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Testing for celias disease and gluten sensitivity
by Stephen Garbarini, D.C.
I recently read a book by a colleague of mine on celiac disease, gluten sensitivity and other digestive disorders.
One of his comments that struck me the most was on clues for solving autoimmune disorders when he wondered why the professional community is not mandating the reeducation of doctors in the testing of patients to find out what might have been overlooked in the thousands of patients who are still sick after they have had “ all the tests” only to be told that there is nothing that can be found wrong with them.
Integrative and functional medicine doctors are very aware of these kind of situations and by training they try to find solutions to a variety of “mystery illnesses.”
Every integrative medical conference I've been to in the last three years talks about celiac and or gluten sensitivity. A gluten sensitive person feel symptoms after eating gluten and the symptoms usually go away when the gluten is removed from the diet.
Gluten does not typically destroy the lining of the G.I. tract like celiac disease may, however, it may be difficult to detect on blood tests as it will not create high antibodies like may be present with celiac disease.
Even if your Dr. doesn't recommend to get a celiac test you as an educated patient and consumer can request to Dr. run the test for you. Sometimes patients have to teach doctors what is important.
If anyone in your family has an autoimmune disease, you might want to test for celiac disease or possibly for delayed food sensitivity. The gold standard for detection of celiac disease is a tissue biopsy, but who wants to do that? There is a blood test for celiac disease which measures total immunoglobulin A which is called IGA for short and IGA tissues antibody in your serum. These tests show if your body is reacting to “fight off a foreign invader. " Genetic testing that also shows promise.
There are some noninvasive tests that can be useful to detect gluten sensitivity, and sometimes they will show a problem even when serum celiac tests are normal. One of these tests is a saliva anti-gladden antibody test. Even though this has not yet been fully proven, there is some evidence that it may be a good screening tool for celiac disease, and it is certainly much easier than a blood draw. And last there are also some labs that will test for anti-gladden antibody in stool.
I haven't read many papers supporting a correlation between stool and saliva markers and the markers in serum, but I certainly have seen many people that were very sick, who had been told nothing could be found, and upon further testing they had a positive anti-gladden antibody in the stool sample. When they stopped consuming gluten their symptoms were resolved.
The bottom line here is even if all your tests are normal it does not mean you are free of celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
There are other antibody tests and genetic testing as well. The bottom line is, having a normal serum celiac test is not tell you definitively that you are free from celiac or gluten sensitivity.
In our present economy, it may be difficult to pay for tests or have health insurance but if you are suspicious of having a gluten sensitivity you may be able to save some money by simply doing and elimination and challenge. Eliminate gluten completely from a diet from one month or more, and see how you feel, then add 10 to 20 g of gluten containing foods back into your diet for a couple of days in a row, and watch your body for any symptom that was previously bothering you.
If gluten is a problem, you should notice a pretty quickly. For a list of gluten containing foods just Google “gluten.”