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does gluten affect the brain?  is there a cure?


Gluten Brain

Gerhard Gellinger – Nürnberg/Deutschland – Pixabay

“The most common cited statistic indicates that more than 3 million people in the US suffer from celiac disease, which is approximately 1 in 133 people. However, more recent numbers suggest the number may be closer to 1 in 100. Either way, the more disturbing statistic is that only 1 in 4,700 have received an official diagnosis.  Research conducted by Dr. Alessio Fasano, medical director of the University of Maryland’s Center for Celiac Research, and Dr. Peter Green, director of the Celiac Disease Center and author of Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic, indicates that between 5% and 10% of all people may suffer from a gluten sensitivity of some form.”  Sarah Patrick from an article called Gluten Intolerance Statistics.

“I began encountering case descriptions like this some years ago as I researched autoimmune disease. The first few seemed like random noise in an already nebulous field. But as I amassed more — describing seizures, hallucinations, psychotic breaks and even, in one published case, what looked like regressive autism, all ultimately associated with celiac disease — they began to seem less like anomalies, and more like a frontier in celiac research.”   From the New York Times article discussed below.

In last Sunday’s edition of the New York Times, Moises Velasquez Manoff wrote an article called Can Celiac Disease Affect the Brain?  No pun intended, but answering this question is a “no brainer”.  If you have been following my site, you already know that the answer is a resounding “yes”.  However, I feel that Manoff was asking the wrong question.  By now, I would hope that most doctors realize that Celiac Disease is undoubtedly associated with a wide array of Neurological Problems that go far beyond the standard symptoms of Celiac — bloating, gas, diarrhea, etc.  The question Manoff should have been asking is whether or not Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity is associated with Neurological Problems. 

Unfortunately, the society we live in contains INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE (not to mention a MEDICAL COMMUNITY) that do not believe there is such a thing as Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (HERE is yet another article on the subject).  This is not surprising when you consider the statistics from the top of the page.  Think about it, only 1 in 4,700 Americans has been “officially” diagnosed with Celiac Disease, yet over 30,000,000 are Gluten Sensitive (some experts put the actual number far higher).  How can this be?  The numbers don’t add up.   If you are curious, just click on the links in this paragraph.

After talking about the Gut-Brain Axis and mentioning “microbial health” as a critical factor (HERE are a number of articles on the subject), Manoff says, “Celiac disease has long been associated with symptoms beyond the gut, including blistering rashes, burning nerve pain, and a loss of muscle control called ataxia“.  He then speaks of the link between Gluten Sensitivity and AUTOIMMUNITY.  I have not only repeatedly shown you that many (some experts believe, most) cases of Autoimmunity begin with Gluten Sensitivity (HERE is the latest), but that the scientific, peer-reviewed literature is loaded with studies on the subject — some of which are thirty-plus years old.  Listen to what Manoff reveals about this relationship. 

The autoimmune firestorm ignited in the gut [by Gluten] may descend on other organs, including the brain. Certain proteins on neurons structurally resemble proteins in wheat. Meaning that, if your immune system attacks gluten, it might also inadvertently pursue brain tissue.  This idea, which remains hypothetical, has gained traction during a time of progress in understanding autoimmune diseases of the central nervous system… ” 

Although I would whole-heartedly agree with what he is saying here, I would argue that this exactly what the scientific research says, moving it beyond the realm of “hypothetical” into the realm of the observable and tangible.  The author referred to this as “cross-reacting”  Stay with me because here is where things start to get exciting for those of you suffering from Autoimmune Diseases or certain health problems that no one has been able to get a handle on.  

Manoff continues, In most cases, removing gluten will turn off the autoimmune destruction in the gut“.  I will warn you, however, that you must go about this in a very specific way, and you have to understand a different form of “Cross-Reactivity” than that mentioned above.  Not only do certain proteins in the brain resemble wheat, but certain foods resemble that of wheat as well — many of which seem completely related to grains (coffee, for instance, is a common one).  These are called GLUTEN CROSS-REACTORS, and if you fail to deal with them properly by getting tested or better yet, doing an ELIMINATION DIET, you can be totally and 100% Gluten Free, yet still be having Gluten Sensitivity Reactions.

As a side note, Neuroimmunologist at Mayo Clinic, Dr. Andrew McKeon, is not buying into the Gluten thing because in a recent test he did; only about 20% of those diagnosed with Celiac improved their neurological problems via a Gluten Free Diet.  Best guess is that he did not account for the Gluten Cross Reactors.  Listen, though, to what he does say about Celiac and Autoimmune Neurological Diseases.  He believes that, “distinct autoimmune diseases are likely to cluster in the same individual.”  What does this really mean by this — particularly with the word “cluster“?   In THIS ARTICLE I wrote in the summer of 2013, I “warned that autoimmune diseases tend to travel in “packs” like wolves.  If you have one you are very likely to get others as well.

In Manoff’s article, a doubter stated that he, “suspects that, rather than causing problems, they [Gliaden Antibodies caused by consuming Gluten] may indicate systemic inflammation and a defect in the intestinal barrier.”  Still another says, “The presence of antibodies that bind to an enzyme called transglutaminase 2 is used to help diagnose celiac disease. Among other functions, transglutaminases help seal barriers in the body.”  Folks; this is a classic description of “The Leakies” — something commonly referred to as LEAKY GUT SYNDROME (the medical community refers to it as “Increased Intestinal Permeability”) and is heavily associated with both SYSTEMIC INFLAMMATION and Gluten Intolerance.  Furthermore, the word “barriers” is plural.  This is why Gluten Sensitivity is not only being associated with Leaky Gut Syndrome, but Leaky Brain Syndrome, Leaky Lung Syndrome, etc, etc.

The bottom line is that whatever the mechanism actually causing these sorts of problems, the best ways to deal with it are to get off Gluten / Gluten Cross-Reactors and fix the Gut.  Speaking of “whatever mechanism,” I want to take a moment to talk about Dr. Art Ayers’ latest post on his Cooling Inflammation blog (Celiac, Gluten, and Trypsin Inhibitor).  Listen to what he says here in light of what was said a moment ago about Transglutaminase.  “Forget the gluten.  Celiac is caused by trypsin inhibitors (ATI) that were increased in wheat fifty years ago to combat pests.  Immune response to ATI spreads to include gluten and transglutaminase that perpetuates the disease.  Celiac is an unexpected consequence of traditional plant breeding that could be fixed with GMO approaches.”  Although I have my doubts that GMO wheat will be the solution we are all looking for, let’s take a bit closer look at what Dr. Ayers is saying.

Dr. Ayers talks about something he has talked about before (HERE), when he says, “Plants produce some of the most toxic molecules on earth.  The nervous system of insects and other herbivores is typically targeted by plants.”  The toxic culprit in this particular article was something called “amylase/trypsin inhibitor” or ATI.  Dr. Ayers goes on to say that, “ATI binds to the receptors on immune cells that trigger general inflammatory responses to pathogens.”  There it is again.  That cursed INFLAMMATION — the root of almost every nasty thing that goes wrong with your body.  Dr Ayers further postulates that…..

Wheat has been milled more and more finely to improve the shelf-life of bread flour.  The inedible bran and the germ are first removed from the wheat kernels and then the endosperm is ground so finely that the starch granules are broken.  Even “whole wheat flour” is ground in the same way and the bran and germ are simply added back to make it “whole.”  The important point here is that superfine milling results in starch that is readily digested by amylase in the small intestines, instead of acting as soluble fiber to feed gut flora.  The result of eating bread from superfine flour is that gut flora are starved for soluble fiber and the immune system is depleted of Tregs [T-Regulatory Cells that used to be called T-Suppressor Cells] that would otherwise suppress allergy and autoimmunity.  Superfine milling of high-ATI wheat presents ATI to an immune system that is primed for allergy.

Think about this paragraph in light of YESTERDAY’S POST.  Anyway, Manoff ends his article with a statement that I cannot completely agree with.  “No one I spoke to recommends going on a gluten-free diet proactively. But when sudden and inexplicable neurological problems arise, it’s not completely far-fetched to raise the gluten question with your doctor. It just might provide an answer.”  HERE and HERE are a couple of articles I wrote concerning Gluten and Neurological Problems.  Considering the fact that PARKINSON’S runs rampantly in my side of the family, I feel that I would be crazy not to be proactive!  As far as Ayer’s article is concerned, not only does he feel that our high national levels of Gluten Sensitivity may be due not only to not being exposed to certain PARASITES and bacteria early in life (HERE is an example), but that, “the cure for celiac would require simultaneous repair of both the gut and its flora, e.g. by a  FECAL TRANSPLANT and supportive diet containing numerous SOLUBLE FIBERS to which the donor flora have been previously adapted, i.e. lacking antigenic triggers.

For those of you with serious Chronic Illnesses who have been contemplating a Do-It-Yourself stool transplant, I would strongly suggest reading Dr. Ayers’ article as well as the comment section.  There is an astounding comment posted by a woman who cured herself of six years of severe Celiac Disease almost overnight with a “Homegrown” FMT.


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