This article presents a story which only adds to the fact we have already been aware of: gluten is indeed a serious issue. It also puts forward the idea that its elimination may be the key to resolving chronic and disabling psychiatric condition.
A Case Report
This woman was 37 when she started expressing beliefs that people were talking about her. Over time, these beliefs grew into paranoid accusations when she was burglarized a couple of months later.
She was hospitalized in a psychiatric facility and diagnosed with a psychotic disorder. During that period she was treated with sertraline and risperidone and released after a month.
Ultimately, she was diagnosed with Celiac disease and Hashimoto`s, which were the reason for her weight loss, inability to absorb thyroid hormone medication, and nutrient deficiencies.
“After receiving the diagnosis of celiac disease, the patient thought her practitioners were being deceitful regarding the diagnosis and refused to adhere to a gluten-free diet. Psychotic symptoms and paranoia persisted, and she continued to ‘find clues’ of conspiracy against her. She lost her job, became homeless, and attempted suicide; her family took out a restraining order against her. Eventually, she was rehospitalized at a psychiatric facility, where she was placed on a gluten-free diet.”
Amazingly, after three months on a gluten-free diet, her delusions resolved and she experienced a complete remission of Celiac.
The Gluten Brain Connection
Dr. Alessio Fasano advises not to initiate a gluten-free dietary trial before an intestinal biopsy can be obtained. This makes us wonder whether this should be a universal procedure for all those whose issues indicate a neurological or psychiatric disease. Available literature shows that brain-based manifestations of Celiac disease are possible. According to a recent report, gluten-free dietary intervention helped resolve psychosis and diarrhea associated with frontal lobe damage.
But, what about the acknowledgment of non-celiac gluten disease enteropathy and its real psychiatric manifestation, such as psychosis and depression? According to Dr. Hadjivassiliou, “Gluten sensitivity can be primarily and at times exclusively a neurological disease” without co-occurring small intestinal pathology or subjective gut complaints. The related paper states:
“Gluten can cause neurological harm through a combination of cross-reacting antibodies, immune complex disease, and direct toxicity. These nervous system effects include dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system, cerebellar ataxia, hypotonia, developmental delay, learning disorders, depression, migraine, and headache. If gluten is the putative harmful agent, then there is no requirement to invoke gut damage and nutritional deficiency to explain the myriad of the symptoms experienced by sufferers of celiac disease and gluten-sensitivity. This is called “The Gluten Syndrome”.”
Recent data has shown that patients diagnosed with schizophrenia are two times as likely to have immune reactivity to wheat. This report joins with the study published by an American Journal of Psychiatry that linked higher levels of gliadin antibodies in cord blood with the onset of psychosis.
Psychiatric Medication: Worse Than Nothing
The time lost to determine the underlying cause of this 37-year-old patient` disease resulted in a year of exposure to an ineffective antipsychotic drug. Although it seems like there is no harm in this therapy, this is completely wrong.
In a thorough discussion on the topic, Robert Whitaker studies the long-term data including Harrow’s prospective study of 200 subjects over 15 years and Wunderink’s 7-year study of 128 first-psychosis cases, both of which showed that cessation of antipsychotic medication led to better long-term results for patients with psychosis.In addition to this, there is the medication-induced brain shrinkage, tardive psychosis, and the risk of severe relapse on drug discontinuation.
What if there were facilities where unprocessed, anti-inflammatory, and organic diets were given to patients along with practices such as acupuncture, meditation, and yoga?
Although some corporations won`t be pleased with the results, this shouldn’t stop us from to dealing with the problem ourselves. So, clean up your body and mind, and learn more about gluten and processed foods!
“Over the past 35 years, psychiatry—as an institution—has remade our society. This is the medical specialty that defines what is normal and not normal. This is the medical specialty that tells us when we should take medications that will affect how we respond to the world. And this is the profession that determines whether such medications are good for our children. Given that influence, we as a society naturally have reason to want to know how the leaders in the profession think, and thus how they come to their conclusions about the merits of their drugs.” – Robert Whitaker