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Questions of A More Technical Nature

The Indican Test


Your book stated, regarding the Indican Test, that "all commerical laboratories can do it. My doctor, even after looking at his Harvard Reference on Standard Lab Tests, could not find it. The Lab that did my blood test knew how to do it but the results were "L" (low?) without a number. Are more labs becoming familiar with this test after your book mentioned it? and should they report the results in numbers?


Indican can be a useful tool for monitoring degeneration or improvement in digestive efficiency of your system in dealing with protein.

Indican is formed by an abnormal metabolism of tryptophan. Indican is a by-product of putrefaction (protein degradation), usually in the intestine, but possibly in other locations as well. Putrefaction is the anaerobic bacterial decomposition of proteins - not ideally the healthy way for your body to deal with proteins.

When the product of this putrefaction (called indole) is absorbed into the blood stream, an increase in urinary indican is seen. This increase can also be seen if bacterial decomposition of body tissues or fluids occurs, as in gangrene, abscesses, etc.

Among the pathologic conditions in which urinary indican is likely to be elevated are hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid production), inhibited peristaltic movement (the involuntary muscular "waves" that move food through your bowel), and poor production of digestive bile secretions from the gall bladder and liver.

Elevated indican is rather rare in simple constipation, but often high with diarrhea. It is generally a good indicator for the poor breakdown of proteins accompanied by gastrointestinal permeability (the "leaky gut"). A high lectin diet typically increase indican levels.

A few individuals can have high indican without symptoms, and some can have low indican with many symptoms. It is useful to use other complementary methods of testing bowel health simultaneously with indican to get a clear picture of your function.

Indican has been used for some time as a simple test for protein maldigestion. In the past, it has been measured with a color comparison chart which is graded 1-4. This has obvious drawbacks for accurate monitoring, so most labs will just report it as 'High' or 'Low."

The Ask Dr. D'Adamo internet advice column ran from 1996 to 2009, at which time Dr. D'Adamo's teaching and programming responsibilities no longer allowed him to devote time and resources to directly answering visitor questions. However we've recently reorganized this treasure-trove of material and made it again available to his readership. He occasionally posts new entries. These are marked with a NEW tag.

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