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Muscle Twitches and Spasms? Is Gluten Sensitivity Connected?

A new report recently published in The Journal of Neurological Sciences recommends considering the diagnosis of gluten sensitivity in patients that present with propriospinal myoclonus (PSM). PSM is a movement disorders of the muscles characterized by twitching and jerking muscles indicating that gluten sensitivity should be considered in the differential diagnosis of PSM such that a gluten challenge test may prove diagnostically useful.


J Neurol Sci. 2012 Jan 5.

Dr. Peter OsborneThe Gluten Free Warrior’s Comment:

PSM is a disease affecting small little nerve receptors in the muscles. These nerve receptors are responsible for communicating with the brain about muscle coordination and movement. People with PSM have repetitive involuntary muscular jerking in the trunk and legs. The recent report listed above found that symptoms of this disease were linked to gluten exposure.

Gluten and Nerve Damage

Gluten is a known neurotoxin. It comes as no surprise that yet another research study links this toxic peptide to nerve damage. It has been speculated that gluten effects the nervous system in many different ways. If you missed this critical interview on gluten and brain damage with psychiatrist, Dr. Chales Parker, go watch it now... The screen capture below depicts the gluten-nerve connection by displaying a search on the National Library of Medicines Database:

How Gluten Causes Nerve Damage…

  • Gluten can contribute to autoimmune antibody production against nerve cells, myelin (the coating around nerves), as well as the receptors on cells that bind neurotransmitters (chemicals that allow nerves to communicate).
  • Gluten Sensitivity can cause malabsorption of vitamins, minerals (like magnesium), and other nutrients. The consequences of these deficiencies can lead to neurological disease. For example, vitamin B vitamin deficiency can prevent the body from producing important neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, acetylcholine, and epinephrine.

Neurological Disease Linked to Gluten:

  1. Migraine
  2. Depression
  3. Anxiety
  5. Carpal Tunnel Sydrome
  6. Autism
  7. Sensory Neuropathy
  8. Vertigo
  9. Tinnitus
  10. Cerebellar Ataxia
  11. Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
  12. Myasthenia Gravis
  13. Bipolar
  14. Schizophrenia
  15. Gastroparesis
  16. Parkinson’s Disease
  17. Multiple Sclerosis
  18. ALS
  19. Cognitive Decline
Bottom Line… If you have a neurological disorder and don’t know the cause, have your doctor test you for gluten sensitivity today!

12 Responses

  1. I used to spontaneously dislocate my collar bone about once a year. This has not happened for the last ten (and more) years (since going gluten free). Also, muscle twitches that used to occur at night, seldom ever occur anymore but I do notice an increase if I’ve spent a good deal of time in a contaminated environment.

  2. I have so many symptoms, First of all I suffer from auto immune Hashimoto disease. Three years ago I started losing my balance and tremors. I found out later why. Iam allergic to so many differennt foods. Gluten is top of the list! Wheat, soy, cane sugar, dairy etc and this list goes on. I am also experiencing muscle twitching, and leg and foot cramps, as well as intestinal leaky gut and irritable bowel syndrome. This has affected my life so bad, I lost my job because of it and a few friends as well. I hope this can be a lesson to anyone out there that is suffering with gluten and any other food intolerences.

  3. Hi Elizabeth,

    I am exactly the same as you. My friends think I am nuts but I have leaky gut, IBS, addisons and under active thyroid. I don’t eat gluten any more but I had episodes where I had vertigo. I now have tremors and muscle cramps and get scared it’s something scary like MS. Did you get better when you gave up all the foods that make you allergic? How do you manage? Any advice would be gratefully received


  4. Inge and Elizabeth…. I suffered from the same symptoms all my life until completely irradicating gluten from my diet. I had the constant disorientation,dizziness, I never slept, heart palpitations and the muscle spasams were unbearable!! (Amongst many other symptoms). I have been gluten free for about 10 years now and my symptoms have gone. I have since also gone dairy free, which has stopped the chills, bloating and skin irritation I still occasionally suffered with. Be strict with the diet and it will change your life 🙂

  5. Hi Inge,
    I found out randomly, by self diagnosis, that I am gluten intolerant, among other things (dairy causes me endometrial pain- my mother has been diagnosed with endometriosis, so I likely have it, as well). You should try the raw/alkaline diet. It has saved me so much grief! When looking into it, don’t think that you can’t enjoy any food. Here’s a yummy dessert to start your journey:

    1 avacado
    2T (melted) coconut oil
    2T Dutch cocoa powder
    2T liquid sweetener (I love maple syrup, followed by honey, then agave)

    Food process until smooth and refrigerate for a few hours (freezer turns it to a Gelato texture, but fresh blended is more pudding-like, and refrigerator is more fudge-like).

    Good luck,

  6. I used to really have bad leg spasms when I was younger, I used to get them at any given time in class, playing sports outside or while driving a car! I could never figure it out until about 6 years ago when I decided to biohack myself and see if I am gluten intolerant. I found I wasn’t totally gluten intolerant but decided to remove gluten all together as its a toxin. Eversince, I might have a minor twitch here and there but nothing compared to those times when I was driving! Gluten free has been an amazing lifestyle change!

  7. I used to get muscle spasms and muscle cramps so bad that I would wet myself and even vomit with pain. One example – I watched my whole ankle turn at a 45 degree angle and become locked in a spasm and nothing alleviated it.

    sometimes these episodes would last up to 15 minutes and I’d been having them since I was a child.

    After fibromyalgia, I finally decided to TRY giving up gluten. Miraculously, the spasms I’ve been combatting my whole life lessened, and finally went away.

    Now I have a normal cramp when I’ve over-exerted a muscle but it goes right away when I stretch or rub it.

    Then I made some snack mix and grabbed the wrong bottle – instead of tamari I grabbed Kikkomann soy sauce which has wheat in it. I didn’t realize it until I ate a handful, and within a few minutes I started having muscle cramps and they lasted off and on all night!! I went back and looked at the bottle and realized what I’d done.

    There is no doubt there is a correlation between wheat and muscle spasms.

  8. I have autonomic neuropathy and gastroparesis, I have no idea if I’m celiac but at the very least I can’t digest gluten, it stays in my stomach and makes me bloated. I’ve been tested for all of this extensively. My digestive muscles also spasm uncontrollably and cause me to suck in air and belch. The only thing that’s helped me so far is medical marijuana to relax my nerves. I’ve been gluten free for a few years now. As a child I lived on bread and gluten for nearly every meal. Could it be possible the gluten caused this over time? Or is there another more likely explanation?

    For more context, all I know is that my C1 joint in my neck is twisted vertically and supposedly pressing on my vagus nerve effecting my stomach muscles, but I was only ever given a “probably”. I’m 24 and the digestive issues started after a death in the family where I lost about 50 pounds in the span of a few months, I had to change my diet to gain the weight back.

    Does anyone else have this problem? I’d love to hear from you. Thanks in advance.

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