Gluten Damages the Brain

Gluten Damages the Brain

Dr Michael Colgan 4 Sept 2013
A ton of recent controlled studies have now proven beyond doubt that gluten damages the human brain.(1-7)  It’s not pretty, and the public should know.  Nevertheless, I am stating the facts from some of the latest scientific reviews for a different reason. 
After my last article on gluten six months ago, parents of a boy diagnosed with Asperger’s contacted me, because he exhibited symptoms described in my article.  I advised that they request gluten antibody tests by his physician.  In a month his physician had positive antibody results.  Now, five months later, on a gluten-free diet, the lad’s symptoms have disappeared, and he is entirely healthy.  If this article can do that for even one more child…
People with gluten sensitivity, can develop varying degrees of cerebellar ataxia, that is, lesions in the cerebellum of the brain that cause loss of balance, inability to coordinate gait in walking, loss of coordination of the arms and hands, and even the eyes.  They can also develop migraines, swelling of the brain, epilepsy, dementia, depression, and symptoms of Asperger’s and ADHD.
The worst part about these brain malfunctions is that they can occur without any symptoms of celiac disease, a well-known manifestation of gluten sensitivity.  We now know that brain damage by gluten can occur with or without celiac disease, and with or without any intestinal symptoms at all.
The main offenders are wheat, rye, and barley in our food supply.  The cereal grains industry, however, is mammoth business that has done everything it can to discount the evidence.  So most of the public do not yet know what medical science has known at least a decade.   What I love most about science is that the truth eventually outs.
The light-speed development of the internet makes it increasingly more difficult every day for vested interests to hide things.  We know that the evidence is getting out there because of the unprecedented growth in public demand for gluten-free foods. 
For example, a gluten-free trade show in Vancouver in 2013, planned for 5,000 visitors.  More than 25,000 showed up, and most could not even get in.  In the US alone, the gluten-free foods industry has grown from small in 2000, to a massive $3 billion a year in 2012.
There is now an explosion of controlled studies on gluten. One summary paper for example, published in 2012, in the open-access medical journal, Bio Med Central, Medicine, is a collaborative effort of 14 universities to highlight the evidence.(1) 
We now know for sure that a much larger proportion of the population suffers from gluten toxicity than previously thought.(2)  Because it manly affects people of European ancestry, many hundreds of thousands of Americans and Canadians have varying degrees of brain reactions to gluten.  These vary from intermittent headaches and brain fog to full blown dementia.
Controlled studies show that gluten is a main offender in the group of disorders now collected under the umbrella of celiac disease (CD). But it is also involved in many cases of autism, Asperger’s, and similar disorders, now collectively called autism spectrum disorders (ASD).(3-7) 
Gluten is also involved in many cases of cerebellar ataxia from damage to motor controls in the cerebellum of the brain, causing loss of balance, dizziness, and learning difficulties (3,5) 
Gluten is also involved in many cases of peripheral neuropathy (death of peripheral nerves, leading to one or several of a large group of disorders). It can also cause herpetiform dermatitis (herpes-like blistering rash mainly on elbows, forearms, and knees (3-7)
It has taken 20 years to bring to public notice that dominant foods, wheat, rye and barley can produce human disease not only of the gut but also the skin, the peripheral nerves, and the brain.  The most unfortunate aspect of the gluten problem is that a child, or an adult, can suffer several different manifestations of gluten toxicity simultaneously, and can easily be mis-diagnosed as suffering from different disorders. 
World expert on gluten toxicity, British neurologist Dr M Hadjivassiliou, has called for physicians and neurologists to learn more about gluten-caused disorders, and treat them promptly before irreversible brain damage occurs. Removing gluten from a child’s diet is much more successful than doing so later in life.
Changing our food to eliminate gluten is a big problem.  Wheat, rye, and barley, are food staples that have been intensively farmed in the US for the last 200 years.  To legislate change would destroy the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of people.  The only way to convert farming to crops with low or no content of gluten is to vote with your pocketbook.  Leave foods containing wheat, rye, and barley on the supermarket shelf.  Your brain will appreciate it.
Dr Colgan’s articles are all published on his page www.facebook.com/michaelcolganspage
And on his blog www.drmichaelcolgan.com
1. Sapone A, et al. Spectrum of gluten-related disorders: consensus on new nomenclature and classification. BMC Med. 2012; 10: 13.  Published online 2012 February 7. doi: 10.1186/1741-7015-10-13  PMCID: PMC3292448
2. Bernini P, et al. Are Patients with Potential Celiac Disease Really Potential? The Answer of Metabonomics. Journal of Proteome Research, 2010; : 101213161430042 DOI: 10.1021/pr100896s
3. Hadjivassiliou M, et al. Gluten sensitivity as a neurological illness. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2002 May; 72(5): 560–563.
4. Hadjivassiliou M, et al. Dietary treatment of gluten neuropathy. Muscle Nerve. 2006 Dec;34(6):762-6.
5. Hernandez-Lahoz C, et al. Neurological disorders associated with gluten sensitivity. Rev Neurol. 2011 Sep 1;53(5):287-300.
6. Currie S, et al. Should we be 'nervous' about coeliac disease? Brain abnormalities in patients with coeliac disease referred for neurological opinion. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2012 Dec;83(12):1216-21. doi: 10.1136/jnnp-2012-303281. Epub 2012 Aug 20.
7. Bushara KO. Neurologic presentation of celiac disease. Gastroenterology. 2005 Apr;128(4 Suppl 1):S92-7.