Bread image courtesy of Flickr/AHyde

Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, which means that products like breads are off-limits for anyone who has a gluten intolerance. While avoiding bread may be obvious, anyone with a gluten intolerance knows all too well that gluten often appears in the most unexpected places. Many hot dog brands, for example, use fillers containing gluten in their products. To avoid the pain and discomfort that gluten can cause, those with a gluten intolerance or celiac disease must learn which products have an unexpected gluten content.

Foods are not the only potential source of hidden gluten. When anyone with celiac disease has a medical condition, such as heart disease, high cholesterol, depression, or erectile dysfunction, they may find themselves with a new prescription. Along with that prescription come worries about what exactly is in that little pill. The pill of course contains the active ingredients that help the medical condition, but those active ingredients are usually contained in some sort of filler. This filler helps add volume to the pill, making it a manageable size to take, and helps the body to slowly digest the pill so that the active ingredients are released at the optimum pace and with less stomach upset. The question for those with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance is what exactly is in the filler. Because filler ingredients are generally not always listed on medication bottles, there is no easy way of knowing whether the filler contains gluten. Often pills are made with starch, which contains gluten, although this varies from manufacturer to manufacturer.

This uncertainty about medication filler ingredients prompted companies like Mint Pharmaceuticals to do something about it. They have received a rare gluten-free certification for their pills, from the Gluten-Free Certification Program (GFCP) offered through the Canadian Celiac Association (CCA). This certification guarantees the consumer that when they take a Mint brand pill, they are not ingesting any gluten. This gives peace of mind to anyone with celiac disease that spends their days scouring food labels for any tell-tale signs that the product contains gluten. While not all pharmaceuticals contain gluten, people with a gluten intolerance who take gluten-free pills can be assured that their particular medication is safe from causing the side effects of ingesting gluten.

While Mint does not cover every generic medication available, they have focused on some of the most commonly-prescribed medications. This includes their gluten-free generic Amlodipine to treat high blood pressure, which is also called hypertension; Sildenafil to treat erectile dysfunction; Clopidogrel to help treat heart conditions; Simvastatin, a statin to help lower LDL cholesterol levels in the blood; Montelukast to treat asthma; Finasteride to help treat hair loss; and Pioglitazone to treat high blood sugar associated with diabetes. This can help give people with these medical conditions the peace of mind that their medication does not contain gluten, so taking their daily pill will not cause the side effects associated with eating gluten.

In those with a gluten intolerance or celiac disease, consuming products containing gluten can trigger side effects like diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, abdominal pain, fatigue, mood swings, weight gain or loss, or other uncomfortable symptoms. Products that are certified gluten-free, like medication from Mint Pharma, can help people with celiac disease avoid these uncomfortable side effects.

Not everyone with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance has received a diagnosis, and they may be suffering with these symptoms without knowing the cause. If you or a loved one have the symptoms of celiac disease, you should visit your doctor to discuss your concerns and get an official diagnosis. Although there is no cure for celiac disease, a diagnosis can help you plan your diet to avoid foods, and even medication, that contain gluten.