This used to be a blog dedicated to one of my interests, dream interpretation. I have decided to expand it to include thoughts about pretty much Everything.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

We need a new label

Fundamentalists are people who are so right they're wrong.

We need a new label to add to the fundie camp: science fundamentalists. These are the people who reject ideas out of hand because they haven't been proved by science yet.

Like the gracious and sensitive person on the IFLS facebook page who posted this gem:

The caption read, "Unless you have been diagnosed with celiac disease, going gluten free will do *nothing* for your health. Image via Skepchick."

Seriously?  What a jerk. These folks deserve to be labeled.  I call them, science fundamentalists.

Just because science hasn't figured out the reasons yet, doesn't mean that a lot of people are not truly benefiting from going gluten free. Who is this person to say what will and will not help someone else with a problem no professional seems to know how to solve?

Sometimes, you have a problem that current science hasn't found an answer for yet, and you have to experiment on your own until you figure out what works. I don't appreciate the insinuation that I'm an idiot for that. (Not that I particularly care what other people think.)

My 6-year-old son is one who has found a LOT of relief by cutting out gluten. He had encopresis, which is a word I truly hope you don't know the meaning of. Picture this: You're going about your day, and suddenly there's poop in your pants.  You don't have sensation of having to go poop beforehand. It just comes whenever it wants to come, and you don't find out until it's already in your pants. Imagine being a child who has this problem.  Imagine being the mother of this child.

The only medical "solution" for this is laxatives. They say it's caused by the child holding in his poop, due to being distracted with other things, or whatever, and so the child gets constipated. In an effort to release the lump of hardened fecal matter stuck in the intestine, the body produces diarrhea, which flows around the lump, and exits the body without activating the normal alert system--the feeling of having to poop.  Lovely.

If this is how encopresis works, then laxatives should help.  Well, laxatives made him poop a lot alright, but they didn't help him regain his sensations of needing to go. And he still had accidents. The pediatrician also told me to put him on a schedule of sitting on the toilet for a certain amount of time every day.  Apparently my already-toilet-trained child had "forgotten" that when you feel like you're supposed to poop, you need to run to the toilet... so I was supposed to retrain him to do that. What?  OK...  Well, I'll give it a try...

The problem is, these interventions did not work.  The poor boy still had accidents every day.  The poor mother had to clean a lot of dirty laundry... and walls... and floors... and hands... Nasty!  I was desperate.  There had to be a cause. There had to be a cure.

Maybe it was a food allergy.  There are some people in my family who were lactose intolerant as children; maybe he's reacting to dairy.  We cut out dairy for 10 days.  No relief.  Well, maybe cutting out constipating foods would help.  We cut out chocolate and dairy for 10 days.  No relief.  Still an accident every day.  Finally I found this blog:
Mom's Guide to Encopresis 
Which said that one family had solved their daughter's problem of encopresis by cutting out gluten and adding probiotics.  Well, we were already doing probiotics, so it was a matter of trying gluten. 

But my stomach sank.  I had done a gluten-free diet for my ex husband several years ago, and it was a major annoyance.  I really hoped this wouldn't work... But of course, like I said, I was desperate.

Two days after going gluten free, my son became regular.  He could feel the sensation of needing to poop.  At first his BM was watery with chunks, but it solidified, and now he has normal daily bowel movements.

I thought maybe it was a coincidence, so two weeks after the bliss of living normally began, I let him eat gluten over the weekend.  He was constipated on Monday and had an accident on Tuesday.  So we went back to gluten-free.  Any time he accidentally gets gluten now, he has an accident the next day.

Placebo? Maybe. But neither I nor he wanted to cut out gluten, because it's such a huge annoyance to live that way, especially when you live in a small town with very few gluten-free substitutes at the grocery stores.. So you will never convince me that cutting out gluten helped him due to placebo; it helped him because it physically helped him. Plus, we tried several other dietary interventions that didn't work, so if placebo were going to work, it should have worked when we cut out dairy or chocolate. 

A recent study suggests that maybe it's the reduction in short-chain carbohydrates called "FODMAPs" that might be the "real" source of people's relief when they go on a gluten-free diet.  Maybe. The problem is, though, that my son's diet is literally exactly the same as it was before; we just swapped out wheat bread, pasta, and cereal, with gluten-free bread, pasta, and cereal.  We were already avoiding HFCS, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, and most soy. We rarely eat beans. He eats apples regularly, as well as other foods with FODMAPs.  The gluten is the only thing that changed.

I'm not saying it has to be the gluten. Maybe it's something else in wheat, or a combination of factors. I'm not committed to a single position, except the position that I want my son to be able to function properly. I'm just saying, it's working... why are people rude enough to tell me it's not, when I see it with my own eyes?

For a science fundie to tell me that cutting out gluten will do nothing for my health because we don't have scientific studies to prove it, is the same as a Christian fundie saying that a Muslim or an Atheist can't possibly have a happy and fulfilled life because Jesus is the only source of fulfillment. It's the same attitude!  To maintain their position, these fundamentalists have to ignore the testimonials of millions of people.

How about a new joke?
If a tree falls in the forest, and a group of peasants hears it land, did it actually make a sound? A science fundamentalist would say, "not unless there's a scientist with a decibel meter there to tell us how loud the impact was."

This isn't to say that science doesn't work. I have a very high respect for science. I'm just saying that science hasn't figured EVERYTHING out yet, and pooh pooh-ing something that is working for a lot of people just because there's some study that says "that shouldn't work" or "there's no study that shows how it works" is arrogant and closed-minded. Science fundamentalists are going against the exploratory spirit of science, itself, by committing themselves unshakably to a position and dismissing or attacking anyone who holds a different position. 
The world is vast! 
There's so much more to learn!  
You can be wrong!


  1. I am so glad to know that my blog was able to help you and your son. I know that never in my wildest dreams did I think that GLUTEN of all things was the cause of my daughter's problems. I thought she was just a carb junkie like me! :) All I know is that it worked for my daughter and she sure as heck didn't like the idea of giving up all the stuff she loved, but it is 100 times better than what we were going through every day! I am just so happy for you!!! Hugs!!!