Sensory Deprivation and Celiac Disease

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And there I was, floating effortlessly. And in this case, I’m not speaking metaphorically.

I was 35 minutes into my 90 minute float session and I was entering the ultimate state of relaxation. All the tension in my shoulders and neck, both which cause me frequent pain, was gone. The churning sensations from inside my gut had also subsided. My body had entered a deep meditative state and physically, I felt nothing but calmness. 

For those who don’t know, Floating is the term used to describe Sensory Deprivation Therapy.

Sensory Deprivation?

Yes, sensory deprivation. Many people associate sensory deprivation with torture and punishment but they couldn’t be more wrong. 

 
 

Sensory Deprivation allows users to reach a deep, meditative state with no effort. In fact, it would take most yogis decades of daily practice before they could reach this mental state during their meditation practice. 

The idea for Sensory Deprivation Therapy (or floating) began with a scientist by the name of Dr. John C. Lilly. In 1954, Dr. Lilly developed the first “Float Tank”. The tank was designed to be a place where people could experience sensory deprivation for extended periods of time without any stressors.

This is the room I was in when I did my session

This is the room I was in when I did my session

Float Tanks contain between 9-12 inches of water heated to the same temperature as your skin (~93.6 degrees) and around 800-1400 pounds of Epsom salts. With the water at the same temperature as your skin, you are neither warm no cold while in the tank and this helps you dissociate the sensory receptors on your skin. 

The Epsom salts increase the density of the water in the tank. Thanks to the salts, when you lay in the tank you float effortlessly as though in zero-gravity.

After you get into the tank, you close the door and enter complete darkness. As time passes and you begin to tune out each of your senses, you enter a state of deep relaxation.

It is at this point that the tank begins to do it’s work. 

In the Float Tank, your brain begins producing Theta Waves. Theta Waves promote vivid memories, creativity, inspiration, and feelings of serenity. Theta waves are generally emitted in the moments right before we fall asleep and, as a result, we often don’t remember them. 

While you are in the tank, you remain alert while these waves are being produced and can observe the images and thoughts as they appear. This is the deep meditative state that I was talking about earlier.

If you already know the benefits of meditation, then you can imagine how beneficial a float session would be with regards to dramatically improving your quality of life. 

However, for Celiac’s the benefits go far beyond meditative benefits. 

 
 

So You’re Magnesium Deficient?

One of the greatest risks going on a gluten-free diet is becoming deficient in one or more micronutrients. 

Believe it or not, the most common deficiency amongst Celiac’s isn’t B12 or Vit D. 

It’s Magnesium.

A recent study found that “magnesium deficiency was present in all patients with classical celiac disease, 1/5th of persons with silent celiac disease and 1/5th of persons with celiac disease on a gluten-free diet.” 1

image courtesy of serenedreams.com

image courtesy of serenedreams.com

Although we don’t talk about magnesium as much as some other key nutrients, it’s far more important than you might think. 

Magnesium is an enzyme co-factor. Basically it acts like a key to turn on and off enzymes in over 300 different reactions throughout the body. Without Magnesium, enzymes cannot be activated. This means that reactions would have to take place under extreme heat which could damage the more fragile tissues in the body. 

Magnesium is a cofactor for a bunch of crucial reactions such as:

  • Glucose and fat breakdown
  • Production of proteins, enzymes and antioxidants such as glutathione
  • Creation of DNA and RNA
  • Regulation of cholesterol production

On top of regulating enzymes and chemical reactions in the body, magnesium also drives production of ATP, protects our genetic information (DNA and RNA), causes muscle fibre contractions and regulates our bodies electrolyte balance. 

 

How Floating Can Help Celiacs

When it comes to supplementing with Magnesium, there are a few ways to go about it. You can take a pill, you can apply a topical spray, or you can get in a float tank. 

The primary component of Epsom salts is Magnesium Chloride. When you have a float session, that magnesium is absorbed through your skin and contributes to the relaxed feeling that you experience during your float session.

While toxicity from Magnesium supplementation is possible, it’s incredibly unlikely that you would absorb such an excess of magnesium through a float tank. You take in exactly what you need and the rest stays in the tank thanks to passive diffusion.

 

My Experience With Floating 

I had tried everything to stop my churning stomach in the days leading up to my float session to no avail. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. After the float session, I felt 100%. No churning, no cramping, no pain. 

When I went to my first float session, I didn’t know what to expect. I was nervous and didn’t know how I would handle extended periods of time without any sensory stimulation. 

Who knew it would dramatically improved my quality of life.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you should definitely give floating a try. 

1. Krause’s Food, Nutrition & Diet Therapy. 10th Ed. W B Saunders Company, 2000.


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