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Could Celine Dion Be Reacting to Gluten?

Celine Dion Concert – Singing ‘Taking Chances’” by Anirudh Koul is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0 .

Could Celine Dion Be Reacting to Gluten?

It’s always unfortunate when a celebrity speaks out about a medical condition, but the silver lining is that it draws attention to a condition that may go unnoticed for many of us. 

Such is the case with the recent announcement by Celine Dion that she is canceling her tour due to a new diagnosis of Stiff Person Syndrome.

What is Stiff Person Syndrome?

Stiff Person Syndrome is a rare neurological autoimmune disease that is characterized by progressive muscle stiffness in the axial muscles (the muscles of the head, neck, and back), sensitivity to noise and touch, and painful muscle spasms. These symptoms can result in severely impaired movement, and over time people with stiff person syndrome may develop a hunched over posture. 

Stiff person syndrome is extremely rare. It affects only one or two in one million people, twice as many women as men. 

Stiff person syndrome is associated with other autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, vitiligo, pernicious anemia, and celiac disease.

How is Stiff Person Syndrome Related to Gluten?

There is a high prevalence of gluten sensitivity in patients with stiff-person syndrome, which has led to research attempting to understand the connection between the two. 

While the exact mechanism is not fully understood, research shows that most patients with stiff person syndrome have high levels of glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) antibodies. GAD plays a role in making a neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger between nerve cells) called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which helps to control muscle movement.

Research also shows that there is a strong link between those with GAD antibodies and those with gluten sensitivity. This suggests that those with stiff person syndrome could likely benefit from the adoption of a gluten free diet. And some research has shown this to be true. Studies have demonstrated that a gluten-free diet can help support patients with GAD antibodies and conditions of the central nervous system in general.

In fact, one study identified a subgroup of patients with gluten sensitivity who complained of “episodic severe headache often with transient neurological deficit and extensive white matter abnormalities on an MRI.” Some of the patients also reported ataxia or neuropathy. The study found that patients’ headaches resolved with the introduction of a gluten free diet. 

Though there is no direct causation connection between gluten and stiff person syndrome, there is a growing body of research that shows that a gluten free diet might be helpful. 

Natural Ways to Manage Stiff Person Syndrome

  1. Physical therapy, massage, and hydrotherapy 
  2. Adoption of a gluten free diet
  3. Meditation and mindfulness
  4. Gentle movement (e.g., walks) as able
  5. Heat therapy (hot tub, infrared sauna)
  6. Acupuncture

Our Best to Celine

We certainly can’t diagnose the root cause of Celine Dion’s rare condition, but we do hope that some people can learn from her experience. And more than anything, we hope for comfort and clarity for Celine, and send our sincere well wishes. 

8 Responses

  1. Celine Dion may have gotten the shots and Zn/Mg maybe low and gluten issues worse. She is from Canada…far from the equator/low sunlight which trigger gluten issues. Not eating may make microscropic gluten hurt a person. A hair test to see good mineral levels/heavy metal levels. Quercetin to get Zn into cells. Taking Zn/Mg and any low mineral and detoxing heavy metals may help. Milk thistle/dandelion may help detox with lots of water at night. LDN may help which blocks low amounts of gluten. Vit D3/sunlight may help and more. Low Zn may affect taste/smell. Low Mg may not let muscles relax. No gluten/dairy/soy/sugar/GMO/food with label/heated oils may help and taking vitamins/good oils/minerals…probiotic…LDN..detoxing.

  2. Dr. Osborne,

    I think it would be great if you could reach out to the doctors of Celine Dion. I’m positive
    you would be a great help to her.

    The world would be forever grateful!



  3. Even in Canada, the doctors and hospitals should be up on gluten-intolerance as a cause for all or most diseases. Research is one thing that the Internet was meant to do — help doctors with research. I googled this subject, Stiff Person Syndrome and gluten issues, and there was a huge list of links to go through. Doctors should hire research assistants to research or ask for help from a friend or partner, but it should always be on the list.

  4. How about armchair physicians keep their opinions to themselves? Ms Dion no doubt has the very best attention money can buy, she is likely to have consulted widely and continues to seek consultation and advice. I am pretty sure she does not need or want unsolicited commentary from self-opinionated people who have never met her, have not had access to her medical, nutritional or psychological records and have not consulted with her or her medical and other advisors making spurious diagnoses and treatment protocols.

    1. Karen,
      Why do you take such offense to a learning opportunity that has the potential to help others with SPS who might benefit from a gluten free diet? This article and commentary in no way insults or makes assumptions about Celine’s intentions or capacity to seek treatment. Spurious indeed!

  5. Hi Dr Osborne,

    Many thanks for your tireless work to help people to become aware of the dangers of eating a grain diet. I have been following you for awhile now.

    I, myself, have found that I am almost pain free when eliminating grain from my diet, although I seem to be able to tolerate most rice.

    My question is, for years I had gradual worsening of stiffness in both my legs. I suffered chronic advanced severe osteoarthritis in my hips, and I had only motion forward and backwards in my legs. I underwent PPR treatment in my hips a year ago, and of course now I am much more mindful of my diet. I am slowly getting more rotation in my hips with aqua- aerobics. My groin muscle on the left still cramps up when I have my left leg spread apart. Also I have found that my muscle strength has decreased rapidly, and have2 torn muscles in my left shoulder, osteoarthritis and a frozen shoulder.

    I am assuming this is all caused by a lifelong undiagnosed gluten intolerance condition. I had celiac testing about 10 years ago which was negative. Or perhaps is it because of the glysophate poisoning, or both.

    I would be very interested to know what you think about the chronic stiffness.

  6. Please forgive an old guy for possibly looking at this from a different angle BUT has anyone considered that it might be the LACK of gluten that may be contributing to this stiff person syndrome. It seems to me Celine Dion was on a gluten-free diet BEFORE she developed the SPS and I suspect most of the others that identify as gluten sensitive were as well. Just like a lack of electrolytes can cause muscle spasms, maybe gluten is meant to react with the GABA, at least it might be worth some research. Also I have heard European gluten is tolerated much better than NA gluten so it might be worth introducing it into a SPS person’s diet.

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