Urine Indican: A Sensitive Test for Malabsorption

Indican levels are determined via a simple urine test.

Indican levels are determined via a simple urine test.

Robert Brody, ND

Indican testing 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 increases 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.”

At the COE we regularly use indican testing to determine the health and efficiency of the bowels, one of the main pathways for toxin removal in the body.

Dr. D’Adamo wrote about the Indican test in his New York Times Bestseller Eat Right For Your Type:

I often have the experience of hearing patients insist that they are following the Blood Type Diet to the letter and staying away from all the lectins targeted for his or her blood type – but I know differently. When I challenge their assurance, usually they will drop all signs of protest and say in amazement, “How do you know?”

I know because the effects of lectins on different blood types are not just a theory. They’re based on science. I’ve tested virtually all common foods for blood type reactions, using both clinical and laboratory methods. I can purchase isolated lectins from foods such as peanuts, lentils, meat, or wheat from chemical laboratories, and the results are visible under the microscope: I can seem them agglutinating cells in the affected blood type.

There is also a more direct scientific barometer that can be used to measure the presence of lectins in your system. The barometer is a simple urine test called the Indican Scale. The Indican Scale measures a factor called bowel putrefactions. When the liver and intestines don’t properly metabolize proteins, they produce toxic by-products called indols. The level of these toxic by-products is shown on the Indican Scale.

If you avoid foods containing toxic lectin proteins or foods that are difficult for your particular blood type to digest, your Indican Scale will be low.

If, on the other hand, you regularly consume foods that are high in lectins or difficult to digest, your Indican Scale will be high—meaning that you have highly carcinogenic substances in your body.