Alternative and complimentary medicine websites make false claims about celiac disease and noncebiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) that may harm patients. A study published this month analyzed celiac disease and NCGS claims made by 500 websites of practitioners in 10 U.S. cities, including those of chiropractors, naturopaths, homeopaths, acupuncturists, and integrative medicine practitioners. The American Journal of Gastroenterology
Claims were classified as true, false, or unproven. Of 232 claims made by the practitioners, 138 of them were classified as false or unproven – nearly 60% of all claims. These claims were most often advertising techniques for diagnosing and treating celiac disease and NCGS.
Diagnosis and treatment tools for both celiac disease and NCGS are not always readily available from conventional doctors, and therefore, patients often resort to online searches and non-physician medical practitioners to diagnose and treat their symptoms. While some of these practitioners are knowledgeable and their information scientifically based, some are not.
It’s evident through the findings of this study that online claims for celiac disease and NCGS should be approached with skepticism and heavily researched before followed. The lead author of the study and director of clinical research at the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, Dr. Benjamin Lebwohl, was quoted by beyondceliac.org saying, “These claims can not only be a waste of patients’ time and money. They may lead to delays in diagnosis of other conditions or may promote needlessly restrictive diets.”