, gas, nausea/vomiting, cramps, bloating, abdominal pain, constipation

Respiratory:  wheezing, nasal congestion, trouble breathing, asthma

Other:  joint pain, swelling (lips, tongue, face, throat), headache, migraines, brain fog, fatigue, fertility issues

Below is a list of food categories and specific foods that are allowed and ones that should be avoided when going gluten free (abbreviated “GF”). Additional resources are listed at the end of this list.


Allowed:       Specially prepared breads using only these flours: amaranth, arrowroot, bean, buckwheat, chia, corn, flax, Indian rice grass, mesquite, millet, nut, pure gluten-free oats, potato, quinoa, rice, sorghum, soy, tapioca, and teff.


Be careful with oat bread (see above)


Avoid:             Breads containing wheat (including einkorn, Durham, faro, graham, semolina, spelt), rye, barley, triticale, Kamut, bulgur, or couscous.


Flours/Thickening agents

Allowed:           Amaranth, arrowroot starch, bean flour, buckwheat, chia, corn bran, corn flour, corn germ, corn meal, corn starch, mesquite, millet, Montina (Indian rice grass, GF oats, potato flour, potato starch, quinoa, rice bran, rice flour (brown, white, or sweet OK), rice polish, rice starch flour, sorghum flour, soy flour, tapioca starch, teff.


Dairy Products

Allowed:       Fresh, dry, evaporated, or condensed milk; cream; sour cream**; whipping cream; yogurt


Avoid:             Malted milk; some commercial chocolate drinks**; some non-dairy creamers**

**Consult label and contact manufacturers about questionable ingredients


Meat, Fish, Poultry

Allowed:       All fresh meats, seafood, poultry

Be careful with some processed meats (hot dogs, lunch meats, cured meats), as well as some fish canned in water, oil, brine, or vegetable broth.


Avoid:             Prepared or processed meats containing grains to avoid, such as: some sausages*, hot dogs*; bologna*; and luncheon meats; *Chili con carne*; bread-containing products, such as Swiss steak, meat loaf, meatballs, and croquettes; tuna canned with hydrolyzed protein*; turkey with hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) injected as part of the basting solution; “imitation crab” or other meat analogs containing wheat starch or other unacceptable filler; quick individually frozen (QIF) seafood ‡


*Consult label and contact manufacturer to clarify questionable ingredients.

‡May be dusted with flour or other starches in processing.



Allowed:       Plain or in cooking.


Avoid:             Eggs in sauces made from wheat, rye, oats, or barley. Wheat flour is often used in white sauces. Note that some restaurants may add a wheat-based filler to scrambled eggs and omelets.


Potato, Rice, Pasta, or other Starches

Allowed:       White and sweet potatoes; yams; hominy; rice; wild rice; special pasta made from rice, corn, soy or other allowed ingredients. Some Asian rice* and bean thread noodles.


Avoid:             Regular noodles; spaghetti or macaroni made from grains not allowed. Most packaged* or frozen rice or pasta side dishes*.

*Consult label and contact manufacturers about questionable ingredients



Allowed:       All plain, fresh, frozen or canned vegetables


Be careful with some commercially prepared vegetables.


Avoid:             Creamed vegetables*, vegetables canned in sauce*, some canned beans*, and commercially-prepared vegetables and salads.

                            *Consult label and contact manufacturers to clarify questionable ingredients.



Allowed:       All fresh, frozen, canned fruits


Be careful with some dried fruits*.


Avoid:             Thickened or prepared fruits, some pie fillings


                            *Consult label and contact manufacturers to clarify questionable ingredients.


To learn more:

o        The Gluten Intolerance Group

o        Celiac Disease Foundation 

o        National Digestive Diseases Clearinghouse: Celiac Disease

o        “Is That Gluten Free?” iPhone App (allows you to search ingredients, brands, products and tells you if it contains gluten)

o        Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen blog for GREAT recipes: 



Dr. Melissa McCarty

Naturopathic Physician

Seattle Integrative Medicine

5322 Roosevelt Way NE

Seattle, WA 98105




New Study Suggests Acupuncture May Improve Bell’s Palsy


Each year, about 40,000 Americans get Bell’s palsy, which results in a temporary

facial paralysis that usually affects one side and lasts a few months. A steroid called

Prednisone, along with over the counter analgesics, vitamins, physical therapy, and

acupuncture are often used to treat the condition. However, a new study from

China reveals that a more intensive form of acupuncture produces significantly

better results when added to prednisone treatment than low-intensity acupuncture

for patients with Bell’s palsy.  This more intensive form of acupuncture requires the

acupuncturist to achieve “De qi.”


“De qi” is the term used for the sensation felt when an acupuncturist reaches the

level of qi in the body. Before acupoints are stimulated, they must first be opened to

access the channel passing through it. Acupoints contain the qi, and they allow the

qi to flow outwards to the body’s surface. When correct stimulation is applied, the

qi is activated in the desired channels and areas of the body, offering appropriate

therapeutic results.  Click here for more details on what acupuncture feels like.  


The needle may be twirled, moved up and down at different speeds and depths,

heated, or charged with a small electrical current until the de qi sensation occurs.

Patients have described the sensation in many ways, including warm, cold, tingling,

and heavy. De qi is also felt by the practitioner and can signal that the proper

amount of needle stimulation is being performed. According to one of the study’s

authors, Traditional Chinese Medicine considers the combination of feelings

associated with de qi to provide the best therapeutic benefit.


Dr. Wei Wang at Key Laboratory of Neurological Diseases of Chinese Ministry of

Education in Wuhan, Hubei, conducted a randomized control study to see whether

de qi makes a difference in the effectiveness of acupuncture therapy. He and his

colleagues asked 317 adults with Bell’s palsy to undergo five half-hour acupuncture

treatments for four weeks. Half of the participants were randomly assigned to

receive treatments that would elicit de qi, and the other half received the traditional

acupuncture treatment in which the needle is inserted and left alone. All of the

participants, however, received prednisone.


Using a scale of 200 to rate patients’ facial function, neurologists found that patients

started with scores around 130 to 135. They did not know which treatment

each participant had received, and patients were rated again after six months of

treatment. Those in the de qi group had an average score of 195 while the other

group scored an average of 186. Although a nine point difference may not seem

significant, Wang notes that this would be noticeable to patients.


Although the study did not measure how well people would have recovered without

receiving acupuncture, or with no treatment at all, the researchers found that 94

percent of the participants who received de qi completely recovered their facial

function by the end of six months. Only 77 percent of patients in the other group

experienced a full recovery.


Many Americans are turning to alternative medicine to treat their medical

problems, and nearly half of physicians in the U.S. have either referred patients

to acupuncturists or would be open to making such a referral. Shands Hospital

in Florida is opening a new Center for Integrative Medicine to provide patients

with other forms of healing, such as acupuncture. This shift may be a result of the

prevalence of doctors prescribing pain medications inappropriately. 


Despite its growing popularity, patients should remember that acupuncture also

comes with risks, fraud and misrepresentation. Patients who are interested in

acupuncture should ensure that their acupuncturists are accredited and have a well-

known reputation for providing exceptional standards of care.  Click here for details about the 

licensing requirements for acupuncture in Washington State.  



This blog post was kindly contributed to the Downtown Seattle Acupuncture blog by Ashley Burns.  


For more information on treating bells palsy with acupuncture, contact Monica Legatt, Licensed Acupuncturist