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)… soy…corn – 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
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With thanks to Cathy Elize Flowers