Leaky Brain, Seizures (epilepsy), & Gluten Sensitivity | Gluten-Free Society


New research draws a connection between gluten induced leaky brain damage and seizure disorders (epilepsy).

Which Came First – The Chicken or the Egg?

It has long been held that chronic seizures cause blood-brain barrier (BBB) damage.  Recent studies have also demonstrated that BBB damage triggers seizures.


Brain Res. 2010 Sep 24;1353:176-86. Epub 2010 Jun 27.

Mov Disord. 2009 Oct 30;24(14):2162-3.

We know that gluten sensitivity can cause seizure disorders.  To that point, the Discovery Channel had an episode of Mystery Diagnosis that featured a young boy who responded to gluten by having seizures.  Additionally, we know that gluten sensitivity can contribute to blood brain barrier permeability (leaky brain). Now add to this the fact that a leaky brain will contribute to seizures and epilepsy. Thus the circle is complete.  When added together these elements create a viscous unending cycle of perpetual food induced damage.

Standard treatment for seizure disorders is typically medication (antiepileptic medication or AED’s). Unfortunately, the drugs do not actually correct the seizure disorder, they just reduce the occurrence of seizures through the artificial manipulation of brain chemistry.

The real question is, why are the seizures occurring in the first place.  Too often doctors look for a symptomatic fix over the origin of the problem.  This leaves patients no better off and in many cases worse off because the medications used for epilepsy lead to B-vitamin deficiency.

B-vitamin deficiency can cause neurological disease, contribute to seizures, neuropathy, and so on and so on and so on…

And so we wonder how many people with seizure disorders are gluten sensitive?

And because epilepsy is for the most part diagnosed by doctors (primarily neurologists) who don’t recognize the important contribution that food plays on health and disease, medication is the first line of treatment.  If you ask the doctor what the cause of the disease is, the most common reply is – “The cause is unknown, but most likely genetic.”  (unknown etiology)

How long can we justify the use of powerful drugs that have equally powerful side effects to treat a disease that in many cases could be easily treated with a simple dietary change?  And so we wait for doctors to open their eyes to the possibility that epilepsy (seizure disorders) can be caused by gluten exposure.

Wishing you excellent health,

Dr. Osborne – AKA – The Gluten Free Warrior

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Gluten Free Warrior Commentary


12 responses on “Leaky Brain, Seizures (epilepsy), & Gluten Sensitivity

  1. chris bates says:

    I wish my doctors would have told me of this before I was sick for 20 years and given the run around..and meds that scrambled my eggs..and made me drool!! Feeling Better now, Thank God!

  2. Michelle says:

    I was an undiagnosed celiac for approximately 32 years. Of that, I was prescribed epilepsy drugs that did not control my partial complex seizures for over 18 years. At a point after going gluten free, although my seizures were decreasing, they had not disappeared and a new neurologist (to me) put me through the full testing again, this time in-patient, and said I did not have epilepsy. She didn’t know what caused my seizures, but they were not epilepsy and she took me off my meds and sent me home. I still have some seizures and I do not ever cheat on my gluten-free diet. If all those years of gluten was the cause of my seizures, I hope that someday they will stop especially since I have been gluten free, completely, for over 6 years now.

    • Thanks for sharing your story Michelle. I would encourage you to eat TRUE gluten free (no grains at all). Often this eliminates residual symptoms that a traditional gluten free diet does not. I would also recommend having a spectracell test performed to identify nutritional deficiencies.
      Wishing you excellent health,
      Dr. O

    • Leon Chavarria says:

      I’m losing trust in medications for epilepsy as I agree with you Michelle – the Dr.’s said they believed I had myelin sheath damage after Meningitis as a baby but now I see a light at the end of the tunnel, believing now that was just a plausible explanation. Knowing now there is a connection between gluten intolerance which I discovered 12 years ago (when I was 49) in the library – according to my symptoms – and now able to only eat gluten-free foods. Also I know now Lamictal blocks vitamin D absorption – a defeciency of D can cause seizures. Things are just coming together after so many years of misery. Leon

  3. JT KENNY says:

    check out http://www.espa-research.org.uk This is a research group in the uk which is studying the affect of gluten on people with autism but there theory on how gluten affects the brain could easily apply to epileptics. JTK

  4. Kris says:

    My five year old daughter has seizures for two days four an hour if she eats anything with gluten or dairy. No seizure meds control them!

  5. Col says:

    The day I reintroduced gluten back into my diet (after a 3 months break) coincided with my first ever fit. I can now detect gluten in foods by the brain effects – sudden memory & cognitive impairment, weakness, visual effects, speech impaired. Im ok as long as I don’t get glutened.

  6. Diana bien says:

    My daughter was diagnosed with JME when she was 11, she is 15 now and doctors believe she has this rare disease called Leber’s Optic Neuropathy LHON. Has anyone made a connection with gluten and vision or optic nerve?

  7. Ralph says:

    Gluten and cross reactive foods give me all sorts of symptoms. One of them is blurry vision which slowly dissipates once I have stopped the offending food.As a matter of interest I react to rice, potatoes,eggs,soya, dairy ,coffee (decaf too) and of course gluten. I am hoping the cross reactions will go away eventually………not sure about that.

  8. pamela says:

    OMGoodness all these threads are so informative. I had a complex partial seizure 3 months ago. Now that my brain is able to process better I have been researching what could of caused this seizure when NO history exists. I also have a phytobezoar (which is like a vegetable hair ball stuck in your stomach). Between the research between the seizure and the cause of the bezoar 12 of the daily or prn medications rx’s and otc’s can cause both seizures and bezoars. I also had a niessen fundloplication 8 years ago and it has side effects from the surgery. I have weaned off all my medications and otc’s ,due to the over 25 side effects I was having and reported to the MD and was told just stay on all my meds until my appt in 2 months. AH HELLO MD…the side effect sheet says if you have any of these side effects contact your MD. I figured if it wasn’t importantant enought for them to see me to address the side effects I would research out what to do and listen to my own body. Now I am researching out diets that can help. I will put this gluten free one on my list and see what happens. It is said that I pay $$$$$$ to an MD to help diagnosis these problems for me. I give them all my history and meds and I get nothing but a bill$$$$ and a “gee I don’t know”. Thank God for the internet and the ability to discuss these problem with others. It has taken me many hours of research because of all the cross related issues, but now I had a list of ideas and theories with, written back up, I can present to my MD to get a second opinion from them. All I can do is be my own best patient advocate so I know what questions to ask my MD, but LOL since I have already researched out the info I will know the answer and they won’t. Prayers to all to keep researching and prayers for a productive and healthier lifestyle. 😉

  9. Jules says:

    Oh my! I went to see a private nutrients, and was advised that I was intolerant to wheat, barley, oats, rye, milk and soya, however I’m not entirely sure whether this means if I am a coeliac or not.

    I did get tested for wheat a few years ago many years ago by my then neurologogist but, he said that the test came back as negative, I queried this with my doctor, who asked if when being tested I was eating wheat, and I said No, in which to my surprise he said that it would of come back as negative anyway then as it was not in my system to test. I was not happy.

    Can anyone advise me exactly what foods need to be cut out, if I was to try a totally gluten free diet, and what types of bread could I eat,nor alternatively make myself.

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