Wheat is hebetudinous

Darin posted this comment about his wheat-free experience in obtaining relief from depression:

I’d never heard of celiac disease before reading your book. I”d always sort of rolled my eyes at the black helicopter hysteria about GMO in general and wheat in particular. I”d just finished Why We Get Fat and had embarked on a LC [low-carbohydrate] way of living. Then I started reading your book. Within the first 50 pages of your book I was wheat-free. Within a few days (I think) of removing wheat from my diet I quit getting headaches and heart burn. In 5 months (approximately) I”ve dropped 65 pounds (wheat-free and LC) and I feel better than I’ve felt in many, many years.

Although I still get the occasional headache I haven”t had one iota of heartburn since dropping wheat and most gluten. The lassitude and hebetude that has plagued me for going on 20 years is gone! I was suffering from some very serious depression, which is a secret that I shared with no one and I”m willing to admit now because it has totally been erased from my life . . .

Darin’s post makes me wonder how many other people are silently experiencing depression, the sad, hopelessness that keeps you from performing optimally or just being happy, due to wheat consumption.

There is a real lack of formal research data on the association between depression and wheat consumption, except as depression can complicate celiac disease. But, going back over the many testimonials here and on the Wheat Belly Facebook page, you will see that many, many people are reporting substantial relief from longstanding, even lifelong, depression, most of whom likely do not have celiac disease.

If you are depressed or have suffered bouts of depression, there is nothing to lose in saying goodbye to wheat. Perhaps there are brighter days ahead without it.

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89 Responses to Wheat is hebetudinous

  1. Michelle says:

    Seasonal depression. I get it every 3 months when the weather changes. I’m so new(wheat free) at this so I don’t know what will happen. I’ll keep an open mind about it. I’ll report back in 2months.

  2. LaurieLM says:

    In the ‘Vegetarian Myth’ by Lierre Keith and in Michael Pollan’s writing they both talk about wheat and corn having domesticated us and not the other way around. Wheat has taken over some of our creativity, TV advertising and language. We humans may have invented TV, but the grains are playing us. Twilight Zone I know.
    I saw an ad for low-fat, high protein soup. At the end a young man and his Dad were wearing NFL jerseys and were standing in a golden wheat field.
    The anti-depressant Cymbalta has waving wheat fields in some of its commercials. Ironic because I think wheat causes or exacerbates the depression the drug is meant to ‘cure’.
    The hunger relief organization (and their hearts are in the right place to want to help and feed the hungry) has as its icon-logo a stalk of wheat.
    And our very language is altered by plants. The grocery store named “Whole Foods” sells some wildly and egregiously unwhole, fractionated, heavily-processed Frankenfoods that are not food and not whole. ‘Whole wheat’ is nothing of the sort either.

    • Dr. Davis says:

      It is truly peculiar, Laurie, how images of wheat are woven into marketing for foods, drugs, foundations.

      I suspect it is the result of ignorance or acting intuitively. But sometimes, especially when it comes to the drug and agribusiness industries, I’ve got to wonder how intentional some of it might be.

  3. LaurieLM says:

    Just left comment, add -the hunger relief organization named, “Feeding America”

  4. Kama P says:

    Wow, my psyche told me I have had depression all my life, now I am thinking it was the wheat?

  5. Michelle Phillips says:

    I wanted to talk a little about my seasonal depression. I don’t know why but when the weather changes I tend to go into a deep depression. Well spring turns into summer and I got hit with it again but and thats a big one(no pun attended!!)I bounced back faster than ever. It was ok. I realized I was depressed, cried a little ,shared it with an understanding friend and life goes on. It was a VERY short stay this time. I believe instead of 2 weeks it was around 3 days and Im feeling better already. Now I really just started WB about 2 months ago. First month was half and half and then this month full time. So I’m wondering now as I go deeper into this how it will effect the depression I get. I can only assume as it was so short this time that it will only get better. Heres to hope!

    • Dr. Davis says:

      That’s wonderful, Michelle!

      After wheat elimination, vitamin D restoration is a major factor in mood. Have you been supplementing to achieve a 25-hydroxy vitamin D level of 60-70 ng/ml? Doing just that, which usually requires something like 6000 units per day (gelcap only) exerts major mood elevating effects.

      • Michelle Phillips says:

        Thats interesting. I have to try that. Im a big believer in more natural ways to heal the body. I use garlic for an antibiotics ,vitamin C for colds..etc

        • Alice Louise Carroll says:

          I HIGHLY recommend Garden of Life Raw D vitamins. I was Vitamin D deficient for a very long time and could not overcome it with OTC vitamin purchases. I went to a Garden of Life seminar, tried their vitamins and within 3 months took a blood test at the Doctor and returned to normal range.

      • Heather says:

        Why gelcap only?

  6. Colleen says:

    I have a sneaking suspicion that wheat has been playing a role in my anxiety and depression. When I was eating wheat cereal as a “filling, whole grain” snack, I would get cranky and MANICALLY hungry within an hour. Of course, I would crave processed, garbage foods. I am researching ways to go wheat-free “on the cheap” since I’m a young person on a budget. My depression is starting to cost me a lot in my work, school and personal life.

  7. Julie says:

    I have been wheat free for 5 days now and feel amazing. My mental clarity has returned and I find myself not feeling tired, depressed and wanting more and more food. I have suffered from depression and food binging my entire life and avoiding wheat has given me a sense of understanding and control. It is amazing how addicting wheat is and I am a huge believer now. We need a Wheat Belly Cookbook!!

    • Dr. Davis says:

      I hear you, Julie!

      I submitted the manuscript for the new Wheat Belly Cookbook to my publisher just last week.

  8. NoWheatBeliever says:

    I discovered your book about 10-12 days ago and immediately eliminated wheat, completely. As did my wife. I’ve dropped 10 pounds already, and I am eating all I want. The great thing is that I don’t feel the need to eat much — I never knew wheat was such an appetite stimulant.

    But in regards to this post, I think it may be helping my mood. I never had any depression until a few years ago, and then used Cymbalta to treat it. I quit that last year and things have been mostly fine. But I always seemed to wake up with a bit of sadness still. Well, it’s only been 10 days, so who knows, but I do not have that feeling when I arise each morning now. I’ll report back in a few months.

    While we’re on the subject of benefits, here’s one I did not expect: my RLS has disappeared! Again, it’s only been 10 days, but I can tell, there is not even a minor tingling. Nothing!

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Hi, NoWheat–

      Excellent on the lifting of your depression!

      By “RLS,” are you referring to restless leg syndrome?

  9. Beth Healey says:


  10. Pippa says:

    Hello and thank you Dr Davis for your wonderful book and website. Have been on the diet for just over 2 weeks and have lost 2kg and 8cms from waist. I am finding the diet very easy to stick to – if I eat anything I’m not meant to (unconciously, eg emulsifiers), I end up with a throbbing headache and the shakes which is just horrible. Just wondering however, if my depression/anxiety medication might prevent further weightloss long term – I really need to loose a further 15kgs to feel “normal” again. I currently take, Lithium Carb – 500mg, Valdoxan – 25mg and SeroquelXR 100mg per day. Any ideas?

    • Dr. Davis says:

      The Seroquel can disable your capacity to lose weight, Pippa.

      This is not a situation in which you can just stop it, however. I would raise your concerns to your healthcare provider and ask whether there is an alternative without this weight gain effect.

  11. Pippa says:

    Thank you for your advice. It’s taken 20 years to get to this stage of “calmness of body” and “normalness” of emotion. I don’t think it would be wise to try and change anything at the moment. I’m going to continue as is. I’m guessing that if I increase my exercise this may assist??

    • Dr. Davis says:

      If you are currently sedentary or using only occasional, low-level exercise, then yes.

      I am big fan of having fun during physical activity. Choose activities that you truly enjoy or, at least, are productive, e.g., raking leaves. I wouldn’t choose running on a treadmill unless that is something you truly enjoy.

      • Pippa says:

        Many thanks and congratulations on reaching No.1 on NY Bestseller list. I’m seeing my Pyschiatrist tomorrow and will discuss what you’ve advised. I think exercise is the most sensible option. God bless.

  12. Kimberly Pederson says:

    Two years ago I was 210 pounds, miserable and couldn’t breathe (I’m 5′[6). It was an effort to do anything, though I kept forcing myself to move. The arthritis in my knees was making things even more difficult. Then I started hearing about the HCG diet. Desperate, for I have tried everything under the sun to lose weight, I tried it. It wasn’t easy. I CRAVED bread and popcorn, my favorite snacks, but with the help of my sister who went on the diet with me, I stuck to it and lost 70 pounds! I felt wonderful the entire time. Restricted calories made it hard, but I ate what was allowed. What wasn’t allowed were breads and pastas. After getting off the diet, I slowly, but surely regained 40 of my lost 70. Frustrated, I went back on the HCG diet to lose 14 again, but by this time I had discovered that nuts and berries were easily added. Then 6 weeks ago I stumbled upon the Weat Belly book. By the first chapter I was hooked, and within the next 50 pages, I vowed to give up wheat entirely. What I had completely ascribed to the HCG as making me healthy had to be the elimination of wheat and wheat products, pure and simple. Now I am trying to convince my husband that many of the problems he suffers from are due to wheat consumption, and am working on my son and daughter-in-law (she suffers from depression and eats crackers continuously as a palliative). I am appalled that what I once believed was so good for us is not, and fear that I have “poisoned” my children and grandchildren over the years thinking I was making them good food! All I know now is that my regained weight is slowly coming back off, I feel great, and my arthritic knees are calming down again. I have become an avid lover of flaxseed pancakes and flaxseed hot cereal. I used to love Cream of Wheat, but now I just cringe when I see the box because I do think of it as poison. I am grateful Dr. Davis has pointed this all out to us. It has been quite a journey for me.

    • Dr. Davis says:

      You took a convoluted path, Kimberly . . . but you got here nonetheless!

      You can appreciate why I yell this message at the top of my lungs: So many people are taken down needless paths, charged all kinds of money, put their incredible contortions, all while the solution was really very simple: Lose this thing that stimulates appetite, causes inflammation, and sends blood sugar through the roof and health and weight are transformed. Wheat: the most incredibly UNhealthy grain ever conceived in a test tube.

  13. Michael Lasell says:

    I have posted my experience here before, but here goes again.
    After 2 months of no wheat, against my doctor’s recommendation, I gave up the ant-depressants Celexa and Trazadone that I had been on for 9 years. My digestive issues went away. Since my joint pain decreased I was able to start exercising regularly again. I lost 30+ pounds. I don’t know if it affects everyone the same way, but I was very allergic to wheat. If you are depressed, quitting wheat is the first step to try.
    Thanks again, Dr. Davis from a happy guy.

    • Dr. Davis says:

      That’s great, Michael!

      I agree: There are few conditions in which wheat elimination is not at least worth a try. It does not belong in the human diet.

  14. Laura says:

    HI Dr Davis,

    Thank you for your blog, its very beneficial. Really appreciate the comments and support. A quick question, baked potatoes! Are they an ok substitute for wheat and other grains? Ive just commenced on quitting wheat from my diet along with other grains.

    Kind regards

  15. Trying says:

    Hi Dr Davis

    Just stumbled upon this today. Listened to the radio interview – amazing stuff. What do you feel about rice?


  16. Erik says:

    Another interesting side note on Wheat and Depression.
    I have lived in the US, in Germany, in Switzerland and now live across the border in France. The French are
    *by far* the biggest wheat eaters I have seen. Their bakeries are like theme parks, with dozens of varieties of Baguette, Croissant, Quiche, Sandwiches, Cake and so on.
    Now here is the thing! The French are all thoroughly depressed. You never seem to see a happy, positive looking person in this country.
    By chance I came across this article :

    I am not surprised that the WHO found the French to be the most depressed people of all. And I wouldn’t be surprised if it was their wheat obsessions that causes it … !

    - wheat free for more than 3 months, feeling great!!

  17. Todd says:

    Dr. Davis,
    This website is incredible. I am going to buy your book and start putting into activation your recommendations. Quick question, there have been potato chips at Whole Foods I have been buying that are Gluten Free, but in the ingredients, the first one mentioned is Potatoes. Isn’t that a wheat that is a part of the problem you mentioned? The company is Kettle Brand potato chips. Thanks. Todd

    • Boundless says:

      The problems with potato chips include:
      1. High carb (it doesn’t take many to hit your 15 gram net carb single meal total limit)
      2. Unwise oils that have been further degraded by the cooking of the chips.
      3. Added sugar, explicityl or stuff like maltodextrin.
      4. “Natural Flavors” – usually euphemism for monosodium glutamate
      5. Sometimes even added wheat.

      A useful summary on the oils topic is:

      Corn chips are even worse, and add considerable GMO exposure.

  18. irish bob says:

    hey DR Davis,
    i considered what you said in a youtube video and said i must test this information out, SO.. i ate nothing but pasta and bread for 3 days and boy was i in for a shock, the first few nights i noticed strange frustrating dreams (being having them most my life before my vegan diet change over) and id wake up more tired every morning, on the 4th morning during my test period i was totally ruined, my hands where shriveled with arteritis, my feet, knees, wrists, elbows, shoulders, hips where hurting with arteritis ( and i only have slight arteritis in my hands, well thats what i thought before the test) my skin was aching on my lower back (i always wondered what that was when it was in other places on my body) my mind was what i imagine someone with add to be like, i had hunger and was snacking more than usual after the test. and i could feel my mood lowering to depression.
    i have being depressed most my life and had add like symptoms, rage, mind fog, drained of energy, and many more problems i couldnt put my finger on and either could doctors ect, i went on the raw organic vegan diet and felt absolutly amazing for 5 months but incorporated bread and pasta into my diet and the healthy amazing feeling left me and i have spent years finding out why it did, im so releaved to find your work, and im a bit angry to at people who should of had a duty of care let this poison ruin my life completly, and also the lives of many many people.
    its being a week or two of being wheat free and im feeling normal for the second time in my life,
    your info is HUGE, THIS IS ABSOLUTLY HUGE, and it raises eyebrows to the other gmo products out there.
    thank you so much, ill buy a heap of your books and spread the word. fair play to you

  19. James says:

    Hi Dr. Davis,
    Two years ago I had to go onto Long Term Disability because depression debilitated me to the point of not being able to work. I’m fifty and have had trouble for about 25 years. I’ve been on over 20 different antidepressants with very little results, tried therapy many times but never found anything that caused my depression so we didn’t have anything to work on, read all the prominent books on the subject, tried faith healing, had people continually praying for me as well as myself but I continued to suffer it even worse. It never made sense to me because I’ve had a really blessed life with a strong marriage and two great kids.

    Anyway, I went to a naturopath and she suggested that I read Wheat Belly. I did and went on the diet really expecting nothing because I’m a skeptic about these things. I started feeling better but very gradually. After 6 months off the wheat I am practically 100% free of depression and feel better than I have for over 10 years.

    I really want to see a scientific study on this. I find it unbelievable that it’s not been done already. Please show me some other anecdotes from people with very similar experiences to let me know this is a real experience for others. We’ve got to get the word out.


    • Boundless says:

      > I really want to see a scientific study on this.

      Funded by whom? The normal funding sources are not keen on all this being true.

      > I find it unbelievable that it’s not been done already.

      It has, back as far as WWII. The vast majority of doctors don’t read nutrition papers. See “What’s Up With My Doctor?” (http://wheatfreeforum.com/index.php/topic,275.msg2387.html#msg2387)

      > Please show me some other anecdotes from people with
      > very similar experiences to let me know this is a
      > real experience for others.

      There’s a “depression” link at left in Categories, with a couple of more hits. If you use the Search feature of this blog, “depression” will find much more. It’s real. It’s common.

      > We’ve got to get the word out.

      It’s getting out, but it’s largely a grass roots movement so far.
      Don’t eat the grass seeds.

    • Barbara in New Jersey says:


      The fact that you are off all medications and feel better not eating wheat after 20 years of a depression debilitating enough for you to be placed on long term disability is wonderful! Congratulations on your accomplishment and taking steps to regain your life.

      If you need more proof, then read this blog as Boundless suggested. You also can do a quick internet search on Dr. Daniel Amen, MD whose work describes changes in your brain and resulting behaviors based on what you eat. He does before and after CAT scans and has much information available online and in print, including a PBS series. Many scientific references too.

      All of us here have gained so much from following Dr. Davis’s WB guidelines, we will never go back to eating wheat. We don’t eat other grains( except condiment sized portions) or sugars either. Many of our doctors have been surprised at our health improvements. Welcome to the club and keep that smile of wellness on your face!

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Terrific, James!

      Sadly, no formal data. Lots of similar stories here, but no formal data on “unipolar depression.”

      There are data on “bipolar depression,” however, that establish a link to wheat consumption.