This is your brain on wheat

There is so much more to wheat’s effects than gluten intolerance. Among the most darkly fascinating (and creepy) are the effects of wheat on the human brain.

Wheat’s effects can show up as difficulty concentrating or behavioral outbursts in a child, anxiety, rage, mania, and depression. It can lead to treating the effects of a bran muffin or chocolate chip cookie with psychoactive drugs, psychotherapy, counseling, even institutionalization. Wheat can disrupt families, relationships, marriages, careers.

A reader, Alysha, posted this telling comment in this blog, a graphic illustration of wheat-induced emotional struggles until she figured out the source: wheat.

Wheat had always been a staple of my diet. Fresh baked bread from the oven is a fond childhood memory of mine. As I got older and the weight started to add on… I tried various diets as is standard for most women. My doctor recommended “The South Beach Diet.” For the first time in my life… I went 6 weeks without any processed food and NO WHEAT. I could believe how much better I felt. Like a fog I never knew existed had been lifted. More energy, upbeat and a general feeling of clear headedness was an amazing reward for a few weeks on a diet. I had horrid dreams though… about the perfect turkey sandwich with the stuffing crammed into the white bread and smothered in gravy. I could almost taste it. But I fought off the cravings.

Then I decided to reward myself for my hard work. I had a sandwich. Within 24 hours I was screaming at my husband because he had phrased a sentence the “wrong way.” I was livid at him. It took a few months of playing with my diet to discover it was wheat that was causing the reaction. I’d feel euphoric for about an hour and then… crash and burn. The longer I live without wheat in my system the harder I crash when I am “dosed” with it. I have found myself wanting to commit suicide because life was too horrid to continue on after some mustard containing wheat was spread on one corn tortilla wrap. I have picked up furniture and tried to throw it through a picture window because I could not find my white bra after having a meatball containing wheat.

My friends don’t really believe that these reactions are… un-exaggerated. Until a recent camping event in which some pasta was mixed in with a rice dish. I vomited out lunch as soon as it was discovered… and then got very very drunk in order to make it easier for my husband to deal with freak-out that we both knew was coming. Within a 4 hour period, I went from being happy and easy going to a full blown panic attack and being unable to breath because I had been crying and screaming so much that my nostrils had sealed themselves shut. I spent 4 days craving pizza so bad I couldn’t leave the house without supervision. Now they won’t feed me anything without checking the packaging 3 times over.

Wheat f—s with my head to such a degree I can not ingest any into my blood stream. I am an extreme case of the symptoms you describe. Minus the few notable accidental wheat dosages above I have been living wheat free for over 5 years. While I am wheat free, my moods are fairly level and any emotional spikes can be traced to an actual cause. While I was living with wheat as a constant in my diet, I would flare up in anger over slight provocations. I would be depressed without reason and just start crying. My mother (who refuses to be wheat free) has the same issues. She won’t give up wheat even with me proving how much my life improved.

The next time a friend of mine doubts that anyone could possible react in such an extreme measure to a food product… I’ll be pointing them at your book. I haven’t read it yet, as I just discovered this tonight… but I will be reading it. Thank you for giving me some science to hand to my friends to prove that I’m not crazy… I’m a recovering drug addict.

 

Like This Post? Sign Up For Updates — It’s FREE!

Plus receive my special report Life After Wheat, 5 Essential Steps to Take After You Remove Wheat and delicious Wheat Belly recipes!

Comments & Feedback...

  1. Evelyn

    What a story! I think that perhaps there are a lot of people out there with similar scenarios. I discovered my celiac 9 years ago, but would cheat on occasion. I remember the gluten euphoria you talk about Alysha, but then the dreams that night would be something like what I imagine a heroine addict experiences with every shot. It took getting violently ill after purposeful gluten ingestion to put a complete stop to my forays into that dark world, and there’s no going back. I do think though that it takes more than just a few weeks or months for the brain to heal totally.
    Thanks for your story Alysha; maybe it will help some who are living on the fence between insanity and good health.

  2. Here’s a psychological highlight, which I think plays into the more creepy effects of wheat:

    During this past year, (coincidentally, when I’ve been at the top of my wheat addiction) I have had a dark fascination with crossing the yellow line into oncoming highway traffic, most often when I saw 18-wheelers coming my way. I got to the point where I had to look away from the yellow line as I drove. I have never told anyone about this stuff.

    Yesterday, at three weeks off wheat, I never even noticed the fascination on the way to Walmart, but on the way back I noticed its absence. This morning I shared this issue with my wife, and we agreed that it has to be wheat-related.

    Click my name for our surprising Walmart observations.

    • That’s really, really creepy, James. I’m glad you’re over it and safe.

      Suicidal thoughts . . . that’s a new one. Wow. That really poses some serious questions, doesn’t it?

      • Erik

        I had a very similar experience to what James posted.
        How can Wheat mess with your brain to such a degree that you think “Might as well slam myself into that truck, then it’s over” ? I had that going on for nearly a year, after we moved over to France where life is based on Wheat, 24/7.

        I have been WF for two months, and it has been absolutely life-changing. All these crazy thoughts have disappeared. I guess some scientists should start looking into this. It’s scary.

        • Dr. Davis

          Yes, scary, indeed.

          There is no other way to say it, but wheat is a mind-active drug with effects that depend on your susceptibility, including suicidal thoughts, food obsessions, or just “fog.” And you and I are told to eat more of it by our own government agencies.

          • Erik

            Dr Davis,
            I wanted to ask a question in this context.
            During that period of daily and heavy wheat consumption which I mentioned, my fiancee had two episodes of “epileptic seizures” which ended her up in hospital both times. She had never had any of that in all her life. They did all the tests, including hi-tech EEGs, RMI scans etc. Then they told her,
            “As far as we can see, you are not epileptic at all.”

            So now with all the new information coming together, I am really beginning to wonder. Have you ever heard of any connection between wheat and “epileptic” episodes?

          • Boundless

            > … connection between wheat and “epileptic” episodes?

            Ketogenic diet has been a known and used therapy for epilepsy since the 1920s, although the drug industry wants you to try their way first. A quick search suggests that the carb target for theraputic nutritional ketosis (NK) is 15 grams or less per day, which is about 1/4 the WB recommendation. With a carb intake that low, even if it were entirely wheat, it wouldn’t be much, but I’m wondering if they have to go that low because they aren’t paying close attention to the types of carbs consumed.

            Is there a connection between carbs and epilepsy? Yes.

            Is wheat, super-villain of the carbs, a particularly malicious actor in this relationship? I don’t know. It wouldn’t surprise me.

            The sites that speak on NK for epilepsy are often loaded with low carb mythology. Supposed hazards include:
            Kidney stones
            High cholesterol levels in the blood
            Dehydration
            Constipation
            Slowed growth or weight gain
            Bone fractures
            They need a better cook book. I know where to find one.

  3. Iris

    Isn’t this just too scary sad! I’ve seen and experienced personally a whole range of emotional derailments resulting from wheat ingestion (right along with some pretty awful physical symptoms). Actually, the second time I was given wheat accidentally, I found that by consuming lots of water and continually purging, I got off pretty lightly as far as reactions, especially compared to the first time which was a total nightmare! This also marked the end of the time I would eat out for pleasure (even if the place claims gluten free menus). I have been wheat free for 10 years (and grain free for several months) and all I can say regarding people who won’t at least try giving it up for a while, maybe they just aren’t sick enough yet. Personally, once the problem was finally identified, I had no problem deciding whether I’d prefer spending more time in the kitchen or in the bathroom.

  4. Jondy

    That sounds absolutely awful! I don’t have those issues – but am going wheat free and am feeling better in general.

    My question is for my 6 yr old adhd kid. He can’t tell me what’s going on in his brain. He’s socially delayed – but the sweetest kid you ever came across, always smiling, never a tantrum. But he can’t focus worth beans, and he’s in constant motion.

    Here is my question – I’m willing to try wheat free for him. But he does love bread and crackers and he isn’t going to understand me taking them away – and he has a pretty limited range of what he’ll eat anyway. So, I know that the idea is to go grain free… but is wheat free enough for my adhd kid?

    That was sort of a ramble….

    • Iris

      A couple of cookbook recommendations that have a lot of kid friendly ideas, menus and recipes:
      Eat Well Feel Well by Kendall Conrad and Everyday grain-free gourmet by Bager and Lass. Both of these do use honey which I find I can leave out without problems. That’s a different call from going grain free. Great pancake, crepe, muffin, etc., recipes as well as great menu suggestions. Also, you might want to check out http://www.elanaspantry.com/tag/coconut-flour/ for a variety of coconut flour recipes. I think the cracker recipe on that link is the best ever although I use coconut oil instead of shortening. What we find at out house is that things work the best if only one set of meals can satisfy everyone. Also, if you still have wheat in the house, cross contamination is so hard to avoid. I have seen adhd helped in a major way in my own family by going grain free. Best of luck.

      • Jondy

        Thanks Iris.
        I won’t be able to go completely grain free at my house – there is no way I will get my hubby on board with this. He’ll be fine with our son – but not for him.
        It’s like the farmer trying to teach the pig to sing – it will only annoy the pig and frustrate the farmer. :)

        • Linda Jones

          Jondy, do it anyway.

          Come and join the newly created Wheat Free for Life facebook page that Jennifer Holden-Johnston created. We’re starting to share recipes. She feeds a family that’s not wheat free but they love these recipes and eat them willingly. In my household I have a mixture too of wheat eaters and not – but they all love my newly discovered coconut flour muffins!

          Find some recipes your son will eat and start to depend on, make them regularly, hubby will join in if the food is good.

          Good Luck!
          (here’s the yummy blueberry muffin recipe – I add 1 tablespoon of honey and use coconut oil for the butter in the recipe)
          http://www.cheeseslave.com/2008/10/08/coconut-flour-blueberry-muffins/

        • Hey working through these issues at my house too! Like several people who visit this blog, I have a blog, Life After Bread, sharing recipes and chronicling the challenges of learning to eat wheat-free. Please start visiting some of the blogs in this electronic wheat free underground we’re creating. My blog is very young; I am learning so much from bloggers such as Simply Gluten Free who’ve been blogging about this topic for years. You’ll find a group of bloggers who match your personality and style of eating and who’ll help you at least take baby steps in the right direction. The computer really does give us multiple resources. I was really skeptical. In three weeks, I’ve noticed multiple positive changes in my health.

    • Katie

      Raw trail mix! I use 1/2 ounce of each pecans, walnuts, and almonds, and 1 serving of dark chocolate chips (15 grams or 1 tbsp). You can even weigh them out ahead of time and put it in snack baggies. I keep one in my purse, just in case.

    • AllisonK

      Our 5yr old son was diagnosed autistic last year. It’s a bit different than ADHD, but also very similar in many ways. We first noticed anytime he had sweet treats he’d go crazy for the rest of the day, so we dropped those. Then as part of investigation into my own issues we dropped grains and essentially went low carb and grain free. Right away we noticed my son did better in preschool, behaved better and now we’re actually having conversations with him.
      At first he always wanted bread and macaroni, but after awhile of simply saying “we don’t have any” or “we’re out” and “forgetting” to buy it at the grocery store, we don’t even hear about it anymore.
      We also “forgot” to buy milk at the store. Milk does have 10 grams of carbohydrate per glass, and when we had milk he’d want nothing but until it was gone, and after cutting grains, it wasn’t long before we noticed the milk/behavior connection. We cut that down to 1 cup a day and are considering cutting it out altogether.
      Now, anytime he has a pancake or cookies, we notice his attitude and energy change right away. Before, he used to run around all upset and couldn’t seem to stop himself and to try and get him to sit down and concentrate on anything at all, or even just sit down, was impossible. Now, without grains and sugar he runs around happily because he’s an energetic 5yr old and wants to and can settle himself down when he needs to(suppertime for example).
      I hope my experience can offer some insight about what to do about your sons love of crackers etc. It was probably only a couple weeks of frustration in our case and he was over his addiction and doesn’t even care anymore about them.

      • AllisonK

        I just noticed you said your husband isn’t on board……not sure what to do in that case. In my case, my husband eats that stuff outside of the home when he’s not with our son, so it was easy to get rid of the items in the house. The stress reduction in our household, and the improved relationship with our son is worth so much more than having those snacks and foods always at hand. I hope you can get him on board.

  5. Brandon

    In other news, if someone tells Michele Bachmann that a vaccine causes retardation, it’s definitely true.

    What’s the point of relaying implausible anecdotes?

    • Brandon is like Bob; plausibility is based on HIS knowledge, and anything that challenges his status quo is rejected. That’s okay. Keep coming back, Brandon. Keep reading the “implausible anecdotes.” When they reach a tipping point in your mind, I’m sure us wheat-less ones will welcome your epiphany.

      • PJ

        Brandon, Bob, and on the Fat Head blog, David . . . as Tom Naughton calls them, TROLLS. There’s no reasoning with them. They defend their ridiculous comments by saying they have the right to ask questions and offer their opinions, and yet, don’t take a hint when advised to read a book or research a subject before they continue to make idiots of themselves.
        Brandon, Bob . . . please do the reasearch and read the book. Unless, of course, you guys are paid by the USDA, Grain Foundation, or the FDA to troll blogs and leave antagonistic, inane, idiotic comments, then you are definitely earning your wage.

    • Brett

      Brandon does have a point, anecdotes are the resort of those with no clinical evidence like anti vaccination people, Alkaline dieters and ionised water drinkers.

      This no wheat thing may be true, Brandon may in fact be a troll, but his point is still a very valid one and being indignant towards it is to be just as bad and a troll yourself.

  6. Dr. Davis,

    I totally changed the focus and look of my blog. It’s now “Wheat-Free Wanderer: The Journey Away From The Amber Waves Of Death” (The URL is the same)

    I’ll be writing exclusively from our Wheat Belly experiences going forward. This is too important an epiphany not to blog about it all the time.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

    • That’s great, James.

      Please keep us posted on your conversations. I’ve found your gift for storytelling compelling and interesting. Your wheat-free experience has been fascinating!

  7. Antony

    Wow, what a story….but must admit I’ve suffered from mood swings and depression all my life and we’ve had bread since we were tots. Not too mention all the pasta and pizza over the years. So only recently cottoned on the whole “gluten / wheat / grain” connection. Went off it for a while and felt “reborn” for a bit after detoxing, but unfortunately old habits die hard and have ingested wheat on the odd occasion since then and felt like “crap” for a few days after. Problem here in South Africa, the wheat / gluten alternative flours are SOOOO cost prohibitive, you really have to be super wealthy to enjoy gluten free treats. So we’re basically just sticking to good meats, veggies, fruits and nuts and seeds – basically Paleo. Have your book on our local online bookstore’s wishlist and will get it as soon as I have some spare cash. Proud to say have lost my “wheat belly” (am 40 now and my stomach hasn’t been this flat since my twenties) and it really was effortless, just stopped the wheat. Just sorry I never took any before photos for your “Success Stories”. Anyway keep up the good work. Greetings from South Africa.

      • Jondy

        That’s good to hear you say that we’re better off without the alternative flours – I thought they were too expensive, too :(

    • AllisonK

      Antony, I thought it was hard at first too, but eventually we gave up trying to find alternatives. Especially after I realized that I only really liked them for the buzz anyways. My taste buds told me they were almost the same in flavor, but somehow they just weren’t appealing anymore.
      Now, we eat like we always have for the most part with one difference. Stir fries aren’t sitting on a bed of noodles. Pasta sauce with meat isn’t sitting on a bed of spaghetti. Eggs aren’t on toast….etc.

      • Patti

        To AllisonK

        What is your meat sauce sitting on? We love pasta and I think it’s going to be tricky to give it up. Any suggestions?

  8. christy kennedy

    Though to a lesser degree, we’ve experienced this in our family. Mood swings, outbursts, irritability, impatience, anxiety and panic attacks, nightmares, learning disabilities . . . counseling, medication, reading, searching, trying one thing after another . . . and we’re all so SO much better now that we’re off gluten. Two of us are totally grain free and the rest are gluten free. I’ve noticed additional improvement after cutting out rice (and every other grain) just since August of this year.

  9. Jenn

    It’s a blessed thing when you realize that a) you aren’t crazy, and b) you aren’t alone. I don’t react quite as dramatically, but it’s close! Major mood swings, crazy feelings, intensity of mood that I can’t control, anger I can’t alleviate. Yeah, it’s good to be wheat free, and not crazy!!

  10. Suzan

    I haven’t eaten wheat in over 2 years. The combination of wheat and sugar made me exhausted, depressed and brain-fogged. I had terrible acid reflux for years. Since giving up wheat and other gluten grains, symptoms are gone.

  11. Yeah – stupidly had pizza on Sunday. Wednesday today and still feeling foggy and lacking in motivation to get off my backside. It really wasn’t worth it.

  12. Shelley

    Has anyone else had trouble with wonky blood sugar after giving up wheat/grains? I’ve been wheatless for 8 days, had about 3 days of what I believe to be wheat withdrawls, and now my blood sugar swings all over the place. I am still on the 90 – 120 min hunger cycle but additionally I am not completely satisfied by my meals. Also, my fasting blood glucose has gone up. I have not replaced the wheat with high glycemic index foods but mostly with veggies and meats. Is it possible I’m too low carb? – Shelley

    • Hi, Shelley–

      This is actually very common when you are in the process of losing weight.

      The triglycerides and fatty acids being mobilized from your visceral fat flood the bloodstream, which leads to a temporary state of impaired insulin response which, in turn, increases blood sugar.

      This will subside once weight loss subsides.

  13. Dr. Davis, I have read your book and I am implementing wheatlessness as well as some new recipes with cocounut flour. The problem I am having is that I feel guilty for eating eggs, cheese, nuts, meats, butter and/or coconut oil et al because it goes against what I have come to believe is healthy. Is there any way of not worrying about the cheeses, eggs and butter aspects of this lifestyle change? It seems to good to be true?

    • Hi, Lory–

      Ideally, you would have metabolic markers drawn pre- and post.

      In other words, obtain measures like blood glucose, HbA1c, and lipoproteins that show small LDL, HDL, triglycerides, VLDL, etc. This would show you the substantial transformation that develops.

      • Thank you Dr. My husband and I are both losing weight and experimenting with recipes at this point. We are noticing changes in our moods, appetite and overall aches and pains are ceasing. Interesting, my husband was diagnosed with chronic idiopathic nuetropenia in 2006 which results in ulcers in his mouth and unbearable itchiness on his arms of which both symptons have now completely ceased with the elimation of wheat and refined sugars. It will be interesting to see what his nuetrophil count will be at his next doctor visit. Thank you, you have changed and added health back into our lives. Hugs.

  14. Nicole

    Thanks for sharing this, Alysha. I’m starting to wonder if my mother’s onset diabetes and dementia have something to do with wheat. Since her late 40s my mother developed Type ll diabetes and started having manic episodes. She was diagnosed as being manic-depressive, and now in later life she has dementia. Looking back on what my mother ate, I’d say she was a carb/wheat addict. She was always eating whole grain cereal and sandwiches. In searching the Internet I also came across a story of a 15 year old girl who was diagnosed as being manic-depressive because of wheat. Since being off of wheat this girl has no longer had any mania. There is definitely something wrong with modern day wheat. I’m so grateful that Dr. Davis wrote this book in getting the “evils of wheat” message out there!

    • Wow, Nicole: It sure sounds like it.

      This is what I find most bothersome: All the lives that have been, and still are, being disrupted by this thing in dramatic ways–but it’s only beginning to be suspected now.

  15. Derek

    A little over three years ago at the age of 37 I began having panic attacks. The first one I felt as if my heart was racing and I got extremely dizzy. I felt I was going to be sick and felt a strange sensation run over me along with being both sweaty and cold. My wife was convinced that I was having a heart attack and as she was calling paramedics I passed out briefly. Sandwiches, cereal, and pizza were a frequent part of my diet. I was a little overweight at the time at 207 lbs. The paramedics said that it was not a heart attack. Over the next couple of weeks the episode repeated itself several times and I went to the emeercency room once. I saw my doctor and eventually a cardiologist. Both said my heart was fine but my doctor did prescribe me anti anxiety medication which I got but never took. I was very frustrated and really didn’t want to live if this was what life was going to be like. The fact that I have two beautiful sons, one who was five at the time and the other only a month old, was what kept me in the ballgame. I had been seeing a wonderful chiropractor at the time for a back issue. She sugested that I may have a thyroid issue and the reason for the thyroid issue could be wheat related. I was willing to try anything as long as I didn’t have to take medicine. I cut out all wheat from my diet. Even beer which I dearly loved. The attacks got fewer and less severe. Within 6 months they were gone. I felt great! And I had lost 45 lbs as a great “side effect’.
    I wish that were the end of the story. However a year ago I began introdcing wheat into my diet again. Not sure why but I did. I gained about 10 lbs back but figured oh well, I was too skinny anyways. Then last night it happened. Out of no where another panic atttack. The first one in over two years. I have no doubt that wheat is the cuprit and began to be wheat free again today.

    • Live and learn, Derek!

      Now, if only your doctors would learn, too. The anxiety/panic effect of wheat is very interesting. I can only speculate why it does this in lots of people.

  16. Eliza

    My husband was tested and found to be allergic to wheat, peanuts and soy. So he went on (basically) the Atkins diet. No grains at all. His personality changed. After about a month the horrible signs of neuroglycopenia (Google it) that he had for years are gone. It apparently was his blood sugar dipping in response to a bad diet (lots of carbs) and stress.

  17. Meme

    What an interesting site!, I am not crazy after all, the wheat can be the culprit. I had no wheat, or very little due to a lot of work done in my mouth that prevented me from chewing, so for almost 9 months I had only fruits, vegetables and either fish or chicken purée and mixed with the veggies. As a consequence lost 10 lbs, that I had no intention to loose, but were welcome of course . I have stated eating “normal” again ,and I feel horrible, I gained weight my belly is bloated , and I have the weirdest mood swings!. I am buying the book, I need to learn how to feel healthy again. How can I get the newsletter?

  18. Magellan

    Dr. Davis:
    I don’t know where to start. End of January 2005, I had the flu. Then on Feb. 7, I started having headaches on a daily basis that varied from 2 to 9 in severity, every day. The only refief I had was during sleep. Symptoms mimiced optic neuritis, but with no optic nerve damage. MRI, blood, spinal tap, X-Ray, eye tests of all sorts, all negative. After three years went to the Thomas Jefferson Hosp. Headache Center, in Philadelphia. I was told that I had was are call New Daily Persistant Headaches. I was told that as a result of the flu, something was triggered in my brain from a concussion I received when I was 13 years old. I am taking Lisinopril and Zonegran that have reduced the severity of the headaches.
    However, during the 3 years before I was diagnosed, I developed Sleep Alnea. My weight went up to the mid 200s. Type 2 Diabetes, controlled with Metformin and Ongliza, Fibromyalgia and Restless Leg Syndrome, Peripherial Neuropathy, GERD. Taking Gabapentin, Cymbalta, Nexium and I just don’t know what else. All this and more since 2005. I was also severly Vitamin D 3 deficient and am taking 10K units a day. That helped to make a big difference. But, I still felt run down, anxious and very sore. But I was able to start attending graduate school.
    I have a history of alcohol abuse, but have been sober for more than 20 years. My liver enzymes were always slightly elevated and I had a fatty liver and a slightly enlarged spleen.
    Finally, in August 2011, I just decided on my own I decided to lose weight. I ate everything I usualyy did, just less. As of January 2012, I was down to 215 lbs. from 260 lbs.
    Taken off Onglyza.
    I saw my Gastroenterologist for routine blood work and was told my platelet level was slightly low and amonia level elevated. Since then:
    Platelets are still low: Between 121,000 and 89,000
    However, My liver is no longer fatty and ALL liver tests are now normal.
    Spleen no longer enlarged.
    Two Ultrasounds and 1 CAT Scan of abdomen normal.
    I am now 205 lbs.
    HOWEVER, and this is my big concern, I have been exhibiting symptoms of Encepathalopothy (?) and my Gastoentrologist has been treating me with Lactulose, 1/8 cup twice a day. As well as a 10 day course of Xifaxan. The sympoms have improved, but I am still in a brain fog, confused and at times have a hard time finding the proper wor I am looking for, I have difficulty concentrating, feeling more fatigued than usual, depressed, anxious and impatient. I have not been able to function at work or at school. My headaches are a lot worse also. My Gastro says my liver is not the problem.
    My wife to me about Gluten Encepathalopothy (?) from your book and when I read it, I thought it was about me. My local Neurologist says Encepathalopothy(?) can be diagnosed with an EEG, and I have one scheduled in 2 weeks. I am still eating wheat and wheat products in the hopes of a positive diagnosis. Would I be better of with an MRI? Is this MRI of a particular type? Does the radiologist have to have specific training to see damage to the white matter from gluten?
    I know this is a lot of information and a lot to ask. Please help.

  19. Joe Figueiredo

    Dr. Davis:
    Without going into my extensive history since January of this year [or even back to 2005] , I may be suffering from Gulten Encephalopathy. I have been exhibiting many of the symptoms since January; lethargy, confusion, severe headaches, inability to find the right word at times and depression. I have been diagnosed with Thrombocytopenia, with Platelets varying between 85,000 and 125,000. Liver, kidney and spleen tests are all normal, blood, ammonia, enzymes, 2 Ultrasounds and a CAT Scan of abdomen, normal.

    Taking Lactulose at 1/8 cup 2 times a day has improved symptoms somewhat. Also took a 10 day course of Xifaxan. Just drew blood today again for Hepatic panel, ammonia, transglutamase, HLA DQ2 and HLA DQ8.

    Neurologist says Encephalopathy can be diagnosed with EEG which I have scheduled for the 17th of January.

    Would the MRI you discuss in your book be a better diagnostic tool. Is this of a specific type of MRI or does it take specific training to read the white matter? I understand you cannot diagnose. I am looking for your informed recommendation.

    The mental confusion I am going through is almost overwhelming. I cannot function at work or complete my graduate coursework.

    I need some direction. Thank you.

    Joe Figueiredo

    • Dr. Davis

      The first step is to eliminate every trace of wheat from your diet, Joe. You don’t need any test to confirm. You could literally wait months, even years, for a final answer.

      Drawback: The effect may require many months to recede, if it is indeed due to wheat.

      Please update us on your progress.

  20. LCT Cathy

    While I have read Wheat Belly, I didn’t know about this blog until recently and am catching up on posts. This particular entry really resonated with me. In 2003 I went on Atkins and completely eliminated all wheat based products from my diet – within 8 months, I had lost 100lbs. Bread was always an addiction for me and I ate full on loaves of white bread as a kid, no kidding.

    So after 8 months on Atkins my Husband and I went to a friends house and they made a kind of Kabob out of ground beef. We’d made this many times so I didn’t think anything of it until about 10 minutes into dinner and all of the sudden I was overcome with frustration, anger and the inability to get full. I ate more Kabob and it suddenly occurred to me that there was something up. I gingerly asked the hostess what was in it… remember, I had made this many times but something was off here and I didn’t want to make her feel bad. Anyway, she filled me in that her “secret” ingredient was to grind the meat herself AND add half a loaf of WONDER BREAD to the mixture. It was then that I really understood what this toxic stuff did to me and never knowingly ingest any wheat products.

    I tell people about this situation and they think I’m off my rocker, seriously. I thought that I was odd or the only person that this has happened to and was actually glad to read this post; apparently, I’m not crazy :D

    • Dr. Davis

      No, Cathy, you are most definitely not crazy!

      I would argue that you are a VICTIM of a system that encourages such things. . . for profit! So be aware of these dangers and rid your life of them.

  21. Nancy

    As of today, I have been wheat-free for 12 weeks. I feel incredible – energetic, no more brain fog, have lost 14 pounds. Today, the staff where I worked seemed “off”. About two hours after the work day began I learned that donuts had been brought in. They didn’t tell me because they know I don’t eat them. They always give me that “I’m so sorry” look. It was interesting to see the effects the sugar and bread had on each of them. It was as if each of them were in a fog; unable to accurately do their jobs and they seemed irritable. I think about how I too was affected this way all the years I ate everytime donuts and cake were available in the office. I am thankful to have found Wheatbelly and I don’t plan on ever going back.

    • Dr. Davis

      Wow, interesting to observe the fish from the outside of the tank, Nancy!

      Scary stuff, isn’t it, once you understand?

      • Nancy

        Definitely. I struggle with not sounding like an elitist when it comes to food, but I want to share with people what I am experiencing. (I have a Paleo friend that gets on everyone’s nerves :) Several friends have noticed my weight loss and asked what I am doing. That has allowed me to share what I have learned via your book. One friend let me know yesterday she is down a couple of pounds after only 4 days of eliminating wheat. I am enjoying hearing and seeing others’ success. Thanks again!

  22. Sandy Saulters

    Dr. Davis, thank you so much for your books! Here is my story, 4 and 1/2 years ago I had ovarian cancer. I have been healed from it and so very grateful! 2 and 1/2 years ago I had a heart attack, which I feel came because of the chemo, but I also had gained a lot of weight. I was put on a lot of drugs which I have never like drugs. This whole heart attack problem ended up as a blessing in disguise. I started exercising since then, I lift weights, and do cardio, and it also led me to a new cardiologist, who took me off of wheat! He took me off all my meds, and put me on a “Caveman” diet. I started to read all the books I could find on the Paleo diet, and wheat free diets. I now use my Paleo cookbooks and your cookbook daily. with your cookbook my husband and I use cheese, which I like. Also I still eliminate corn, beans, all grains, sugars and rice. I never used any of the gluten free products because my doctor told me they were not good. I am writing this in the brain effects column because it just dawned on me that after my chemo I told my doctor that my memory was very bad, and I couldn’t come up with the words that I wanted to say most all the time. He said maybe I needed to have a brain scan, which I thought was uncalled for and thought it was just the chemo. But I now remember I had this years before the chemo. Now that I am wheat free I don’t have these problems anymore. My husband had brain fog very badly and now he is much better along with his acid reflux. He is also losing his wheat belly. I have a lot more stamina lifting weights at the gym. I did have withdrawals when I first eliminated the wheat, no energy was my biggest problem. I did go off of the Caveman diet for about 6 weeks, during a vacation, and I seemed to gain my belly back right away! Even though I was still exercising! So I went back on it, then I found your two books, and my husband has joined me and we are both very happy and healthy! Thanks again!

  23. Erik

    My mom is now 85 and in the last, terminal stage of Alzheimer’s disease.
    So here’s what happened and I am sure many of my generation will have a very similar story to tell:
    My dad died of a heart attack in 2002. Mom went through a phase of withdrawal but still did her yoga group, she took care of the garden, listened to a lot of music and kept up well for the next 5 years.
    By 2008 she told me that she did not like to cook any more. That was a surprise because she had always loved her cuisine especially cooking healthy stuff, veggies, fish, tofu and so on.
    From that day on, she had ONLY “healthy whole grain” bread with butter, and the odd bit of cheese – three times per day. Her health, physical and mental, started to deteriorate dramatically. She was diagnosed with mid-level Alzheimer in June that same year. She continued on with her lifestyle and diet and by the end of the year suffered complete mental and physical breakdown. She was taken to hospital and after recovering, she was transferred to a special care unit inside the local retirement home.

    I used to look at her illness from a psychological perspective – she had complicated grief and did not manage to start a new life after being widowed. That is certainly a factor and can lead to depression and other things.
    But today I am also looking at a nutritional aspect and I am convinced that the “healthy whole grain diet” sent her down the path of that awful disease that destroyed her over five long years.

    • Dr. Davis

      Sadly, Erik, there’s little to do about the path your Mom inadvertently followed.

      But she gave you a great gift: She showed you what happens when the wrong path is chosen. She therefore showed you how you can minimize the possibility of following this same path. This was a priceless gift.

      • Erik

        Mom passed away last Saturday, in peace. God rest her soul now.

        Watching her transformation from a healthy, positive person to a helpless shadow of herself, over the course of five years, created great suffering.
        I am sure I know what caused, or accelerated that.
        You are right, that is a priceless gift but it came at a very high price.

        • Neicee

          Erik, I’m so sorry for your loss but most of all how your mother left this world. Every friend I have is dealing with an aged parent (or both) with debilitating diseases or conditions. The curtains are closing on my own MIL and some days she’s just not there. Her diet is horrible, but the nursing home staff reminds us when we show concern that sweets or things that convert to sugar are the foods of choice for the aged. And they’ll keep them happy at all cost.

      • LILLIAN PORTER

        But Dr. Davis..
        Haven’t some researchers called Alzheimers “diabetes of the brain”? Even vascular dementia might be attributed to diet.
        Would you comment on that and on the following, please: In the last years of my nursing career I worked in a psych crisis stabilization unit and a jail. (In these places, if you didn’t like the meal du jour, you got a processed cheese sandwich or peanut butter sandwich – both made with white bread). I noticed, particularly with schizoaffective patients, that psychotic episodes were more frequent and severe than in insulin dependent diabetics.

        • LILLIAN PORTER

          Dr. Davis,
          An amendment for the last sentence regarding schizoaffective patients – please omit the word “than”

        • > Haven’t some researchers called Alzheimers “diabetes of the brain”?

          It’s a core theme in Dr. Permutter’s book “Grain Brain”. Not that he specifically endorses the phrase, but that they have a common origin.

  24. Karon

    I am 48, and I have had migraines since I was about 4. I was told all of my life that it was just genetic and there was nothing that I could really do about it. I also had little bumps on the back of my arms, legs and tush. The only time these issues cleared up was when I was pregnant. I didn’t make the connection between a lowered immune system and no headaches and clear skin. Right after having my daughter, I developed scalp eczema. Over the next few years, it spread – down my neck, onto my face, ears, arms, legs. I’ve also been lucky enough to have both eczema and psoriasis. In January 2013, I decided to cut wheat out of my diet. I had been tested for celiac disease, and I was told it was not an issue for me; however, I felt that it might be part of the problem. I had tried to go gluten free before, but I would only give it about 3-4 days. It takes at least 6 weeks to see a major improvement. After 6 weeks going wheat free (and gluten free), my scalp was about 80% healed and my migraines improved about the same – 80%. It has now been almost three months, and my eczema is almost completely healed. I still have a little dry skin – but not bad. My migraines are almost non-existent. The skin on my arms, legs, and tush are smooth as silk. Now I do have to add that I eat a pretty healthy diet – no processed foods, no red meat, minimal sugar and minimal caffeine (gotta have a little morning java). People try and tempt me to eat pasta or cake that contain wheat, but after feeling this good, why would I do that to myself? I can tell when I eat at restaurants if flour has been used in a sauce. I get a fierce migraine, and I remember what my life was like a few months ago. Other benefits – I have a crazy amount of energy, and I have no more brain fog. It is amazing how removing wheat has improved the quality of my life!

    • Dr. Davis

      Great, Karon!

      You can see why it is so overly simplistic to view wheat as simply a vehicle for gluten–it is SO many other things responsible for an incredible array of health problems!

      I’m glad that you have found the answer!

  25. Suzanne France

    Dear Dr Davies,

    Thank you so much or revealing the truth about wheat!

    My daughters (3) all had digestive problems from about 7 weeks old. It was evenyually put down to milk and lactose intollerance and was told to stop breastfeeding as more lactose is found in breastmilk than in cows’ milk. They were all put on special formula milk dairy and soya free. They all struggle with diarrhea, farting all smelling awful. They also experienced poor weight gain. This got worse by age 2 but kept being told it was toddlers’ diarrhea and there was nothing that could be done.

    My eldest daughter (4) was finally referred to a Gastroenterologist 8 weeks ago after repeat visits to my GP. I finally had enough of the GP saying it was just one of those things, especially after my daughter asked for a baloon, a piano and something for her tummy pain last Christmas.

    They suggested to cut out soya which helped a little. As it did not help much she was booked for a gastroscopy and endoscopy under GA. Thankfully it never came to that. I invited a couple from our new church over for Sunday lunch and they looked a bit uncomfortable. They started to explain they would like to but they do not eat wheat and carbs and it might be tricky to cook for them. I asked them more and they gave me your name and the title of your book. I knew I had to look into it as they both looked very healthy but claimed to have weight alot in the past. I asked to postpone the gastroscopy and endoscopy saying I wanted to try a wheat free diet. Thankfully the Doctor agreed to this and we now have a follow up appointment in May instead. I am sure this will be enough time to see improvements!

    I tried Wheat Belly out myself first and was suprised by the effects it had on me, no more mood swings, no more food cravings in fact the girls had to remind of snack and lunch time, my brain fog I never knew I had cleared up, have lots more energy and lovely deep sleeps! I then lost 8 kg in 2 weeks and was no longer a slave to food, what a freedom! In the mean time I learned how to make alternative bread, biscuits and cakes to make the transition for my daughters easier.

    My two eldest daughters are now wheat free too for the last 3 days and the farting has reduced dramatically, my 2 year olds nappy looks far more normal, she has also stopped telling me he is hungry every 5 minutes and have not heard any complains about tummy ache from my 4 year old! I am very grateful to have found out this information and that my girls are young enough to get used to it. My baby will have a complete wheat free start in life when she starts weaning!

    God bless you Dr Davies!

  26. Catherine Mc Verry Dublin Ireland

    Dear dr Davis:
    I read your book – as I am just recovering from a thyroid problem which caused me to put on weight- I was still puzzled (after mostly getting this under control, without medication, I still wasn’t losing weight- and my stomach often bloated up (I had problem with intestinal Candida caused by too many antibiotics- yet I was still bloating after getting rid of this.) A nutritionalist suggested I almost certainly had an allergy. I had moved from N Ireland to Republic of Ireland- ROI fluoridates the water- NI does not.
    I realised that my thyroid problem only started after moving to ROI- this vanished when I stopped drinking the tap water. However I still had bloating- and a Polish woman told me she and her friends could not eat the bread here with tap water but were Ok when they switched to bottled water. I then found connection between fluoridation, hypothyroidism and gluten- it seem fluoridation causes many serious disorders.
    I found your book when I was looking up the dangers of gluten and read it all.
    I have no hypothyroidism after stopping tap water- and no bloating after stropping gluten. Also 5 yrs ago I moved to ROI (a heavily fluoridated country). Severe tiredness and weight gain started -Later found this was thyroid problem, now under control. But in a vague way, I noticed although I have a very good memory I stopped dreaming at night. Four months ago I stopped gluten: i slept very heavily for the next two nights- and suddenly began having very vivid dreams very frequently, which i always remembered. Also I had cystitis which lasted over a week- I think this may have been a detox reaction. (I Only Ever had cystitis once before- 25 yrs ago- in mild way which only lasted a few days). I found all this amazing- especially the return of vivid dreams after 4-5 of having none.
    I have no bloating now- but I am a little over weight- no more than about 14 pounds- it s legacy of a former thyroid problem and I will just have to exercise it off- BUT your book was very interesting and helpful
    _if stopping wheat did so much for my brain and memory what will that do for the rest of me.