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Sensory Nerve Pain Resolved with a Gluten Free Diet

Gluten has been shown to damage nerve tissue in multiple research studies. Dr. Hadjivassilliou and colleagues have published yet another study on the damaging effects of gluten on nerves. The study links sensory ganglionopathy (damage to nerve bundles that can lead to numbness and tingling of the hands and feet, burning sensations, poor balance, and dizziness) to gluten exposure. A gluten free diet led to stabilization of the neuropathy for many of the patients in this study.


Neurology 2010;75:1003-1008.

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:

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 has been shown to contribute to the break down of the blood brain barrier. This allows chemical toxins to leak into the blood supply of the brain itself . Gluten Sensitivity can cause malabsorption of vitamins, minerals, 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
I commonly hear other doctors say that their is no scientific evidence to make the claims above. My reply is usually “Have you picked up a medical journal lately?” Below are a few more simple searches using the National Library of Medicine Database on gluten and select nervous system diseases:

Have you gone gluten free but still remain sick? Find out why now…

45 Responses

  1. I have small fiber peripheral neuropathy and 7 yrs ago went on a gluten free diet. My pain level dropped to from 10 to 0-1. I still have some residual numbness but I have noticed in the past year that I am beginning to sense temperature in my feet. Nerves heal very slowly.

    1. Anne,
      I see this type of problem resolve all the time in patients. One of these days I will have to collect and publish the data from my clinic. Thanks for sharing!

    2. Can u pls tell me how long it took for your neuropathy to heal after going gluten Free
      I have been off gluten several months and my small fiber neuropathy lessens in intensity for a few days then comes back full force for days

  2. I would like to try the diet. I have ms. Sensory Peripherial Nuropathy. Other health issues as well a dialysis patient. Is this diet for me?

      1. I just had a elevated igg I have been off it for 1.5 months . I didn’t know I even had the antibodies till last week. I only have sensory neuropathy and some pots symptoms .

  3. i suffered for several years, dizziness, and falling, and my right eye began to turn inward, so much so, that i went to the top university here in germany, and had eye surgery to “straighten” the eyeball..along with a special lens that helped with the double vision, i continued falling and feeling dizzy (also MRI’s and spinal taps, etc..). Later, after a diagnosis of Celiac, and total gluten free, my dizziness, falling, all went away, and my eye returned to normal, and no need for a special lens..
    usually a sign that i have been “glutened” by accident, is my eye will become weak and i feel somewhat dizzy…along with many other symptoms, a breakout of eczema, mouth sores, and of course stomach pain and bloating..the list goes on..
    i am sooooo sooo thankful that i am not gluten free, i feel like i have a new life !!

    1. Sir, my sensitivity to touch has become weak, infact it is in my entire body, it is also leading to hearing problems, as the skin has become less sensitive, please can you tell what diet should I take to overcome this?

      1. Please also look into Charcot Marie Tooth. It’s a heridetary neuropathy disease. Can cause hearing loss in addition to MANY other symptoms.

  4. Anne, are you all grain free and dairy free? Or are you still eating gluten free products which are all rice and corn?

  5. How long does it take for the pain of Peripheral Neuropathy to go away? I’ve had it for four years now. I just turned 50. The pain in my feet is unbearable at times. I also experience a lot of fatigue and sometimes dizziness which could be from the 10 mg. of Nortriptyline I take for the pain. I’ve been gluten-free and casein free (right down to my lipstick) for seven months today, and it’s not getting better yet. I’m trying not to get discouraged. 🙁

    1. Along with the gluten free , try going dairy free . It can really make a difference. Try almond milk and cheese that does not contain milk. Try natural supplements. All things together work. It will work. Some day you will wake up and the pain will be gone.

  6. I have a peculiar form of neuropathy: no pain, but I feel as if I am walking on balloons and my balance is very precarious. I also suffer from light headedness, have a hypothyroid condition which is being addressed with a generic synthroid. Could any of ths be the result of gluten in my diet? And, oh yes, I have a distended stomach which doesn’t get smaller even when I lose weight……

  7. Four years ago I had a numbness and tingling in my right foot and when slight pressure was
    applied to the point between my big toe and the next toe, a sharp agonizing pain shot up my foot. Currently, I have the same symptoms in my left foot. This started about one year ago. I have been gluten free for 5 years which has made me feel better in a number of other areas. The doctors have preformed a number of tests and have never mentioned neuropathy. Through my own research, I have found that my symptoms do resemble neuropathy. I have also read that the symptoms may be reduced, but no cure. Suggestions from “authoritative experts” have been from becoming lactose free, increasing B-12 & B-6 with D3 intact. There is a website that encourages the taking of whole grain,barley to minimize inflammation!!!!

    Not for me.

    Normally, when wearing shoes, the numbness does not bother me, but I do try to walk around the house without shoes as to promote the muscles in my feet. I wish that someone could direct me to an place to get an expert diagnoses and hopefully a relief from these symptoms. The numbness seems to be advancing, slightly further up both feet.

  8. Had a hip problem last year, went to a pain management
    Dr who gave me a cortisone shot in the hip and during the procedure I felt the needle hit a nerve. The shot did the job but left my left thigh only, numb, burning and tingling. Six months later I go in for a total hip replacement, the left hip is still numb, operation was a complete success except now my right thigh is also numb, burning and tingling along with the left, What really worries me to this day is now i getting cramps deep in my left thigh and still have the dumbness in both thighs. Is it time to see a Neurologist ?

    1. I have serious PN. Makes my remaining years an absolute misery. Often wonder about the alternative but I have a lovely family around me! Visited the doctor today. He told me to take an increased dose of Lirica!

  9. I have had idiopathic peripheral neuropathy for the past couple of years.
    I went gluten free for a several months. One day I took a bite out of my daughters left over sandwich without thinking. Later that night it felt like someone was sticking needles in my toes.
    This has happened now on several occasions when I have inadvertently eaten gluten.

    1. Hello Tom,
      I write this short note on the off chance you’ll receive it.
      I’ve also been diagnosed Idiopathic Neuropathy- about a year ago. I am gluten free for 3 months with not much improvement yet but! last night I ate a wheat cracker and today my feet burn like crazy.
      It’s been a year since you wrote this post and I wonder how you’re doing.
      Praying this neuropathy is a gluten problem,

  10. When I read this story I realized just how similar it was to my condition. One day, while taking a short walk, I suddenly and inexplicably started experiencing intense burning and prickly sensations in the soles of my feet.
    These symptoms persisted for many months before I was forced to accept the unavoidable truth that I was a peripheral neuropathy sufferer. I visited a podiatrist who told me there was no effective medical treatment for this condition. All he could do was write me a prescription for something that would help to take the edge off.
    His offer was tempting, but deep inside I just knew there had to be a better answer. No way did I want to get hooked on dangerous painkillers for the rest of my life and risk damaging my health even more with the unwanted side effects.
    Long story short, I came across some simple natural remedies and stimulating techniques that gently soothed my irritated nerves and woke up my numb, sleepy legs, feet, and hands.

  11. Is there evidence of a grain-free diet helping those with Trigeminal Neuralgia. If you have any studies supporting this, please e-mail to me as I have a relative who is suffering from this and I know it is known as “the suicide disease.” Thank you.

    1. Julie,
      I have clinically seen TN resolve with nutrition and diet change. Unfortunately, there are no great studies documenting this association.
      I wish your relative luck in recovery. You might have them read No Grain No Pain. The book has a 30 day blueprint to follow. Nerve pain tends to resolve quite quickly.
      All the best,
      Dr. Osborne

    1. Ron,
      You would be better served on a completely grain free diet. You might also ask your doctor to test you for B-vitamin deficiencies, especially B12, B5 and B1. These three are commonly low in those with gluten issues. Diet change does not always resolve them. Have you read No Grain No Pain yet? You should consider the diet plan mapped out in this book. It is very effective against neuropathy.
      All the best,
      Dr. Osborne

  12. I have burning feet from 4 years and it is worsening. I do not have diabetes and i am not b12 deficient. Please let me know if there are any remedies

    1. Gayana,
      Vitamin B5 deficiency is a common cause of burning feet neuropathy. You should also be aware that if you measured your B12 levels through traditional serum lab testing, the results could be very misleading.
      I would encourage you to visit with a functional medicine doctor to help you get to the bottom of this issue asap.
      All the best,
      Dr. Osborne

  13. HELP!!Over the course of the last year I have had numbing, tingling & burning in both forearms from the elbow down. I have also had occasional periods of burning, pins/needles on the outer edge of my left foot. My blood sugar runs perfect and I am not Vit B deficient. I recently had Xrays of my neck, & the muscle testing they do at the neurologist with the needles. The neurologist said my testing there was negative but my symptoms were that of ulnar nerve entrapment. The pain has been intolerable at times, waking me up in the middle of the night. I can’t tell if it’s muscular or nerves. But what’s brought me to the gluten part of this, that never dawned on me before, is this: About 2 months ago I started a diet called the 3 week diet. It’s starts out as all greens & then adds protein but the diet is pretty much no carbs. Toward the end you can have 30g carbs a day but never made it to that part. Well about 3-4 days into this diet my arm pain went away completely. I was absolutely amazed, couldn’t believe it. It was like a miracle because this pain was daily & so so bad that I was going to go back to the Dr to ask for some kind of pain meds. Well after 2 weeks I fell off the diet & it was exactly 3-4 days afterwards that the arm pain returned! I thought I was going crazy or that it mustve been a coincidence or something. So now that I’ve fallen off track really hard with my diet & clean eating lifestyle that I was attempting my arm pain is back in full force. Help! Does this sound like gluten sensitivity? Does it fit the mold? Can this be my problem? Are Dr’s even up to speed on this or will they think I’m crazy? Not sure what to do. Ofcourse cut out the carbs or gluten again but I just love food

  14. I have been gluten sensitive more than 3 years (gluten free diet). 18 months ago I began adding B complex to my multivitamin because I read that gluten free folks need extra B vitamins. Four or five months ago I began noticing numbness in my lower legs. Went to gp and neurologist who ordered standard tests. I do not have large fiber neuropathy- but “idiopathic”. On line discovered the too much B6 causes these symptoms – “toxicity.” Found a group on Facebook about healing B6 toxicity and am following that protocol. Now I see gluten can be the culprit. I don’t think gluten would cause it since I didn’t jane this symptom when I was eating gluten and had been gluten free for a year before the symptoms began. What do you think?

    1. John,
      Your research is correct. Taking too much B-6 can be linked to neuropathy. Some are more susceptible to this reaction that others. Especially those with mutations in the CBS gene.
      All the best,
      Dr. O

  15. let me tell you iam terrified of that B6 and so many cereals and other things have it in them
    went on a crash diet some time ago and started feeling foggy and dizzy so went to Dr he said i washed all the minerals out of my body so he gave me a great amount of B6 and etc well all of a sudden my feet were tingling and numb and acting weird so i asked someone they said you have parenthesus but the nurse did not know why but i finished my pills and dr told me it would be a week or more before they would be in and it all went away i decided to look up parenthesus and they said B6 was the culprit so stay away from that stuff period

  16. I just want to remind folks with neurological issues that gluten may only be part of the problem. Especially if you also have IBS. My daughter, who is only 10, gets headaches and neurological symptoms (pain, tingling in one foot/leg, as well as heaviness of all her limbs), but also GI symptoms. She was diagnosed with SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) sever years ago also. When the SIBO is controlled, the GI symptoms are minimized when accidentally exposed to gluten, but the neurological are still there. SIBO can lead to neuropathy and restless leg syndrome too. She has had to be grain free and milk free to be completely asymptomatic.

    So, look at more than just gluten. Gut dysbiosis is a huge component!

  17. I’ve been having bilateral neuropathy in my feet and legs and shooting nerve pain all over my body and paresthesia in my right cheek which comes and goes. I’ve been tested for ms- all mris, eeg, emg and bloodwork have come back normal. In so much pain but not sure what to do. Then I noticed when I eat sweets such as scones or candy my pain increases. I’m trying a gluten free diet. It’s been a couple of days. Wondering if I should stop all of this and get a test done for celiac disease? Also, how long will it take for me to notice a difference if gluten is the cause of my idiopathic neuropathy? Any other possibilities for such symptoms?

  18. Please, is gluten sensitivity related also to demyelinating neuropathy or just with axonal neuropathy?

    Thank you.

  19. I have Multiple Sclerosis and I suffered from terrible electrical current nerve pain due to the loss of myelin on some of my nerves. A gluten free diet took care of that. No more pain. I then went dairy free later on. But it was gluten that got rid of the nerve pain and my arthritis in my hips. So happy…

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