Introduction: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), lymphocytic enteritis (LE) and fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) are three common disorders. Since a gluten-free diet (GFD) has been shown to be helpful in LE, we aimed to assess its effect in a series of LE patients also diagnosed with IBS and FMS.
Methods: The study sample comprised 97 IBS plus FMS adult females, of whom 58 had LE (Marsh stage 1), and 39 had a normal duodenal biopsy (Marsh stage 0). All patients fulfilled the Rome III and American College of Rheumatology 1990 criteria. All participants followed a GFD, the effectiveness of which was assessed by changes in the results of several tests, including those of the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ), the Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ), tender points (TPs), the Short Form Health Survey (SF-36), and the Visual Analogue Scales (VAS) for gastrointestinal complaints, pain and fatigue.
Results: At baseline, all patients had a poor quality of life (QoL) and high VAS scores. After one year on a GFD, all outcome measures were somewhat better in the Marsh stage 1 group, with a mean decrease of 26 to 29% in the TPs, FIQ, HAQ and VAS scales, accompanied by an increase of 27% in the SF-36 physical and mental component scores. However, in the IBS plus FMS/Marsh stage 0 group, the GFD had almost no effect.
Conclusions: This pilot study shows that a GFD in the LE-related IBS/FMS subgroup of patients can produce a slight but significant improvement in all symptoms. Our findings suggest that further studies of this subject are warranted.