Several studies have shown that a large number of patients who are fulfilling the criteria for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are sensitive to gluten. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of a gluten-free diet on gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with IBS. In this double-blind randomized, placebo-controlled trial, 148 IBS patients fulfilling the Rome III criteria were enrolled between 2011 and 2013. However, only 72 out of the 148 commenced on a gluten-free diet for up to six weeks and completed the study; clinical symptoms were recorded biweekly using a standard visual analogue scale (VAS). In the second stage after six weeks, patients whose symptoms improved to an acceptable level were randomly divided into two groups; patients either received packages containing powdered gluten (35 cases) or patients received placebo (gluten free powder) (37 cases). Overall, the symptomatic improvement was statistically different in the gluten-containing group compared with placebo group in 9 (25.7%), and 31 (83.8%) patients respectively (p < 0.001). A large number of patients labelled as irritable bowel syndrome are sensitive to gluten. Using the term of IBS can therefore be misleading and may deviate and postpone the application of an effective and well-targeted treatment strategy in gluten sensitive patients.
Keywords: IBS; gluten free diet; non-celiac gluten sensitivity.