Can gluten mess with your mind? Research suggests psychosis could be a symptom of intolerance

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(Natural News) To some people, going gluten-free is just another dietary fad driven by a desire for attention and different-ness. But emerging science suggests that, at least for those with a legitimate gluten intolerance or allergy, avoiding this common grain component is absolutely critical for maintaining optimal mental health.

Believe it or not, gluten can impair normal brain function in a major way. In those with autoimmune disorders like Hashimoto’s, for instance, gluten can actually trigger delusions, paranoia, and psychosis, as was the case with one 37-year-old doctoral candidate who, because of her extreme reaction to gluten, became the subject of a published case report on gluten sensitivity.

Though she didn’t know it at the time, this individual was suffering from a gluten-induced psychotic disorder that caused her to believe things that weren’t actually real, including that her family was conspiring against her and had burglarized her house.

According to the official report, the woman in question had all but completely ruined her life before eventually receiving a diagnosis of having Celiac disease. And it was only after she reluctantly agreed to remove all gluten from her diet that she started to recover.

“She lost her job, became homeless, and attempted suicide; her family took out a restraining order against her,” the report explains. “Eventually, she was rehospitalized at a psychiatric facility, where she was placed on a gluten free diet.”

After just three months on a strict gluten-free diet at this facility, the patient’s delusions “resolved completely” – meaning she was no longer paranoid for no reason, and was able to begin repairing the damaged relationships with her friends and family. Her life completely changed for the better, in other words.


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SPECT scanning has shown that gluten can damage the brain’s frontal lobe

According to Dr. Alessio Fasano, who contributed to the report, intestinal biopsies are helpful in determining whether or not a person is allergic, or has an intolerance, to gluten, such that he or she might suffer similar extreme symptoms as a result of consuming it.

There are also brain-based tests to determine the presence of gluten intolerance or gluten allergy, including SPECT scanning that looks for gluten-induced frontal lobe damage inside the brain.

“Gluten sensitivity can be primarily, and at times exclusively, a neurological disease” without a corresponding small intestinal pathology or gut complaints, says Dr. Marios Hadjivassiliou, a professor of neurology at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, as well as an honorary clinical senior lecturer at The University of Sheffield.

“Gluten can cause neurological harm through a combination of cross reacting antibodies, immune complex disease and direct toxicity,” he adds. “These nervous system effects include: dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system, cerebella 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.'”

Going back as far as 1951, there have actually been many reported cases of psychotic illness in conjunction with gluten consumption. Patients with schizophrenia, for instance, are 2-3 times more likely than others to be gluten intolerant. And research published in the American Journal of Psychiatry linked elevated levels of gliadin antibodies – gliadin being a type of gluten protein – in pregnant women’s cord blood to the later onset of psychosis in their children.

Be sure to read Dr. Kelly Brogan, M.D.’s full analysis of this case report, and other corresponding scientific research linking wheat gluten to psychosis, at

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