Is Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity A Legitimate Diagnosis?

Mark Volmer
Dec 13, 2016 · 3 min read

While celiac disease is recognized as a legitimate medical condition, non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) remains controversial in the medical field.

To develop a basic understanding of NCGS, please see my previous post.

Medical doctors may give you a skeptical look when you mention a gluten sensitivity after a negative celiac test. However, the below research will show you that non-celiac gluten sensitivity is indeed a real condition.

In fact, a 2015 study published in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology performed a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled, cross-over trial. (1) In the scientific community, this is the gold standard for testing.

In this study, 61 adults without celiac disease (CD) or a wheat allergy were enrolled. These participants believed that the ingestion of gluten containing food to be the cause of their intestinal and extra-intestinal symptoms. The study’s participants were given a pill with either gluten or rice starch (the placebo) for one week. (2)

The primary outcome was the change in overall (intestinal and extra-intestinal) symptoms, determined by established scoring systems, between gluten and placebo intake. A secondary outcome was the change in individual symptom scores between gluten vs placebo. (3)

The 15 intestinal symptoms that patients were asked to grade daily from 0 to 3 (0 = absent; 1 = mild; 2 = relevant; and 3 = severe and interfering with daily activities) were:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Borborygmus (a rumbling or gurgling noise made by the movement of fluid and gas in the intestines)
  • Reduced consistency of stools (tending towards diarrhea)
  • Increased consistency of stools (tending towards constipation)
  • Constipation
  • Urgency
  • Incomplete evacuation
  • Nausea
  • Heartburn
  • Belching
  • Acid regurgitation (heart burn)
  • Epigastric pain (stomach-ache)

The 13 extra-intestinal symptoms that patients were asked to grade daily from 0 = absent to 1 = present were:

  • Tiredness
  • Malaise
  • Headache
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Foggy mind (brain fog)
  • Aphthous stomatitis (mouth ulcers)
  • Paresthesia (an abnormal sensation, typically tingling or prickling — pins and needles)
  • Arthralgia (pain in a joint)
  • Myalgia (pain in a muscle)
  • Asthma
  • Rhinitis (irritation and inflammation of the mucous membrane inside the nose)
  • Skin rash

At the end of the trial, there was data from 59 patients who completed all aspects. In these patients, intake of gluten significantly increased overall symptoms compared with the placebo. (4)

The most consistent symptoms of gluten intake included:

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Pain
  • Intestinal symptoms
  • Foggy mind
  • Depression
  • Aphthous stomatitis (mouth ulcers)

To conclude, this trial showed that those who do not have celiac disease can have symptoms very similar to those with diagnosed celiac disease. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) is indeed a recognizable medical condition.

In addition, this study brought to light many symptoms that are intuitively not thought be related to gluten sensitivity. Therefore, should one be suffering from any of the above listed symptoms, embracing a gluten-free diet for a period of thirty days (minimum) is likely an effective means of treatment.

Now, I want to hear from you.
What symptoms have you found to be related to gluten in your diet?

Looking for more? Check out our other blog posts about gluten.

Originally published at Flourish Clinic.

Mark Volmer

Written by

I help those with fatigue naturally reclaim their energy and share their gifts with the world.

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