- The Washington Times - Monday, May 26, 2014

Gluten allergies do exist for those with celiac disease, but not for most folks — and that’s according to the scientist who years ago discovered gluten proteins cause allergies.

Peter Gibson, a professor of gastroenterology at Monash University in Australia, published a study in 2011 that said gluten proteins cause related distress in the digestive system even in those people who haven’t been diagnosed with celiac disease — the condition that causes an immune response in the small intestine when gluten is present.

His finding, in part, led to the gluten-free wave that overtook food producers and grocery marketers and gave rise to the diet fad.

But Mr. Gibson thought more research was needed, Raw Story reported. So in 2013, he conducted a new study and found that test subjects who ate low-gluten foods reported similar gastrointestinal distress as those who were fed a high-gluten diet, when compared to those put on a baseline diet, Raw Story reported.

He then did another study that found that those who thought they were given a diet that was a “treatment” reported increased gastrointestinal distress — even though the actual foods they were given to eat hadn’t changed.

It’s the “nocebo effect,” Mr. Gibson said, Raw Story reported. That’s when test subjects who think they’re being given a treatment that causes a negative reaction report experiencing the expected negative effect — even though the treatment is actually harmless.

“In contrast to our first study,” Mr. Gibson wrote, Raw Story reported, “we could find absolutely no specific response to gluten.”

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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