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According to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, 3 million Americans suffer from Celiac Disease, and 95% of these sufferers are either undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with another condition. These Americans are at risk for developing serious complications that can be avoided with simple dietary changes.

When a person with Celiac Disease (also known as Celiac Sprue) consumes anything with gluten in it, their immune system attacks the surface of their small intestines which causes it to get inflamed. When this happens repeatedly enough, it starts to damage microscopic parts of the small intestine called the villi. The villi are small fingerlike projections on the surface of our small intestine that are vital to the absorption of nutrients from the food we eat. They get the nutrients we need into our bloodstream. With damaged or flattened villi, Celiac patients can not get the nutrition they need from food and they become under-nourished no matter how healthy the food they eat is. The functional medicine doctors at Chicago Natural Health Care are prepared to help patients who are struggling with Celiac disease through a wide variety of therapies.


Celiac Disease is classified as a permanent acquired hereditary autoimmune disease which means several things:

  • There is a genetic component which is passed down through family lines.
  • It involves an abnormal immune response.
  • There is an environmental component, or a “trigger”. In this case, it is gluten.


Celiac Disease presents itself differently in different people in different populations. Only a small portion of patients with Celiac Disease present with clinically overt symptoms; they are therefore easy to identify. In the vast majority of cases, however, Celiac Disease testing is necessary to determine whether or not a person has Celiac Disease or a Gluten Sensitivity/Gluten Intolerance, or to rule out both of these possibilities altogether. Even when a person shows overt symptoms of Celiac Disease a Celiac Disease Blood Test is still one of the best ways to be certain that Celiac Disease is actually responsible for these symptoms.

Celiac symptoms as once formerly understood by physicians were confined to gastrointestinal disturbance and/or malabsorption. And in fact, still, the most common symptoms for Classic Celiac Disease are usually gastrointestinal, such as:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Gas and recurrent bloating
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Pale/yellow stool

However recent research has provided more insight into other forms of Celiac Disease. Celiac Disease that only affects the gastrointestinal system has now been reclassified to Classic (Typical) Celiac Disease. The term Celiac Disease is mostly used to refer to those patients with Gluten-Sensitive Enteropathy (abnormal small intestine histology including villous atrophy, crypt hyperplasia, and an increase in intraepithelial lymphocytes).

Patients with these classic manifestations of Celiac Disease are usually diagnosed by the age of 2 or 3, with concurrent symptoms including:

  • Chronic diarrhea or constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Irritability
  • Anorexia
  • Short Stature
  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal distension.


Some of the ways that gluten affects the development of Celiac Disease is understood, some of it has been hypothesized about, and other areas of research yet to be understood. It has been suggested that the gliadin component of gluten can go through one of two competing pathways to be metabolized by the cell. Current research in the Journal “Gut” suggests that in patients with Celiac Disease the gliadin might be attracted to the exogenous pathway thus initiating an immune response whereas in healthy individuals it chooses the endogenous pathway.

The precise way this occurs is not fully understood and research is on-going. This hypothesis may account for the degree of severity experienced by Celiac patients. The more severe the symptoms, the more gliadin is going to the exogenous pathway.

It is thought that the abnormal immune reaction occurs when the “gluten” is exposed to the HLA molecule and becomes attached. It is then presented to the CD4+T cells (immune system cells that recognize it as a threat and mount an attack) in the small intestine. This shouldn’t happen.

The general consensus is that this occurs because the glutamine component of gliadin is broken down by a calcium-dependent enzyme called tissue transglutaminase (normally released by the intestine during injury) into glutamic acid. This is not it’s primary role, it should be involved in tissue repair by forming bonds with the glutamine and lysine.

The initial activation of the immune system causes damage and inflammation to the small intestine, particularly the surface which is covered by the villi we discussed above. Unfortunately, the damage triggers more tissue transglutaminase to be released to heal the damage but it is tricked by the HLA molecule that has bound with the gluten and it doesn’t heal – it just causes more damage to occur.

Celiac Disease appears to be associated with genes that code for human leukocyte antigens DQ 2.5 for the majority of Celiac patients and human leukocyte antigen DQ8 for the remainder. These genes belong to a family of genes called the HLA genes that code for human leukocyte antigens (HLA). Our immune system function revolves around HLA molecules and HLA genes are linked to several of the immune disorders including Celiac Disease, Type 1 Diabetes, and Rheumatoid arthritis. Our functional medicine doctors at Chicago Natural Health Care are trained in the various and most up to date tests for Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.


Current scientific understanding on the subject is that Celiac Disease is multigenic, meaning more than one gene is involved. The other genes involved in Celiac Disease have yet to be identified.

Because Celiac Disease is genetic, the first – and second-degree relatives of people with a known sensitivity (children and grandchildren) are at risk for acquiring it themselves. However, just because you carry a gene does not necessarily mean that you will go on to develop Celiac Disease. In fact, less than 2% of the population that carries this gene goes on to develop the disease.

There is also a portion of patients with Gluten Sensitivity who have “Latent Celiac Disease” which means that they have the potential to develop the disease if the threshold of reactivity is reached. This term has also been proposed to include patients with normal pathology or subtle immune changes which indicate they are at high risk of developing Celiac Disease.


Celiac Disease Testing and Gluten Allergy Testing is one of our specialties at Chicago Natural Health Care in Chicago where we perform expert Celiac Disease Testing for Chicago area residents using the most current and cost-effective techniques and technologies. Our Functional Medicine Doctors take pride and passion in these testing procedures performed.

A diagnostic test for Celiac Disease is vital for those suffering from the disease because it is the only way to know what action to take to eliminate your current symptoms and prevent new Celiac symptoms from occurring. Moreover, it can help prevent serious digestive damage.

Once a person is diagnosed with Celiac Disease, subsequent Celiac Disease testing can be used to monitor the patient’s diet and make sure they’re not unknowingly consuming gluten from hidden gluten sources (such as some of the so-called “Gluten-Free Foods” that still may legally contain 20 parts per million of gluten and be called “Gluten-Free”) or gluten mimicking foods, also known as cross-reactive foods, which contain a protein similar in structure to gluten that the body of some people with Celiac Disease may react to as though it were gluten.


Call now at 773.418.6877 to schedule Celiac testing in Chicago or click the button below. The labs we work with such as Cyrex labs and Vibrant America/Wellness use the most current methods to provide fast and accurate Celiac Disease Testing.

All Celiac Disease Testing is followed-up with individualized functional medicine and nutrition counseling.

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