Epilepsy Talk

Epilepsy and Celiac Disease | February 24, 2011

Basically, it’s a mystery. The relationship between celiac disease and epilepsy has been documented in medical journals for decades. Yet neurologists rarely consider it as an underlying possibility in cases of idiopathic epilepsy.

It never ceases to amaze me what an impact celiac disease can have on one’s life and quality of life, but there is no routine testing for it. Yet, I‘ve been told (and have read) that very few people with epilepsy are told of the possibility of celiac disease!

In all fairness, while greater attention is needed to examine the possible coexistence of celiac disease in people with epilepsy, a systematic screening for celiac disease in all patients seems to be, at the present time, neither practical nor cost-effective. However, it seems reasonable to screen at least all patients with complex partial seizures, especially when associated with resistance to drug therapy.

Because, celiac disease is closely related to various neurological disorders, with a higher incidence of epilepsy. And in one study, epilepsy was observed in 5.5% of all cases of celiac disease.

Celiac disease is a matter of poor absorption and can cause wide-ranging nutritional deficiency. All body systems — including the brain and nervous system — can ultimately be affected from this disease through either a direct immunological attack/response to gluten (found in wheat, barley, rye and oats) or through vitamin deficiencies associated with malabsorption.

Seizures seen in association with celiac disease are frequently difficult to control and, at least in some cases, this is due to poor AEDs absorption. Epilepsy occurs twenty times more often in persons with celiac disease than those in the general population. Calcium deposits form in the brain because of a deficiency of folic acid.

People affected by celiac disease are short of folic acid, vitamin B-6, which causes most of the symptoms of the condition so it has to be supplemented with the active form (bio available) of vitamin B-6. Multivitamins will cover the body’s demands for A, D and E vitamins. Be sure to read the bottle’s label to insure all of these necessary supplements are included.

Although there is currently no cure, celiac disease in most cases, can be successfully treated by adhering to a gluten-free diet.

Here is a partial line-up of the forbidden foods:

Gluten is commonly derived from wheat and grains…casein — protein found in cow milk (and most dairy products)… soycorn – including corn syrup and corn derivative products…MSG (mono-sodium glutamate) – a very common food ingredient in processed foods even though it is rarely clearly labeled as such…aspartame – commonly used as a sugar substitute…glutamate – found in high concentrations in most beans/legumes…and hydrogenated oils.

And here’s a more detailed list:

Barley, beer (most contain barley or wheat)…flour — whole meal, bleached, or unbleached — bran and bran extract…bread flour…brewer’s yeast…brown flour…barley flour…pearl barley…bulgur (bulgar wheat/nuts)…cereal…cookies, dough and even crums!

Couscous…rice…edible starch…flour — wheat, enriched, graham or bleached…farina …wheat protein…soy sauce…malt — milk, extract, syrup, flavoring, vinegar — matzah…orzo pasta…roux…rusk…rye…semolina, spirits (specific types)…sprouted wheat or barley tabouli…teriyaki sauce…udon (wheat noodles).  Wheat — bulgur, wheat germ oil, wheat grass (can contain seeds), nuts, protein.

A word of advice. If you’ve never tried a gluten diet, be kind to yourself and eliminate them one-by-one, or by food groups.

AND DO NOT STOP TAKING PRESCRIBED MEDICATIONS TO FOLLOW A GLUTEN FREE DIET!!! Only your doctor can tell you if you have celiac disease as well as epilepsy.

Other articles of interest:

What really causes celiac disease? http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/24/opinion/sunday/what-really-causes-celiac-disease.html?_r=0

Gluten Goodbye: One-Third Of Americans Say They’re Trying To Shun It  http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/03/09/173840841/gluten-goodbye-one-third-of-americans-say-theyre-trying-to-shun-it?ft=1&f=1001

A Gluten Mystery  http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/08/08/think-like-a-doctor-losing-it-solved/?emc=edit_hh_20140812&nl=health&nlid=27745593&ref=healthupdate

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With thanks to Cathy Elize Flowers












  1. […] at https://epilepsytalk.com/2011/02/24/epilepsy-and-celiac-disease/ Share this:EmailPrint Pin ItLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. Categories: Epilepsy […]


    Pingback by Epilepsy and Celiac Disease « EpilepsyConnection — August 25, 2012 @ 6:17 PM

  2. Can “Gluten-Free” Food Be Trusted?



    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — September 2, 2012 @ 1:12 PM

  3. My condition is intractable epilepsy for ten years since 2004 though reduced number since lamictyl drug in 2012 and diagnosed celiac disease since 1969. Any thoughts?


    Comment by Sarah — August 16, 2014 @ 3:18 PM

  4. Lamictal is my friend. Never any side-effects, except in the beginning, it made me crazy hyper, so I split my dose between morning and 5:00 PM.

    Unfortunately my enemy is meat. I haven’t been able to eat beef, lamb, pork, veal in 40 years! 😦

    Personally, I don’t THINK (but I’m no doc) that either the gluten or meat allergies brought on the seizures.

    Your celiac intolerance and my meat allergies came on BEFORE the epilepsy.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — August 16, 2014 @ 5:19 PM

  5. […] it, Celiac affects the way the body absorbs or reacts to medications. In addition, untreated Celiac can cause seizures. I noticed that I had a reduction in a certain type of seizure once I started treating the Celiac. […]


    Pingback by Fear and Loathing in the Seizure Cycle | Health For Everyone — November 4, 2015 @ 9:26 AM

  6. I have TSC, known as tuberous scerlosis complex. CELIAC and TSC have a lot in common


    Comment by Terri Barlow — March 17, 2016 @ 1:38 PM

  7. I’m sorry to hear that, but yes, you’re right.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 17, 2016 @ 3:38 PM

  8. this celiac disease, your talking about that I read, is to go on gullen free diet. other that I don,t understand what it is.


    Comment by michele metzger — May 26, 2016 @ 2:45 PM

  9. Correct. For those who have a gluten sensitivity, a gluten free diet is recommended.

    Especially when associated with resistance to drug therapy or reactions like bloating, stomach pain.

    If you’ve never tried a gluten diet, be kind to yourself and eliminate them one-by-one, or by food groups.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 26, 2016 @ 4:19 PM

  10. THERE IS A PERMANENT CURE TO EPILEPSY: My teenage son started having complex partial and simple partial seizures – he was having many a day. Our son’s seizure is constant throughout the day according to EEG results. There are an estimated 60,000 children under 18 with epilepsy here in my state. We had tried all the usual medications on our son- nothing worked. Many of them made them worse. We just discover an herbal medicine that can cure Epilepsy. Our son has been completely cure of Epilepsy after 7months of treatment. The medicine is also cost effective. Don’t ever give up his medicine a permanent solution to seizure. For more info Contact the Dr. Joseph on facebook (https://web.facebook.com/Permanent-CURE-to-Epilepsy-646916698795225/?fref=ts) or Email: drjosephbryan@gmail.com


    Comment by Lucas Taylor — July 18, 2016 @ 1:50 AM

  11. Lucas, while I believe there are ways to help, halt and remediate seizures, I doubt the ability to erase them forever.

    I’m glad to hear of your success with your son. And I hope he continues to be seizure free. But again, I don’t believe in a permanent cure.

    I do believe in alternatives, herbal, complementary medicine and other methods.

    And I thank you for your recommendation.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — July 18, 2016 @ 10:28 AM

  12. How my son survived epilepsy.
    My son at the age of 13 suffered from terrible seizures as a result of the terrible condition called epilepsy according to EEG results and this was very humiliating and life threatening because he was continuously on life support drugs and medicines but none seemed to cure all they did was revive him and the seizure kept coming to him this lasted for 8 more years. The last time he had seizure in may last year i was called where i worked that my son had a terrible seizure, he was also revived from that but that day i wept. I was fortunate enough to explain my ordeal to a friend who invited Dr. Joseph who came and started treating my son with his medicine at our house for two months and in 3 months the seizure never happened again they were gone and even up till now he is very fine without any epileptic symptoms. Today he is 22 and i believe he has been cured. I think Epilepsy has a cure simply try to reach the doctor on (josephalberteo@gmail.com) for more information about his treatment process or how to get his medicine. Do not give up on yourself, i hope my son’s story motivates you.


    Comment by McAllister Craig — October 11, 2016 @ 7:02 AM

  13. Thank you very much for sharing your compelling story. I hope it can help someone like your son.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 11, 2016 @ 10:00 AM

  14. What about wheat gluten sensitivity (or intolerance)? Can that be a problem for a person with seizure history, even if there are no classic symptoms of Celiac disease?


    Comment by Martha — August 27, 2017 @ 9:52 AM

  15. Thanks so much for sharing this helpful information. I learn something new with every post.


    Comment by megambon2164 — February 25, 2018 @ 12:00 PM

  16. I thought I had Celiac’s. I bloated up every time I ate gluten. Then I tried probiotics and organic food. After years of torment, my gluten intolerance is history.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Michelle — November 12, 2019 @ 9:30 AM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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