History of Wheat, Oats and Celiac


Historical background

"The literature pertaining to Celiac Sprue is voluminous but few reports have provided concep­tual contributions to our understanding of the disease. Celiac was first described in the second century, but it wasn't until the 20th century that rudimentary causative factors have been known. Thaysen in 1932 provided a clinical description of the disease in adults, although he was likely un­aware of the pathology of the intestinal lesion. In 1950, Dicke suggested that certain dietary cereal grains were harmful to children with celiac sprue. He astutely noted that the incidence of celiac sprue in children in Holland during World War 11 was markedly reduced and that previously diagnosed celiac patients seemed to improve during the war years. During this period grain products such as wheat and rye flour were in short supply in Holland, and dietary carbohydrate was obtained from vegetable sources. In other European countries where, during the same period, cereal grains were more available, the incidence of celiac sprue did not appear reduced. When cereal grains again became plentiful in Holland after the war, the incidence of celiac sprue returned rapidly to prewar levels. Subsequent researchers, including van de Kamer, Weifers, and Dicke, showed that the watersoluble protein in gluten of wheat was the substance which damaged the small intestine of patients with celiac sprue." From Pitts Gatroenterology

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History of oats

"Little history of oat is known prior to the time of Christ. Oats did not become important to man as early as wheat or barley. Oats probably per­sisted as a weed-like plant in other cereals for centuries prior to being cultivated by itself. Some authorities believe that our present cultivated oats developed as a mutation from wild oats. They think this may have taken place in Asia Minor or south­eastern Europe not long before the birth of Christ."
From From Iowa State University

A Brief History of Celiac Disease

As far back as 250 A.D., Aretaeus of Cappadocia included detailed descriptions of an unnamed disease in his writings. When describing his patients he referred to them as "koiliakos," which meant "suffering in the bowels." Francis Adams translated these observations from Greek to English for the Sydenham Society of England in 1856. He thus gave sufferers the moniker "celiacs."

In 1888, Dr. Samuel Gee, United Kingdom, of the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children first presented a set of clinical accounts of both children and adults with Celiac Disease. In the account Gee stated that “to regulate the food is the main part of treatment. The allowance of farinaceous foods must be small, but if the patient can be cured at all, it must be by means of diet.” In this statement Gee is credited with being the first to link diet to celiac treatment. September 13th is designated National Celiac Disease Awareness Day in honor of Gee’s birthday. CSA uses this day to increase national CD awareness.

From Celiac Spruce Association