Celiac Disease and Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity

By TJ Williams, DC, PhD

News stories have downplayed the significance of non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), even suggesting that it does not exist. But there is a growing body of evidence that is proving that gluten intolerance is not only real, but there is little doubt among those familiar with the scientific literature that NCGS can have devastating effects on one’s health.

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) should not be confused with celiac disease (CD). For clarification, CD is a condition characterized by enteropathy, or disease of the intestine, especially the small intestine, oftentimes accompanied by a myriad of gastrointestinal symptoms and complaints. People with CD will have elevated blood tests specific to CD as well as having CD identified by a biopsy of the small intestine. Those with CD must be on a gluten-free diet for their entire life.

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) on the other hand is a completely different kind of monster. People who have NCGS most often have non-gastrointestinal symptoms. Those with NCGS are more likely to have symptoms that include: skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis, depression, headache, foggy mind or brain fog, joint pain, numbness in the legs, arms, or fingers, and/or fatigue.

What makes it even more difficult for people suffering from non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) is the cultural backlash that has seemingly been attached to gluten sensitivity. Many doctors and media outlets seem to be ignoring the ever-growing mountain of evidence that NCGS is a significant problem. This can make it difficult for people looking for answers. If someone has tested negative for CD, their doctor will usually tell them they don’t have an issue with gluten and there is no reason for them to avoid it. However, if this person is actually suffering from NCGS, a negative CD test can provide them with a false sense of security that gluten is not causing their symptoms when, in fact, gluten could still be the culprit.

Lastly, many doctors and patients are not taking the treatment for NCGS seriously enough. Many health professionals do not seem to understand the gravity of the treatment necessary for people suffering from NCGS. In order for someone with NCGS to actually feel better, the necessary treatment must usually go well beyond removing gluten from their diet.

When someone has a diagnosis of CD, everyone understands they must eliminate gluten from their diet, but many people do not know is that other foods could also be creating a problem. Studies have even shown that approximately 50% of people with CD have an intolerance to casein, a protein in milk. This is just one reason why many people with CD continue to have symptoms even after they have gone completely gluten-free. The same is true for NCGS. When people are sensitive to gluten, they are usually intolerant of other foods as well including dairy, eggs, and even coffee.

If you suffer from celiac disease or think you may have non-celiac gluten sensitivity, we recommend having a thorough food sensitivity test performed in order to find out exactly what foods you should, and more importantly, should not be eating. You may just be amazed at what can happen to your health.

If you would like more information on Celiac Disease or Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity, please contact us at (314) 293-8123 or visit us at the inhstl.com. Dr. TJ Williams is the Clinic Director for the Institute of Natural Health and the host of the radio program Wellness 101, which provides common-sense, science-based strategies for a healthy life. Wellness 101 airs Sundays at 3:00pm on FM NewsTalk 97.1.