Your Brain on Gluten

Brain, gluten,

Imagine losing years of your life diagnosed with depression, schizophrenia, admitted into psychiatric wards, placed on medications that are heavy enough to put down a horseand none of it would have happened if doctor #1 had simply advised you to get off gluten?

That exact experience is a case study1 and horrifyingly, it’s not unique. Thousands of medically documented cases worldwide have gone through the same and continue to as you read this. From worst case dementia to lifelong depression to a 4 year old on ADHD drugs.

And like many of those thousands of cases, after 6-12 months gluten-free, all symptoms disappear and the person gets their life back1.

British Medical Journal: “Schizophrenia is frequently found in people with Celiac Disease and Celiac Disease is frequently found in people with schizophrenia. In cultures where gluten grains are rarely eaten, schizophrenia is rare or non-existent”2

People with CD have a 3 times higher rate of developing schizophrenia2. The stats on gluten and depression are more staggering.

3 Important Takeaways

  1. Depression is one of the most common effects of gluten brain damage. It doesn’t need to be the highest end of the spectrum like schizophrenia or Alzheimer’s. Depression or chronic sadness is enough to steal Quality of Life.
  2. You don’t need to have Celiac Disease for gluten to damage your brain. Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (much more prevalent) does the same and worse, as far as inflammation.
  3. Strictly brain (mood) symptoms are common. “Gluten sensitivity can be primarily and at times exclusively a neurological disease.”3 (note they say sensitivity, not Celiac)

We think of gluten issues as a gut disorder because they test with intestinal biopsy and the media usually focuses on gut symptoms. But how it’s affecting millions of people is exclusively neurological: depression, brain fog, anxiety…

Good news: catch it before irreversible damage is done and you can reverse and completely heal. Bad news: once nerve or brain damage reaches a certain point, there’s no going back. Ignorance is not bliss.


  1. Testing. Specific blood tests reveal markers even before antibodies. MRI / SPECT scans show brain lesions / lack of blood flow. There are protocols to heal both.
  2. If you can’t afford testing, ask yourself if you feel 100% great. Are you happy? Energetic? No brain fog? Or do you suffer from unexplained anxiety and mystery symptoms? Ask for help from trusted loved ones because sometimes self diagnosing is like asking yourself if you snore… you’re asleep, so how would you know? You need the person sleeping next to you to tell you.
  3. Very strict elimination diet*. Tricky, since gluten is in everything, so get some solid guidance. Minimum 3 weeks, I suggest 6. See how you feel and function after that. A customized cleanses and supplement protocol can totally renew you. For very severe issues, 3-6 months (not weeks).

No one needs to be a victim of gluten.

*Trying the gluten free diet is safe for everyone. If you’re on medication, do not get off them without coordinating with your doctor.


  1. The Journal of International Medicine, 1997;242:421-423
  2. BMJ Vol.328 21 February 2004 438-9
  3. Neurology, Vol. 56/No. 3, February 13, 2001

Jaqui KarrJaqui Karr, CGP, CSN, CVD, is a best-selling author, speaker, and corporate consultant who specializes in educating about gluten, celiac disease, specialty diets, and health through nutrition. Her popular “NakedFood” brand has helped thousands include more power raw and healing greens in their diet. Ms. Karr is a certified gluten practitioner, certified sports nutritionist, and certified vegan/vegetarian educator to dietitians.

Note: The statements presented in this column should not be considered medical advice or a way to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. Dietary supplements do not treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always feel the advice of a medical professional before altering your daily dietary regimen. The opinions presented here are those of the writer. 

Published in WholeFoods Magazine Online, 11/2/16