Not all in your head

By Jason Clevenger

Summary: A group of Norwegian researchers published a report that adds to the growing body of evidence that non-celiac gluten sensitivity has a physical mechanism and is not psychological in nature. In this study, 22 confirmed celiac disease patients and 31 gluten sensitive patients (without CD) were subjected to a gluten challenge, along with 40 healthy control subjects. At the end of a three-day gluten challenge, all participants completed questionnaires regarding anxiety, depression, physical complaints and other quality-of-life factors. The gluten-sensitive patients reported more abdominal and non-abdominal symptoms than those with celiac disease, but there were no significant differences between celiac disease and gluten-sensitive patients with respect to personality or quality of life.

Conclusion: While the underlying mechanism for gluten sensitivity is still unclear, research is converging on the appreciation of gluten sensitivity as a real and distinct disorder from celiac disease. This finding will likely accelerate efforts to understand the root cause of gluten sensitivity and to develop a test that will definitively diagnose it.


[1] “Absence of Somatization in Non-coeliac Gluten Sensitivity”, M. Brottveit, P. Vandvik, S. Wojniusz, A. Lovik, K.E. Lundin, B Boye., Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, 2012 July; 47(7):770-7.

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