Bipolar disorder, anxiety, PMS . . . gone

Ashley posted this story of her health and mood transformation.

Thank you for saving my family.

3 months wheat-free now and my debilitating bipolar disorder, anxiety & PMS are gone. Not lessened, GONE. My marriage will start it’s 5th year next month on a more stable note than ever with all of my mood/ mental/ hormonal disorders eliminated. I have been severely depressed since I was 12 and now I can’t even remember how that despair felt. I was in the depths of possibly my worst and lowest point for months right when we decided to start this Wheat Belly journey. I just want to know: how many marriages have been destroyed by WHEAT?!?! Seriously?

My lifelong asthma and allergies have greatly lessened and I am sure will just keep diminishing as I become a healthier size for my system to support. I have been disabled for years with severe back pain (before my unhealthy weight was even put on). Now, I still have pain but it doesn’t linger. It doesn’t control my every action. I know I will feel pain, but it won’t be terrifyingly intense or last remotely as long as it previously would during flare ups. I know my hormone shot birth control doesn’t help my journey move very fast, but for the first time ever, I am doing it! I have gone from size 28 to size 22 in just the last 4 weeks.

My husband’s hypertension, allergies, asthma & anxiety are gone. We have both dropped sizes rapidly with no added exercise (we are both above 40 BMI still but shrinking so quick). My husband has dropped significantly more and for the first time in our lives he is smaller in weight and waist than I am but 5″ taller than me! We are also hoping to see improvement in his recently diagnosed low (excessively, for age 27) testosterone levels once the hormone machine belly fat is further reduced. He has been obese since age 6.

I love my new menu of REAL food that provides fuel and am always sated. I have no want to look back.

I am 28, and for the first time in 5 years, feel like I might make it out of this fat, sad hell before my youth is gone. Thank you for saving us. Thank you for inspiring my husband to make this change for us. He has never tried more than a little to fix all that was so very wrong before now. I couldn’t have imagined life could get so much better so easily and so quickly.

In susceptible individuals, the gliadin protein of wheat is not a food ingredient; it is a drug. And not a drug that improves health, but one that introduces marked disruption of mood, thinking, and behavior. Just as not everyone who drinks alcohol becomes an alcoholic, some people are susceptible to the gliadin mind and mood effects of wheat much more so than others. Ashley’s story makes clear that she was–was–among the victims of this incredibly potent drug.

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

Plus receive my latest collection of recipes, Wheatbelly Hearty Entrees!

Comments & Feedback...

  1. Gretchen Linden

    FANTASTIC, Ashley!!! I’m so happy for both you and your husband, and am very glad that you are spreading the word about how staying away from wheat can CHANGE A LIFE!!! Congrats on becoming your real self again!!
    I have a similarly miraculous story that Dr Davis so generously shared here on Dec 24 2011. Put “gretchen’s cheat day” in the search box to get there if you like.
    I LOVE hearing these stories of healing, because most people look at me like I’m a Martian or something at first when I tell them that eliminating bread, pizza, pasta, cereals, etc allowed me to be free of the hellish pain I was in from RA. As more and more of us share our unbelievable-but-totally-believable-and-so-true stories, even more people will be able to experience similar healing!!!
    Congrats again!

    • Roger

      What you see in the mirror, blood work and a powerful immune system, is one of the greatest advertisments, to back up your story!

      As looks sometimes aint deceiving!

      Keep it UP!

      Roger, OHIO

  2. Elizabeth

    What a great story; I will be interested to hear how the journey progresses. When I gave up wheat 3 weeks ago, the thing I noticed, in the first week, was that my anxiety was gone and my mood improved. Not that I was dancing along throwing daisies, but that the anxious knot in my stomach had disappeared. I still worry about the usual stuff, but it’s more in my head than my gut, if that makes sense. That alone is worth getting this substance out of my system, but there are MANY other benefits that I am still discovering as I move through this.
    Thanks for the explanation about the gliadin, Dr. Davis: that some are more sensitive than others and that the effects may be more or less dramatic. I need all the peace I can get ! ;-)

  3. Cindy

    Ashley, I am so happy for you and your husband! There are so many helpful books, websites, and blogs out there to help you along as you continue to improve in health. I recommend Dr. Cate Shanahan, Robb Wolf, Nora Gedgaudas, and Sean Croxton as some that have blog posts and podcasts you can sift through and pick and choose what interests you and leave the rest. Keep up the great work!

  4. Susanne Anderson

    Ashley, your story is so inspiring. I knew I was doing the right thing in implementing WB into my life, but hearing the successes of you and your husband reinforces that feeling. Some people in my family have some of the same issues you did, so I am going to share your story with them. Hopefully they will get on board with it. Thank you and congratulations!


  5. AllisonK

    Ashley, that’s amazing! I wish more people would realize it’s the food they are eating.

    Dr. Davis(and others), have you heard any stories of childhood anxiety lessened by cutting out wheat?

    • Dr. Davis

      Yes. And it’s easy to prove or disprove if this applies to a specific individual: Eat no wheat.

  6. Val


    That is wonderful. What an inspiring story. Thank you for sharing. You have an amazing future to look forward to.

  7. ashley

    Thank you everyone for giving more resources to learn from, I will be sure to investigate as this is my (and my husband’s) new passion. I will shout it from the rooftops if it can inspire one more person to see how this lifestyle may liberate them from dozens of years of mental anguish. When you think you are ACTUALLY crazy for years of your life and then *POOF*, it all just goes away after the first 3 days without wheat, it feels at first like it can’t be real. Did we just argue without me going off the deep end? Did I just waltz right through something that would normally trigger a day of hell and crying without even thinking it was a big deal? Really? Then after a few weeks you really begin to realize the bottom isn’t going to drop out! That, my friends, was the single most soul awakening, saddening, and joyful revelation of my entire life. It is also super fun watching my husband melt away and for me to be able to fit into jeans I haven’t worn in 5 years. No stretch, no elastic, just beautiful denim hugging my still shrinking torso again.

  8. Rashelle

    Ashley, Congratulations to you and your husband! So inspiring to read stories like these! I too was SO depressed and had such anxiety!! I feel so happy and nothing gets me down anymore!! I’ve been wheat free since being diagnosed with gluten intolerance Sept ’11, but just recently had another test that showed I’m allergic to wheat germ! I was baffled, as I’ve eliminated all wheat from my diet and basically follow the paleo life-style. Reading another blog, I found that there is wheat in more than just (processed) food! It’s in make-up, shampoo, soap, etc….so now I’ve had to find new GF make-up!! The wheat industry is extreme, as it’s in everything!! Keep up the good work!! All the best to both of you and may you become the best possible versions of yourselves through this wheat-free journey!! Cheers!!

    • Oh, no – there’s wheat in cosmetics?!? Does it actually say “wheat” in the list of ingredients, or is it hidden behind some other name?

  9. Joanne

    Very very pleased for you both, as you are so young and have your whole life ahead of you. I recently experienced similar problems with asthma and weight, and noticed the same improvements as yourselves on changing diet and stopping wheat. The other thing I did which I feel I will continue for the rest of my life is take up yoga (the old fashioned kind, hatha etc.) as the weight continues to drop off I hope you will consider this move for yourselves as you have such a long long life ahead of you, its keeps you so supple and young! Good luck x x

  10. Iris Alvares

    Dear dr Davis…

    I have been wheat free and mostly grain free since the past 6 weeks… I felt great more energetic and definitely more healthy.. The weight loss has been gradual .. Lost 3 kgs so far but I see a faster inch loss happening… Does it work like that for some people?. However , since the past week I have been waking up with a severe headache that nags me through the day.. What could be the reason dr… I will appreciate if you can throw some light on this.. Thank you for all you do..

    • Dr. Davis

      The headache sounds like your version of wheat withdrawal, i.e., withdrawal from the opiate, gliadin, in wheat. It will pass.

      Yes, some people lose a disproportionate amount of abdominal circumference, out of proportion to the weight lost. I wonder if it somehow involves regression of inflammatory phenomena in visceral fat, but to my knowledge we have no formal analyses to tell us why this phenomenon develops in some people. But, given what we know about the deleterious health effects of visceral fat, it is undoubtedly a positive development!

    • Uncle Roscoe

      For treating headache, try dropping all dairy for a couple of weeks. See what happens.

      Headache can come on the tail end of a fungal infection. Call it “die off”. Fungal infections are associated with many foods, but mostly with fructose. Headache can also come from ingestion of MSG and related flavonoids like are in Aspartame.

    • Guy T

      I have found that dehydration can give me headaches. It’s possible the answer is as simple as drinking more water.

      • Jeff

        I will second the recommendation to drink water. Living in the desert (Arizona), it’s easy to become dehydrated. If you wait until you’re thirsty to drink water, you’re already partially dehydrated. My headaches often go away (or get significantly better) after drinking a fair amount of water.

  11. Roger

    I do not know how many in this Nation that have to live a life of labels (professional “Clinical” diagnosis), and drugs, by “Professionals.”

    When I was younger, though I did not understand, I was told by older Veterans not to let the Veterans Administration make a mental case or a drug addict out of me. I thought these older Veterans crazy–until I got to know the system better. I have seen many Veterans, once proud, strong and stable, exist on prescribed chemistry–and become more and more like the labels professionals gives them–and exist as a miserable shadow of what they once were. Labels out of the Diagnostic Statistical Manuel (the official book of Mental and Behavioral Professionals) are placed on people–and that is, in most all cases, a label for life!

    I know of none in the Veterans Admin. that would even consider the evidenced-based information in Wheat Belly, despite the fact that it is equal or greater in valid citations (hard-evidenced based support data), then most of my books on mastery or doctoral level.

    This post, on so many levels, is one of the most important that I have seen, as many, not just Veterans, are consigned to a life of despair, misery–and dependence on drugs, when, at first, dietary reactions to Human Rat Poison [Wheat] should be factored in.

    As if I want the same people that endorse Heart Healthy Whole Grain to have charge of my Health Care, Cradle-To-The-Grave. I look at me, and I look at Health Care Professionals, decades younger than I, with advanced degrees, hanging on a wall–and it is clear to see, who, not only looks Healthy, but is Healthy!

    At this point, I do not know how to issue a challenge to the conventional wisdom from those of the Medical Model, that thinks them selves an evolved class of God Juniors . . . but I am going to tell all I can, Veteran and Non-Veteran of Dr. Davis, and his evidenced based rationale. It matters not that Dr. Davis is a Cardiologist, not a Psychiatrist or Clinical Psychologist or Counselor. No one man or woman knows all about the profession they are in–and cannot know, as our minds are finite, even among our most gifted! The Information Age is blazing speed–and no one can be aware of it all, as our Central Nervous Systems would crash and burn! Dr. Davis has done the Mental and Behavioral Sciences a SERVICE BEYOND THE COMPREHENSION of many Professionals–as He has made the connection between many mental issues and the brain/Central Nervous System/mind on Human Rat Poison [Wheat], based on how the human body and mind works!

    I can imagine what most in the Behavioral Science Profession, would have wrote of me, had I went to them, for help–as some would have forced me into incarceration! I looked that bad!

    I have no words to describe the depth of my despair and depression, as it was only a matter of time before I lost either my mind, body or both. Mar. 1, 2012 was like a re-birth–as it was the day I started Wheat Belly–and I cannot believe what I see in the mirror, and what my Medical Dr. sees, from my recent tests!

    If I was ever on board with Dr. Davis, and I am, on several levels, it is in the area of Behavioral and Mental Health!

    Roger, OHIO

    • Dr. Davis

      Hi, Roger–

      Yes, I believe that we should make mental health a priority in further validating the effect of wheat consumption on the human brain.

      No other food, by the way, has been linked to CAUSING dementia . . . except wheat, diagnosis made at autopsy. Last time I checked, autopsy was not a good way to make a diagnosis.

      • Roger

        Dr. Davis,
        Some are so intrenched in an idealogy, facts, evidence and such does not matter.

        I can see that some ride, dine and die on emotion and an idealogical closed system–but, when it comes to the best interest of the Patient, those in Medical/Emotional/Behavioral–and our best practices, as a whole? BARBARIC!
        And what of the Health Care Professionals, of various disciplines? Are they, in fact, modeling Health? As a whole, no!

        I understand the economic fall out, if all you are saying, Dr. Davis, is to be put in place. We will be much better, in the long run, if people are heathy and producing, as near dead people, like I once was, could not produce (and non-producers cannot pay taxes!) Real Professionals with a Real Heart and Mind, must, in light of this man made crisis WHEAT–(as Uncle Roscoe mentions man-made flavor enhancer, Mono Sodium Glutamate MSG, and aspartame) People must be placed before profit and idealogy!

        Just the study and evidence, on Aspartame, alone, rivals anythig put out by Steven King! My Study of Genetic Man-Made Soy, and MSG–was eclipsed by Wheat Belly.

        If I, a non-MD., can understand this, how am I supposed to feel, intelectually process, and negotiate Health Care Professioals in Mental and Physical Health?

        All they have to do, is look at me! That’s HOW!

        Roger, OHIO

    • Samantha

      Don’t give up on the VA completely, as they are a teaching hospital and have an influx of professionals that are changing all the time that bring new ideas to the place. If you are ever an inpatient (hope not), tell them immediately you are allergic to wheat in all forms, and then you can at least get a wheat free meal. Most hospitals don’t want to trigger a food allergy and have a system in place to make sure they don’t serve the allergic food to a patient.

      • Roger


        I am trying to get into the VA System as an employee . . .

        I can complain or do somehing about it . . .

        Roger, OHIO

        • Samantha

          It takes patience to get a job there, but they really do give the Veteran’s preference for hiring because they know Veteran’s have earned it.

  12. Lisa

    Thank you, Ashley, for sharing your wonderful story and I’m so very glad your husband is doing this with you!

    In February, after reading of the connection between autoimmune thyroid disease and RA (which I have), and Addison’s disease (which my grandmother had) and gluten – I decided to cut it out for a few months to see if there would be any changes in my health. Well! I should say there have!
    First, the hives went away, the nausea has pretty much completely disappeared, no more diarrhea every other day, 30 lbs. dropped off (most of it around my belly), my mind has calmed down and I can think more clearly, I’m not fatigued all the time – dragging myself thru my day…
    and just the other day my dr. called and told me (after a recent thyroid level test) that my dose of thyroid meds needed to be reduced! I hadn’t dared to hope for that!
    I’m a work in progress – and who knows if I will need the dose reduced further or – dare I say – eliminated?
    That is yet to be seen.

    After reading of the differences between wheat allergy, gluten intolerance and celiac disease – I’m convinced I’ve had celiac disease for many years. Thyroid disease manifested itself after my daughter was born – and the stress of pregnancy. RA I’ve had for 20 years – off and on. The pain comes and goes.

    This is truly a wonderful disease to have – once you catch it! All you have to do is avoid gluten like the plague it is.
    Congratulations, Ashley! Some will listen to you about your success story and some won’t. Don’t be too disappointed when they don’t. Some are so addicted to wheat that they just don’t want to consider not eating it. It is also so ingrained (forgive the pun) in our culture that people won’t let it go. I have a friend who truly needs to drop the wheat – she’s got all the classic symptoms of wheat addiction – but she will always have excuses as to why she can’t. My husband also, unfortunately, is addicted. It’s like living with an alcoholic – and he used to drink. He substituted wheat for alcohol – and I kinda knew that at the time. I could see it.
    Anyway – I’m so happy for you, Ashley!

    • Dr. Davis

      You’ve gotten to the core of the issue, Lisa: Wheat is addictive.

      The gliadin protein in wheat is indeed an opiate. This is why people like your friend and husband struggle. Sure, there’s the convenience factor, since wheat is available everywhere and makes for portable food. But the biggest hurdle is to understand that it is an opiate and Big Food, I believe, knows and understands this. That’s why wheat is in nearly all processed food.

      • Claudia

        When I quit drinking over 14 years ago my carb (sugar, wheat . . . ) cravings went through the roof (with associated weight gain) and I was not able to control them for any length of time until I started the WB diet – I am very good at using food as a mood enhancer, stabilizer, depressant, etc. (given my history of alcholism and depression) but have found that I’m not doing that very often on this diet – at least not with wheat (old habits are hard to break!) – I am hoping that as my mood stabilizes over the long term (which I assume it will based on other posts I’ve read) that this will right itself

        • Lisa

          Oh, Claudia, how wonderful to finally understand what wheat really does! I could understand that it was harmful physically – as in causing celiac disease – but it took reading this site to begin to understand that it is an opiate – even though I lived that reality for years I just couldn’t see it! No one says it is. Everyone says it is a “health food” and the basis for a healthy diet.
          It is the best kept secret of our world! Alcohol is obviously a problem for some people but who would accuse grandma’s cranberry bread and turkey stuffing and mom’s Christmas cookies and aunt Lydia’s homemade whole grain bread?
          I’ve run across people who know wheat is a problem for them (somehow this seems to creep into my conversations) but they say – “it used to be a problem for me but it isn’t anymore” or “I find that if I eat the older forms of wheat – not the GMO – then I can eat it” or “If you toast it that kills off the gluten”…
          They’re addicted, pure and simple.

  13. Lisa

    Yes, Dr. Davis.
    How many times over my life have I despaired and cried out for help in being able to have a “normal” relationship with food? I thought I just had some terrible flaw – a weak character. Went to “Overeater’s Anonymous” for awhile and they insisted (in that particular group) that the whole problem was with sugar.
    Sugar is not our friend – but in every book I’d read about health – whole grain wheat is!
    I had this burning appetite that I thought sugar was feeding – and it was to a degree. But who knew that wheat was also feeding it? Cookies were my drug of choice. I knew that. When my husband drank I ate cookies to soothe my hurts and to calm my nerves. And brownies and bars and sandwiches and crackers…
    Sometimes now I find myself searching for something in the kitchen…
    A dish of raspberries is good for me but it doesn’t give me what the wheat opiates gave me.
    And so, for me, I need to pray instead of turning to wheat in it’s myriad forms.
    Now that I’ve turned away from my drug of choice – I can turn to my Lord for comfort instead. Now that wheat is out of the way. I was turning to wheat instead – not wanting to – and not knowing how to stop.
    Thank you, Dr. Davis, for this website! It is a blessing to so many of us!

  14. Karen

    Dr Davis: Is it ever “too late” to reap the benefits of going wheat-free and eating a low carb diet? My father is 79; he had coronary bypass surgery when he was 65 and did well until about two years ago when he had several stents inserted. He recently had a few “episodes” (some chest pain; he sees his cardiologist every three months and had been doing well previously) and a new stent into his left coronary artery. The doctors say there is some damage to heart muscle itself (likely related to the chest pains), but that it is very likely that the heart muscle will get better or at least improve from the damage. He is feeling better and heading home from the hospital today. Like many cardiac patients of his generation, he has stuck to the “low-fat” philosophy, but of course, that means a high-carb diet including lots of “healthy whole grains” and not a lot of limits on sugar consumption. I have encouraged him to consult with the doctors and dietitians about the potential benefits of going on an “anti-inflammatory” diet ( I hesitate to use the phrase “wheat free” or “grain free”, because the initial reaction might be that such an approach would go against the usual dietary advice in these circumstances. SO….my question to you is, for these kinds of patients, is it too late to reap the benefits of a wheat-free diet (or ideally, a grain-free and sugar-free diet??) If you’re able to share your thoughts on this, then many thanks!

    • Dr. Davis

      No, absolutely not, though your Dad might be resistant, given the long-established habits at that age.

      Wheat elimination reduces the expression of small LDL particles which virtually all people with coronary disease have. At the very least, the goal for your Dad might be to never require any more procedures in his lifetime.

      • Karen

        Thanks, Dr. Davis! I’m going to bring this to Dad’s attention and encourage alternatives in his diet. He is a doc himself, so he should understand the benefits of the impact you describe on LDL from giving up wheat. I recently encouraged him to replace some of the sugar in his diet with xylitol and that has been going well for him. He lives in Brisbane, Australia (recently moved back there from the US) and seems to have a somewhat “progressive” minded medical team, so fingers crossed that they will give him at least no discouragement on this point. Thanks again!

    • Dr. Davis

      That’s great, Mina!

      We need to spread this word to more parents of children with type 1 diabetes. I’m going to post this link on my Facebook page, as well, it is so enlightening.

  15. Christie Collins

    Thanks for sharing Ashley! Congratulations on finding a way to feel normal and better!! I love you comment to shout it from the rooftops! Thats exactly how I feel too! Keep it up theres no going back now that we have found a way to eat that makes us feel and look better. Dr. Davis is our hero!

  16. ashley

    Just an update: We are still shrinking! I get an elliptical machine in the living room next week, so that will help my journey along quicker and provide benefits only exercise can really give.

    We put the kids on the Wheat Belly Journey now too. It has been 3 days.

    My 3 year old has had 80% fever temper tantrums or moody moments. She also used to say she is “hungy” every 45 minutes or so. While we didn’t feed her all of the time, we gave in for fear of not feeding enough if she was growing. She now has a very small belly that she never had before and it concerns me. I have a feeling it won’t stay long now though- with fruit, almonds and salad instead of chicken nuggets and pbj- how could the belly stay?

    My 9 year old boy is sleeping better and has lost his attitude we previously attributed to prepubescent angst- I have a feeling he is just as sensitive as I am with the mental stability being directly altered by wheat. He had a small emotional breakdown after eating a million waffles over the course of 3 mornings at his grandmother’s house which caused us to take this leap with bringing the kids into the Wheat Belly world.

    They have yet to complain about the dietary changes as I have replaced their previously wheat heavy, sugar heavy “treats” with lots of berries and nuts and yogurt.

    I can’t believe the benefits of this lifestyle! Whole family wheat free! Woohoo!

    • Dr. Davis

      Keep it going, Ashley!

      I predict that you will have a much, much healthier and happier family minus this disruptive thing that corrupts health and appetite. But it also means fighting many battles along the way with family, neighbors, friends, and teachers who refuse to accept this message or who are simply ignorant. That’s why it is so important we approach this as a community, not just one person.

  17. Susan McDonald

    HI there .. I found this post as I am embarking on the wheatbelly way of eating .. I also was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 and have suffered with it for many years although up until January of 2011 .. I had remained unmedicated until the stress of work got the better of me.

    I am so glad that the author of this thread experienced a reversal of the bipolar symptoms .. and I wonder if they went off of medication. My husband is bipolar as well and an avid believer in medication .. we met at a mood disorders function … he has been on lithium since 1996 and for him .. he does not have issues with weight at all .. however I am opposite..

    My question is .. do you still take your medication? and if I do go on this diet and experience better moods will me taking the medication throw my moods off balance?

    I just know that my husband will flip out if I went off of it if I am feeling better .. I don’t mind taking it if it will create peace in the family .. I just don’t know if it will cause adverse affects to my new diet as psychiatrists will never believe that I am better and will never agree that being off of medication is best.. just looking for some advice .. and don’t worry I won’t hold anyone as responsible for my actions …. I realize that people are not medical professionals here

    Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer.

  18. tony chan

    Susan== good question. I hope someone will share some experiences. Someone close to me is bi polar. He is young. Precocious, brilliant, finishing his doctorate at UC, already widely published. If i were to b ring up Wheatbelly in the “wrong” way he’d label it more quackery and can’t say I’d blame him. The treatment can be like waking up each morning to spend the day being waterboarded and still keep up with your living–both he and his wife. Tossing out “cures” borders on the insulting. They have been living it for years and i come along with a really easy “cure” , However, because of the NSAID effect, if true,(and i believe it ) that alone could have an enormous in stabilizing the medication.
    Good luck to everyone

  19. Denise S

    I just have to say that I was gluten free for several years before being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. So, maybe it is a factor in developing BP, but going gluten free might not be the cure you hope for. That said, being gluten free might reduce symptoms- I would only know by eating it again and I am not going to try that experiment. Good luck!