How Long To Get Gluten Out Of The Body?

“How long does it take for gluten to leave your system? I know repairing the damage takes a while but was wondering how long it stays in your system for?”

This question has been asked a lot and I got this particular one through yesterday. I asked Dr Peter Osborne at the Gluten Free Society for our first-ever ‘Expert Response’ to share with you. Here is his reply:

“The half life for gluten antibodies is typically 3-4 months.  Thus is would take at least that long for gluten to be purged from the system.  This also depends on other factors, such as:

1. The health of the individual – for example, if a person has gluten induced liver or kidney disease (a common manifestation of gluten induced damage) the purging process would most likely take longer.

2. The presence of trace gluten in the diet. Even small amounts can perpetuate the production of gluten antibodies and inflammation.

3.  Dehydration – many people are chronically dehydrated.  Reduced water volume will lead to reduced detoxification capabilities and reduced gluten clearance time.

4. Constipation – reduces gut transit time.  The bowels should move 1-2 times per day.  Gluten commonly causes gastroparesis and constipation.  To effectively remove gluten from the body, one needs to promote a healthy bowel movement.  Increasing fresh fruit and vegetable is the most effective way to do this.

Supplements to speed up this process – Max digest, helps break down gluten peptides and aids in the health digestion of macronutrients.  UltraImmune IgG helps remove toxic peptides from the gut lining and reduces immune stress.  Biotic Defense – helps to recolonize the normal bacterial flora.”

So, he reckons it will take 3-4 months at least for gluten to come out of your system and that’s if you have made certain there is none getting in from hidden or accidental sources and other systems and organs are capable of it. That’s why sorting the gut and liver out at least is a big part of the initial therapy once you’re on the TGF diet.

That’s not to say, though, that you can’t feel symptomatically better a lot quicker. My personal experience, and that of the first few of my TGF patients, has been symptom relief within 24-48 hours in some cases.

My own swelling in the throat disappeared in 24 hours, thank goodness. Another patient suggested brain fog and fatigue lifted substantially within the same time frame, and most people’s bowel movements have changed within the first few days to detox types (yellowy, mushy, greeny – yum!) as if the body has breathed a sigh of relief and started to finally clear the system and begin the healing process.

One important note with regard to the supplements Dr Osborne mentions: he is sending me the labels shortly so that I can assess them using the same process I have used for others. If they are indeed suitable (and they should be coming from Dr Osborne so I have high hopes!), I will let you know. Meantime, stick to the supplements recommended in the Supplements Special Report for now. If you want to try them, you can buy direct from the Gluten Free Society site.

Meantime, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr Osborne for taking the time to give us his response to that question.

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50 thoughts on “How Long To Get Gluten Out Of The Body?

  1. [...] Those of you following Micki’s gluten-free grain campaign should check into her new site for books and cookbooks, for information about and suggestions how to use almond and coconut flour, for what sounds like a delicious recipe for hazlenut bread crackers and to find out how long it takes to get gluten out of the body. [...]

  2. [...] How Long To Get Gluten Out Of The Body? (trulyglutenfree.co.uk) [...]

  3. Hi, if the half-life is 3-4 months, then gluten antibodies will only drop to 50% in that time (that’s what a half-life is – the time it takes for the thing to reduce by half). So if you wait 5 half-lives, they will drop to 1/32 of the original amount, i.e. about 3% of the original amount. That’s 15-20 months, at which point they’re still as high as 3% of the initial amount! This implies it will take much much longer than 3-4 months for the gluten to clear the system. Does this chime with your experience?

    I was free of the worst brain fog about one week after stopping gluten, though for the first three days or so I was what can only be described as raving – talking very fast and intensely in half-sentences and feeling very like I was staring gimlet-eyed at the world. If I do have gluten now, I find I’m feeling very sad for a few days afterwards. One time I was missing proper rye bread so much that I had pumpernickel, and that was the result.

    Your post about the gluten antibody half-life has given me pause for thought – if it takes so long to get them out of the body, then it’s much greater motivation to avoid them completely, e.g. when visiting family at holiday times.

    Nice website, thanks for all the info.

    • Thanks Gillian, nice response. You are quite right and yes it does chime with my experience in that most patients feel dramatically better but not quite right even after quite a few months. I think where Dr Osborne says ‘at least’ 3-4 months, he is spot on and is also right that it varies from person to person. It’s the cross-contamination that’s the real bug-bear, isn’t it, though? One study proved that just a piece of communion wafer the size of 1/16th of your little fingernail regularly was enough to prevent someone with Marsh 4 (severe) coeliac disease from healing! Rather puts the occasional slip into perspective, doesn’t it?!

      The other thing to note, of course, is that people off traditional gluten grains may also not be getting well because they are still consuming other glutens in supposedly ‘safe’ grains, which is the point of this website.

      Glad you are feeling much improved, then. Sounds like you had a bit of withdrawal in those first few days. And thanks for your kind comments on the site, glad to help and thank you for sharing some of your experiences and thoughts, much appreciated.

  4. There is no reason to think that the persistence of gluten will be the same as that of antibodies (which are designed to be very stable in the bloodstream). In any case, very little gluten will even reach the bloodstream, since it is broken down into peptides, and peptides are typically cleared rapidly.

    The important point is that the intestinal damage in celiac disease can take months or years to heal fully. Antibodies are a poor indicator of healing (and also are a poor indicator of compliance with a gluten-free diet).

  5. [...] 2 How Long To Get Gluten Out Of The Body? [...]

  6. well what about a young child? I just put my kids on a gluten free diet,since their systems are so much smaller than that of an adult would it take less time for the gluten to disperse?

  7. Are people avoiding gluten unnecessarily?…

    You’re correct that a small percentage of people suffer from celiac disease, but a much larger percentage are gluten intolerant. > “While celiac disease affects about 1 percent of the U.S. population, experts estimate that as many as 10 percent have …

  8. [...] months… but I think most of the effects are toned down in a matter of weeks. ================== How Long To Get Gluten Out Of The Body? | TrulyGlutenFree The half life for gluten antibodies is typically 3-4 months. Thus is would take at least that long [...]

  9. I am seeing some improvements after one week gluten free, I did notice however that after eating something with trace gluten (something that came in contact with gluten) symptoms reappeared over night. Is this normal? I was told that surely after a week my system would be free of gluten and what I was experiencing isn’t gluten related at all.

    • Absolutely normal, it takes a long time to get gluten out of your system, Caroline, but any exposure, however tiny, after 7-10 days without having any is enough to set off symptoms again and they will usually be acute but temporary. That’s intolerance for you. Classic. Hope you feel better soon,

  10. celllardoor@gmail.com

    The idea that such a trace amount of gluten can stay in the system so long is pretty disturbing stuff.

    I haven’t been diagnosed with gluten intolerance (yet…), but the evidence overwhelming suggests that gluten is not good for the human body, even for those who don’t suffer from celiac. My skin gets pretty bad when I consume lots of gluten, and I seem to have excess mucus (gross, I know, sorry). I’ve been off gluten the past 5 months, with good results. Last night someone offered me a piece of a cookie, and honestly I don’t know what happened to my brain because my hand reached out and I took a bite of the damn cookie (just a bite….alas, you can’t go “cut down” on gluten, it seems it has to be all or nothing). After I swallowed I thought…”um, whoops”. Hope I didn’t mess up my progress.

    • Ha! We’ve all done that, I’m sure! It will take a while to come out of your system now, so it puts you back a bit. One expert I talked to once said about gluten: “You can’t be a little bit pregnant and you can’t be a little bit gluten sensitive”. That just about says it all, doesn’t it?! Continue your vigilance, well done!

  11. Surprisingly, we do not know if antibodies directed towards gluten actually have any biological effects. They appear after exposure to gluten, but the actual toxicity of gluten for celiacs is based on the function of T-cells.
    Gluten (or small peptide fragments of it) will be cleared very rapidly from the bloodstream.
    A separate issue is how long it will take for the gut to heal after going on a gluten-free diet. This can take literally years for some people, so a rigorous gluten-fre diet is essential.
    http://ultimateglutenfree.com/2011/02/celiac-disease-gluten-free-diet/

    • Hi Peter, thanks for that. As it suggests from the comments on your blog there, a lot of people don’t actually get better on the traditional gluten free diet even if they are on it for years, hence this site where I believe a TRUE gluten free diet with no glutens from any grain would probably help. I also don’t think it is just proteins/peptides that are involved. People have been seen to react to starches too I believe, and this is where I think much testing goes wrong: they look for peptides and declare something gluten free, when they mean gluten peptide free – eg. wheat starch is allowed in gluten free foods. It’s such a moving science, isn’t it and we probably don’t know the half of it yet!

      • Hi Micki. Please tell us a little more about why you believe that “gluten sensitivity” is caused by starches, not just by proteins.
        There has been almost no well-controlled research done to explore the mechanism of “gluten sensitivity” (unlike the huge body of work on celiac disease or wheat allergy), so I think that it’s premature to try to draw any conclusions about whether non-celiac wheat sensitivity is caused by something other than gluten.
        You may find it interesting to read a more detailed discussion of gluten sensitivity here:
        http://ultimateglutenfree.com/2012/02/consensus-diagnosis-gluten-sensitivity/

      • Hi Peter,

        Starches? Mainly from clinical and personal experience as, you quite correctly say, there is very little research into this area. We react to corn starch, deglutenised wheat starch etc etc in foods, toothpastes and meds. My opinions, of course, and I wrote about that here. It is suspected that NCGS has a different immune mechanism to coeliac disease and I personally don’t think gliadin and gluten will be the end of it. See here. Thanks for your link too. I wrote about the same report here. I think basically it is a spectrum of gluten/grain disorders and many people are somewhere on the spectrum. There is so much yet to learn about it!

      • it is not just gluten you need to stay away from. It is also and dairy and soy. Both of them are very similar to gluten and will cause the same reaction.

  12. Hi Micki

    Did you ever find time to assess the supplements Dr Osborne recommends in his article? If so, did you post about them somewhere?

    Chrissie

    • He never sent me the labels, Chrissie, Perhaps I will ask him again. I have had at least 3 people I know who have reacted, most people I tell not to order because I have not been able to assess them but some US-based people have ordered anyway for ease, hence they have let me know what happened. I don’t think he has sussed the supplement side of things eg enzymes I know must be made the same as any other and we have had to rule them out on this site.

  13. My husband lost his pancreas 18months ago due to medical misadventure causing necrotising pancreatitis.
    Over this time ( he is amazing and doing well) he has developed issues (digestion, skin cramping) etc. so we have now realized he has celiac too.
    We are learning and changing to a raw food died, no meat dairy etc and now we have to gluten free too! So much to learn and change. Do you have anti tips to help us get started on this gluten free path? We are not in US we are NZ. Thanks x

  14. Diet! Oooops

  15. And – is celiacs related toTtype1 diabetes at all?
    He was completely healthy before the ERCP. thank you

    • How sad to hear that, Elisha, and so glad to hear your husband is doing well now. There are lots of resources for following a traditional gluten free diet, of course; one of the best for resources is http://www.coeliacsmatter.com where I am an agony aunt!

      There is indeed a link with type 1 Diabetes – the same DQ genes are involved in both that and celiac disease. My advice would be to check the DQ genes using the gluten gene test for ALL the DQ genes not just the DQ2 and DQ8 looked for in celiac disease in case it is is non-celiac gluten sensitivity and/or trial him off all grains since every grain contains a gluten that could hamper his healing – see the relevant pages on this site. Get the Barrier Plan and follow the diet and/or healing programme in it as it suits you, dovetailing it with the advice from your health professional of course. A low GL diet would also be a good move. Look at my best and worst GL Foods list on http://www.purehealthshop.co.uk to start you off.

      Hope that helps a bit. Good luck and let us know how you’re both getting on.

  16. I am eager to go completely gluten-free. I’m going to use this blog to assist in the process. Thanks for your entry. I believe being gluten-free will greatly aid in the creative process as well.

  17. Ha, I wondered what creative process you were referring to there, Liz. Now I see you are a poet – v creative indeed. All I can say is that where two years ago I was seemingly pulling thoughts to the front of my brain through thick treacle, they now fly there so I’m sure it can only help! Good luck with going truly gluten free – keep us up to date with your progress on the TGF Stories page if you can!

  18. If gluten could be making my blood pressure high, how long do you think it would take for my bp to go down after going gluten free? Just curious for your insight.

  19. Goodness, Kyle, how long is a piece of string etc? I would hope a few weeks but could take a lot longer. Let us know!

  20. good website. learned a lot of things about glten. Thank you. I am suffering from Scleroderma (Systemic Slerosis). Lot of gluten is in my blood stream took me to celiac disease like scleroderma. If anyone knows how to remove gluten from my blood stream quicker please let me know how. Thanks again.

    • Try donating plasma if you are able. They return your RBC’s so it doesn’t require as much recovery as donating blood–in fact you can donate twice per week.

      Any proteins, peptides, antibodies, etc are removed with the plasma so if you do this a few times you will greatly reduce the concentration of any of these in your blood stream much more quickly than naturally.

  21. i just started being gluten/wheat free and have been experiencing headaches for a few days. is this common?

    • Hi Tiffany, well done so far. Yes, detox headaches are quite common. Read through the comments on withdrawal posts and you will find others saying the same thing. Plenty of water, rest and see your doc if it doesn’t go.

  22. hi there, I have been going gluten free because I have an auto immune disease called multifocal motor neuropathy. I think that being gluten free will be less inflammation in the body, is this correct?
    I have gone off the path a few days ago, and feel not as good. so now I have months to get back on track ! It is hard to be strong all the time when friends are having yummy food in cafes etc.
    Raewyn from New Zealand

    • Gluten indeed causes inflammation, yes Raewyn, so coming off it can only help lessen it for you hopefully! And, yes, flippin hard watching everyone else munch but there you go – it’s only food and not worth the damage it does to you!

  23. My daughter has been having pains in her ribs front and back shoulder blades chest and hurts for her to breath in buckled over in pain for about a month now i dont know if thats a symptom

    • If anything lasts for more than a few days, you should always see your doctor. In the absence of anything being wrong, it could well be a reaction rather than a withdrawal symptom. I would look at if something hidden is still getting in somewhere – toiletries, something airborne that she’s breathing in maybe might trigger a reaction in that specific place. Good luck and hope it settles soon.

  24. Hi Micki. I realize that I’m writing this comment a bit late, but I have a couple of questions! I’ve had celiac disease ever since I was 3 years old and now I am 16. I was very strictly on the gluten free diet for a long time, I had absolutely no contact with it up until about 2 years ago. I started cheating slightly, because there was barely any gluten free foods at home, and I had to eat at restaurants a lot. It was really hard to find anything I could eat, so I would just try my best to stick to the diet. I’ve been noticing now though, that I am absolutely physically drained. I could sleep for 12 hours straight and still wake up with no strength in my body. I think I also have what you’ve been referring to as the brain fog. Whenever I try to exercise, the next day Ill wake up and be so sore that I can barely move. I really want to be healthy again and feeling better. Have you gotten any updates on Dr. Osbourne’s medications? And how can I find gluten free foods? My mom used to help me with all that stuff but I think I’m having some difficulty on my own finding gf foods. Thank you so much!

    • Hi Grace, it sounds to me like you need to see your doctor and test your villi. Eating the gluten will have caused a drop in villi absorption and no doubt your fatigue et is related to malnutrition in part. If you are celiac, you cannot afford to eat gluten, not even a tiny bit; it does too much damage. I suggest it might be a good idea to ask for a referral to a nutritionist/dietician who can help you find local sources of the foods. Also, look in the TGF Resources page for book ideas – there are tons of really good forums and blogs for the traditional gluten free foodies. Pop and see someone at a local store and ask them to show you what is suitable maybe?

      Anyone else any ideas for Grace, who I assume is in the US, please?

  25. Wow alot of good info here! I went off gluten months ago because of digestive issues. It seemsas if my body has been detoxing. Some days I am so tired will stay in bed sleeping for long time. I do eat organic yogurt so have not cut out dairy. Also add berries to the yogurt. It seems as if my digestion has done a 180!! In a good way! How can I get my teenager to give up junk food???

  26. Hi! Wonderful site filled with great info! It’s nice not to feel alone.
    Around 16 years old I developed psorisis – an autoimmune skin disorder. At 35 I started to realize that every other day I feel sick, low energy, and had put on 20 pounds of unwanted weight. First stop was an endocrine who diagnosed me with hypothyroidism type 2. I got started on meds about three months ago. It’s been a still ongoing challenge to find the right meds and right dose.
    My husband was sending me lots of info about the benefits to all about a gluten free diet. For about 2 weeks now I’ve been totally gluten free. Living in New York we have plenty of restaurants and markets to cater to this.
    Unfortunately I feel horrible. It’s the detox I bet. I even went for an abdomal and pelvic cat scan as my stomach has been cramping for days (my PCP needed to rule out appendix etc) in addition I feel dizzy, short of breath, and have had a rather painless sore throat and loss of appetite. I feel like after reading your site I can attribute that to the detox.
    Could you add your thoughts? I’m interested!

    • Hi Jessica, well done so far then but does sound like a detox doesn’t it? Have you tried taking the enzymes to help you break down the morphine-like substances being released? See your doc if it continues, of course. Plenty of rest, water and be kind to yourself through it. Interestingly, I was just writing about this problem yesterday and am advising people to do Cyrex 3 test which includes a check on the glureomorphins so you have an idea if you might have trouble detoxing the gluten when you come off it. Useful knowledge! See here for the new gluten testing factsheet: http://www.purehealthclinic.co.uk/tests/gluten-and-coeliac-tests/ I haven’t got it on this site yet, that’s today’s job ;). Good luck with it and hope it comes out soon.

  27. Wow…..it’s really nice to know that I’m not alone although I feel terribly bad for all of you. I’ve had this problem for years but thought it was IBS like my mother “apparently” has. This last year it has gotten worse and have gone to my GP several times only to hear things like “I think you have depression since you’re always so tired. I’ll give you the name of a therapist”. I’ve also been told I have a poor diet, which I do, but when I explain that I often get sick after eating I’ve then been asked questions about anorexia or bulimia! No, I’m neither. I’m hungry! Finally, after doing my own research, I tried a gluten free diet. Very quickly I felt a lot better and then started getting constipated…..sheesh. Now I go back and forth with so many other symptoms that I think I could be the poster child! Just today I sent a message to my doctor asking her to refer me to a specialist. This is really affecting the quality of my life. I’m turning into a hermit and my true nature is very fun and outgoing. Any suggestions on specialists to see and what type to go to. I’m hoping for a referral to the Mayo since I live in Minnesota and am only an hour away. Good luck to all of you!

    • Hi Cathy, I hear that kind of story daily; you are certainly not unusual! It sounds to me like you could benefit from going grain free not just gluten free. Have a read of the site and give it a trial would be my advice if your symptoms are messing around that much.

  28. Hi there,
    My daughter (3) and I have switched to gluten free in an attempt to give her some relief from her eczema, having fought our family practitioner unsuccessfully for months for a referral to dermatology. 36 hours in, and she has just had her first night of not scratching herself in as long as I can remember!

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