The gluten syndrome: A neurological disease Medical Hypotheses 2009, Vol. 73, pp. 438–440 Rodney Philip Kinvig Ford The Children’s Gastroenterology and Allergy Clinic, Christchurch, New Zealand
KEY POINTS FROM DAN MURPHY ABOUT THIS ARTICLE:
1) “Gluten grains (wheat, rye, and barley) have become staples in our diet. The quantity of gluten in our daily food intake has been steadily increasing with advances in food processing.”
2) Gluten instigates celiac disease (gluten-sensitive enteropathy), which affects one in every hundred people. Celiac disease is a gastro-intestinal disease; symptoms are due to mucosal damage or malabsorption. In celiac disease there is histological evidence of mucosal damage.
3) “Gluten causes symptoms, in both celiac disease and non-celiac glutensensitivity, by its adverse actions on the nervous system.” Gluten harms the nervous system. “Gluten is linked to neurological harm in patients, both with and without evidence of celiac disease.”
4) “Many celiac patients experience neurological symptoms, frequently associated with malfunction of the autonomic nervous system.”
5) “Gluten-sensitivity can be associated with neurological symptoms in patients who do not have any mucosal gut damage (that is, without celiac disease).”
6) “Gluten can cause neurological harm through a combination of cross-reacting antibodies, immune complex disease and direct toxicity.”
7) A host of symptoms ‘‘outside” the gut (extraintestinal symptoms) have been observed in gluten sensitive people.
8) Gluten is responsible for significant ill health other than celiac disease (“nonceliac gluten-sensitivity” or “The Gluten Syndrome”), such as: Ataxia Eczema Irritable bowel disease Hypotonia Developmental delay Learning disorders Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder Migraine 2 Headache Epileptic disorders Many patients with these problems respond favorably to a gluten-free diet.
9) “Gluten intolerance gives rise to a variety of dermatological manifestations which may benefit from a gluten-free diet.”
10) “The smooth uninterrupted function of the body relies upon the autonomic nervous system. The sympathetic and parasympathetic pathways are driven by the respective neuro-transmitters. The regulation of the cardiovascular system, gut, bladder, uterus, and glands (pancreas, gall bladder, sweat, and saliva) all depends on this vast autonomic nerve network.” There is evidence that gluten causes intestinal autonomic neuropathy.
11) Gluten-sensitivity without histological gut damage may provoke neurological dysfunction; “such nerve damage might be through autoimmune damage.”
12) Celiac disease is not a mandatory requirement for gluten-sensitivity. This is why more than half of patients with negative gut IgG-gliadin antibody tests report improvements in a variety of symptoms with a gluten-free diet. These include tiredness, lethargy, irritability, and sleep disturbance. “These are likely to be neurological symptoms generated by gluten-sensitivity.”
13) “Evidence points to the nervous system as the prime site of gluten damage.”
14) “The histological gut damage in celiac disease is not mediated through this neurologic system. It is caused by local toxicity to the bowel in susceptible people.”
15) Non-gut symptoms related to gluten are mediated through neural networks.
COMMENTS FROM DAN MURPHY All of my family and close friends and many patients are gluten free as a consequence of our direction. My immediate family has been gluten free for many years. All of us have noticed substantial improvements in our health and we all avoid gluten like the plague. There are many excellent books of this topic. My favorite most recent book is Wheat Belly, by William Davis, MD, 2011. For a number of reasons, wheat has been significantly genetically modified over the past half century. Reasons include increased crop yields, improved harvesting efficiency, and desirable palliative and baking aesthetics. Sadly, these modifications have significantly raised modern wheat’s Glycemic Index and reduced the digestibility of its gluten.
Dan Murphy is a respected doctor who practices evidence-based medicine.