Monday, July 6, 2009

Gluten Sensitivity and Symptoms of Schizophrenia

In Brain Health: The Gluten (Dis)Connection, we wrote about the connection between gluten sensitivity and its ill-effects on the brain function of some individuals.

Research into this area seems to be taking off recently, with several new intriguing articles, the latest of which shows an astonishing percentage of patients diagnosed with schizophrenia having Celiac and gluten sensitivity. (Note that there may be some overlap with sensitivity to casein as well. See information about testing at bottom of article. For more on the topic, see It's Not Mental - the BOOK)

Cascella NG et. al. in the "Prevalence of Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity in the United States Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness Study Population"[1] say  
"Persons with schizophrenia have higher than expected titers of antibodies related to CD [Celiac Disease] and gluten sensitivity."
They state:
Among schizophrenia patients, 23.1% had moderate to high levels of IgA-AGA compared with 3.1% of the comparison group.

Moderate to high levels of tTG antibodies were present in 5.4% of schizophrenia patients vs 0.80% of the comparison group. Adjustments for sex, age, and race had trivial effects on the differences.
Combining this with an earlier study by Scandinavian researchers suggesting partial or complete symptom alleviation in a subset of patients labeled “schizophrenic” can be achieved with the simple solution of withdrawal from gluten, [2] is news that should be rocking psychiatric hospitals and society's understanding of what some of these cases of "mental illness" actually are.

Perhaps there should be as many (if not more) certified dietitians working closely with psychiatric patients as there are psychiatrists. Perhaps, since other nutritional and functional nutritional deficiencies are associated with gluten sensitivity and Celiac (such as tryptophan and B vitamins[3]), medical insurance should be required to pay for the medical use of OTC nutritional supplements when "prescribed" by a physician.

Another recent article speaks of Celiac presenting as severe "Autism".[4] The researchers in that article concluded:
"It is recommended that all children with neurodevelopmental problems be assessed for nutritional deficiency and malabsorption syndromes."
And remember--it wasn't that long ago that society thought of autism as a "mental" illness as well -- like some psychological or emotional aberration due to poor parenting.

For years, one of our children with a schizophrenia diagnosis had abdominal complaints which were chalked up to her "mental illness." Strange intestinal problems the other daughter had were equally ignored as being irrelevant -- and indeed, we really didn't think much of them. Yet in the final analysis, both had gluten sensitivity; one had severe intestinal malabsorption. And for both, going gluten-free had a profoundly beneficial effect on the functioning of their bodies--brain included. They also had sensitivities to other foods. Another factor was thyroid hormones, which should be noted, also affect gut function. Having a TSH in the "normal" range is NOT enough to rule this out, but I'll leave that discussion for another day.

We talk about piecing together or solving "the puzzle" of schizophrenia, yet here we already have a huge piece to investigate--not just for schizophrenia, but for bipolar as well.

A multi-nutritional supplement by Truehope helped both my children -- one diagnosed with bipolar, and the other diagnosed with schizoaffective. When talking to them about how the supplement helped them - but not the supplement alone, I talked with the company personnel about the necessity of healing the gut.

Anti-candida treatments are now discussed on the Truehope website. But another piece to the puzzle for many is the confounding problem of food and chemical sensitivities. Gluten is a major sensitivity for many. But as is often the case, the body becomes increasing sensitized to many different things and it may be worthwhile to be tested for other sensitivities as well, eliminating them for a few years before trying to slowly add them back one by one.

Of course, all this begs another question--why are so many children becoming increasingly sensitive to so many different foods and chemicals in our environment? I'll leave that as an open question for other to mull over in other blogs. But it is not just our imaginations. Gluten sensitivity/Celiac really is becoming more common - with research from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., suggesting that the disease is four times more common today than it was in the 1950s, and not just because doctors are more likely to test for it.[5]

General Article:
Gluten Sensitivity and the Impact on the Brain

Other articles and studies specifically about gluten and schizophrenia:
http://jccglutenfree.googlepages.com/schizophrenia

Testing Facilities:
http://www.Enterolab.com
GPL Gluten / Casein peptides Test

Related Reading:

REFERENCES:

[1] Cascella NG, Kryszak D, Bhatti B, Gregory P, Kelly DL, Mc Evoy JP, Fasano A, Eaton WW "Prevalence of Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity in the United States Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness Study Population" Schizophrenia Bulletin 2009 Jun 3.

[2] Kalaydjian, Eaton, Cascella, Fasano The gluten connection: the association between schizophrenia and celiac disease ACTA PSYCHIATRICA SCANDINAVICA Vol. 113 Issue 2 Feb 2006

[3] Kowlessar OD, Lorraine J, Haeffner, Benson GD. “Abnormal Tryptophan Metabolism in Patients with Adult Celiac Disease, with Evidence for Deficiency of Vitamin B6Journal of Clinical Investigation Vol. 43, No. 5, 1964

[4] Genuis SJ, Bouchard TP. "Celiac Disease presenting as Autism

[5] Alberto Rubio–Tapia et. al. "Increased Prevalence and Mortality in Undiagnosed Celiac Disease" Gastroenterology Volume 137, Issue 1, Pages 88-93 (July 2009)






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Last Updated:
13 October 2012

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Many people honestly do not understand that gluten sensitivity does not necessarily mean the person has Celiac. Another study showed that the reaction to gluten in people with symptoms of schizophrenia may be different than those with Celiac.

When in doubt, leave the gluten out!

It's such a simple thing to give a try for 6 months when you think about the alternative!

I guess this is one more thing the pharmaceutical companies don't want families to know about.

dogkisses said...

Hi Jeanie, just got back to your site today. My bike fall has proven worse than I thought. I tore a ligament. Yikes! I know.
I enjoyed this article on gluten sensitivity. I think my son needs to go on a gluten free diet. He was tested by a natural doctor when he was an adolescent. She told me he should never eat wheat. He had his thyroid tested two days ago, with other blood tests too. His MD is doing all he can but his psychiatrist, well, she mostly goes fishing, literally! We ate other grains for years and then when he moved out, (age 17 b/f schizophrenia), he went back to wheat. At least he is interested in eating healthy though, it is a challenge for him, I think he could do it. He is more interested in that than in antipsychotics, which he took for about three weeks recently, causing his liver enzymes to go up -- as always! Abilify is the one.
Thanks for writing and sharing on this blog. I'll be back for more reading soon!

Gluten FREE foods rock said...

When in doubt, leave the gluten out!

Perfect "quote"

Elise said...

My 11 1/2 year old son was recently diagnosed with schizophrenia after being originally diagnosed with OCD and Psychosis. I find Gluten Sensitivity and Schizophrenia a very interesting topic. I have gluten sensitivity and I questioned it about my son a few years ago right as started presenting with OCD symptoms. The tested him for Celiacs which was negative but did not test him for Gluten Sensitivity. So because I was a Registered Dietitian and my son was presenting with symptoms of gluten intolerance, I decided to take gluten out of his diet. It caused a major issue with his OCD and the Psychiatrist told me to stop being his dietitian and just be his mother. Now I am not sure how to present this information to my son's medical doctor and Psychiatrist. Any suggestions would be helpful.

Elise said...

My 11 1/2 year old son was recently diagnosed with schizophrenia after being originally diagnosed with OCD and Psychosis. I find Gluten Sensitivity and Schizophrenia a very interesting topic. I have gluten sensitivity and I questioned it about my son a few years ago right as started presenting with OCD symptoms. The tested him for Celiacs which was negative but did not test him for Gluten Sensitivity. So because I was a Registered Dietitian and my son was presenting with symptoms of gluten intolerance, I decided to take gluten out of his diet. It caused a major issue with his OCD and the Psychiatrist told me to stop being his dietitian and just be his mother. Now I am not sure how to present this information to my son's medical doctor and Psychiatrist. Any suggestions would be helpful.