The gluten, neurology and epilepsy link, with Dr. David Perlmutter

Hello and welcome… 🙂

Last week I shared a case in which Dr. James Walker and I witnessed the remarkable reversal of epileptic seizures in a two-year old patient who was put on a gluten-free diet.

If you have not seen it, you can do so here.

Here, I want to share a short video by Dr. David Perlmutter – a renowned neurologist and author – in which he explains other published cases in which a gluten-free diet improved or resolved epilepsy.

Below the video is a short afterword regarding gluten sensitivity and neurological disorders in general, ranging from headaches and depression, to schizophrenia.

Epilepsy and gluten – a surprising cause

Gluten and neurological disorders

If you have followed me for a while, you’ll know that I am not in favour of fad dieting, or any kind of new health craze.

Unfortunately, “gluten-free diets” have become a bit of a fad, which masks the true importance of avoiding gluten.

Rather than being a fad diet, the gluten free lifestyle is a lifelong commitment for people whose symptoms, or even fully blown medical diseases, are triggered by gluten.

I have seen dozens of different, seemingly unrelated symptoms, clear up when patients implemented a gluten free diet.

In some cases, a gluten free diet is a miracle cure for long-lasting and obscure disorders.

Neurological disorders represent a significant set of problems that can respond beautifully to a gluten-free diet.

Can gluten sensitivity cause neurological disorders?

It’s not that everyone has a problem with gluten, but in those who do, the symptoms can range from being mildly disruptive to completely devastating.

As you saw in Dr. Perlmutter’s video and last week’s case study, gluten sensitivity can, in some people, trigger epilepsy.

What other brain and neurological disorders can gluten trigger in susceptible people?

A 2015 paper titled Neurologic and Psychiatric Manifestations of Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity lists the following neurological and psychological manifestations of both coeliac disease and gluten sensitivity (note: they are not the same).

  • Gluten Ataxia*
  • Epilepsy and seizure disorders
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Headache
  • Inflammatory myopathies
  • Myelopathies
  • Gluten encephalopathy
  • White matter abnormalities

* Gluten ataxia is a neurological sign consisting of lack of voluntary coordination of muscle movements that includes gait abnormality, implying dysfunction of the parts of the nervous system that coordinate movement, such as the cerebellum.

Can gluten sensitivity cause psychological disorders?

Because the brain is such a huge, complicated mass of neurons, neurological and psychological symptoms are fairly synonymous.

From the same paper, here is a list of psychological symptoms associated with gluten sensitivity and coeliac disease:

  • Anxiety disorder
  • Depression and mood disorders
  • ADHD
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Schizophrenia

Medical treatment of neurological and psychological symptoms and disorders

As you know, in most cases, medical treatment revolves around making a diagnosis and prescribing a drug.

As Dr. Perlmutter explains in his video, if the drug doesn’t work (e.g. in drug-resistant epilepsy), surgery may be a better option (e.g. frontal lobotomy in this case!)

Dietary changes – most notably a gluten free diet – are recommended when coeliac disease is diagnosed, but the problem is that many doctors don’t associate the list of symptoms with gluten sensitivity.

Furthermore, gluten sensitivity can trigger the above problems in the absence of coeliac disease and most doctors won’t even acknowledge non-coeliac gluten sensitivity as being a problem!

Thus, the triggers (often very simple ones) go unnoticed, patients are (sometimes, not always) medicated for the rest of their lives, and the opportunity to completely resolve the disorder or disease goes begging.

It’s absolutely ridiculous.

Gluten-free diets are not a fad!

I am not here to boss you around or make you feel that you need to eat a certain way. I’m just here to educate and empower you however I can.

Gluten free eating is not a fad – it’s an absolutely critical component of healthcare for some people and it’s hard for people who do fine on gluten to understand how a basic food item can be so problematic for other folk.

Sure, gluten doesn’t affect everyone adversely, but we’ve seen remarkable turnarounds in people’s health that support the scientific and medical literature.

When it comes to gluten and neurological disorders, consider the concluding remarks from the authors of the paper cited here and make your own mind up:

“Converging and accumulating evidence suggests that the gluten-mediated immune response is frequently associated with neurological and psychiatric manifestations, and GS represents a unique condition with a potentially different mechanism and different manifestations than celiac disease. More research is needed to help disentangle CD from GS and to understand the mechanisms of gluten-associated neurologic and psychiatric complications. These central nervous system effects of GS and CD are not trivial. Therefore, given the under-diagnosis and potential health consequences, this suggests the value of developing better ways of detecting and preventing the potential complications of these disorders.”

I’ll wrap up by saying that the cause of a complex condition may be utterly simple (so simple it’s completely ignored by medical consultants).

So please, if you know anyone who could benefit from this information, please share it with them as soon as possible.

All my best,

Dave Hompes.

If you would like to speak with Dave, Jack, or Dr. Walker regarding your health & nutrition needs, or to schedule a private consultation, please contact us here

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