Sunday, July 24, 2011

Gluten and the Brain: Dementia and Mental Illness

In the October 2006 issue of Archives of Neurology, the Mayo Clinic presented multiple case studies of cognitive decline and dementia within two years of having celiac disease. If caught soon enough before permanent damage is done, the dementia can completely reverse.

I had a man come into my office who had just dicovered, after several years of suffering, that he had celiac disease. He had chronic pain, high blood pressure, severe rashes, edema, depression, and could not concentrate, focus, or remember enough to do his work as an engineer any longer. He was in the process of applying for disability because he couldn't think well enough to do his work.

This man discovered he had a gluten sensitivity, or celiac, not from any doctor testing him. He had been to multiple doctors and none had considered the possiblity of celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. He discovered it through his own experimentation of striving to become gluten free, and how that began to improve his symptoms. His family practice doctor was not supportive of his efforts, and he came to me to assist him in his journey towards health. He was extremely sensitive, even to the point where xantham gum in a product would set off severe edema. But now he is completely gluten free, he is back at work, lost weight, normalized blood pressure, no depression, rashes are gone, and his pain is gone except in an area of injury, which is much improved. But most of all, his brain is functioning again. He says that the loss of brain function was so subtle that he didn't realize how bad it was until it returned again.

Studies have shown increased levels of celiac disease in those with schizophrenia, and increased levels of IgG antibodies (which is gluten sensitivity without celiac disease) in those with bipolar disease, than compared to a population without mental illness. Gluten free diets have been shown to improve symptoms of these disorders in people with gluten sensitivities. Gluten sensitivities can also increase levels of depression.

Another Mayo Clinic study in the July 2009 issue of Gastroenterology shows that Celiac disease is four times more common today than it was in the 1950s. And this doesn't count the people who are gluten sensitive without celiac disease. It is a growing epidemic. It also showed that those with undiagnosed celiac disease were four times more likely to die than those that were gluten free during the 45 years of the study. This is a much more serious problem than even most physicians realize.

There are blood tests that show gluten sensitivity and possible signs of celiac disease, but the gold standard has always been an intestinal biopsy that shows destruction of the intestinal villi. However, another study out of Mayo Clinic has shown that those with the blood markers but no villi destruction still show metabolic changes of gluten sensitivity and should go on a gluten free diet to reduce their risk of further damage.

Celiac disease used to be considered a children's disease. It is now shown that the elderly are much more likely to have problems caused by gluten sensitivities than children. Celiac disease can start at any age. But any child or adult with "brain problems" should be tested for anti-gliadin IgG and IgA antibodies, and for endomysial antibodies. Or better yet, make the supreme effort to go gluten free for a month, then spend one day eating a lot of gluten, and see what happens. It may save your brain, your sanity and your life.

Until we meet again,

Dr. Judi


Margaret Wimberley said...

My two daughters and I have celiac, and I'd always believed this came from my (deceased) mother's line, but I've recently become the caregiver for my father, who has dementia, and he seems to have it as well. What is extraordinary is that when he stays with us for a period of time and is on a gluten-free diet, his dementia lessens considerably. Unfortunately the assisted living home he just moved into will only provide gluten-free food if the person living there remembers to request it. Because of dad's dementia, he can't get on a gluten-free diet long enough to remember! We live in Minnesota, and I would love to get my father involved with a study related to this - I know that Mayo has been doing research. Maybe if we could get him in a program for a longish period of time, he'd recover enough to remember on a daily basis to request gluten-free food. Do you know of any programs I could contact?
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

my daughter and i were exposed to extremely high bio toxcins black mold; we did the bloodwork with bio markers mine was 7000 times higher than normal on just one, have 9 out 11 adnormalmalities.
She had CP being exposed she schizophrenia maybe bi polar her's was markers were less.
i have been to dr dennis harper , Dr R for 30 something years. on his remedies still need to stay w his plan. he was studying dr shoemakers wellness plan.
Daughter has rotting teeth, will not shower, lives in fifth everything was she was perfect child learned quickly, had friends. everything has to be kept clean.
we moved out 2 yrsago, to agricultural, i am very envriomental sensitive now seem sicker than living in toxc envrioment. she refuses to keep things clean. thedoctors here are backwood, write prescription hey your good to go. her out burst, i know the step move out that envrioment mold is, remove toxcins from, replace w glutten free diet.
she does not want to maybe ifshe seen the light.
reccomend for schizophrenia????shes on pycotic drugs, they keep upping the dose.
i want to be well happy, healthy not in despair all the time. damage that was doneby a scumlord 13 yrs living in acondemned place not knowing mold infested extreme, pets died, last one's on iv fluids. we started out losing hair, getting phnemonia, numbness tingling hands feet. etc. schizophrenia i can not live w ??? celation? sorry spelling off w brain fog thank you