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J Gastrointestin Liver Dis. 2011 Mar;20(1):27-31.

Are patients with coeliac disease seeking alternative therapies to a gluten-free diet?

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Department of Gastroenterology, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, UK.



The cornerstone of treatment for coeliac disease is a gluten-free diet (GFD). However, adherence to a GFD is variable. Recently investigators have been reporting their preliminary findings using novel therapies. In addition, there is a growing interest in the use of complementary or alternative medicine (CAM) in gastrointestinal illnesses. These observations suggest that patients with coeliac disease may be dissatisfied with a GFD and possibly are seeking/using alternative therapies for their disease. Our aim was to assess the satisfaction levels of adults with coeliac disease towards a GFD, their use of oral CAM and views regarding novel therapies.


310 patients with coeliac disease completed a questionnaire survey while attending their out-patient appointment. The control group comprised 477 individuals.


Over 40% of patients with coeliac disease were dissatisfied with a GFD. The frequency of CAM use in patients with coeliac disease was 21.6% (67/310) vs 27% in the control group (129/477), p=0.09. All patients expressed an interest in novel therapies, with a vaccine being the first choice in 42% of patients, 35% and 23% for anti- zonulin and peptidases, respectively. Universally, patients placed genetically modified wheat as the lowest preference.


A large proportion of patients with coeliac disease are dissatisfied with a GFD. Coeliac patients are not taking CAM any more than controls, suggesting they do not view CAM as an alternative to a GFD. However, all the patients in this survey were keen to consider novel therapies, with a vaccine being the most preferred option.

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