Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Anorexia, Anxiety, Celiac Disease

I've been doing a little research, about anorexia (and depression and anxiety, actually) being connected with celiac disease and/or gluten intolerance. I wanted to see if there was any merit in the idea. I assumed that the research stemmed from the theory that an aversion to food in general was created by negative physical responses to consuming gluten--because kids had repeated bad experiences with food (gluten) they responded by avoiding it entirely, sometimes subconsciously. I've been reading some new studies on CD, however, which indicate that biology is as much, if not more connected, as psychology when testing for connections between CD and anorexia.

One of the article titles is Regional Cerebral Hypoperfusion in Patients with Celiac Disease, American Journal of Medicine, March 1, 2004, pp. 312-317.
It stated that brain hypoperfusion ("circumcised areas of decreased tracer uptake" = lack of blood supply to the brain, from what I can tell) occurs in some patients who have an increased sensitivity to gluten. Hypoperfusion affects the frontal lobe, which increases instances of both anxiety and depression. "No blood flow abnormalities were found in the healthy control subjects. Of the 15 untreated celiac patients, 11 had at least one hypoperfused brain region...while only 1 of 15 celiac patients on a gluten-free diet had hypoperfusion...high levels of anxiety were common in the untreated celiac patients (11/15)... depression was more common in untreated celiac patients (10/15)."

I know, it was very dense--at least for me. My mom understands it better than I do because she went to a seminar where medical doctors become certified for celiac disease diagnosis (she just went for fun, I think) and they explained these ideas more fully there.

The second article I found, in the Ailment Pharmacology Therapy, 2004 Issue 20, pp. 821-824 goes on to say that they have discovered similar blood flow alterations in the brain "in untreated patients affected by anorexia nervosa." "Untreated patients" refers to people who are positive for CD but are not on a gluten-free diet.

This article explains a little more on hyperpofusion (which it defines as, "a decreased blood supply caused by inflammation and often causing lesions on the brain surface"): Kieslich, M., Pediatrics Vol. 108 No. 2, August 2001.

The fourth article just came out in 2010 and is just astounding to me--the study found that many patients with neurological symptoms of celiac disease often had NO gastrointestinal symptoms which are generally used to identify and diagnose celiac disease. It also noted that "celiac disease... is only one aspect of a range of possible manifestations of gluten sensitivity," and goes on to say that "although neurological manifestations in patients with established celiac disease have been reported since 1966, it was not until 30 years later that, in some individuals, gluten sensitivity was shown to manifest SOLELY with neurological dysfunction." According to the article, "MOST patients with neurological manifestations of gluten sensitivity have few gastrointestinal symptoms." Oh, that article was Lancet Neurol 2010; 9: pp. 318-30

I didn't surprise me to read that the recommended treatment, along with the GF diet change, is increased omega 3 and megadoses of vitamin D, along with colostrum to improve the intestinal health.

If you want to pull these articles up in their entirety, all medical journal articles are available on The site only offers an abstract of medical articles--you can read and get the articles printed for free from any public library. Otherwise it's a $30 fee for each article (spendy!).

The best news is that if you do think this could be an issue (or a help for a solution! best way to think about it), a "spit test" is coming out soon for gluten-sensitivity. I could explain it forever, but basically it's the most accurate AND inexpensive, simple test which has ever been available to test for celiac disease or gluten-sensitivity. It will be out by the end of the summer (the end of August, I guess?), which is wonderful news--the old methods (blood test, stool test, biopsies) were expensive and extremely inaccurate.

1 comment:

Terina said...

Wow, I love the visuals on this. So good.