The link between discoid lupus and gluten has not been firmly established by the medical community. Nor has a link between celiac disease and discoid lupus been pronounced. However, because gluten is a substance that can be highly allergenic for some people, it may be an aggravating factor for discoid lupus as well as many other diseases.
The Effects of Gluten
The protein gluten is actually a complex molecule. Gliadin is a specific protein found within gluten that has been deemed the causational factor in celiac disease symptoms. Gliadin triggers an autoimmune reaction within a gluten intolerant individual and this reaction can result in severe digestive symptoms alongside a general wasting of the body over time. Untreated celiac disease can be debilitating and sometimes even lethal.
For individuals who have celiac disease or a non-celiac intolerance to gluten, this protein can slowly destroy the intestinal tract. When the intestinal villi are damaged or destroyed, malabsorption sets in. In such cases, the body cannot absorb essential nutrients properly and a syndrome called "leaky gut" also occurs. Leaky gut is a condition of intestinal permeability in which all sorts of undigested food molecules pass through the intestines and into the blood stream. Bacteria, byproducts of digestion, and toxins can all weave their way into the bloodstream and wreak havoc on the body. Neurotoxins produced by candida yeasts have been shown to affect brain function in susceptible individuals and, in some cases, may be an underlying factor in the infamous Attention Deficit Disorder.
In addition to malabsorption issues, severe malnutrition will occur over time. Since the body can no longer digest and absorb nutrients properly, it is no surprise nutrient deficiencies set in. When the body is starved for essential nutrients it becomes even more vulnerable to disease.
Discoid Lupus and Gluten
So what does any of this have to do with the link between discoid lupus and gluten? To wit, when a system has become so run down due to perpetual gluten exposure, it is now susceptible to a variety of trigger factors. Both celiac disease and discoid lupus are thought to be autoimmune diseases. The exact cause of autoimmune disease is unknown, but genetic components have been identified and research suggests the conditions are brought on by environmental triggers that affect the body during times of stress.
Since an inability to digest gluten can, indeed, be a stressor in a predisposed individual, this condition may aggravate or even bring on attacks of discoid lupus. In some cases, gluten intolerance may be the actual trigger factor for discoid lupus. In general, untreated celiac disease can be a trigger factor for several diseases, since it weakens the body so dramatically.
A Treatment Approach
A gluten-free diet has been suggested as a possible treatment for many conditions, including discoid lupus. In fact, a gluten-free casein-free diet is rapidly becoming a popular supplemental treatment plan for several suspicious diseases such as ADHD, lupus, arthritis, and inexplicable skin conditions. Both casein and gluten are large proteins that can be difficult for the body to digest. Hence, some people will experience a lessening, or even remission, of their symptoms once these two proteins are eliminated from their diet.
At present, Internet testimonials carry these theories more than actual medical research. Although the link between gluten and ADHD remains clearer, the protein's effect on lupus is more nebulous. This being said, there is no harm in attempting a GFCF diet in order to monitor your body's response. If you do notice a positive change in your discoid lupus then, by all means, continue on with the elimination diet. Still, at this time, a gluten-free diet is not being touted as a cure for discoid lupus. At best, it is a supplemental treatment that may in the future reveal favorable results with further medical study.