Gluten Sensitivity Quick Facts

Gluten Sensitivity Quick Facts

Posted by DSDC on Jul 2nd 2024

Gluten Sensitivity is the broad category and includes both celiac and non-celiac forms. Celiac Disease (CD) is therefore a small subset of Gluten Sensitivity (GS).

Gluten Sensitivity refers to all those who have negative health consequences from dietary gluten. See the list that starts on page 3 for conditions frequently related to GS. Gluten Sensitivity is a genetic condition and the effect is lifelong meaning you won’t grow out of it.

The celiac disease form of gluten sensitivity consists of physical changes and damage to the small intestine and is likely to include one or more of the multitude of chronic related conditions that occur outside the intestines from systemic inflammation and autoimmune disorders. Celiac Disease can present with or without obvious intestinal symptoms even though an intestinal biopsy would show malformations either way. According to some researchers, a scanning electron microscope exam is needed to accurately detect the damage. Normally used light microscope techniques are only about 20% as effective as scanning electron techniques in finding damage due to gluten. Only about 1 in 8 people with intestinal damage from CD have intestinal symptoms. The treatment is a gluten-free diet (GFD) along with supplements such as anti-oxidants and probiotics.

Non-celiac GS includes the same likelihood as a celiac patient of developing one or more of the multitude of chronic and inflammatory conditions outside the intestines and autoimmune and/or neurological disorders without abdominal symptoms and without celiac-type small intestine pathology. Most often the only sign of gluten sensitivity is the onset of an autoimmune or neurological disorder. Treatment is the same as the celiac gluten sensitive form and that is a gluten-free diet (GFD) and supplements.

Research is ongoing but some authorities estimate that 50% or more of the North American population is affected by gluten sensitivity in one form or another and most of these are non-celiac GS.

In spite of the life threatening nature of GS, it remains grossly underdiagnosed in all forms even in the classic celiac form that affects 1% to 5% in the US. Doctors of all kinds routinely miss even celiac patients with obvious intestinal signs. This is true in spite of the fact that genetic and lab testing has improved greatly in the past several years. A person can be reliably tested for celiac and non-celiac GS predispositions.

If one first degree relative of yours is GS you should consider yourself GS as well. For example, if a parent is celiac, the kids should all be gluten free. If one child is diagnosed with celiac disease, both parents and all the rest of the kids should be gluten free. Of course it is best if all are tested.

All forms of GS are immune and inflammatory responses to dietary gluten. GS is not an allergy so do not refer to GS as a wheat allergy. A person can have a wheat allergy but GS is something entirely different. Gluten is a grain protein and is found in highest quantities in the family of grains that includes wheat, rye and barley (WRB). Gluten is a combination of two proteins, gliadin and glutenin. Gliadin and glutenin are extensively cross-linked in nature so most references are to this gluten complex instead of the most biologically-active component gliadin. Gliadin is difficult if not impossible for the GS person to digest.

A reliable indicator that a person will benefit from a gluten free diet (GFD) is one of the clinical conditions listed below plus a positive genetic test. Ultimately a person will have to go GF for many weeks to months and observe health patterns (symptoms and appropriate testing) to know if he or she is gluten sensitive. We use Enterolab for the genetic test. Lab testing can also help with a GS diagnosis. Cyrex Labs currently tests for 24 different reactions to wheat proteins. They also test for reactions to other foods such as oats, corn, sorghum, potatoes, coffee and other likely candidates for foods that are keeping you from healing. Standard medical practice, if they bother to check for gluten reactions at all, is to check for just two antibodies and remain totally oblivious to the other 40 or so that could be important for you. Therefore a negative typical blood test that only checks for tTG or EM antibodies does NOT rule out celiac or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

Most gluten-related conditions respond favorably to a truly GFD. A low gluten diet is not an effective treatment for gluten-related conditions. Even minute amounts of gluten once every several months can perpetuate the condition(s). Gluten is not an essential nutrient so the only negative aspect of a GFD is convenience. It only feels like an essential nutrient because of the addictive nature of gluten. Portions of the gluten protein (exorphins) bind to opiate receptors in the brain like opium, heroin or cocaine so some withdrawal is expected once a person truly goes gluten free. The addiction should not be underestimated. If any other agent in our diet caused so much misery and death, it would cause a social uproar and legislation would be enacted to limit its use.

To be gluten free, a person will have to learn to read labels and reread labels and watch for hidden sources of gluten and gluten contamination. Rice is a low gliadin food is considered safe for most people as long as they are not contaminated with wheat, barley or rye in transport, processing or packaging. Oats and corn contain significantly high gliadin percentages so can be a problem food for about half of GS people. Oats is usually contaminated with wheat gluten unless grown and processed apart from wheat, rye & barley completely.

For lab and/or genetic testing contact us at You will pay the lab directly and we do not add additional charges for our help.

Dangerous Grains by Braly is an excellent resource as well. It was published in 2002 so some things have become dated especially in the genetics and diagnosis descriptions. I still recommend reading this book. I want to stress that a quick genetic test is extremely valuable in sorting out this gluten issue for you and your loved ones.

Below is a partial list of conditions or diseases that have been scientifically or clinically linked to gluten sensitivity.Any of these listed conditions or any chronic inflammatory or auto-immune reaction is a good enough reason to suspect gluten sensitivity and warrants the simple, one-time genetic test ($149). Which condition or conditions that show up will vary greatly from person to person even with a similar genetic profile. Some conditions will also vary during your lifetime. A past history of any of these will warrant testing.

Gluten Sensitivity Watch List

Abdominal bloating and/or distension

Abdominal pain and/or cramping

Acquired hypertrichosis lanuginosa


Addison's Disease

Alzheimer's Disease and/or Dementia

Allergic rhinitis

Alopecia areata


Anemia or Low iron


Aphthous stomatitis (canker sores)

Aplastic Anemia

Appetite Disorder (increase or decrease)




Atypical mole syndrome


Auto-immune conditions

Auto-immune thyroiditis (Hashimoto’s)

Back pain

Behavioral difficulties

Behget’s Disease

Bell's Palsy

Biliary Cirrhosis

Bipolar disorder (Manic depression)

Bone or joint pains

Bowel cancer

Brachial neuritis



Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Chronic muscle or joint pain or stiffness

Congenital giant nevus

Cravings for sweets, bread, carbohydrates

Crohn's Disease

Cutaneous Vasculitis


Dermatitis herpetiformis


Diabetes - Juvenile or Adult Onset

Difficulty digesting dairy products

Difficulty in relaxing or chronic tension

Drowsiness after eating



Edema (puffy swollen legs)


Erythema elevatum dilantum

Erythema nodosum

Esophageal metaplasia (Barrett’s esophagus)

Esophageal reflux (GERD)

Fatigue (chronic)



Gastric reflux and digestive complaints

Generalized acquired cutis laxa


Hearing Loss

Heart Disease

Heartburn after pasta, pizza or pastry

Hepatitis (AutoImmune)

Hereditary angioneurotic edema

Herpetiformis dermatitis


Ichthiosiform dermatosis



Iron-deficient anemia


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Lactose intolerance

Learning difficulties

Linear IgA Bulbous Dermatosis

Liver abnormalities – elevated enzymes


Malabsorption problems - Malnutrition

Metabolic syndrome - Syndrome X

Mineral deficiency

Mood swings

Multiple sclerosis

Muscle cramps and spasms


Nausea and vomiting

Necrolytic migratory erythema



Oral Lichen planus



Pale, bulky, greasy and/or smelly stools

Parkinson’s D or Parkisonian Syndromes


Peripheral neuropathy

PMS symptoms/hormonal imbalances


Premature gray hair


Psychological disorders

Pyoderma gangrenosum

Recurrent Febrile Infections

Regional enteritis

Resistant hypothyroidism

Restless Leg Syndrome

Rheumatoid arthritis



Sclerosing cholangitis


Short stature

Sjögren's syndrome

Skin problems or rashes of unexplained origin

Tendency to over-consume alcohol


Ulcerative colitis

Urticaria (Hives)


Weight gain