Many months ago I was contacted by an attorney who found me during an internet search. He was interested in having one of us testify on behalf of his client whose child suffered from what was believed to be gluten induced seizures. The mother was having issues with the child’s school not taking her child’s gluten intolerance seriously and allowing gluten exposure to occur. The result of this was dangerous seizures.
Experience regarding gluten causing seizures in patients was not what the attorney wanted. He wanted research studies and he thought we were a research facility. I felt badly about not being able to help this child personally but I recommended some researchers who could hopefully fit the bill.
We Have Seen Many Cases of Gluten-Induced Seizures
The reason I bring this up is that we have seen many patients with seizure related activity that resolved by removing gluten. But we haven’t had, until this week, success with the neurological community recognizing it.
A month ago the parents of an 8 year old contacted us for their daughter. She had only been on a gluten-free diet for a week after just having being diagnosed with celiac disease. Her seizures began after a hefty gluten exposure. Initially they only occurred at night (10 per night!) but were starting to occur during the day as well when we first saw her.
The neurologist put her on medication to control the seizures which helped with the intensity but not the frequency.
A Lab Test Reveals Foods that ‘Mimic’ Gluten
In addition to a strict gluten free diet we wanted to ensure that no cross-reactive foods were entering her system. In clinical nutrition we find that a cross-reactive food is typically a dairy product or grain/starch that has a protein structure similar enough to gluten that when a person eats it, their body’s immune system reacts as if they had eaten gluten.
In the case of someone who’s nervous system is very sensitive to gluten, enough to induce seizures, obviously any food that ‘mimics’ gluten must be identified.
The blood was drawn for the test but since the results can, unfortunately take 3 weeks to receive, the parents decided to remove all possible cross-reactive foods from their daughter’s diet immediately.
Seizures Gone With No Medication!
From that moment forward she began to improve steadily. Her seizure activity reduced so substantially that her parents wanted to look at removing her medication altogether.
Her pediatrician disagreed and wanted her to remain on the medication as a preventive agent, but the neurologist was willing to look into the possible association between gluten and the seizures.
They admitted her into the hospital to safely monitor her seizure activity while weaning her off her medication. The weaning successfully occurred without a single seizure occurring. It has now been three weeks with no seizures and no medication. The neurologist has deemed the seizures as food-related.
Now if he would only tell the rest of his profession that would be terrific!
In the meantime the laboratory tests we did for cross-reactive foods and the presence of a leaky gut have returned. Both were positive. She definitely has a leaky gut, which is not surprising considering her celiac disease and neurological symptoms. The test revealed several positive cross-reactive foods but others were fine such as rice, corn and tapioca, so that was a nice addition back into her diet.
Awareness Continues to Be Low
It’s extremely stressful to have an ill child. Watching a child of yours have a seizure, must be quite terrifying. Unfortunately, awareness of gluten intolerance by laypersons as well as doctors is quite low in our country. You could likely call ten neurologists in your city and 9 or 10 would adamantly tell you that gluten could never be the sole cause of seizures.
With several hundred symptoms and diseases associated with gluten, one could get the same erroneous information from general practitioners, gastroenterologists, pediatricians and gynecologists, just to name a few, as regards diseases in their field that we know can definitely occur as a result of a gluten intolerance.
We Shouldn’t Have to Beg to Get Tested
Our commitment to raising awareness is why I do what I do and so many researchers, fellow bloggers and organizations do what they do on a daily basis. We are committed to increasing awareness until the day arrives that when a person goes to see a doctor with any one of the 300 possible diseases and symptoms associated with gluten intolerance, a thorough examination and testing protocol includes finding out if a gluten intolerance is present. Ruling out the presence of a gluten intolerance needs to be the standard of care, not something you need to beg your doctor to look for.
That, my friends, will be a good day. Until then, I am here fighting the good fight and happy to help you in whatever way that I can. My medical center, HealthNOW, is a destination clinic and we see patients from across the country as well as internationally. We are here to assist you, your friends and family.
Permission is granted to re-post 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.