Monday, January 4, 2010

Why I DON'T Recommend a Gluten Challenge

Q: I was going to do a gluten challenge and get tested, since I have not been formally diagnosed with a gluten allergy. Let me know why you don’t recommend it. I have been gluten free for two years now and have never felt better.

A: The reason I don't recommend a gluten challenge is that it takes YEARS for the antibodies to develop so you won't have an accurate test even if you load up on gluten for 6-8 weeks. It will most likely be negative for celiac and you will most likely feel horrible--if you are sensitive to gluten. Add to that the fact that neurological damage from gluten can be irreversible, a gluten challenge can be pretty dangerous and pointless. My daughter got horribly sick from the gluten challenge. I took to my bed and was depressed eating gluten for 6 weeks. I felt so terrible that I called the doctor and insist that they do the test early. I also knew, no matter what the test said, that was the last time I would ever eat gluten. So many lifelong chronic problems really worsened on the gluten challenge--it became obvious to me that gluten was a factor. Another member of our family went to the emergency room thinking he was having a heart attack while undertaking a gluten challenge. Of course, we might not be so fanatically gluten free if we hadn't done the challenge--so it worked out. But, I later learned the damage can be irreversible. My son is doing the best. He never did the challenge! Of course, this is all anecdotal--but Ron Hoggan's article "Challenging the Gluten Challenge" also explains why a gluten challenge is not recommended...
"Any recommendation of a gluten challenge should be accompanied by a clear warning that the process may overlook many cases of celiac disease...And what about non-celiac gluten sensitivity? The absence of an intestinal lesion does not rule out gluten induced damage to other tissues, organs, and systems."
A doctor at the celiac center told me that even people formally diagnosed with celiac, on a gluten containing diet, can test negative as the antibodies come and go. People who are considering a gluten free diet should be tested before they begin the diet, with the understanding that they might get better, regardless of what the test says. After testing, they can begin the diet and see if their symptoms go away. People already on a gluten free diet can get the celiac genetic test by Prometheus, which will let them know if they have the genes for celiac. The gene test can be done while on a gluten free diet.


Heather @ Life, gluten free said...

I recommend Entero Lab. I don't recommend a gluten challenge either. Why risk having a reaction?

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