Celiac disease reveals itself in many unexpected ways: brittle bones, hair loss, poor teeth, even diseased organs, etc. Now new research adds another way it shows itself–neurologically or in their psyche.
Many of us know of people who’ve complained of depression-like symptoms or being short-tempered, this research talks about that, but also goes beyond it.
The article, published in December in Movement Disorders, and republished in Medscape, says that 25% of the celiac patients had a history of migraine, while 20% had carpel tunnel syndrome. Researchers called these “common symptoms” of celiac disease. But also, 35% of respondents said they had “a history of depression, personality changes, or psychosis.”
The article goes onto say:
“About a third of patients had stance and gait problems, and many experienced deep sensory loss and reduced ankle reflexes.”
“‘Gait disturbances in celiac disease do not only result from cerebellar ataxia but also from proprioceptive or vestibular impairment,’ report investigators led by Katrin Bürk, MD, from the University of Marburg in Germany. ‘Neurological problems may develop despite strict adherence to a gluten-free diet.'”
That last part is a doozie. “Neurological problems may develop DESPITE strict adherence to a gluten-free diet”…WHAT? Everything we’ve always known has been that symptoms should dissipate or disappear with the gluten-free diet.
Researchers also were surprised at the few number of people with epilepsy — only 5% reported this.
What causes neurological problems in celiac patients?
So what is the trigger? Researchers really aren’t sure about the connection between celiac and neurological or psychological disorders. But they did discuss nutrients in the body, or lack thereof , as being a potential problem.
“Deficiencies in folic acid, vitamin E, and biopterin have been implicated in the pathogenesis; however, the investigators report that replacement therapy does not resolve clinical symptoms in most cases.”
And that’s only one possibility they looked at.
Finally researchers concluded that it’s no accident that people with celiac disease could have neurological trouble. And that a gluten-free diet wasn’t a cure-all in this case.
“The investigators suggest that because of the considerable clinical variability, many different pathogenic mechanisms are likely to contribute to the neurological and psychiatric dysfunction in celiac disease.”
Yes these suggestions are vague and will anyone really care about this research? Maybe not, but if celiac is triggering neurological and psychiatric symptoms, then we should be looking into it. From the sounds of it, some of these symptoms could be lifelong with or without the diet. But it’s always better to have the diet going and see what symptoms will improve.
Note: I first saw this research on Celiac.com, so I wanted to give them credit for being on top of the latest research.