Article by Travis Cesarone, Cannabis Life Network
Is mass gluten consumption the root cause of celiac disease, or is heavily processed food, such as bleached flour a culprit? (1, 2) Perhaps the answer to this question can teach licensed cannabis processors and cultivators (LPs) a lesson about respecting the plant.
Certain products have been banned in the flour and cheese industry in the UK, as well as most other countries in the world – including China. (3, 4) Despite their widespread restricted status, benzoyl and calcium peroxide are two bleaching agents still used in the North American flour industry. Yet, the pharmacology of these processed food ingredients is dubious, especially for celiac and other autoimmune diseases, to say the least. (5, 6)
Processed goods – food, cannabis, and disease
Different methods are used to solve different problems that occur with consumable goods, especially food. Controversially, this leads to heavily processed goods in the market. Whereas the cannabis industry experienced years of repression, and with a sudden green light, the community had to resolve a host of problems without adequate time to evolve. Vape pens had to be formulated to fit the model of convenience, but that caused the same issues of oxidation as the flour industry. Similar to the packaged food market, some cannabis processors experimented with and may have begun to add substances to modify, prevent, or preserve color that we now know contribute to disease and mortality.
How do you get celiac disease?
Approximately one percent of the global population has celiac disease, but the prevalence varies depending on race and ethnicity. (9) In summary, the body will produce antibodies that respond negatively and violently to gluten.
Celiac disease is genetic, which means it must be donated from one generation to the next. People can live with an asymptomatic genetic predisposition to autoimmune disease, but symptoms can still develop later in life. Gluten consumption can cause that onset. However, the microbiome’s response to different processed food has major implications towards the development and severity of symptomatic celiac disease. This gives flour processed with bleaching agents a causative link to the creation of those symptoms.
A consumable product’s first marketing hitch is aesthetics. But, attempts to work around the concept of beauty and shiny things have allowed specific toxins into common processed products. Unfortunately though, one of the ingredients in certain food that might trigger celiac disease, on par with mass gluten consumption, is a bleach persistently used in the North American flour industry. (8) The concern for benzoyl peroxide is due to its effect on flesh and gut bacteria.
Why is flour bleached or the colour of cannabis modified?
The flour and cannabis industries have both struggled with spontaneous degradation and the colour of their respective products. Vitamin E acetate found its way into vape pens formulations as an attempt to prevent colour in cannabis extracts from shifting to pink after a few months (we will discuss this in a future article). Generally, the public and processors have begun to give greater respect to the plant, whether that be wheat or cannabis.
Benzoyl peroxide is used to chemically age flour beyond the degradation state—but only in North America. Most of the world has banned this bleaching agent, and some nations have even restricted its use in ACNE creams. It was banned in flour production in China in 2011 after the UK limited its use a decade earlier. (2, 10) Widespread restrictions have been implemented because benzoyl peroxide causes cancer since it produces free radicals (1) – but that’s not all. Benzoyl peroxide can cause skin irritations but it is also an antibiotic, and innate immunity is synonymous with an antibiotic response.
Celiac disease, your microbiome, and mass gluten consumption
People that have celiac disease have a large amount of an enzyme, elastase. When this enzyme breaks down gluten it forms an amino acid, 33-Mer. (11) The wall of the intestine is supposed to be protected when this gluten building-block travels into the gut. In the case of celiac disease, however, 33-Mer can enter into tight-junctions that form the intestinal wall. This allows gluten’s amino acid building-blocks to slip deep into the tissue of the small intestine. In the event of celiac disease, special antibodies will recognize gluten’s amino acid pieces as an antigen (toxin). Ultimately, this is how mass gluten consumption can trigger an innate immune response that causes the body to fight itself.
This innate immune response can produce endogenous antibiotics which can disrupt the gut’s microbiome. But, packaged food contains plenty of excessive antibiotics. There are microbes in your stomach that thoroughly coat your gut which can act as an initial line of defense against toxins, like the amino acids in gluten. In theory, massive amounts of gluten will cause microbiome disruption, or dysbiosis, by forcing your body to produce large amounts of its own antibiotic peptides. (6) And, if you strip the microbial barrier away, this can be the initial root cause of celiac disease. From here, a vicious cycle continues until you stop consuming gluten. (12)