Recently I've heard lots of people talking about adopting gluten-free diets because of Celiac Disease. When they described their symptoms, I assumed (incorrectly) that they had an allergy to wheat and similar grains. It wasn't until several of my customers started asking for gluten-free lip balms and moisturizers that I learned more about Celiac Disease.
Celiac Disease (CD), sometimes called Celiac Sprue, is not an allergy but an autoimmune disorder. When those with CD consume gluten in the form of grains like wheat, barley, rye, triticale, and sometimes oats, these foods damage the small intestine, which leads to many health problems. The symptoms of CD are varied and can include gastrointestinal problems, fatigue, depression, anemia and other vitamin and mineral deficiencies. A related skin condition called Dermatitis Herpetiformis (DH) can also occur instead of the other symptoms or in addition to them. Long-term effects are often related to the malnutrition that results from the damage to the small intestine, and treatment of CD/DH includes a diet free from gluten.
At first I was puzzled by my customers' requests for gluten-free products; a bit of early reading told me that gluten can't be absorbed through the skin. But Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist Michael Picco, M.D. does state, "Gluten-containing skin care products and cosmetics aren't a problem unless you accidentally swallow them." If you use products on or near your mouth (like lip balm or facial moisturizer), or on your hands (which of course you use to prepare and eat food), you are certain to eat small amounts of these products. And for those who are very sensitive to gluten, a small amount can be enough to cause problems.
While our moisturizers and lip balms don't contain added gluten, we don't formulate products specifically for those with CD/DH. But Dusty Warren at The Bath Nook does. The Bath Nook has a whole line of gluten free products which are getting rave reviews. Dusty is also a member of the Indie Beauty Network, and she was kind enough to answer some of my questions about Gluten Free products and The Bath Nook.
Tell me a little bit about yourself and how you started The Bath Nook.
While working as an online assistant in 2006, I came across a site called Indie Business Forum, now Indie Beauty Network. I quickly learned that home based beauty manufacturers did not have enough hours in the day to create products and manage their business on the administrative side. The more time I spent learning about the industry the more fascinated I became with the process of handmade beauty products.
What were your first products?
The first products I made were soaps and bath teas.
How did you learn about Celiac Disease and what prompted you to add gluten free products to your line?
After a customer purchased a product with oats, she explained the affect wheat, rye, barley and oats has on people with Celiac Disease. I immediately began researching the disease and within the very short time of learning about Celiac Disease, I decided to create gluten free products. I knew it would be a challenge but it was a great opportunity to offer such a unique product line that would give people with Celiac Disease and gluten intolerance bath luxuries they otherwise would not be able to enjoy.
Tell me about the gluten-free products you offer.
I wanted to create GF products beyond your normal soap, lotion, shampoo and conditioners. The Bath Nook offers gluten free Cream Baths and Shea Butter. The Cream Baths are a bath mix of skin-loving powders, natural minerals and oils. The Shea Butter is an incredible butter with many benefits and uses for the skin.
You have other products that contain gluten. How do you handle manufacture of both lines?
Before going gluten free the Oatmeal Face and Body Soap was my best seller, so keeping the soap in my product line was important. In order for me to keep gluten free products separate, I had to create GF products that did not require manufacturing in the same room as the soap. I also purchased new equipment to ensure there would not be any cross-contamination issues.
How have your products been received by customers with Celiac Disease?
Many Celiacs also have other allergies that determine if they can use my products or not. For example, some of the ingredients I use are processed in a facility that also uses tree nuts and soy. But for my customers with Celiac Disease, they have not experienced any issues with my products and I continue to get great reviews.
What are you cooking up next?
One idea I am working on is creating naturally scented GF products. It will definitely take some time so I anticipate the change next year.
How can people find you?
On my Website, my Facebook page, or on Twitter.
Any particular sites that you recommend to people for learning more about Celiac Disease or finding other gluten free products?
There are many sites packed with information about Celiac Disease and for product reviews. The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, The Celiac Disease Foundation, and The Celiac Diva (Product Reviews) are just a few.
Thank you, Dusty, for sharing your knowledge and products! The Bath Nook is a great place to shop for gluten free gifts this holiday. In addition to their GF products, they also make a terrific bar of soap! I ordered some of the Oatmeal Face & Body Soap and shared a few bars with other "reviewers." We all loved it. One said, "I LOVE the soap that you gave me to try. I think it's my favorite ever. I saved the packaging so that I'd have an address. Thanks for introducing me to it...it's so mild!" I agree. It has a great fragrance, nice lather, and it's a hard bar that will last for a long time. I'm thrilled to find this new source of handmade soap and bath luxuries, and I hope you'll enjoy The Bath Nook, too!
photos ©The Bath Nook