DIY Medicine: Sinus Infections Caused by Wheat Gluten

Five years ago programmer and author David Kadavy suffered from constant sinus infections. The doctors he had seen about it hadn’t helped: “They tended to test me for environmental allergies, stick a camera up my nose, and ultimately prescribe some bullshit allergy medication that didn’t work.” What did work:

One day I was reading an old book on holistic medicine. Of course, the first thing I wanted to know was how could I prevent being constantly congested. The book said that foods such as wheat, meat, and dairy often contributed to excess mucous production – and thus, sinusitis. I was miserable, and clearly willing to try anything, so I cut out all three of those things the very next day.

Within two days, the difference was incredible. My head had cleared up, I had boundless energy, and other problems – such as a patch of eczema that I had on my eyelid for years – all cleared up. . . . Through a bit of experimentation I was able to place the blame for my sinus woes (and that eczema thing) on wheat. . . . Not only did the experience have me looking at food differently, it also had me looking at medicine differently. How could I see so many GPs, allergy specialists, ENT [ear nose and throat] specialists, and dermatologists without a single one of them saying “you know, you should look at your diet?”

Yes, how could that be? And, to paraphrase Alex Tabarrok, what else are they missing?

Thanks to Melissa McEwen.

9 Replies to “DIY Medicine: Sinus Infections Caused by Wheat Gluten”

  1. What else is missing? How about a control group?

    Seth: You think it’s plausible that his health improvement might not be due to the dietary change? Why?

  2. My sinus problems ameliorated when I gave up citrus fruit, and improved again when our cats died. So pelt your cats with oranges, chaps!

  3. I’m doing well, Joe. I still avoid gluten, and don’t get sinus infections (or colds, really, for that matter) anymore. I do even better if I avoid lectins as well (Paleo diet), but I’m not as strict with that.

  4. A similar but milder incidence happened to me upon removing Wheat from my diet when first trying “Paleo”. I used to wake up every morning with a mildly runny nose that would always need a good blowout in my morning shower. It was about a week into the diet experiment when I noticed that for the first time for as long as I could remember I was no longer doing this and my nose was noticeably clearer.

  5. I have noticed the same thing since going gluten free 2 years ago for my fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue. In addition to the fibro and the fatigue, I got rid of my sinus problems and my daily headache and my skin cleared up.

    I’m not even tempted to eat wheat now.

  6. Joe Levy needs to be introduced to the ‘scientific method’. When wheat containing substances are removed from the diet chronic sinus infections abate. When wheat is re-introduced, the symptoms re-emerge. Repeat this experiment. Do it again. Once more. If the evidence squares up, decide under which regime you wish to live and act accordingly. Are not the controls clear enough?

    There’s ‘evidence based medicine’ and ‘outcomes based medicine’. Can Waldo spot the racket?

    Seth: Yeah. Science is about learning from evidence, yet many people who learn terms like “control group”, “placebo”, “double-blind”, and “randomized” use them to avoid learning from evidence. They use them to belittle evidence. There should be a name for this paradox. Evidence-based medicine may be better than what it replaced but it has a strong strain of this belittlement, as you say.

  7. ahh… ‘evidence based medicine’. What kind of ‘[*.*] based medicine’ were they practising so long before that? Have the charlatans of that time – what, 15 years ago – been turned out, dismissed, fined, jailed? By what (objective) measures are heath outcomes better or different under this new regime than the one nameless one it has replaced?

    Headline of today: GSK fined $3b for casually lying about everything while the evidence based physicians lined their pockets and smacked their lips.

    plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose

  8. I used to have extremely bad congestion in my sinus cavities. I heard from Jerry Pournelle, who I respect, that a machine called the SinuPulse cleared up his sinuses. I bought one and had good results. Even better results happened after using it for a year. It seems that I now no longer get sinus build up as easily as I used to. I go months without using it and have no problems. I wonder if sinus problems come from some bacteria or other creature that builds up and washing it away cures the irritation of the sinuses?

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