Gluten Sensitivity

August 30, 2010

8/29/2010 — Gluten Sensitivity — Again, I need to write a longer article, although much information is available both online and in print. On the internet, I strongly recommend celiac.com , and in print Living Gluten Free for Dummies which, like the other “dummies” books, is straightforward and reasonably comprehensive.

Gluten is a component of wheat, barley, and rye, and is also found in many processed foods where you wouldn’t necessarily suspect its presence. Approximately 30-40% of the population has the genetic susceptibility to this problem. Until fairly recently, medical authorities did not recognize that so-called “celiac disease” was not the only way in which this problem presented. A recent review article with a more updated approach can be found on Medscape by clicking here.

After (belatedly) learning how common gluten sensitivity in February 2009, and of a relatively inexpensive ($124), sensitive, but obscure test done by EnteroLab , I began testing individuals who met one or more of the following
criteria:

1. diagnosed autoimmune disease (hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, etc.);

2 chronic gastrointestinal complaints which have defied diagnosis and/or treatment;

3. the presence of multi-system problems which have defied diagnosis and/or treatment;

4. with a positive family history of 1-3 or of gluten sensitivity itself.

In these 18 months, I’ve ordered tests on 145 individuals. Of the total tests, 21 (14%) were negative (some of which I suspect are “false negatives” owing to the clinical setting.

Of the remaining 124 test results, I’m able to report on the status of
102 people. The rest are not in treatment for a variety of reasons (such as being relatives of my patients who’ve tested positive but who are not my patients, people who have moved or are unable to (or refused to) undertake a gluten free diet, etc.).

Of the 102 persons, I’ve tablulated the following results:

— 15 individuals (17%) have not been in treatment (a gluten free
diet) well enough or long enough to evaluate;

— 14 individuals (14%) have not experienced any change in their medical complaints (although there may be more subtle effects that would require a long time to become evident and which could theoretically be precluded by avoiding gluten);

— 13 individuals (13%) have had positive changes but because of the simultaneous administration of other treatments or changes in their lives, I cannot be sure that the results are attributable to a gluten-free diet;

— 61 individuals (60%) report definite improvement (often digestive problems, frequently reduction in joint pain and often increased energy and well-being);

The numbers don’t completely add up because of rounding (in the case of the percentages) and because I’ve temporarily counted one individual in two categories for rather unusual reasons.

Gluten sensitivity is apparently frequently associated with auto-immune disease, which affects approximately 24 million people in the United States. In the presence of gluten sensitivity and autoimmune disease, it can take 2 years or more for the inflammatory reaction (against thyroid tissue, for example, in Hashimoto’s disease) to subside. Because of this, in many cases even when there is some early improvement, I don’t think that I’ve seen the full benefit of the dietary changes.

It appears that by diagnosing gluten sensitivity and by helping people achieve a gluten-free diet, some very good results have been obtained.
If anyone thinks that they should be tested, please give Donna a call or send an email and we can set it up. A separate visit is not required to set up the test.


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