QUESTION: If we surmise that a person is gluten sensitive what do we advise? Do we suggest an approach to gluten sensitivity more costly than regular eating?

ANSWER: I first became aware of gluten sensitivity in 2004 when I was working at a clinic where people feeling unwell who had remained undiagnosed or untreated despite much investigation and
consultation came for a second opinion. The integrative medicine testing was different and at times picked up conditions which had been missed by mainstream medicine.

Nevertheless there were a group of patients, usually with some association to autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or Hashimoto's thyroiditis who seem to have many other things going on simultaneously. usually this was something related to digestion.

Doctors at our clinic began to read about gluten sensitivity and although they were not able to test for it directly, some of their testing raised an index of suspicion. In 2004 a laboratory in Dallas Texas named Enterolab introduced a test which is still extolled by many as a definitive test, based on testing stool specimens. This was a breakthrough in diagnosis even though the Enterolab testing has been questioned by some. As it happened though, patients who tested positively generally had an excellent response to the removal of gluten from their diet. Although it is generally
associated with gastroenterological problems like reflux, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation and diarrhea, about 40% of people who are gluten sensitive have no gastrointestinal symptoms. But virtually everyone with gluten sensitivity has long-standing problems with both emotional and cognitive difficulties. The most frequent label people put on their brain behavior is “brain fog.” Even people who have never heard this term are prone to make it up as a descriptor of how they feel. If you’d like, you could also take a self-quiz which approaches it slightly differently.You can do so by clicking the Gluten-Intolerance Self Quiz icon.

While AcuDestress is one of the ways that people who have gone off gluten find their emotional and mental symptoms reversing, removal of gluten alone will not do it. People feel better from getting out of their diet, but they don't function better. They need something like what we have to offer to make a recovery. Conversely if people come to our program and we haven't picked up on the fact that they are sensitive, they often don't do well, and all we can do is then look into it, get them out if they need that, and put them back in the program. We’d rather not do this. Would like to pick it up at the outset and for them to have a good result the first time round. But it's inevitable that some people will still be struggling at the end of their program in on account of gluten. the other problem we encounter here us people who partially go off gluten. Despite suggestions that lowered gluten is better than what is usually consumed, there s no value at all derived from anything less than 100% abstinence. Yet, people don’t yet realize that they can’t “cheat’ and expect results. Gluten Free means totally gluten-free!

In addition to this, the worldwide standard for testing for what is called non-celiac gluten sensitivity is to go off for a month (some say three months) and if one notices they lessening of symptoms, undergoing a gluten challenge meal at the end of the period of time, and if one symptoms return in large measure after the challenge, the diagnosis is made. We are on the lookout for people to do the test, and generally we do the test at the same time as the program. We could, however, have people do the test before coming to the program and then admit people whose test is positive, as long as they stay off gluten, while omitting other people who proved to be negative, without asking them to restrict the intake of gluten.

It is roundly said and almost universally assumed that the gluten-free diet is expensive. There is no doubt that there are products produced by gluten-free producers that run up one's grocery bill. But in all fairness, 80% of them at least not things that are enjoyable to eat anyway. We do not call what we are suggesting that people do a diet. We are asking people to substitute for gluten containing elements in their diet. This is possible to do without running up the grocery bill, and we supply several copies of the book called Gluten Free on a Shoestring which shows that all of the expensive substitutes
are unnecessary. For the same reason, no one needs a financial subsidy to go gluten-free. Authorities which sometimes supply dietary subsidies do not do so for gluten sensitivity - only for overt Celiac Disease. So we ask you not to expect to go the expensive route, not to ask people to support your efforts by funding them. We’ll try and give you more opportunity to see the on-a-shoestring options.

So, how do we decide who should try gluten-free and who should not? I looked around to see if somebody had produced a way of finding good and sensitives in the population. I chose the simplest approach, the questionnaire by Dr. Vikki Petersen, (pictured above) which I have used for some time now. The suspicion of gluten sensitivity is raised with each tick off a person makes. We posted this quasi-questionnaire on our History Intake Sheet, and if people score 5 on it we become suspicious, and if they score 8, it is pretty certain they are gluten sensitive.

We then, in the second day of the program, after having spoken to people at their intake session about this, talk about it in more detail, but after our talk abou
t it they are on their own. We do not insist. What happens is that they begin to talk to each other about this, as a significant number of people in the room will have been found to be at least worthy of testing. Those who are pretty sure they're insensitive are given a follow-along sheet (see on the right) which follows their symptoms as they remove gluten from their diet. There is usually a significant change in the score that they run up at the beginning, even in the course of a month.

The bottom line here is that, if we were not picking up people are gluten sensitive, we would not be having as many people succeed in our program. So, for some of them finding out they’re gluten sensitive and dealing with it is the key to their success. We couldn't really do otherwise once we knew how important gluten might be in the process. We have less and less people all the time who are not positively affected by the program, and we consider our scrutiny of people's gluten sensitivity responsible for some of our increasingly better results.