Gluten, Immunity, and Neurotransmitters
You might miss this comment on an earlier post on celiac and gluten withdrawal – quite interesting question. The approach of Turkey Season serves as a great reminder for what-not-to-do with psychiatric medications and supplements, and how to consider withdrawal from gluten with neurotransmitters.
I have been Gluten free for a 1 and a half weeks now and think I'm having withdrawal symptoms. A year and a half ago I had glandular fever, since when I haven't fully recovered, suffering from, insomnia, anxiety, extreme fatigue after lunch (normally bread based) and digestive disturbances (bloating, flatulence, loose stools, etc…). So last week I started taking a Betaine HCL supplement and went gluten free.
Initially, I felt much better but after a couple of days I started to get really tired and depressed and anxious! I then had a better day then a worse one and then a better one again. Today I've got really tired and was a bit anxious but generally better than yesterday. My flatulence and loose stools have completely gone since going gluten free though I still see a large amount of undigested bits in the stools. What I would like to know is your thoughts on my self diagnosis and whether these symptoms sound ‘normal'. I'm hopeful that they will continue to clear up in the week to come. I've been taking many vitamins too and also am eating in excess of 8 fruit/veggies per day to speed it up.
My Reply With Some Neurotransmitter Details
Sounds like you are doing well all around, and does sound like you might be experiencing gluten/opiate withdrawal. Also, well done on recognizing that you must ‘replace’ as much as ‘remove.’ Healing is a two step process with immune challenges.
The opiate sites with celiac will set the neurotransmitters off, as the immune system dysregulates a number of the neurotransmitters, both acutely with the gluten discontinuation, and over time with the overt depletion of amino acid precursors. Cytokines aggravate/dysregulate neurotransmitters If you don’t have neurotransmitters you will not only feel the pain, you simply won't improve with SSRIs or other antidepressants.
Your recovery journey would be significantly supported and accelerated by precise measurement of exactly what you have on board, both excess and deficiency are possible – as stress over the years could have pushed up norepinephrine, epinephrine or your cortisol, & DHEA levels. On the other hand, you may have simply bottomed out on serotonin and the opiates would have kept you blissful, and somewhat up.
Over time with adrenal fatigue the neurotransmitters uniformly bottom out as does the cortisol. Listen to this Adrenal Fatigue podcast over at CorePsych Podcast for any easy review. We have many in-the-dirt, refractory folks who come in, almost in wheelchairs, with cortisol levels thru the day completely flat across all levels. They simply can’t get out of bed and everyone is mad at them for being lazy. And guess what, many of them suffer from gluten sensitivity.
Taking out the offending antigen has neurotransmitter, hormonal and direct cytokine consequences. The antigen removal will help with the healing, but very well may reveal the covered, underlying nutritional and neurotransmitter imbalances.
I am including all the links in this note for you to see the multiple possible consequences, not forming a conclusion. A simple interview would direct the informed practitioner to the correct testing and then would guide your team to the easiest intervention strategy with the fastest turn around.
Easy supplements for the inflammation would be to add Omega 3 Fatty acids, and Probiotics may be helpful in restoring bowel integrity – they are available as a Missouri Turkey Shoot – scattershot intervention without precise parameters. But why just throw supplements when you can be precise with the new technology?
Interesting how some on both sides of the functional/traditional fence just cookie cut the intervention strategies.
-Many comments on the gluten post over the years, just thought it might be of renewed interest with the Neurotransmitter perspective.