Can “Glutenase” Pills Help People with Celiac Digest Gluten?

Stefano Guandalini, MD, (center) Medical Director of the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center (Photo by Robert Kozloff)

Stefano Guandalini, MD, (center) Medical Director of the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center (Photo by Robert Kozloff)

This is the first installment of our new series, The Big Question, in which we ask University of Chicago Medicine doctors and researchers one big question about their work, whether it’s their expert opinion on a new breakthrough or a common question they hear from patients. First up is Stefano Guandalini, founder and medical director of the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center.

Do supplements like Glutenase, Gluten Cutter or Digest Gluten Plus that are currently on the market help people with celiac disease digest gluten, or protect against cross-contamination?

Dr. Guandalini: Surely it would be nice to be able to swallow a pill and go about eating without worrying about any gluten on your plate. This is more or less what these products are claiming. But my opinion is no, they cannot be trusted to help digest gluten.

While research is very active in this field, and some very promising products are being rigorously tested and hopefully will come to fruition soon, it must be clearly stated that none–I repeat, none–of the currently commercially available products that claim to help detoxifying gluten by digesting it in the stomach before it reaches the small intestine can actually accomplish this. This is based on specific tests carried out in a reputable research laboratory that has checked these products and confirmed what we knew from the beginning: They are totally ineffective in reducing the fractions of gluten that are toxic for celiac patients.

For more from Dr. Guandalini, read our two-part interview with him on the sudden rise of celiac disease and the future of treatment.

About Matt Wood (479 Articles)
Matt Wood is a senior science writer for the University of Chicago Medicine and editor of the Science Life blog.

5 Comments on Can “Glutenase” Pills Help People with Celiac Digest Gluten?

  1. What I wonder is this: Is it helpful for a person with Celiac Disease to take these types of enzymes before eating at a restaurant to at least minimize discomfort and small intestinal damage (due to the autoimmune response to gluten) as a result of cross-contamination? This is what I have done as an extra precaution, though I do everything I can when eating out to avoid gluten. Is it helpful at all? Am I throwing my money away by buying these supplements?

  2. I have tried Glutenease 2X twice as a result of accidental gluten in restauraunt a… Once based on finding the pasta in my “gf” soup and once based on symptoms. I’m a skeptic by nature and it took me 20 of celiac to try it. I was symptom free after taking the pills both times. Wasn’t psychosomatic. I think the drug industry wants to profit from this and discounts the value of potential OTC enzymes. I would never use the pill to cheat, but I disagree with what the doc says and I’m one of those celiacs who get very sick from very little. I think Glutenease warrants testing, but don’t throw out the baby with the bath water in the name of profit. A throwback to when docs didn’t trust patients to even stay on the diet!

  3. My daughters w/ celiac disease are very sensitive. They do not trust many restaurants to feed them safely. However, we were traveling and went to a restaurant whose staff had undergone training in gf prep and preventing cross-contamination. They took Gluten Cutter and both got sick anyway. One more than other but the other had shared her fries. The episode didn’t last quite as long but it still was severe.

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Gluten Cutter is a SCAM SCAM SCAM – GlutenFreeGal
  2. Weekly Highlights in the Gluten Free World 4/5/14 | Gluten Free Mom To Be

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