Many research studies have arguably analyzed how gluten can affect the nervous system. However, people with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity have demonstrated a variety of symptoms, ranging from headaches and brain fog to autoimmune disease. Moreover, brain health issues, such as anxiety, depression, and migraines, among others, are also common symptoms in people with gluten sensitivity or intolerance. Gluten ataxia, a severe autoimmune disorder, affects a small percentage of the population. Evidence suggests that brain health issues, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, may also be affected by gluten. In the following article, we discuss several common gluten-related brain health issues.
Brain Fog, Headaches, Migraines, Insomnia, and ADHD
Many people with brain health issues like celiac disease as well as gluten sensitivity or intolerance understand the risks of consuming gluten. But, if they do eat gluten, many people report feeling that their brains “cloud up” and they feel less efficient, even clumsy. This brain health issue, known as brain fog, requires further research studies, however, it’s another common symptom associated with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity or intolerance.
Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is yet another common brain health issue in both adults and children. Headaches and migraines are also commonly reported as celiac disease symptoms and gluten sensitivity or intolerance symptoms. These symptoms may ultimately cause insomnia.
Anxiety and Depression
Research studies demonstrate that people with celiac disease experience anxiety and depression. People that don’t have celiac disease but who do have gluten sensitivity or intolerance also report experiencing anxiety and depression although the connection between the brain health issues is unknown. Researchers believe that gluten-related intestinal permeability, or leaky gut, may cause nutritional deficiencies that cause anxiety and depression.
However, that doesn’t necessarily explain why people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity or intolerance also experience anxiety and depression. Several gluten sensitivity or intolerance experts like New Zealand pediatrician Dr. Rodney Ford have hypothesized that gluten directly affects the brain and leads to the development of these brain health issues. Regardless, you’re far from being alone if you experience gluten-related anxiety and depression symptoms.
Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder
Many research studies suggest that gluten may be associated with two very severe brain health issues: schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. In schizophrenia, decades of research studies have shown that eliminating gluten from the diet of schizophrenics can help with the brain health issue. Research studies have ultimately demonstrated that a gluten-free diet can be beneficial for people with schizophrenia, but further research studies are needed.
In bipolar disorder, research studies have shown that people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity or intolerance may experience the brain health issue. A research study on the levels of antibodies to gluten in the blood of people with bipolar disorder found increased levels during a manic episode.
When gluten consumption causes your own body to attack its own cells and tissues, you suffer from a gluten-related autoimmune disease. There are three common gluten-related autoimmune diseases: celiac disease, dermatitis herpetiformis, and gluten ataxia. In gluten ataxia, the immune system attacks the cerebellum, the region of the brain responsible for coordination. In many circumstances, the brain damage is irreversible, however, a strict gluten-free diet can help stop the progression of the autoimmune disease. Many people with gluten sensitivity or intolerance may also experience similar symptoms.
Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity or intolerance can ultimately lead to a wide variety of brain health issues and neurological diseases. However, in many circumstances, people can tremendously reduce or even resolve their gluten-related brain health issue symptoms by following a strict gluten-free diet.
Gluten intolerance or sensitivity is described as the human body’s inability to digest or break down the gluten protein found in wheat and a variety of other grains. This health issue can ultimately range from a mild or moderate intolerance or sensitivity to full-blown celiac disease, a severe autoimmune disorder related to gluten intolerance or sensitivity. Additionally, research studies have demonstrated that people with gluten intolerances or sensitivities may also develop brain health issues or neurological diseases. Talking to a naturopathic doctor or functional medicine practitioner can help determine if you have a gluten intolerance or sensitivity. Avoiding gluten altogether can ultimately help improve your overall health and wellness. – Dr. Alex Jimenez D.C., C.C.S.T. Insight
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The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, and nervous health issues or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We use functional health protocols to treat injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We also make copies of supporting research studies available to the board and or the public upon request. To further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.
Curated by Dr. Alex Jimenez References:
- Anderson, Jane. “How Gluten Can Have a Damaging Effect on Your Brain and Nerves.” Verywell Health, Verywell Health, 20 Nov. 2019, www.verywellhealth.com/gluten-related-neurological-symptoms-and-conditions-562317.
Additional Topic Discussion: Chronic Pain
Sudden pain is a natural response of the nervous system which helps to demonstrate possible injury. By way of instance, pain signals travel from an injured region through the nerves and spinal cord to the brain. Pain is generally less severe as the injury heals, however, chronic pain is different than the average type of pain. With chronic pain, the human body will continue sending pain signals to the brain, regardless if the injury has healed. Chronic pain can last for several weeks to even several years. Chronic pain can tremendously affect a patient’s mobility and it can reduce flexibility, strength, and endurance.
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Plus is designed to assess an individual’s reactivity to 48 neurological antigens with connections to a variety of neurologically related diseases. The Vibrant Neural ZoomerTM
Plus aims to reduce neurological conditions by empowering patients and physicians with a vital resource for early risk detection and an enhanced focus on personalized primary prevention.
Food Sensitivity for the IgG & IgA Immune Response
Dr. Alex Jimenez utilizes a series of tests to help evaluate health issues associated with food sensitivities. The Food Sensitivity ZoomerTM
is an array of 180 commonly consumed food antigens that offers very specific antibody-to-antigen recognition. This panel measures an individual’s IgG and IgA sensitivity to food antigens. Being able to test IgA antibodies provides additional information to foods that may be causing mucosal damage. Additionally, this test is ideal for patients who might be suffering from delayed reactions to certain foods. Utilizing an antibody-based food sensitivity test can help prioritize the necessary foods to eliminate and create a customized diet plan around the patient’s specific needs.
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The information herein on "Functional Neurology: Gluten-Related Brain Health Issues" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN* CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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