I Was Hoping For Relief From Symptoms, But Cannabis Cured My Refractory Celiac Disease


by Matthew Distefano

on October 22, 2014

Years ago, I was diagnosed with celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disease that causes an intolerance to wheat and other gluten-containing products. My diagnosis was confirmed by upper endoscopy in December 2011. After my endoscopy, I stopped eating gluten altogether. I noticed some improvements in my symptoms: bloating had decreased, energy levels slightly increased, and my overall GI discomfort had decreased. However, after a year of being completely gluten-free, my symptoms had persisted where as they should have been eliminated completely.

I had a second upper endoscopy in November 2012. This time, the biopsies taken from my small bowel had shown significant development of the disease. As a side note: when a celiac patient ingests gluten, the villi of the small bowel become flattened over time. This causes the absorption of essential vitamins and nutrients to be lessened. Furthermore, patients who do not adhere to a strict gluten-free diet will very likely develop T-cell lymphoma at some point in their life. There is, of course, a small percentage of celiac patients who do not respond to a gluten-free diet. This is known as refractory celiac disease and that diagnosis can be made if the disease is not in remission after a year of a strict gluten-free diet. My disease, as of November 2012, had not only not responded, but was significantly worse after a year. I waited another year and had yet another upper endoscopy in January 2014. My pathology report stated “there is no evidence of celiac disease.”

I was shocked to hear this news. I knew, at that point, that after only 6 months of using cannabis, my disease was essentially non-existent. I had never used cannabis until the summer of 2013. I thought that since there was essentially no great way to treat refractory celiac (some chemotherapy-type drugs and immunosuppressant drugs), and since I was an outspoken advocate of cannabis, I would try it myself. I didn’t think it would essentially cure my disease in only six months. I was hoping for just a relief from my persistent symptoms. In addition to my endoscopy results, my anemia, protein deficiency, calcium deficiency, and iron deficiency had all vanished. Essentially, I was cured.

Because I live in California, I was able to get a doctor’s recommendation for medical cannabis. I have been using daily for a little over a year now. The shocking thing is the side effects. Prior to using, I had become so involved on politics, conspiracies, and become inundated with all the bad news in the world. I had minor depression, anxiety, and severe anger at times. My story seemed very similar to Preston Smiles’. In fact, my wife made a comment while listening to him on Amber’s podcast. However, like Preston and Amber, I am now able to use my inordinate amount of energy on positive things that can help effect actual change.

Love is now my big motivator, where as before, it was primarily anger. I am not suggesting cannabis changed me fundamentally, but it has helped unlock the love that was within me. Like all of us, there are days where the “old me” shows his ugly face. However, those days are very few and very far between. Not only was I able to avoid horrible pharmaceutical drugs, but I was able to unlock the person I am supposed to be.