Perhaps, you’ve heard of the books Wheat Belly or Grain Brain. Or you’ve chatted with your friends about a NY Times editorial that claims gluten free is a fad. Or you’ve been raised, as I have, in a cultural consciousness saying – yes food matters, but not that much.
We are going to tell you a story we read about in the primary published literature that seems to indicate that gluten is an issue. The elimination of this ingredient may be the key to resolving a chronic and disabling psychiatric condition.
Here Is the Case Report
A 37-year-old woman, who was studying for her doctoral degree, under some stress degree related to this, when she stared expressing beliefs that the others were talking about her. Moreover, these beliefs progressed to paranoid accusations when she was burglarized a few months later and accused her parents of complicity.
This woman was hospitalized at a state psychiatric facility and diagnosed with a psychotic disorder. She was treated with risperidone and sertraline and discharged after one month.
Ultimately, she was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and Celiac disease that accounted for her multiple nutrient deficiencies, inability to absorb thyroid hormone medication and weight loss.
The case report actually goes on to state:
After receiving the diagnosis of celiac disease, the patient considered her practitioners were being deceitful regarding the diagnosis and refused to consume a gluten-free diet. So, she also experienced psychotic symptoms and paranoia and continued to find clues of conspiracy against her. Unluckily, this woman lost her job, became homeless, and attempted suicide and her family took out a restraining order against her. She was re-hospitalized at a psychiatric facility and was placed on a gluten-free diet.
After 3 months of consuming a strict gluten-free diet at an inpatient facility, her delusions totally resolved (connected to remission of Celiac confirmed by negative serologies and biopsy), but she was continued on risperidone for a few months. At the time of the case write up, after an inadvertent exposure to gluten she had relapsed psychiatrically.
How Is Gluten Connected to Certain Brain and Neurological Disorders?
In this report, Dr. Alessio Fasano recommends not to introduce a gluten-free dietary trial before an intestinal biopsy can be obtained. There is a question – Should this be a universal procedure for all those experiencing symptoms of psychiatric and neurologic disease? Or is there a path of less harm in a trial of a strict gluten-free diet. There is available literature suggesting that some people can experience brain-based manifestations of Celiac disease. That’s not all, a related case report showed on SPECT scanning that frontal lobe damage and related symptoms of psychosis and diarrhea relieved with a gluten-free dietary intervention.
But, what if the biopsy is negative? Dr. Hadjivassiliou explains gluten sensitivity can be primarily and at times entirely a neurological disease without co-occurring subjective gut complaints or small intestinal pathology.
Furthermore, Sayer Ji of Greenmedinfo.com actually details the history from 1951 of gluten in psychiatric and specifically psychotic illness. Recent data has shown that schizophrenia patients are 2-3 times as likely to have immune reactivity to wheat. In addition, this report fits with an American Journal of Psychiatry study, which connected high levels of gliadin antibodies in cord blood to the later onset of psychosis in the offspring. Maybe this immuno-inflammatory priming occured in utero and perpetuated through exposure to wheat products over the lifespan.
Psychiatric Drugs: Worse Than Anything
The time wasted to identify the root cause of this 37-year-old patient’s illness – that could be characterized as autoimmune rather than autoimmune AND psychiatric – took almost a year of exposure to an ineffective antipsychotic drugs. No harm in that, isn’t it?
Namely, Robert Whitaker, an investigative journalist explores the long-term data including Harrow’s 15-year prospective study of 200 subjects and Wunderink’s 7-year study of 128 first-psychosis cases, which demonstrated that discontinuation of antipsychotic medication contributed to better long-term results in psychosis patients.
The medication-induced brain shrinkage, the risk of severe relapse on medication discontinuation, and tardive psychosis, i.e., chronic symptoms on meds induced by compensatory physiology with drug continuation.
So, you should clean up your mind and body, and learn about the harmful effects of processed foods.
Robert Whitaker states that within the past 35 years, psychiatry as an institution has remade our society. It is medical specialty that defines what is normal and not normal as well as tells us when we should take medications that affect how we respond to the world. It is the profession, which determines whether these medications are good for our children. Considering that, we as a society naturally have reason to know how the leaders in this profession think, and how they come to their conclusions about the merits of these medication.