Epilepsy Talk

The Mystery of Epilepsy and Celiac Disease | November 4, 2021

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 AED 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, flour (whole meal, bleached, or unbleached), bran and bran extract, bread flour, brewer’s yeast, brown flour, barley flour, pearl barley, 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, and protein.

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


Only your doctor can tell you if you have celiac disease as well as epilepsy.

Other articles of interest:

Who Has the Guts for Gluten? 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








  1. Unless you grow food yourselves, you have no idea what you are eating, even if you BUY LOCAL and what you may be getting when foods have been treated from natures diseases & insects WITH MONSANTO SPRAYS & CHEMICALS in the ground 1st, before planting & then on the foods 2nd. So HOW MANY EXCITOTOXINS are in the sprays & get on the foods in time ? So my apple trees that I have here 4 of them NEVER gets any toxic sprays on them from March to September, in the growing seasons or any time, as the harvest is the harvest & they are REAL APPLES but they’re always going to be rinsed off good from the bugs & bees that has been on them. Apple Cider Vinegar aka,, ACV & HONEY with juicy fruit gum gets those bees & other bugs going to the plastic jug I put holes in to trap & kill what would had gone to the apples. 2 jugs to a tree works best. Problem is no way you can kill all of them as they seem to reproduce 50 to 1 it seems like.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by James D — November 4, 2021 @ 10:39 AM

  2. Reblogged this on Ken's Devotions.


    Comment by Kenneth — November 4, 2021 @ 10:42 AM

  3. Wow, that’s some production rate. Nonetheless, I’d like to sample one of your apples.

    But don’t you think orchard pick-it-yourself apples (or other fruit), would be safe? Or have they been sprayed as well?


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 4, 2021 @ 10:45 AM

  4. Strangely I have epilepsy and I am gluten intolerant (near to coeliac end) and lactose intolerant. This article really made me sit up and take in your suggested link between the two.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by jorja111 — November 4, 2021 @ 10:47 AM

    • Yes, gluten intolerance is a spectrum. It’s not just celiac or non-celiac. Having an official test for celiac come back negative doesn’t mean that grains are good for you or that you wouldn’t benefit from cutting them out.
      Also, there are multiple types of gluten. Everybody knows about wheat, etc. but ALL grains contain some kind of gluten. You may have an intolerance to a different type of gluten and this can also cause the basic celiac test to be negative.
      IMO, all people with idiopathic epilepsy should try a diet completely free of sugar, caffeine, booze, grain and dairy. It’s a whole lot easier than brain surgery. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      Comment by paleobird — November 4, 2021 @ 11:31 AM

      • I steer clear of all gluten but I am OK with oats thank goodness. But many types I am not OK with. I agree with you on your suggestions especially re brain surgery! 😉

        Liked by 2 people

        Comment by jorja111 — November 4, 2021 @ 11:35 AM

  5. jorja111, that doesn’t leave you with a lot of leeway. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 4, 2021 @ 10:51 AM

  6. Yep, it continues to mystify me how people with epilepsy are willing to consider getting their heads sliced open and put up with the horrible side effects of meds but think it is just “too hard” to give up cookies and bread.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by paleobird — November 4, 2021 @ 2:56 PM

  7. And ice cream??? 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 4, 2021 @ 3:12 PM

  8. My Dr. knows I have celiac desease, so I stick to a gluten free diet! (I found out in 2003 – wondering why I felt uncomfortabe after eating a sandwich or other wheat meals). I eat Gluten Free Oats made by Bob’s Red Mill (manufactured in Oregon) and eat green peas though eat very often at a Thai restaurant because the noodles are made with rice and the sauce is good – it’s called Babylon Palace at 3rd and Taylor in downtown Portland. I lack the energy and slight concentration to cook when my energy ebbs in the evening ….so warming up gluten free noodles tastes good, there are also stir-frys and fish too.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by leonchavarria — November 15, 2021 @ 6:37 PM

  9. true , noticed had to edit certain foods .. knew something was wrong with stomach , but everyone told me nothing to be concerned about .. it was one dr , that noticed on the foods switching from regular flour to almond , rice GF , , even Almond , flour , even switching , certain oils , canola vegetable oils , to coconut oil ( organic ) even noticed certain cheeses to milks wasnt agreeing .. now on shreeding my own cheese , cant eat anything made with corn , either .. So swaped that out for organic flour tortillas no GMO ‘s .. now weight loss like crazy ,

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by Cathy Flowers — March 13, 2022 @ 11:19 AM

    • Is the weight loss a good thing?


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 13, 2022 @ 11:21 AM

    • Add to list of gluten-free foods: Buckwheat! It’s good.
      Now I wonder why a neurologist told me he thought I had celiac disease (but he didn’t explain what that is) so I didn’t find out until 2003….see comment above.
      In 1998 got a VNS because my epilepsy is hard to control. But following gluten free foods has made no difference. Dr’s don’t know what causes celiac disease.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by leonchavarria — March 13, 2022 @ 7:32 PM

    • I forgot to add I have :Almond Milk free of cow’s milk with coconut – made by Blue Diamond (brand) because I am also lactose intolerant. You can enjoy Feta Cheese (made with goat milk)…that cheese is tasty with an Avocado!

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by leonchavarria — March 13, 2022 @ 7:44 PM

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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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