Is Sjogren’s Syndrome a Symptom of Something More Serious?

Many people with celiac disease have also been diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome which is a condition that causes dry eyes and dry mouth. In fact, there is a connection between the two diseases in that 15% of the patients diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome also have biopsy-proven celiac disease, making it far more common in Sjögren’s patients than it is in the general population. However, about 90% of Sjogren’s syndrome patients are female. There is a high genetic component involved in this syndrome and it is also found more commonly in families that have members with other autoimmune illnesses, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, autoimmune thyroid disease, Type I diabetes.
Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disease, just as celiac disease is. However, in the case of Sjögren’s syndrome, the autoimmune attack takes place in the moisture-producing glands and other tissues in the body that serve your eyes and your mouth, as opposed to the villi in your intestines. People with Sjögren’s syndrome may encounter difficulty swallowing, damage to their teeth due to a lack of saliva, and damage to their eyes due to a lack of moisture.
However, there is some evidence that people with Sjögren’s might want to consider getting tested for celiac disease, especially if they have possible symptoms (remember, not everyone has primarily intestinal symptoms). Of course, you should always complete any celiac testing prior to going gluten-free, since it’s impossible to get accurate test results on the gluten-free diet. In some cases, folks with Sjogren’s syndrome who also have celiac disease, have silent celiac disease in that they do not notice any medical symptoms but show evidence of intestinal damage. In addition, there may also be a link between non-celiac gluten sensitivity and Sjogrens syndrome.
Well, all this information is wonderful and interesting, but where does it leave you, the patient of Sjogrens syndrome? There’s no cure for Sjögren’s, but it’s possible to manage the symptoms with artificial tears, frequent water drinking or gum chewing, or possibly prescription medications that stimulate saliva flow. Physicians recommend using moisturizers to treat the dry skin that frequently comes with Sjögren’s.
Well, for starters, I would get a diagnosis for both the Sjogrens syndrome and the celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Then I would suggest you follow a gluten free diet, and look into treatment for dry eyes and dry mouth. Although this diagnosis is annoying and discomforting, following a gluten free diet may alleviate the severity of the symptoms. I always tell people, “If your body does not have to work so hard to fight that gluten, it has energy to fight in other areas of your body that might need it.”
So, as you know, 6 years ago, I gave up chocolate for me and for my oldest daughter because we were highly sensitive to its affect…probably the cocoa and caffeine. We have since discovered numerous ways to make carob taste yummy. Here is one of our favorites…in ‘the brownie form.’ Enjoy!

Not-So-Sinful Carob Gluten Free Brownies*
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup homemade carob
2/3 cup honey
½ cup applesauce
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 t vanilla
1 cup certified GF rolled oats
½ cup brown rice flour
¼ cup white rice flour
¼ cup tapioca flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking powder
1 T powdered sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees
Lightly spray with olive oil a 9 X 13 baking dish
In large saucepan, heat oil and carob over low heat.
When melted, remove from heat and add sugar and applesauce.
Stir in eggs and vanilla until completely blended.
Add combined oats, flours, baking powder, salt and xanthan gum.
Spread evenly into pan.
Bake 22-25 minutes or until edges pull away from sides of the pan.
Cool and cut into bars. Serve with powdered sugar on top.

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