If you have stomach issues like acid reflux, indigestion, GERD etc, I now have a new GastroPanel test to help you identify what’s going on. One of the first issues I always discuss with bloating and indigestion/acid type problems is: is it really high stomach acid, or is it too low? People always assume because they are having acid symptoms that their production of acid is high.
For years, I have tried to get the message out that in the vast majority of cases of dyspepsia/acid reflux and the like, the issue is you are not producing enough acid. Counter-intuitive, I know, but ’tis true. You might be one of the genuinely high acid producers as a result of either an allergy/sensitivity of some kind or an H pylori infection and then at least we know and can treat that. But, you might have been left with low acid output from a prior H pylori infection OR you might have an autoimmune issue affecting your gastric cells OR you simply might not have enough of the nutrients needed to produce stomach acid.
In any of those cases, you produce acid after a meal, but not quite enough for the body’s systems to notice it and give the signal to stop, so it continues to drip, drip, drip into the stomach and you then get too much acid. But the original cause was low production, do you see? That’s a tough education job, trust me!
Anyway, testing for low or high stomach acid has been quite tricky and, as you’ll see from the factsheets, has involved drinking lemon juice or the like to see if it hurts and then trialling increasing dosages of betaine hydrochloride capsules, still very useful ways of doing it. We even used to have the Heidelberg capsule we sent down into the stomach and pulled back up again! Or, the doctors did a gastroscopy and usually found nothing (hopefully!)
I have been casting around for years for a better alternative and have now found one. The GastroPanel is a blood test that helps identify the state of the stomach. How much acid are you producing and therefore how much risk do you have of malabsorbing B12, intrinsic factor, minerals etc; how damaged is the stomach lining – could it be leaky even, much like the lower gut; do you have an Helicobacter pylori infection or has a past one caused problems with that acid production now; are you at risk of stomach cancer or oesophageal problems because of it?
It has been developed in Finland and is being used by doctors across Europe to identify people who actually need further testing like gastroscopy, instead of giving everyone such an intrusive and, let’s face it, expensive test. I’m not sure to what extent the UK has adopted it yet, but it strikes me as very useful. Who wants a gastroscopy unless they really need one?!
So, I have added the test onto the shop for you. It’s a blood test, does need centrifuging and freezing, then is sent back to the UK lab. Here’s some blurb for you to start you off.
Millions of people experience non-specific stomach complaints from time to time, or even on daily basis. Less than half will seek medical advice. GastroPanel® is a patient-friendly blood test for assessing the structure and function of your stomach. It is a straightforward and painless means to find out whether your stomach is healthy.
Stomach problems may present as pain or discomfort, heartburn, a feeling of heaviness, bloating, nausea or vomiting. Sometimes even severe conditions that require medical attention show no symptoms making it even more important to ensure that you get accurate information on the status of your stomach. GastroPanel® is a blood test, suitable for all adults suffering from gastric complaints. Your doctor can use the results to advise you on the need for further investigations.
I have now managed to get a GastroPanel which is being reliably used as a kind of pre-gastroscopy, if you like. GastroPanel® is a blood test, which provides information on the status of your stomach mucosa, possible helicobacter pylori infection or lack of acid in your stomach, also known as achlorhydria or hypochlorydia. The test can also estimate the risk of developing vitamin-B12 or micronutrient deficiency. A normal test result indicates that your stomach is healthy. It measures four antibody markers to pepsinogens, gastrin and Helicobacter pylori and the test comes with a report on what the specific mix of results on your report means. You can read much more about it here, see a sample report here and a different one here and also review a pretty technical interpretation guide here if you are that way inclined.
The test panel consists of four assays:
- Pepsinogen I ELISA
- Pepsinogen II ELISA
- Gastrin-17 ELISA
- Helicobacter pylori IgG ELISA
- Reliably detect high-risk gastritis and H. pylori infection;
- Detect asymptomatic Atrophic Gastritis, regardless of the presence of H. pylori infection;
- Find patients with hypochlorhydric (low acid) stomach;
- Identify and refer patients who need gastroscopy;
- Find patients with a healthy gastric mucosa.
- Gastric cancer (sequel to corpus and/or antral atrophy);
- Achlorhydria or Hypochlorhydria;
- Malabsorption of vitamin B12, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron and some medicines (corpus atrophy);
- Colonisation of the stomach by microbes.
Useful, huh? You can read more and get it in the Gut Tests section. I hope it helps.