Gluten and the Brain
Celiac disease is the best studied form of delayed pattern food allergy
caused by eating wheat and other cereal grains. A surprising range of disease is
triggered by the proteins in these foods, collectively referred to as gluten.
Celiac disease may present as a vague illness, even a mental illness.
Patients often complain of dysphoria with fatigue, difficulty in
concentration, loss of recent memory, irritability, loss of pleasure and
interests, often with sleep disturbances. Sleep and dreaming are influenced by
food problems. Most people eat their major meal in the evening and snack at
night. This food is digested and absorbed during the night and symptoms often
emerge as you sleep. Some allergenic effects tend to peak at night - asthma,
migraine, body pains, and itching are often at their worst. Sleep disturbances
include difficulty falling asleep, frequent waking and nightmares.
Luostarinen et al suggested: It is well known that coeliac disease may be
associated with various neurological manifestations. We have had a high index of
suspicion of coeliac disease during recent years in our neurological clinic. As
a result 10 (7%) out of 144 of our new coeliac patients were detected because of
neurological symptoms. The most common neurological manifestations were
neuropathy, memory impairment and cerebellar ataxia. In these patient groups
screening for coeliac disease with serological antibody tests helps to find
patients who may suffer from this disease.
Wills suggested A number of neurological syndromes have been described in
association with coeliac disease. These include disorders of the central nervous
system encompassing epilepsy, myoclonus, ataxia, internuclear opthalmoplegia,
multifocal leukoencephalopathy and dementia. Most of these associated conditions
show a poor response to gluten restriction. Peripheral neuropathies, of axonal
and demyelinating types, have also been reported and may respond to elimination
of gluten from the diet. The mechanism underlying these processes remains
obscure but may be immunological or related to trace vitamin deficiencies.
Controversially, it has also been claimed that occult coeliac disease accounts
for a substantial proportion of patients with neurological dysfunction of
unknown cause. Some authorities recommend that cryptogenic ataxias and
neuropathies should be routinely screened for the presence of gluten-sensitivity
but this remains contentious and has not been universally accepted.
Gluten and Cerebellar Ataxia
One example of specific brain injury from eating gluten is cerebellar ataxia.
The cerebellum looks after the coordination and smoothing of movements so that
problems here show up as movement disorders. Gluten sensitivity, with or without
classical celiac disease symptoms and intestinal pathology, is a treatable cause
of cerebellar ataxia. Bushara et al reported: We investigated the prevalence of
abnormally high serum immunoglobulin A (IgA) and IgG anti-gliadin antibody
titers and typical human lymphocyte antigen (HLA) genotypes in 50 patients
presenting with cerebellar ataxia who were tested for molecularly characterized
hereditary ataxias. A high prevalence of gluten sensitivity was found in
patients with sporadic (7/26; 27%) and autosomal dominant (9/24; 37%) ataxias,
including patients with known ataxia. Patients with hereditary ataxia (including
asymptomatic patients with known ataxia genotype) should be considered for
screening for gluten sensitivity and gluten-free diet trials.
Hadjivassiliouet al reported that patients with gluten ataxia have antibodies
against Purkinje cells. Antigliadin antibodies cross-react with epitopes on
Purkinje cells. Burk et al reported the symptoms of gluten ataxia: The clinical
syndrome was dominated by progressive cerebellar ataxia with ataxia of stance
and gait (100%), dysarthria (100%) and limb ataxia (97%). Oculomotor
abnormalities were gaze-evoked nystagmus (66.7%), spontaneous nystagmus (33.3%),
saccade slowing (25%) and upward gaze palsy (16.7%). Extracerebellar features
also included deep sensory loss (58.3%), bladder dysfunction (33.3%) and reduced
ankle reflexes (33.3%).
See Celiac Disease
Bushara KO, Goebel SU, Shill H, Goldfarb LG, Hallett M. Gluten sensitivity in
sporadic and hereditary cerebellar ataxia. Ann Neurol 2001 Apr;49(4):540-3
The humoral response in the pathogenesis of gluten ataxia. Hadjivassiliou M;
Boscolo S; Davies-Jones GA; Grunewald RA; Not T; Sanders DS; Simpson JE;
Tongiorgi E; Williamson CA; Woodroofe NM. Neurology 2002 Apr 23;58(8):1221-6
Luostarinen L, Pirttila T, Collin P. Coeliac disease presenting with
neurological disorders. Eur Neurol 1999;42(3):132-5
Wills AJ. The neurology and neuropathology of coeliac disease. Department of
Neurology, University Hospital Nottingham, UK. Neuropathol Appl Neurobiol 2000
- You are viewing the Brain Mind Center at Alpha Online.
Understanding the human brain is essential to become a well-informed, modern
Stephen Gislason MD, the author of
the Human Brain, is a physician-writer who is good at making complex subjects more
- Alpha Online is a Division of Environmed Research, founded in 1984 at
Vancouver, BC, Canada. Online Since 1995.
- Alpha Nutrition is a trademark
and a division of Environmed Research Inc.
Download The Human Brain as an eBook
All Alpha Education and Persona Digital books, eBooks and Starter packs are ordered online.
Prices are listed in Canadian Dollars.
US $ cost is lower
depending on the daily dollar exchange rate. Physical shipments by the Post
Office are available to destinations in the USA and Canada.
We are located in Sechelt, close to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. eMail:
Brain Rescue Starter Pack
This starter pack includes two books, the Alpha Nutrition Program ans the Human Brain
plus one 500 Gram jar of Alpha DMX. There are a host of clues that link the food supply to mysterious and threatening neurological
diseases. We suggest that a prudent person suffering early brain-dysfunction
symptoms would be wise to pursue vigorous, thorough diet revision at the
earliest opportunity. Because some brain dysfunction compromises judgment
learning and motivation, family members, friends and professional advisor often
have to initiate diet revision and provide the right direction and support.
Order Brain Rescue Starter Pack
Order Persona Digital Books
Click the Add to Cart buttons
on the left to begin your order for printed books from Alpha Online (mail delivery to US and
Download eBooks Click the Download button to order
eBooks (PDF file) for download. Click book title (center column) to read topics
from each book.
Further reading: Neuroscience Notes, Intelligence and
Learning, Language & Thinking
Persona Digital Books
is the publisher of The Human Brain, Neuroscience Notes, Intelligence & Learning
and related books. All books are available as eBooks for download (PDF files).