How accurate are celiac blood tests?

Have you been tested for celiac disease? Have you been tested with a negative result? How accurate are celiac blood tests? This is a very informative article by Dr. Robert Failla, which answers this question. Since celiac blood tests (endomysial, reticulin [IgA], and gliadin [IgG and IgA]), and other diagnoses, are so important you won’t want to miss this article.

The Role of Blood Tests in Determining Your Health

By: Robert Failla, D.C.

Robert Failla
Robert Failla, D.C.


The comprehensive blood chemistry test (Chem 24) and complete blood count (CBC) have been a mainstay in mainstream medicine for several decades.

Blood chemistry analysis allows a practitioner to analyze basic body functions, alerts to pathology, and over time forms a baseline to track changes in health.

In any field of expertise, there are accepted minimums for performance and professional standards. If you build a house, for example, building codes state minimums for materials, building techniques, etc. A builder can follow absolute minimums for quality and still pass an inspection. Another builder can build to greater than minimums and deliver a superior product.

There are some, including myself, who feel there has been a decline in overall quality of health care in the United States, due to declining minimum standards. The rise of the HMO and managed care has led to dollars being more of a priority than health, and today, leading to more of a disease management model, in other words there is nothing wrong with you until your lab tests show results well out of the normal ranges.

Just ten years ago, a routine physical would include a Chem-24 (twenty four different chemistry tests), a complete blood count (CBC) with differential (what types and how many of each type of blood cell), TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone, which tells your thyroid to work), and a lipid panel (cholesterol, HDL, etc.). Today, the standard seems to be a Chem 7,(essentially 2/3rds fewer tests) and a lipid panel. In the current HMO model, physicians are rated on a regular basis by the HMO as to their “effectiveness” as a provider in the system. So your HMO Doctor who performs more than the now accepted “usual” may find themselves out of that HMO due to “over-utilization”, which ten years ago was the standard minimum. As an example, if Dr. Joe orders $5,000 worth of tests in six months, but Dr. Bill orders $10, 000 in that same time, Dr. Bill may not make the cut when it’s time to renew physician contracts.

The point to an uncompetitive managed care arena is cost, which is determined by the carrier. Providing service at the least cost is the goal and using “medical necessity” as the guideline to do the minimum of procedures that will not lead to malpractice. Just like a house built by a builder coming up to a bare minimum building code. Therefore the present standard is bare acceptable minimum.

There are also physicians, alternative practitioners and patients who do not follow, nor want, these minimums. If you want to build a superior home, you don’t want the bare minimum contractor with the low-bid on the job. You want someone who is going to deliver a high-end product and there are those who will seek out this quality. And contrary to what one may think, it also does not have to be that much more expensive than the low-end contractor.

More and more of the public are seeking health care providers giving this higher level of care, so they know they are getting a more comprehensive test and more thorough look at their health. Practitioners who use the more comprehensive approach find loss of function, disease, and have a more peace of mind knowing more comprehensive testing has been done.

Functional and Pathological Ranges

So what determines a normal number on a blood test as opposed to something abnormal? The short answer is that normal values vary from lab to lab and region to region, because “normal” values are based on past results of tests done by that lab.

There are further, two ranges, the pathological and the functional. The pathological is the range outside of which you are considered to have a pathology or a disease. For instance a fasting blood glucose over a normal range of 65 to 110 mg/dl (milligrams per 100ml) indicates diabetes and traditional medical support is indicated.

A functional range is in brief a narrowed normal range, outside of which, may indicate risk factors for a disease. These ranges have been established by practitioners and researchers in the preventive medical arena. There are also well respected organizations which contribute to these values, one such is the American Association of Clinical Chemists.

As an example of a functional range, for instance, glucose higher than a functional range of 85-100 mg/dl may indicate insulin resistance, a future risk factor for diabetes. So a narrowed functional range leads a practitioner to treatments earlier than in the mainstream disease model. Practitioners using functional ranges are more likely to use non-drug intervention, like nutrients, herbals, diet, so there are less toxic effects and unintended effects (side effects) from medications.

An example of pathological vs functional ranges is like having cracks in your ceiling. with the pathological model, you wait for the ceiling to cave in before you do anything to repair it. In the functional model, you search out the cause of the cracks, fix that, then repair the ceiling.

I have many times seen patients who have their blood tests all in the normal ranges, yet they have symptoms, various complaints, and know something’s wrong. This leads a traditional practitioner to look at the results and say to them nothing’s wrong, or better yet…”It’s all in your head.” A functional analysis of blood tests, plus a very thorough history taking and examination, will lead to areas that need attention before a pathology exists, be it the blood sugar, thyroid, digestive, adrenal system, etc.

People today are looking for a higher standard in health care, the HMO model being inadequate for helping one maximize their health. Many popular websites concerning health are nothing more than pharmaceutical company sponsored sites, with medication the main treatments recommended.

What I like to do is educate. A person who realizes that they are responsible for their own health and is motivated to take charge of their health is someone who will be more successful in being healthy and/or overcoming a medical condition.

Thank you for reading my article, I hope you may not have heard all this before and you found something new!

Remember that even if you do not at present feel causative over your health, you can be. Get educated and through that knowledge realize you can be more responsible and successful in your health goals.

You may follow Dr. Failla by following this blog, his facebook page, or visit his website.

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