Gluten is a known neurotoxin, and for many patients with gluten sensitivity, nervous system diseases are the only symptoms that manifest. Some neurologists have studied the connection in depth. To date, gluten has been shown to cause lesions in the brain and central nervous system on MRI, gluten has been shown to cause the body to make antibodies against nerve tissue.
Nerve Damage Improves on a Gluten Free Diet
There are a number of neurological diseases that have been shown to improve with a gluten free diet. The following is a short list of related neurological manifestations of gluten damage:
- Facial Palsy
- Migraine Headaches
- Seizure disorders (epilepsy)
- Blood brain barrier permeability (AKA – leaky brain)
- Bipolar Disease
- Sensory nerve pain (peripheral neuropathy)
Gluten and Balance
Meniere’s disease is a condition that manifests symptomatically as severe dizziness, ear pressure, ringing, and often times is associated with concomitant migraine headache. The symptoms can be debilitating and often lead to nausea, vomiting, and inability to stand or walk due to imbalance. Recent research has identified a connection between grain (specifically wheat) and Meniere’s disease. The study was published in the journal, Laryngoscope. The abstract is below:
Wheat is one of the most common food allergens found in patients with Meniere’s disease (MD). Gluten from wheat has been identified to have a etiopathogenetic role in celiac disease, IgE hypersensitivity to wheat disease, and recently to gluten sensitivity. The aim of this study was to verify the incidence of gliadin prick test response in patients affected by MD.
There were 58 adult patients with definite MD, 25 healthy volunteers, and 25 patients with grass pollen rhinoconjunctivitis tested with skin prick test to gliadin.
A total of 33 MD patients (56.9%) proved to be sensitive to gliadin, eight of whom were positive to prick test after 20 minutes, 13 after 6 hours, 11 after 12 hours, and one after 24 hours.
What to do if you have been diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease
It is important to let your doctor rule out any type of life threatening conditions first and foremost. Beyond that, ruling out gluten intolerance is a must. I would also recommend that you rule out other food and environmental allergies as well. I have personally seen cases of Meniere’s in my clinic that were caused by a variety of foods. I have also seen cases that were caused by severe mold toxicity.
Rule out vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Often times, these nutritional deficits will lead to nerve damage. Most prominently we see the loss of myelin (the insulation surrounding the nerves). Vitamin B-12 deficiency is a common cause of myelin loss, as are copper and vitamin C deficiency. Often times the deficiencies are caused by gluten induced gastrointestinal damage.
For more on the relationship between gluten and neurological inflammation and damage, watch the interview series with functional medicine psychiatrist, Dr. Charles Parker below. His research and clinical experience are enlightening and may help give you some answers to medical mysteries you are dealing with.
All the best,
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