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Neurological Disorders In Celiac Patients

Info: 2374 words (9 pages) Nursing Essay
Published: 11th Feb 2020

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  • Daniel Mortensen

Neurological Disorders In Celiac Patients


Opening: With grains as America’s main food staple, it is no surprise to walk down the aisles of a grocery store and see the numerous amounts of cheaply made processed foods containing grains. Grain gluten is not only contained in the foods we consume, but it is also put in the most not so obvious products. Makeup, teas, yogurt, gum, and the list goes on. This expanse of gluten additives have caused a body of individuals to have Celiac Disease ( CD), an immune disorder that is associated with range of negative health problems. Some of these include gluten ataxia, malabsorption, fatigue,anxiety, migraine and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). For the sake of this argument, we will assume grains( wheat, rye,refined, unrefined, white, ect) as modern modified and will incorporate gluten in its structures. We will be focusing on the symptoms in celiac disease, but it will also pertain to gluten sensitivity (GS) and healthy individuals. This is because some gluten-sensitive or “healthy” individuals may not have gluten intolerance symptoms, therefore they do not think its necessary to get checked. This causes a problem identifying the exact pin point of these gluten related immune problems. Regardless if there is no presence of symptoms, individuals are still a risk for potential autoimmune related problems. As stated, there is a spectrum of health issues related to the ingestion of gluten in this article, and this article will be focusing on the neurological aspect in Celiac patients when eating grains.

1) Gluten and neurological disorders have been studied for over 40 years (Psychiatr)

2) Celiac disease is approximately 4X greater diagnosed than it was 50 years ago, when CD was underdiagnosed (Rubio-Tapia, 2009)

Proposition: Consuming wheat gluten leads to neurological effects in Celiac patients

Define Terms:

  1. Celiac Disease: “an inborn error of metabolism characterized by the inability to hydrolyze peptides contained in gluten. Gluten is found in wheat, oats and barley. This disease affects adults and young children, who suffer from abdominal distension, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle wasting, extreme lethargy. A characteristic sign is a pale , foul-smelling stool that floats in water because of its high fat content. There may be a secondary lactose intolerance, and it may become necessary to eliminate all milk products form the diet. Most patients respond well to a high-protein, high-calorie, gluten-free diet. Rice and corn are good substitutes for wheat, and any vitamin or mineral deficiencies can be correct with oral preparations. Prognosis is excellent (celiac disease)”
  2. Ataxia: “an impaired ability to coordinate movement, often characterized by a staggering gait and postural imbalance. It can have many causes including lesions in the spinal cord or cerebellum that may be the seuelae of birth trauma, congetnial disorder ,infection, degenerative disorder, neoplasm, toxic substance, stroke or head injury (ataxia”
  3. Gluten: “the insoluble protein constituent of wheat and other grains (rye,oats, and barley(Gluten)

Recent research shows the correlation between autoimmune diseases and grains ( Visser, 2009). This paper will further address its controversies.


  1. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) advertises the importance of consuming grains as the base of American diets ( ChooseMyPlate.gov) (1)
  2. Modern grains are modified and it is inconsistent with our plant based diets. Humans have not evolved to have grain as the bases of their. There was a possibility of consuming ancient grains with no side effects, but the genetic modification of present grain consist of many gluten particles. These modern grains can lead to negative health effects ( Cordian 1999)


I. The controversy being argued is that celiac patients are more likely to develop neurological disorders when eating gluten. Some of these include: 1)gluten onset ataxias;2). schizophrenia; 3) migraines/ severe headaches

  1. Gluten increases gluten induced ataxias
  1. Many studies have showed a correlation between gluten and gluten induced ataxias in celiac patients. Recent brain scans shed light on why there is a significant difference in the brain formation of CD patients compared to their GFD counterparts.
  2. These findings are important because they show evidence of white matter lesions, implicating that gluten particles can travel through the bloodstream, therefore it can affect nearly every part of the body. The findings conclude that the formation of white matter lesions is a result of inflammation in the cerebellum. This inflammation produces antibodies that target purkinje cells. Therefore attacking purkinje cells leads to permanent cell loss, which can only be seen in gluten ataxia patients. These neurons are vital for a healthy functioning nervous system. (citation) Without healthy functioning neurons, this dilemma causes misinterpretation or unreceived messages to the brain. As a result, gluten onset ataxic individuals cannot have full motor control.
  3. A gluten free diet has been proven to reduce the incidence of gluten onset ataxia and eliminated white matter lesions in the cerebellum
  4. A recent study backed up the The Helsinki claim which proved that there was an overall higher average of ataxia in celiac patients compared to their control group of non -celiac patients. This recent study compared a before and after response of ataxic patients pre and prior to a GFD. Remarkably, they found that just after a year on a GFD, their ataxic patients were symptom free. (Psychiatr Q. 93)

Along with axiata,there are other neurological effects that will be further discussed

  1. Schizophrenia in CD patients is more likely to increase with in grain consumption wheat-consumption.jpg
  1. One of the first patterns linking the effects of wheat and schizophrenia was noticed during World War II. Psychiatrist F. Curtis Dohan noticed the rate of schizophrenia gradually decreased when there was a food shortage, making American’s main food staple, grains, unavailable, and an increase of schizophrenia when the war ended. Ultimately, grains made their way back into the mainstream diets. Doohan’s cause-and -effect theory was established when he conducted another test by removing all wheat products from the schizophrenic patient’s meals, without their knowledge( before consent was needed for studies). Four weeks later, he saw that there were fewer schizophrenic symptoms. He then invited wheat back to their diets, and soon the symptoms came back. The table to your upper right shows the dramatic change of schizophrenic symptoms when grains were scarce.
  1. Another study done to show the effects of gliadin was in rats. The rats were injected with gliadin in high doses and observed the results. The injection resulted in seizures and unusual behaviors. In my assumption I would conclude that as schizophrenia in rats as a direct result of gluten. (dohan)
  2. A recent study conducted by the Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness (CATIE) showed that the percentage of schezhprehnnia patients with anti-gliadin antibodies is significantly higher than the overall population of schizophrenic samples. This means that these autoimmune schizophrenics were not diagnosed, but their blood sample contained gluten polypeptides, evidence for GS or CD. Also, those who had a recent onset of symptoms had greater levels of antigliadin antibodies compared to non recent onset group.
  3. Studies show CD patients with schizophrenia symptoms are let go 2X as fast when on a GFD (citation)
  4. This can bee seen in a 1997 study, where a woman showed signs of schizophrenia and was later diagnosed with CD. She had hallucinations and thought she could fly. Her brain scan showed abnormalities in her left frontal cortex. She was put on a GFD and after six months, there were no traces of abnormalities. This women discontinued her antipsychotics, maintained a GFD and is still symptom free one year after her followup.

gluten related disorders could be masked under more subtle symptoms

  1. Gluten can increase the rate of migraine/headaches
  1. As stated in my previous claim, those who had gluten ataxia has a higher increase of white matter lesions, this also holds true for celiac patients who have frequent migraines/headaches
  1. In a study conducted by the ___________
  1. We are aware that current medications or lifestyle must be taken in account before studies begin
  2. Some of these medications include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), alcohol consumption, caffeine intake, and contraceptives. These are known to contribute to migraine/ headaches. Medical history is also taken into account, such as recent surgery head, spinal, or neck injuries/surgery. Without proper precaution, results of the studies could be skewed. (citation)
  1. A approved research approved by the Animal Ethics Community showed no significant difference of cerebellar change when injecting mice with high doses of glaidian
  1. For the first few weeks of the mice life, they were put in a toxic free environment and feed a GFD. The mice were both sexes, and through random selection, 10 mice were injected with a variety gladian in high does ( different gladwin could have different results) while the rest were injected with a saline solution.
  2. The mice were tested 1/week with a pass or fail test on coordination and accuracy of stride lengths. By the end of the 25 week study, the rats were put down and their brains were looked.
  3. The findings showed no significant difference in the weekly pass/fail test and no significant change in the brain formation of these rats

III. Though I concede that there is another influential factor in the prevalence of neurological disorders, I still insist that most of these disorders spawn from eating wheat. Therefore, this is why in many cases, neurological disorders is more prevalent in celiac diagnosed patients.

  1. The rat test conducted by Dohan and ______ provided different results,but __ claims are vague. Biologically, rats differ from human beings and therefore they will react different. Like humans, each rat is unique from another and therefore may have different reaction. There could be some bias in the test depending on what the motives are and what major institution was funding these findings.
  2. Facts show that 57% of those who have a form of neurological problem will test for the presence of anti-gliadin antibodies, this statement is clearly shown in the tests mentioned above. (Psychiatr)
  3. All the claims for the argument stems out of bigger central theme, that gluten in celiac patients can affect the functions and layout of the brain. Whether it is ataxia, schizophrenia, or migraines, gluten particles are capable of traveling through our bloodstream and leaving behind traces of its unwanted presence.


In conclusion, there has been numerous studies confirming the neurological effects of gluten in Celiac patients. By consuming grains as a CD individual, scientists and psychiatrists have seen an increased risk for axatxia, migrains and schecprhnic symptoms. The symptoms mentioned in this argument can manifest itself into dangerous health conditions if left untreated. It is best for individuals who think they have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity or even healthy individuals to get tested. Although there will always be studies that back up or deny that neurological symptoms in celiac patients are a result of gluten, one fact is true: celiac disease is not just a “fad” and therefore one innocent looking muffin cause more harm that you would’ve ever thought.



“Gluten.” Mosby’s Medical Dictionary. 8th edition. 2009. Print

“Celiac Disease” Mosby’s Medical Dictionary. 8th edition. 2009. Print

“ataxia” Mosby’s Medical Dictionary. 8th edition. 2009. Print

In text Citations:

  1. (Psychiatr): Jackson, Jessica R., William W. Eaton, Nicola G. Cascella, Alessio Fasano, and Deanna L. Kelly. “Neurologic and Psychiatric Manifestations of Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity.” Psychiatric Quarterly 83.1 (2012): 91-102. MEDLINE with Full Text. Web. Sept.-Oct. 214.
  2. Psychiatr :Jackson, Jessica R., William W. Eaton, Nicola G. Cascella, Alessio Fasano, and Deanna L. Kelly. “Neurologic and Psychiatric Manifestations of Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity.” Psychiatric Quarterly 83.1 (2012): 91-102. MEDLINE with Full Text. Web. Sept.-Oct. 214.
  3. (Psychiatr, 93): Jackson, Jessica R., William W. Eaton, Nicola G. Cascella, Alessio Fasano, and Deanna L. Kelly. “Neurologic and Psychiatric Manifestations of Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity.” Psychiatric Quarterly 83.1 (2012): 91-102. MEDLINE with Full Text. Web. Sept.-Oct. 214.



  1. Dohan FC. Wheat “consumption” and hospital admissions for schizophrenia during World War LL. A preliminary report. 1996 Jan;18(1):7-10
  2. Dohan FC. Celiac disease and schizophrenia. Brit Med J 1973 July 7;51-52

authors, date, page # ( only cite evidence)


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