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Can Gluten Allergy Cause Anxiety

Understanding The Link Between Celiac Disease And Psychological Disorders

Can Gluten Cause Anxiety?

Negative mental impacts can happen to those with celiac disease for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Malnutrition and vitamin deficiency
  • Damaged gut is unable to assimilate certain nutrients essential to proper functioning of a number of organs
  • Damaged villi cannot properly process and assimilate a number of nutrients, particularly: Vitamin B, such as B6, B12, & Folate, Iron, Vitamin D, K, and Calcium
  • The body becomes unable to produce enough tryptophan and other monoamine precursors needed for the production of key neurotransmitters in the brain such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine.
  • This biochemical imbalance in the brain is associated with emotional problems.
  • Toxins
  • Inflammation is the bodys natural response to assault.
  • Production of antibodies against own tissue.
  • Swelling, i.e. abdominal, joint pain, headaches, hypoperfusion in brain.
  • Production of stress hormones.
  • Secondary disease, i.e. thyroid malfunctioning
  • After many years of this regimen, organs can become chronically affected and develop primary diseases.
  • Common example is thyroid disease: Studies show that in people who have celiac AND depression, up to 80% of them have a comorbid thyroid disease.
  • Research shows that celiac can manifest itself through psychological problems impacting thinking, emotions and more.

    Repairing The Gutbrain Axis

    To alter the progression of mental health disorders and neurodegenerative disease precipitated by non-celiac gluten sensitivity, the health of the gutbrain axis must be restored. This can be accomplished by eating a gluten-free diet, restoring the health of the microbiome, reducing systemic inflammation, and rehabilitating the gutbrain axis through vagus nerve stimulation.

    Schizophrenia Inflammation And Gluten

    Studies on the association between schizophrenia and wheat/gluten first began during WWII, when rates of wheat consumption and schizophrenia both decreased in Scandinavia, but simultaneously increased in the United States. Studies of other populations that traditionally had little or no grain consumption and almost no instances of schizophrenia continued this connection, as records of patients with schizophrenia increased with westernization and grain consumption to eventually become on par with European rates .

    Furthermore, studies have shown that many people with schizophrenia have high levels of inflammation and that many of these people find marked relief from adhering to a gluten-free diet . Benefits include improvements in gastrointestinal adverse effects, attention, overall function, and decreased symptom severity . Because this adverse reaction to gluten can be screened for by the level of gluten-related antibodies in the blood, this opens up a pathway to earlier detection of schizophrenia, as well as a potential early treatment to curb the development of severe psychotic symptoms .

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    Gluten Free A Happy Ending

    Typically with the chronic pain patient we will do a trial of chiropractic adjustments. Many times people will respond well and everyone is happy. If patients dont get better or slightly better, I will recommend they do a proper elimination diet or at the very least cut out all gluten containing food products . Guess what happens within 2-4 weeks? Typically the patients pain has lessened and their moods have improved as well. Theyre happy.

    Functional Medicine To Address Gluten

    Can Gluten Allergy Cause Anxiety

    While a gluten intolerance is not always the cause of the symptoms and disorders mentioned above, if you are not feeling well, it is absolutely worth discussing with a physician. Reactions to gluten can cause many other physical and mental problems not listed above that may manifest in surprising and unpleasant ways. While Celiac Disease can be easily tested for, Gluten Sensitivity is not always able to be determined by an antibody test. This creates a need for a holistic approach to medicine to determine whether a reaction to gluten exists and if it is causing other symptoms or disorders. These types of complex issues are where functional medicine, which focuses on identifying the root cause of many symptoms, can shine.

    Functional medicine, which centralizes around creating individualized plans for each patient, has many facets. These include nutritional and lifestyle education as well as naturopathic services.

    Nutrition and lifestyle education is a specialized disciple that seeks to set realistic and personalized goals to improve overall health. Switching to a gluten-free diet can be overwhelming, but lifestyle education can help guide the shift. From meal planning to how to shop for nutritious, gluten-free foods, as well as how to monitor progress and stay on track, lifestyle education can help you get the most out of the benefits of going gluten-free.

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    Dermatitis Herpetiformis: The Itchiest Rash Imaginable

    It’s not unusual for a true allergic reaction to result in a skin rash, so it makes some intuitive sense to call dermatitis herpetiformis a “gluten allergy,” as it causes a remarkably itchy, persistent rash. But this rash is not the result of a true allergy: dermatitis herpetiformis is an autoimmune skin condition that occurs when you’ve eaten gluten grains. Symptoms include:

    • Reddened skin
    • Multiple small bumps that look like pimples
    • Itching and burning
    • Purple marks where bumps are healing

    Dermatitis herpetiformis can occur anywhere on your body, but the most common locations for this rash are your buttocks, elbows, knees and on the back of your neck. If you’re about to have an outbreak, the itching usually starts even before you see the bumps appear. The condition is closely related to celiac disease and is associated with celiac disease.

    So How Can You Tell Which ‘gluten Allergy’ You Have

    It’s clear you can’t tell from symptoms alone. The truth is, you’ll need to see your healthcare provider and have some medical testing to determine which of these gluten-related conditions if any you might actually have.

    If you have gastrointestinal symptoms that may point to celiac disease, you’ll likely start with celiac blood tests. If those are positive, your healthcare provider will likely recommend you undergo an endoscopy, a procedure that enables your healthcare provider to look directly at your small intestine and take samples for laboratory examination. Read more about all this: Celiac Disease Tests – How To Get Diagnosed

    If, on the other hand, your celiac blood tests are negative, then your healthcare provider may consider the possibility of non-celiac gluten sensitivity or another condition such as irritable bowel syndrome, and may recommend tests for gluten sensitivity.

    Wheat allergy is usually diagnosed with skin prick tests, although your healthcare provider may also use a blood test that looks for specific antibodies to wheat proteins.

    For people with rashes they believe may be dermatitis herpetiformis, the first step is likely a visit to a dermatologist, who may recommend a skin biopsy of characteristic deposits of antibodies in your rash area.

    And finally, if your symptoms are indicative of gluten ataxia, the path to diagnosis unfortunately isn’t straightforward, although there are several tests your neurologist may want to perform.

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    Muscle Fatigue And Pain

    Finally, you want to talk to a doctor if you constantly have muscle fatigue and pain. Unless youve run a marathon and are experiencing the recovery pain or youre recovering from the flu, you shouldnt have muscle pain. This is a sign that your muscles are repairing from damage or your body isnt getting the right nutrients to your muscles.

    Muscle and joint pains are linked to the inflammation you experience. You get a lot of pressure on your nerves, sending signals to your brain that theres a problem. This pain can just be now and thenand in localized places. You may overlook it, thinking that youve possibly just aggravated an old injury or overused your muscles now and then.

    Remember that gluten intolerance is linked to rheumatoid arthritis. If you dont get the joint and muscle pain checked early, you could find you have an autoimmune disease that you cant reverse.

    As for the fatigue, this is also linked to the inflammation. Your joints and muscles arent getting the nutrients they need. Your muscles cant repair after a long day, so they react when you try to move them. In some cases, they can feel heavy and almost as if theyre not connected to your body.

    Ncgs Can Trigger Neuroinflammation

    Gluten Sensitivity Series – Anxiety, Depression, ADHD and other Psychiatric Conditions

    In NCGS, gluten-triggered inflammation in the gut can instigate inflammation in the brain, referred to as neuroinflammation. Neuroinflammation has been found to play a central, triggering role in brain-related disease. In NCGS, there is a series of steps in the process that ultimately culminates in neuroinflammation and brain changes.

  • Consumption of gluten triggers dysbiosis and gut inflammation and increases the permeability of the intestinal barrier.
  • Increased intestinal permeability allows lipopolysaccharides produced by gut bacteria to leak out of the intestine and into the systemic circulation. Leaked LPSs trigger the immune system to release pro-inflammatory cytokines.
  • LPSs and pro-inflammatory cytokines in the circulation cause toxins to accumulate in the blood stream, inciting systemic inflammation.
  • When systemic inflammation reaches the brain, it creates neuroinflammation.
  • Neuroinflammation leads to brain dysfunction, cognitive impairment, and an increased vulnerability to neurodegenerative disease.
  • Neuroinflammation has been associated with depression and anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ADHD, and an increased vulnerability to neurodegenerative diseases . Therefore, NCGS may be an underlying cause of neuroinflammation, gradually altering the normal, healthy functioning of the brain and leading to manifestations of mental health problems and neurological disease.

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    Celiac Disease: A Whole

    When your healthcare provider hears you say “gluten allergy,” she’s likely to think first of celiac disease, which occurs when your immune system mounts an attack on your small intestine in response to ingestion of gluten-containing foods.

    Celiac disease affects about one in every 133 Americans.

    There are many different symptoms potentially caused by celiac diseaseevery case is different, and in fact some people don’t have any symptoms at all. But there are some symptoms that appear frequently in people ultimately diagnosed with celiac disease, including:

    • Diarrhea and/or constipation
    • Rashes
    • Depression and/or anxiety

    The absence of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you can rule out celiac disease: as I said, some people have no symptoms at all, or suffer mainly from neurological symptoms .

    Data Extraction And Quality Assessment

    One reviewer extracted the data according to a data extraction form developed to collect information regarding study design, population, intervention, controls and outcomes. The data extraction form included information on authors, country, recruitment methods, number of participants, methods of measuring adherence, level of dietary adherence, commercial funding and/or conflicts of interest, study/intervention duration and analysis strategy . Further data was extracted in order to assess risk of bias according to tools developed by the Cochrane Collaboration Cochranes ROB 2.0 was used for randomised controlled trials and the Risk Of Bias In Non-randomized Studies of Interventions tool for all types of non-randomised studies. The bias domains included in ROBINS-I overlap with the Cochrane ROB 2.0 tool, but instead of assessing the randomisation process, include the additional domains: Confounding, selection of participants into the study and classification at intervention. Specific criteria for assessing the risk of bias in each of the domains in the context of our review are described in .

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    Do You Have These Gluten Sensitivity Symptoms

    Dont try to tough it out. The above seven symptoms are serious. They tend to get overlooked because theyre signs and symptoms of other conditions. They can also be something youve just gotten used to experiencing now, never really questioning why you suffer.

    Its time to talk to your doctor. Find out why youre suffering and make sure you dont have a gluten sensitivity. You may be surprised by how your health improves.

    How To Stop The Allergy/anxiety Cycle

    Can Gluten Allergy Cause Anxiety

    Allergies and anxiety need to be address separately. A doctor can talk to you about your options for reducing your daily allergies. Several over the counter medications are available, and most are enough for basic allergies. Food allergies need to be carefully assessed and managed according to the recommendations of a doctor, especially allergies to foods that contain gluten.

    There are many possible treatment options for anxiety. Exercise is a simple but powerful way of managing your anxiety on your own. Therapy is also an option, although it may be expensive if youâre not covered for mental health care on your health insurance plan. Medicine should be taken as a last resort, especially if you are prone to allergic reactions – this is especially true of natural medicine, which can still cause allergies like any other and is often done without a doctor’s supervision.

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    Evidence Of Psychiatric Complications

    A wide range of psychiatric symptoms and disorders have been associated with CD and GS. Those occurring mostly commonly, as reported here, include anxiety disorders depressive and mood disorders , attention deficit hyperactivity disorder , autism spectrum disorders , and schizophrenia . While there is limited research on the relationship of most psychiatric disorders to GS and CD, accumulating evidence suggests a variety of connections.

    Anxiety As A Symptom In Gluten Disorders

    Anxiety is a pretty common symptom both in celiac disease and in non-celiac gluten sensitivityplenty of newly diagnosed people report feelings of both anxiety and depression. Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition that causes people to have an immune reaction in the small intestine when they consume gluten.

    It’s not clear whether or not gluten in the diet actually causes anxiety, or whether the anxiety is related to something else.

    It’s possible that nutritional deficiencies and malnutrition might contribute to anxiety in people with the diagnosed celiac disease . But people with gluten sensitivity don’t suffer from this same intestinal damage, and yet, some experience similar or potentially even higher levels of anxiety.

    Researchers aren’t certain what’s causing this anxiety in people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. It could be a combination of factors including an anxious reaction to the necessity of following the gluten-free diet, and possibly even a direct effect of gluten itself on the brain.

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    Anxiety Common In People With Celiac At First Diagnosis

    Several studies have identified high levels of anxiety in people with celiac disease when they’re first diagnosed.

    According to one study, both state anxiety and trait anxiety were elevated in people who had just learned they had celiac disease.

    That study, which looked at 35 celiacs and compared them to 59 control subjects, found:

    • 71% of people with celiac disease had high levels of state anxiety.
    • 24% of the control subjects had high anxiety levels.
    • 26% of the newly diagnosed celiacs showed anxiety as a trait.
    • 15% of controls showed anxiety as a trait .

    After a year of following the gluten-free diet, the celiacs’ anxiety levels had dropped. However, 26% were still affected by state anxiety and 17% still showed anxiety as a trait.

    The study authors note that the drop in trait anxiety did not reach statistical significance, again indicating it could have been due to chance.

    “These findings suggest that anxiety in celiac disease patients is present predominantly as a reactive form rather than as a personality trait, probably related to the presence of the main symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and weight loss, often reported by the patients as a reason for work and relationship invalidity and it may not be ‘disease-specific’ to sprue, but rather to features of chronic illness,” the authors wrote.

    It’s also possible that living alone protects you against minor gluten exposure, which some people say heighten their anxiety.

    Gluten And Neurodegenerative Disease

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    Through its effects on the gutbrain axis, ingestion of gluten may also predispose NCGS individuals to cognitive decline and an increased vulnerability to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimers disease and Parkinsons disease. The systemic inflammation characteristic of non-celiac gluten sensitivity may promote the deposition of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, phenomena characteristic of Alzheimers disease. In addition, a recent study has concluded that intestinal dysfunction represents one of the earliest manifestations of Parkinsons disease pathology thus, the disease originates in the intestine and appears to spread to the brain via the gutbrain axis.

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    Gluten And Bipolar Disorder

    Bipolar disorder, a mental health disorder characterized by periods of alternating elation and depression, as well as fluctuations in energy, is notorious for being resistant to conventional pharmaceutical treatment. Research has demonstrated that neuroinflammation is a common denominator in patients with bipolar disorder. A growing body of evidence indicates that gluten sensitivity may be a key instigator of neuroinflammation in bipolar individuals. Several studies have found that individuals with bipolar disorder demonstrate significantly increased levels of IgG antibodies to gliadin in their blood, but not other markers of celiac disease, suggesting the presence of non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

    Celiac Disease And Gluten

    To test this theory, researchers at the Institute of Internal Medicine in Italy followed a group of 35 participants with celiac disease. Participants started a gluten-free diet and answered questions about their anxiety levels. One year later the researchers followed up, and, interestingly, they found that adoption of a gluten-free diet played a role in reducing anxiety levels.

    As those with celiac disease know, avoiding gluten is essential to good health. When gluten-containing foods such as bread or pasta are eaten, an inflammatory response in the small intestines is triggered. Over time, this reaction damages the lining of the digestive tract and prevents it from absorbing nutrients. However, patient education about celiac disease tends to focus primarily on the physical impacts, and not psychological issues.

    Another 2008 study found a similar link between gluten and anxiety. Researchers noted that anxiety was higher in celiac patients before they started a gluten-free diet than after adhering to it. However, not all studies show clear evidence of a relationship between the two. A 2020 paper found that a gluten-free diet had no effect on reducing anxiety levels in those with celiac disease.

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    Gluten And Your Mental Health

    A common way of thinking of gluten-related disorders whether celiac disease or gluten sensitivity is that the main symptoms are related to the digestive system the intestines, the stomach, even the mouth. Gluten sensitivity and celiac disease can affect other parts of your body as well, including your brain.

    There are two main ways gluten can affect your brain and mental well-being:

  • In people with gluten-related disorders, gluten can cause inflammation. This inflammation can affect any part of your body, including your brain, and can show up as psychiatric or behavioral issues, mood disorders, or foggy brain or cognitive and memory issues.
  • Some people experience psychological effects, including stress and difficult emotions, that are not directly related to the physical effects of gluten in the body. Dealing with an autoimmune disease or having to make major dietary and daily habit changes when going gluten-free can be challenging.
  • Lets look into these two effects in a little more detail.


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