gluten, holistic medicine, natural approach, bread, wheat, gluten intolerant

What are the Lab Tests for Gluten Intolerance?

If you suspect you have a problem with gluten, in can be confusing to know how to find out for sure.

Gluten Intolerance is not as black and white as once thought.

It used to be thought that only someone with Celiac Disease needed to avoid gluten. Recent studies have confirmed what many individuals have figured out through trial and error – some people have non-celiac Gluten Intolerance, also called Gluten Sensitivity.


Research shows there are a dozen different components in wheat that can cause an immune reaction. Until recently the only one that was tested was alpha gliadin, which resulted in ‘false negatives.’ A false negative occurs when the test shows there isn’t a problem when there really is.

In the past, if your standard gliadin blood test came back negative, but your doctor still suspected a gluten issue, the next step was a biopsy of the gut wall – which is a surgery, requires anesthesia and has it’s own risks. Fortunately there are safe, reliable ways to avoid that invasive, expensive and high-risk route.

The Genetic Test

Gene testing can be helpful to find Celiac Disease but is not correlated with Gluten Sensitivity.

There are two known gene variations associated with Celiac Disease: HLA DQ2 and HLA DQ8. Absence of these can be used to virtually rule out the disease.

However, research shows that up to one third of the U.S. population has these genes. Given the right conditions those genes can become activated. According to the Mayo Clinic, factors that can trigger onset of Celiac Disease include surgery, pregnancy, childbirth, viral infection or severe emotional stress.

Having these gene mutations does not mean you currently have Celiac Disease – it just greatly increases the likelihood that you will develop it at some point.

Since these genes don’t have a strong correlation to Gluten Sensitivity (non-celiac gluten intolerance) I tend to favor other tests in my practice such as:

The Saliva Gliadin Test

The saliva test is easy, can be done at home and is good as a screening tool since it tests only for gliadin, one small component of gluten. If your test is positive then you do have an immune reaction against that part of gluten, and need to avoid it.

However, if your test comes back normal, you may still have a reaction against other parts of gluten.

Since it can result in false negatives, the saliva test is best for someone who is not at high risk, for example, someone who does not have an immediate family member with gluten issues. I will use this as an add-on when running other tests when the suspicion of gluten intolerance is low.

If you have chronic health issues, an auto-immune condition, gut problems or brain fog then a more comprehensive test is indicated.

The Array 3 blood test

This test identifies whether you have antibodies to any of a number of parts of gluten. It’s a great way to get a reliable answer quickly. Another benefit of this test is that it tests for multiple components of gluten such as gamma gliadin, transglutaminase and agglutinin, not just alpha gliadin.

Some people have enzymes in their digestive tract that break gluten down into opioids that act like heroin or morphine.  Gluten can have a drug-like effect on these individuals, causing challenging withdrawal symptoms when they try to avoid gluten.  Cyrex Array 3 also screens for antibodies to Gluteomorphins and Prodynorphins, the opioids produced from wheat.

Your Experience

If you’re not ready to see a provider who can order lab tests, but you still want to have a way to see if you may have an issue with gluten, click here for a reliable test you can do at home.

Do you avoid eating gluten, whether based on test results or a hunch?

Share your experience in the comments section below.



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