Thrombocyopenia and gluten?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created October 26, 2011 at 10:30 PM

Can Thrombocytopenia stem from a gluten intolerance? I am trying to find information before I get to the Dr and they try and push medication on me as a solution. I believe since adapting to Paleo in the last four months I have discovered that I had a gluten (I'm sure most of us do and don't realize it) sensitivity or potentially something more serious related to the foods I used to consume. In the few times I have "cheated" and had bread or something containing gluten (which I don't do anymore)- I have broken out in severe hives over my body I have never seen before...It took me a few weeks to figure this out because of trial and error with body wash/shampoo, etc. But it came back to food.

Now I get a call this am from the hematologist that my platelet count is off and it's a condition I've had for a long time - that I'm just now hearing about (Army medicine isn't known for customer service or follow through). Any advice/input?



on October 27, 2011
at 12:44 AM

No answer for you, but I'm interested, too. I was diagnosed with idiopathic thrombocytopenia purpora when I was 14 and was on massive doses of prednisone until college, then ended up having my spleen removed in law school after I came out of remission w/ only 12 platelets/unit via hand count. Apparently prednisone is still the go-to drug (a friend was just diagnosed) and it's nasty sh*t. I wonder now if the gluten wasn't a factor, especially since I also, later in life, had a ruptured meckles (diverticulitus), so my gut just seems generally unhappy. I hope you find a non-steroid solution!

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8 Answers



on November 10, 2011
at 03:31 AM

I don't post often on Paleohacks but I can relate to this question. I was diagnosed with idiopathic thrombocytopenia purpora about 2 years ago. It came out of nowhere and I had no idea what the heck it was. My count was at around 11 when i was diagnosed by a hematologist. The first course of treatment involved a very high dosage of dexamethasone (10x more potent then prednisone). Within the first week of treatments, my count had jumped to a normal platelet range, but as soon as I was taken off the steroids, my count plummeted again. The hematologist put me back on the steroids, but at a much lower level.

I will never forget that month I was on those drugs. My heart was constantly racing, I had incredible mood swings, I was relentless and couldn't sleep, I felt as if I was going to die and had an incredible appetite. The more I read about the long term side effects of these steroids, the more I wanted to stop using them. I simply told my doctor that I could not deal with the side effects of these meds.

What was strange about taking these medications whoever was the fact that my acne had cleared and my skin felt amazing. I learned that the I was taking were powerful anti-inflammatory drugs.

Before I was diagnosed, I drank alot, smoked, ate a SAD diet and had a fairly negative outlook on life. I did alot of online research and started to change my diet and lifestyle. (exercice + whole foods). Over the course of the next few years my count stabilized at the lower end of an average platelet range (150). For me ITP seems to have been related to inflammation.

I strongly believe that adopting a Paleo lifestyle has tremendously helped me. I have a co-worker who also suffers from ITP (small world right!) and I told her about my success story. She has eliminated gluten from her diet (not eating paleo yet), she doesn't drink or smoke and is active but her counts have remained low. Her next step is to have her spleen removed.

I know this was a long post but hopefully you can experiment with a paleo lifestyle and see if it helps with the condition. Regarless keep your head up high and try to not focus soo much on your platelet count



on September 26, 2012
at 03:06 PM

Paleo may certainly help, but PLEASE make sure you understand how dangerous this condition is before you decide you're not going to take medication. The meds may be rough but better than dying. You can use diet to get well again and prevent reoccurrence, after the meds save your life (and while they're helping you too).

Our dog developed an auto-immune thrombocytopenia last year. I can't believe she survived! She was so close to death, bleeding internally everywhere. It took massive doses of steroids to save her. But she is alive and well one year later.

She has always had food and environmental allergies, I'm sure all the gluten and carbage in commercial dog food was a factor. But at that point diet wouldn't save her life (she wouldn't eat anyway), medications did.


on September 26, 2012
at 02:55 AM

Both of my parents had autoimmune diseases. I thought I was pretty lucky to have shown no symptoms of an autoimmune disease at the age of 49. My platelet count was 169 in 2001 which gradually decreased in time to where my platelet count was 66 in 2010 when I was diagnosed with ITP. I was told that there was nothing I could do but monitor platelet counts and medicate with steroids when/if my counts lowered to 30. I was also aware that there is a comorbidity with many autoimmune diseases. I had eaten pretty much a SAD diet before being diagnosed. I was not much of a snack food eater or soda drinker.

I did a little research on the net and read some of the work of Dr. Fasano and the theory of "molecular mimicry" where foreign peptides from the diet leak by the intestines tight junction into the bloodstream initiating the autoimmune process. Seemed to be a reasonable theory. Dr. Cordain identified what might be offending dietary proteins from grains, legumes and dairy.

Concerned about the progression of disease I implemented a low carb-Paleo type diet eliminating grains, legumes and dairy and restricting carbohydrates to <75 gm. I did include eggs in this diet and excluded most fruit except a few berries. Meat and poultry sources were not free range. Vegetable sources were sometimes bought from local farmers but mostly not. Fish was eaten 5-7 times a week and was not farm raised and mostly sardines and salmon. I supplemented with 2 gm fish oil, 2000 IU vitamin D and vitamin K2.

My latest platelet count was 107 measured August 2012. Normal platelet count are 150-400. I am still outside the normal range but certainly an improvement from 66 two years prior. Am I convinced that diet is the cause and a higher platelet count is the effect. No. I have found this diet a comfortable way to live and I feel better eating outside the food pyramid.

I wish those with ITP the best of luck and hope to learn from their experiences!



on October 27, 2011
at 12:47 AM

I was diagnosed with thrombocytopenia when I had just started paleo for about a month. A year later, on paleo the whole time, and I still had it. So from my personal experience, gluten didn't affect it.

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on October 25, 2013
at 03:53 PM

I don't know about your condition but, I have had Thrombocytosis (high platelets) for about 5 years. They tested me for every cancer you can imagine. I went off gluten, soy and dairy almost 3 years ago and even though I do indulge a few times a year. My platelet count has returned to normal and my blood work has never looked so good. I am not a doctor, but, my personal experience has proven that if I juice a few times a week and eat nutrient dense foods like kale, not only do I feel great but, my blood work has shown improvement.


on September 14, 2013
at 02:10 AM

I've had ITP for 10 long years now. I've had every treatment possible, including chemo and have my spleen removed. I would strongly encourage those newer to ITP to not listen to everything your hematologist tells you to do. Because it will be alot of medicine that will destroy your immune system and make you really sick. My platelets are always under 10,000 and that's it. From all the research i've done and people i've talked to i would strongly suggest everyone try paleo. There is a paleo diet specifically for people with autoimmune disease that you need to look at! It eliminates eggs, nuts and seeds, and a couple other things. Just something to try!! Just because your dr says to do something....don't. I've only had internal bleeding once when I got my port and I feel very blessed. Try eating blueberries, it helps for when I have major blood blisters!! Hope you all are healed soon :) Lord Bless you all!


on July 30, 2013
at 06:22 PM

I was diagnosed with ITP last year when after I insisted a PA order a blood test. My count was 5. After two days in the hospital and two months on strong steroids my count dropped to 1. I did four rituximab treatments and that helped for a few months then my count started dropping every month even being on steroids. Now I was on a monthly wait.. next step taking out my spleen. I went to a natural medicine clinic and started on Paleo. After two months.. my count went from 74 to 103. I didn't just go gluten free... also eliminated diary, soy, nuts, sugar and all sugar substitutes. Look into the Autoimmune Paleo protocol.


on April 02, 2012
at 05:01 PM

I've had ITP for about a year and half now. Just heard about the paleo diet and started slowly transitioning to it a few months ago. So far, it hasn't had much effect on my platelets. However, I still eat sugar once a week and have 1-2 alcoholic drinks once a week. I have noticed papaya leaf extract seems to help in combination with my winrho treatments. Robb Wolf has a "paleo protocol" that I'm considering trying if my current experiment doesn't work out.


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