Seizures and epilepsy may not seem to be common problems, but you may be surprised to discover that, identical to celiac disease, 1% of the population suffers and with increased age comes increased incidence at 3%. A full 10% of Americans can be expected to suffer a seizure in their lifetime.
It has been clearly shown that gluten affects the nervous system, but what are the specifics as it relates to epilepsy and seizures?
Celiac and Epilepsy Share the Same Genes
A study evaluating celiac disease, epilepsy and calcifications of the brain showed that the same genes involved with celiac were involved with epilepsy, specifically HLA-DQ2 and DQ8. Those suffering were found to have anti-gliadin antibodies (the immune system’s reaction to gluten) in their cerebrospinal fluid. This is the fluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord.
Gluten creates inflammation of the small intestine that results in a leaky gut. When gluten leaves the gut and gets into the bloodstream, the immune system of the blood reacts to it as well. We used to think that few substances gained access to the cerebrospinal fluid, but this study proved that the immune system reacts to gluten wherever it finds it and gluten seems to be able to gain access to all parts of the body.
Early Diagnosis Leads to Highest Treatment Success
The efficacy of commencing a gluten free diet correlated directly with the youth of the patient and the duration of the epilepsy. In other words, the younger the patient and the less time that had elapsed from the initial seizure, the better the outcome of a gluten free diet. As we so often say, the sooner we can diagnose the better the result and the less damage created.
Cheating with Gluten Can Create Serious Damage
Another study involved 128 patients with celiac disease. They were placed into three groups: those who followed their gluten-free diet, those who occasionally cheated and those who did not follow the diet at all. The group that ate an unrestricted diet containing gluten accounted for 37% of the group. They had been eating gluten for about 11 years since their celiac diagnosis at the time of the study. When the researchers evaluated for short stature and epilepsy with brain calcifications, the occurrence of both was found only in the group consuming gluten in their diet.
Here at the clinic we have been fortunate in gaining an early exposure to several epileptics and as a result have seen excellent results.
Gluten Causes Many Neurological Problems
The facts are that gluten is responsible for a large variety of negative effects on the nervous system. From migraines to seizures, from depression to ataxia, from ADD/ADHD to schizophrenia, the list is long and unenviable.
The research has been done and continues to be done in expanding numbers – increasing awareness of celiac disease and gluten intolerance is where we have much work to do. Tell your friends and family and let’s start making a dent in all the needless suffering!
Please let me know if I can assist you or anyone you know. I am here to help.
HealthNOW is a destination clinic and we see patients from all over the country as well as internationally.
To your good health,
Dr Vikki Petersen
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”
Brain and Development, Volume 27, Issue 3, April 2005, Pages 189-200
Eponyms in Child Neurology “Coeliac disease, epilepsy and cerebral calcifications “
Archives of Disease in Childhood, 1994;70:211-213 doi:10.1136/adc.70.3.211
“Need for follow up in coeliac disease.”
Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Dr Vikki Petersen & HealthNOW Medical Center and a clickable link back to this page. Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN is founder of HealthNOW Medical Center and the author of “The Gluten Effect”. She has been featured in national magazines, international medical journals and is a frequent headlined speaker.