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Gluten a Cause of Mental Disease

Statistics on mental disorders in the U.S. are higher than what one would imagine. One in four adults suffer from a mental disorder in a given year, affecting over 57 million people! About 6% are suffering from a serious mental disorder.
Mental disorders aren’t only found in the U.S., but also worldwide. Other countries are just as concerned as we are about the problem.
Iranian scientists were determined to find out the cause or contributing factors of psychotic disorders, especially schizophrenia. They studied the effects of diet on 24 patients at a psych ward at Alborz Hospital in Karaj, Iran. These patients weren’t just mild-mannered patients with an occasional psychotic outburst; they were the worst of the worst, found in the ward that had to have maximum security.
Researchers gave the patients a gluten-free diet versus a diet that contained gluten over a period of 14 weeks. They rated their psychotic behavior at different times during the study.
They found positive changes occurred in five different categories right before the trial started up until the gluten-free period. Two of the 24 did improve during the gluten-free period and relapsed when their diet contained gluten at the end.


British Journal of Psychiatry 148: 446-452 (1986). A double-blind gluten-free/gluten-load controlled trial in a secure ward population.

Gluten Free Society’s Stance:

Gluten is a mixture of proteins found in all grains. It is composed of two primary subfractions: prolamines and glutelins. Prolamines are glutens. Even rice still contains a low percentage of gluten (5%). Oats contains 16%. Corn contains 55% gluten from the prolamine called zien. If the study diet was analyzed using the above as a basis, the diet given to the patients in the psych ward would not really have been gluten-free. It would have been one with a lower amount of gluten from wheat, barley and rye, but not truly gluten-free. A true gluten-free diet would eliminate ALL grains.
The fact that 2 of the 24 patients improved significantly on a diet that was lower in gluten and worsened with a high gluten diet was re-introduced is hope for many more patients to have significant improvement.
The best thing for researchers to do at this point is to re-analyze the study diet that was used, and re-run the study with new participants. It’s entirely possible that the results can change lives; some of the patients may have their mental symptoms lessened so much that they could need less medication.

10 Responses

  1. Pingback: Anonymous
  2. Having lived with bipolar disorder all my life, I went through several periods of time when my meds became less effective or didn’t work at all. It was at the worst when I went on a high fiber diet. After finding out about gluten intolerance, I completely eliminated gluten – quinoa all of it. Not only did my meds “kick in” but I came off 5 medications. My psychiatrist is not only intrigued by this, she is also amazed! Do all the testing and trials, etc., but I firmly believe my own body. BTW Niacin deficiency can cause schizophrenic symptoms. With leaky gut, I was very Niacin deficient. Doc’s don’t go there – they go the drug route. Nutritionists DO go there and since they aren’t drinking the cool aid, drugs aren’t the answer.

  3. The reason I think only cause noticeable changes on only two patients treated was beacuse gluten remains on the body for a long period of time just like any other toxic food and if the trial only last for a number of days, the best way is to elimate gluten completely from their diets and analize after 6 months at least as well as to increased the amount of mineral rich vegetalbles especially green vegetables to speed up the cleansing process of the body by helping eliminate toxins quickly.

  4. My son has been on a strict gluten free diet since he was 6 years old, now 18. 18 months ago his specialist thought after doing biopsy and blood tests that he has been wrongly diagnosed, so he went on a normal diet about 8 months into this he started to get quite depressed, to the stage he couldn’t leave the house, we was once a very outgoing teenager now scared to leave the house. After getting great help from a phys.dr. And medication he was a little better. Then it was time for a celiac blood test! Yes his levels had gone from 2 on gluten free diet to 165 on normal diet. He has just completed year 12 and is starting uni next year to become a dr. So I as a mother watching my son go thru this definitely agree it does has something to do with mental illness.

  5. My son was diagnosed with schizophrenia 4 years ago. I read about the gluten connection in Patrick Holford’s books. So we cut out all the glutens – or so we thought. He improved, but I noticed that rice, corn etc etc would bring back the symptoms. So I threw the whole idea out of the window. Then I found this site!
    We cut out all grains – haven’t even got to the dairy products yet. Symptoms improved within 24 hours. I know I need to go totally gluten free, but we are taking it one step at a time. Thanks for all the info!!

    1. I heard these things affect the body like gluten… Alcohol, corn, millet, oatmeal (because it it processed in same areas as gluten foods), rice, and bakers and Brewers yeasts

  6. Think this is fascinating information, read a book called Not all in the Mind which shows how dietary changes have a huge effect on mood. Well worth reading.

  7. I found out I was gluten-intolerant last fall at 24 years old. For 2 years, I had issues with digestion and severe anxiety. First, I cut milk out of my diet (thinking I was lactose intolerant) but the symptoms kept returning. With severe stomach bloating, and the last symptom that I developed was vertigo! It was horrible. After reading the symptoms of gluten intolerance and trying going gluten free..the results were astounding! My stomach went flat, my dizziness disappeared & my anxiety went away after 2 weeks! I was so happy I found out the culprit for my sickness 🙂 Going Gluten-Free is totally worth it! Both mentally & physically!

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