Celiac Disease and Pancreas Disorders | Allergy

Celiac Disease and Pancreas Disorders

by Allergy Guy

Celiac disease can disrupt the hormones that interact with the pancreas, resulting in impaired digestion.  This article looks at the pancreas and how a gluten free diet solves the problem.

The pancreas is responsible for producing a number of enzymes that are essential to digestion.  This enzyme production is regulated by enzymes produced in the digestive tract.

Celiac disease disrupts this system.  Usually, the effects of celiac disease can be completely reversed by following a strict gluten free diet.

Pancreas Function

Normally, the pancreas produces several digestive enzymes as follows:

  • Amylase (breaks down starches)
  • Lipase (breaks down fats)
  • Trypsin (breaks down proteins)

This is in addition to the production of insulin and a number of other important enzymes and digestive juices.

The digestive substances produced by the pancreas is regulated by enzymes produced in the stomach and small intestine in response to the arrival of food.

The stomach produces gastrin and other enzymes which regulates the pancreas.

The small intestine produces secretin, CKK and other enzymes.

Celiac Disease Disrupts The Pancreas

If you have celiac disease and continue to eat gluten, the villi in your small intestine become damaged and destroyed.

This greatly reduces your body’s ability to produce secretin, CKK and other digestive enzymes.

With a drastic reduction in the production of enzymes in the villi that regulate the pancreas, your digestive tract does not receive all of the digestive enzymes and chemicals it needs to digest your food properly.

As a result, the food you eat is not broken down properly.  This, combined with the gut’s impaired ability to absorb food, causes malabsorption.  As a result, your body is under-nourished.

Reversing Pancreas Problems in Celiacs

The long-term solution to getting pancreas operation back to normal is to go on a strict gluten free diet.  This reverses the damage caused by gluten to the celiac diseased gut.  The villi return to health and can once again produce the enzymes that regulate the pancreas.

While you are recovering, taking pancreatic enzymes to replace those missing from the normal digestive process can be extremely helpful. Talk to your doctor about this.

In a minority of cases, some people need to take pancreatic enzymes on a long-term basis.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sarah October 8, 2014 at 16:14

I am on the hunt for why my husband randomly vomits. I have heard of cyclic vomiting syndrome, but it’s a syndrome so it doesn’t really explain *why* he vomits. He was recently diagnosed as having Celiac Disease and though he is on a gluten free diet, he is still randomly vomiting. Is it possible that his body has just not recovered yet. The last time he ate gluten was on July 31 of this year. Last year, he was gluten free and didn’t vomit for several months. And now that I think of it, he was also taking digestive enzymes from the Naturopath.

Could it possibly be that he is one of the people that needs digestive enzymes long term?


2 Allergy Guy October 8, 2014 at 16:31

The first place to look as at his gluten-free diet. Is it really water-tight? Any chance of cross-contamination? Maybe he’s getting gluten into his diet somewhere.


3 John Wesley Ilopitu September 8, 2012 at 11:49

Secretin plays a very vital part in regulating the homeostasis of body glucose, because it acts as a mes sager to tell that the glucose are coming so pancreas you need to be ready to produced enough insulin to transport the glucose to the cells and the cell use it for convert it to energy for the body use it to survive.


4 Linda August 5, 2011 at 10:40

Thanks! I most definitely do have Crohn’s. I have been hospitalized in the past and also had surgery for it. Since the surgery I had been doing well, until now. My symptoms that have led me to Celiacs are a mile long. As if I have let it go too long without knowing that it is Celiac. Today I have an appt. with a Rheumatoid Arthritis doctor, next week a bone scan, then GI dr, then a neurologist. My body feels like it is fighting itself at all times. My vision is bad, all my joinst (especially my SI joint) I am having pains all over (both front upper of my sides and upper right side back), muscles spasms (major spasms) on all my limbs and my neck, my throat feels like it is closing up gradually week by week, and anytime I eat carbs, bread or pizza, I spend hours going to the bathroom. Yet, I am starving all the time for food. I also have blood in my stool (alot of blood) and sometimes anemic. I am deficient in Vit B12 and Vit D whenever I have blood tests done. I was feeling so bad that I stopped eating mostly altogether and my hair fell out. So, when I started eating again, I almost immediately gained 30 lbs. but I feel horrible. I never know what the day will bring, so I live my life like it’s my last day.


5 Linda August 4, 2011 at 15:38

I have been experiencing severe symptoms of Celiacs. For some time I have had what I call sugar crashes. After eating carbs of any kind I go into this type of crash. Now I am convinced it is from my pancreas not functioning normally due to possible Celiacs. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s several years ago, and as I understand Crohn’s and Celiacs go hand in hand. I also gain weight so easily. Could this also be a side effect because of my pancreas? My list is a mile long of what I have been dealing with. Do I have to get a diagnosis before going gluten free?


6 Allergy Guy August 5, 2011 at 08:23

Hi Linda,

You should get a celiac test as soon as possible, then go gluten-free. The test may not be accurate if you do it the other way around. Crohn’s and celiac aren’t the same thing, although celiac could be misdiagnosed as Crohn’s, or I suppose you could have both.

Celiacs usually have trouble loosing weight, so gaining weight is not a typical symptom of celiac. However, it does happen sometimes, and this could throw your doctor off. So do insist on a celiac test no matter what your doctor says, and if he/she refuses, find another doctor.

Let us know how it turns out. Good luck!


7 Karen August 5, 2011 at 12:18


I have never been tested for celiac disease, yet I know that I have it. How do I know? Because everytime I eat something with gluten in it, I develop stomach troubles; when I stop eating things with gluten in it, my stomach troubles go away.

When I eat gluten I develop a myriad of GI problems. First, the heartburn starts, followed by painful intestinal spasms, and ultimately ending with diarrhea.

My twin sister has the same issues. She saw a gastroenterologist for her symptoms. She didn’t want to undergo (and pay for) yet another procedure for her GI problems, so the Dr. told her that the best way to test for celiac/gluten intolerance is to stop eating it for a month and see if the symptoms go away. Then start eating it again and see if they come back. If they go away, and then come back, you know it’s the gluten. No test necessary.

He said someone could have celiac and get a negative result because the villi that are damaged are farther down into the intestines than they can reach during an endoscope, and not all of the villi are necessarily damaged in a case of celiac. So, my suggestion is to just go gluten free. It certainly can’t hurt you and most likely will help.


8 Shirley Derifield January 29, 2011 at 07:22

Having pancreatitis for four years I’ve found that enzymes do work!I am not sure if I have Celiacs but will be tested. My pancreas is now burnt out and do not believe the damage can be reversed, however is going gluten free helps the pain…I’m game.


9 Allergy Guy January 29, 2011 at 16:00

I’m sorry to hear about the problems you’ve had with your pancreas. It will be interesting to know the results of your test. Feel free to share if you’re comfortable about it.


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