Many of my clients discover that removing gluten from their diets results in less irritability, depression, and anger. Mood swings decrease in intensity. They feel more energetic and other benefits including weight loss. Gluten is found in wheat and other grains and is often added to processed foods.
This blog will be updated periodically to provide links to articles, books, and research studies that discuss associations between eating gluten and "mental" health. I put "mental" in quotation marks because we know that mental health, thought, and emotions are not separate from the physical body.
My son and I are good examples of the problems that arise from gluten sensitivity. If I eat gluten, my joints hurt, I get a migraine the following day, I am struck down by narcolepsy (suddenly falling asleep), I become irritable and grouchy, and I have myoclonic jerks as I fall asleep. Symptoms of fibromyalgia are much worse. For a day or two after eating gluten, I cannot function well in my work, in my home, or as a parent. When my son eats gluten, he runs into furniture walking across the room. His anger is easily triggered and hard to control. His eye contact diminishes. He is less social, headache pain increases, and echolalia reappears.
Because the foundation to the food pyramid is constructed with grains, and because wheat is common in the standard American diet (SAD), some folks can't believe gluten could be the root source of so many problems. So, I refer them to a naturopathic doctor for food sensitivity/allergy testing of almost 100 foods. This is a blood test and is generally much more informative than the skin prick allergy test (which can show foods, such as peanuts, that cause anaphylactic shock).
Below are links to articles and research that found associations between gluten, neurological dysfunction, and mental disease.
Negative reactions to gluten are associated with schizophrenia:
Relapsed schizophrenics showed more improvement on a gluten and dairy free diet.
Wheat gluten as a pathogenic factor in schizophrenia.
Gluten sensitivity presenting as neuropsychiatric disorder (visual and auditory hallucinations).
And with depression:
Gluten may cause depression in subjects that do not have celiac disease.
Depressed mood resolved by gluten-free diet.
And with bipolar disorder (manic depression):
Seroreactive marker for inflammatory bowel disease and associations with antibodies to dietary proteins in bipolar disorder.
Gluten sensitivity and acute mania.
And also with autism:
A small group of children with autism showed enhanced development on a diet without casein, gliadan, and gluten.
Gluten- and casein-free dietary intervention for autism spectrum conditions.
Dr. Benyshek is a devoted psychotherapist and marriage counselor, a professional artist, and an internationally renowned researcher on contemporary artists as shamans.