Wheat headache

Karen tells this story of her son’s 3-month struggle with headache and other symptoms:

My son suffered from chronic (nearly daily) headaches and dizziness for 3 months, missing 30+ days of school in that time. Three days after removing wheat from his diet, he is headache-free. Chronic constipation gone. Former pale skin, dark circles under his eyes: gone. Energy level back, moodiness: gone.

Taking him off wheat was always my gut instinct, but we were told by everyone in the medical field that it couldn’t possibly be from a food issue. We had tried numerous medications, took every blood test possible, MRI, massage, acupuncture, chiropractic, with no long-term success.

It started the end of January when my 8 yr old son (who had never had a headache before this day) came home early from school with a headache and stomach ache. I chalked it up to start of the flu. Three days later: no relief. He got up late at night, couldn’t sleep due to headache (Advil provided no relief whatsoever), so we took a trip the our children’s hospital. He was given a physical, neurological tests; all appeared normal. Treated with Maxeran [drug for nausea} and IV fluids, which relieved his headache, but it returned a couple of days later.

I called our “health-link” info line and they suggested we go back to hospital. Treated again with Maxeran and fluids. It again relieved headache, but only for a day or two. He was referred to a pediatric neurologist. In the meantime, our family doctor prescribed Imitrex for headache treatment– didn’t work. He then had an MRI [of the brain], came back normal. They suggested high dose vitamin B2 (400 mg) and Sandomigran; no results.

One theory was that it could be tension headaches, so we had about 3 acupuncture treatments. Provided relief for a day or two, but nothing long-term. Also tried chiropractic, again it brought short term relief.

During this time I kept a food/headache diary. 3 times in these 3 months he would be OK in the morning but I would get a call from the school at almost the exact same time of day, between 1 and 1:30 in the afternoon that he had a headache. I had a few people suggest that he was allergic/sensitive to wheat. Asked for a gluten intolerance blood test, so had a full blood work up and all came back normal. Saw a neurologist at the pediatric headache clinic, full schedule of physical and neurological tests all appear normal and she was skeptical of a food reaction. Neither the neurologist nor family doctor could recommend anything else for me to do other than massage, physiotherapy…. oh, except one doctor did suggest that he see a psychologist! Very frustrating when they can’t come up with a reason or cause they think it’s psychological.

I knew it was something internal because after all these months his skin was pale, he had dark circles under his eyes, his headaches typically came with dizziness, he was lethargic, stomach pains, chronic and long term constipation (off and on for about year and half). Made a half attempt to do wheat/gluten free diet earlier into this saga, but gave up after a couple days, as symptoms seem to get worse. This last attempt came with worsening symptoms, also, but after researching and found that it’s common to have withdrawal symptoms (severe muscle and joint pain, I could hardly touch him and it would hurt), I figured that he was having withdrawal and stuck it out.

Halfway thru the 3rd day his headache was gone and, to date, we are 3 weeks without a headache!!! About a week in, his bowels started working again, really working. He said it was the first time in months that he didn’t have to strain to poop, and it was a real poop, not little rabbit ones. Full disclosure: He is also on a dairy-free diet at the moment, also, as I’ve been told that, since his system is healing, it would be wise to take out dairy, too. But as I look back at his food diary and see the pattern of his headaches, I am convinced that it’s wheat.

I guess the only true test is to feed him wheat again, but I really want to give his body time to heal before I test him. After confiding in people about our experience, I have had a few people tell me similar stories about the link with headaches and wheat. I wish Western medicine would at least be open minded about this issue. I wonder how many more people are just suffering headaches they treat by trying to just dull the pain and not search for the cause? I hope that more people will find the connect for their health issues and the food they eat.

Karen and her son were lucky: They discovered the answer–modern semi-dwarf wheat–after only 3 months. Most people struggle for decades with frequent incapacitating headaches, fatigue, gastrointestinal complaints, no answers from the healthcare system, struggling to maintain grades in school or hold a job before they stumble on the answer. And note that testing for the antibodies (or even intestinal biopsy) for celiac disease is typically negative, since it involves mechanisms other than an HLA-DQ-mediated immune mechanism.

It took this mother’s instinct and powers of observation to uncover the answer. It had nothing to do with genetic defects, nothing to do with an infectious agent, nothing to do with head injury. The medical system failed this boy, the doctors failed him, the conventional advice from agencies like the USDA that make NO allowance for such common reactions failed him.

Just what component of modern wheat is responsible for such headache reactions? Is it the abnormal brain binding of the gliadin-derived exorphin opiates? Is it vasospastic phenomena triggered by the microgram quantities of wheat germ agglutinin that gain entry into the bloodstream? Nobody knows, but the connection is increasingly certain: consumption of modern wheat is associated with severe, chronic headaches; removal of all wheat can result in dramatic cure.

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. Neicee

    Karen, what a story of nightmare proportions. I cannot imagine the relief of finding out the cause and being able to address yourself, rather than turning him back over to the very same people that helped continue the problem. Happy Mother’s Day! You have a reason to rejoice and stand proud.

  2. Drae

    Sadly, Monsanto, Cargill and ADM won’t be paying this family’s medical bills. Reading stories like this makes me so angry with the medical profession. Of course, the easiest test to have given this boy would have been a food elimination diet, but that really doesn’t put much money in the hands of the hospital (or clinic), does it?

    The mother, Karen, should request a copy of the blood work. The doctors may have found the blood work was within the “normal” range but, like the thyroid test results I’ve read about here, the “normal” range can vary from doctor to doctor. I wouldn’t be surprised if that “normal” range would be found to be too high by another doctor more keen to look at diet as the cause of health problems.

  3. Karen K.

    I too suffered chronic headaches associated with dizziness,ataxia, and visual disturbances. I had trouble typing at work and would get into a “brain fog” where I had to really concentrate to complete simple tasks. I had a history of migraines, mostly menstrual, and I’m in mid-life so I chalked my symptoms up to pre-menopause. I was also dealing with greater than normal stress. As time went on I started losing confidence in myself at work. At one point I thought I may have to quit my job. I had seen 3 separate doctors and tried numerous medications, some with terrible side effects, all to no avail. I met a patient’s wife at work with life long debilitating headaches, and she said she also had cardiac involvement. She’d had full arrest in the ER with no artery clogs or plaques, and no other precipitating factors. So her neurologist suggested that she go gluten free, and both her headaches and the chest pain/pressure left never to return. Well that’s all I needed to hear, and after going gluten free for a few months my headaches disappeared as well. I have to be careful of sugar, and carbs too I’ve found. But the brain fog is gone, and I have my brain back! Its so great to be able to function again!

    • Jimmy

      Great story Karen,
      It’s great to hear how you quickly decided to go wheat free right after hearing the patients neurologist suggested that she go gluten free and her headaches and chest pain went away.
      I noticed that when I tell people that I once had their symptoms they describe to me and I got rid of them by removing wheat from my diet, they say ‘oh that’s nice’ but still eat wheat and continue to complain of all their symptoms. At least one lady I talked to did get off wheat and no longer has IBS and bloating.

  4. DeeDee

    The number of students with high absences or poor class participation due to headaches and migraines has dramatically increased during the 30 + years of my teaching career. When I started, only one or two students were listed with allergies or asthma. Now it is over half of each class. When I started teaching in the 70’s, school lunch meant a full meal with whole milk. Now students eat processed junk and call it lunch. Student writing and attention span has decreased as headaches and allergies have increased as our food supply has been changed. Coincidence? Keep spreading the WB facts, especially to parents of young children.

  5. GaryM

    All I can say is God bless them for finding this out. A sad story with a wonderful ending.

  6. Alice

    The only thing I disagree with is the idea that the little boy should be “tested” by being fed wheat. Why put him through a wheat reaction that could take a while to recover from?

    • eema.gray

      When blood tests are negative but a person shows a suspected link between health and wheat, a trial is the standard test. The equivilant of 2 slices of bread must be consumed every day for 14 days. Then 14 days completely off wheat, followed by a second round of 14 days eating wheat. The idea is to rule out anything else the could be causing the symptoms. Our pedi wants to do this kind of a trial on our son (5) but I am not willing to endure the temper tantrums, increased deficit in speech, and difficulties concentrating and focusing for a month and a half while we “definitively” rule that wheat is the cause of his symptoms.

      • Melanie


        I don’t think a reintroduction needs to be that drastic. My experience was almost exactly like Karen K’s with the addition of chronic joint pain. All it took was several months of feeling well followed by one time eating less than one slice of bread to know that wheat products were causing all of my pain. For those of us with wheat sensitivity, one exposure is enough for us to know for sure. Every symptom came back and the headache was the worst I had ever had. Each time I am exposed to wheat, even in very small amounts, I am knocked down for at least 36 hours.

        Kudos to Karen for following her instincts!

  7. Marilyn

    The big question is: How can we all get this information about wheat to the masses. My husband was a nonbeliever for 2 months. He has always had terrible headaches and a non-working digestive system…. He continued to eat little bits of wheat, then the light finally came on. I’ve told friends and oh no, they dont have that problem with wheat….. If you have a beer and it makes you woozy, then you are most likely wheat–affected. That is all beer is anyway, isnt it? Condensed wheat liquid????
    Ive decided to give Wheatbelly books and cookbooks for Christmas presents this year- to my family members. They all have small children and hopefully they will read the books and that perverbially lighting bolt will hit them in the head. Put the books in front of them and let them make the decision. ALSO, our pets are also in danger of eating crap foods with grains and other awful ingredients. Check the ingredients and if wheat is involved, dont feed it to them.

    • Drae

      Marilyn- I agree completely about the pet food aspect! And grain free dry pet foods are no better because cats and dogs evolved eating a diet high in moisture (70% or more). So they need grain free WET foods as dry foods, even grain free dry foods, can lead to chronic dehydration, as the following video explains:


      Through Wheat Belly & Dr. Davis I can to understand the error of eating gluten free foods as being a poor choice nutritionally. The same can be said for grain free dry pet foods. Dry pet foods are just as much “junk food” as gluten free foods are for us. As far as grain free dry pet foods are concerned, like the song says, “Don’t believe the hype!”

      • Marilyn

        Drae: Even the dog snacks that they seem to love, is full of who knows what. The chicken strips made in China gave my wonderful border collie cancer. So I decided to buy a dehydrator and start making my own real beef strips. At least the snack is real now. Maybe I wont be loosing any more dogs to China made junk!

      • Jimmy

        The commercial pet food is a big contributor to unhealthy pets.
        Australian veterinarian Dr. Tom Lonsdale only feeds his dogs raw meaty bones, like they would eat in the wild. They can eat/break apart the animal bones and it keeps their teeth clean and disease free. He has a informative website to check out.

    • Alex Rion

      Hi Marilyn –

      I saw you posted this – “If you have a beer and it makes you woozy, then you are most likely wheat–affected. That is all beer is anyway, isnt it? Condensed wheat liquid????”

      As a “wheat belly evangelist” (as my wife calls me) and home beer brewer thought I’d attempt to answer that question. Certainly not trying to be a “Know-it-all” I just know a little about beer. (And compared to some very little)

      The short answer to your question is… no.

      Most commercial beers are brewed with a combination of barley and rice. There are beers that do indeed contain wheat – its a long list of names so I’ll just post a few: Hefeweizen, Berliner Weiss, Dunkelweizen, Weizenbock, Krystal, Belgian wit, and American Wheat.

      Now if you avoid the wheat beers (that sadly, requires label reading but “if in doubt don’t buy” is my motto) that generally leaves you with beers that are brewed with barley as a main ingredient. Barley like wheat is a grass, contains gluten and is high in carbohydrates so, it might not be a wonderful thing if your keeping track of your carb intake.

      Part of the reason I started home brewing beer was so I knew what went into the beer I was drinking – not to mention its a whole lot of fun! I’ve given up completely on commercial beers because most are pasteurized to give a longer shelf life and I’m not into drinking dead yeast and bacteria particles.

      Hope that helps,

      Alex Rion
      Kirkland, WA

      • Marilyn

        Thanks for the info Alex. For along time now, I only have one beer at a time, as I figured out, beer gives me a headache. Guess I had the wrong beer. I am so anti-wheat now, I wouldnt touch a beer with a 10′ pole! Thanks for the response.

        • Alex Rion

          One of my neighbors, who is now wheat free, (Hmmm… wonder where he got that crazy idea?) was diagnosed with a yeast allergy. Since being wheat free he can now enjoy a beer – it seems his yeast allergy cleared up as a side effect of getting wheat out of his diet – its so weird :)
          With that said if you ever make it to Kirkland look me up and a guaranteed wheat free beer (or two) is my treat – no 10′ pole required.

      • Dr. Davis

        Hi, Alex–

        This is an area I’d love to see explored over time: non-wheat beers that are safe for us.

        One of the difficulties that has been tough to solve is coming up with beers that are safe and still satisfy the beer enthusiasts. Please feel free to post your observations and opinions on this topic!

        • Alex Rion

          Hello Dr. Davis –

          It would seem there might be a misconception about beer and beer brewing among the wheat free community or I’m misunderstanding what we mean by “safe.” Most beers are brewed with malted barley and contain no wheat. Some of the larger brewers also use “adjuncts” such as rice – Anheuser-Busch comes to mind for added rice.

          The process is rather simplistic though by no means easy – you extract the starch and proteins from malted barley, creating a very sweet syrup called “wort”. The wort is brought to a boil and hops are added as a bittering agent; Then you cool the batch down, add your yeast and let the fermentation begin. Once the fermentation is complete you bottle the beer. Simple right? :)

          It might be good to know – the “malting” process happens when grain is allowed to partially germinate and forced to stop by drying. This “malting” is what gives the grain the proteins and starch you’ll later extract. Basically if you can extract sugar from a grain you can brew it into a beer. Wheat, corn and rice are adjunct examples. Anything with high sugar content like maple syrup, honey or fruit can be added – not sure what the taste will be but if it has sugar you can bet yeast will ferment it.

          It has been my experience that the vast majority of beers produced by smaller regional brewers are made with “malted” barley only – no adjuncts added.

          This is not meant to be an endorsement of any brand of beer, used here for illustration purposes only. (and any other legalese I didn’t add)
          The New Belgium brewing company in Colorado posts their ingredients right online, here is the link – http://www.newbelgium.com/beer/detail.aspx?id=7c5b394b-d7b7-486a-ac9a-316256a7b0ee
          Their popular beer “Fat Tire” lists the malts as:
          “Pale, C-80, Munich, Victory”
          – translated into non-brewer that means the “Lovibond” color or degree of roasting based on color gives you “pale” with a lovibond of 3, “munich” a lovibond color of 10 and a “victory” with a lovibond color of 25. The C-80 means a caramel 80 malt with a lovibond color of 80. What that means for us wheat free folks is New Belgium Fat Tire beer is made only from malted barley – no adjuncts added!

          Now barley still has gluten so we are NOT talking about gluten-free beer. That is an entirely different keg to tap. Beer is also going to be high in carbohydrates so care needs to be taken for those that can’t afford the carbohydrate spike.

          In conclusion what we do have is lots – and I mean lots! – of different beers that have no wheat in them.

          Hope that was useful,

          Alex Rion
          Kirkland, WA

          • Jimmy

            Did you ever hear of Widmar Brothers Omission beer? This is a malted barley beer brewed normally but with an enzyme added to the primary fermenter to break apart the gliaden protein to a smaller peptide. This is too small to cause a reaction in most people. They test each batch and it is below 20ppm gluten. On their website you enter the bottles datecode stamped on it and the test results pop up. I haven’t tried out this beer yet but I will soon as I finaly found some in Publix in South Carolina.
            I get a reaction to adjuct beer like Bud, Miller, & Coors.
            Also if you brew your own beer you can add the enzyme Brewers Clarex to your 5 gallon fermenter and that will break down gluten/gliaden to less than 20ppm.
            If you can try this out could you please report back here and let us all know if you get a reaction to your beer.
            Thanks for the beer post.

          • Alex Rion

            Hi Jimmy –

            Thanks for the post and good questions.

            I’ve never tried the Widmar Brothers beer.

            A couple of points I’d like to make.

            First this from a 2009 article:

            “Some brewers may have a concern about Brewers Clarex™ because it is an “Enzyme preparation for food use containing proline-specific endo-protease derived from a selected self-cloned strain of Aspergillus niger.”  For those who are opposed (for whatever reasons) to cloned or genetically modified organisms, this may be of concern.  Professional brewers usually shy away from using genetically modified organisms (GMO) because of the associated bad press it often receives.”

            Even though this is “approved” by the FDA I haven’t found any human testing that has been completed (link- http://clinicaltrials.gov/show/NCT00810654 ) – that begs the question, Do we trust the FDA?

            The second point I’d like to make concerns pasteurizing.

            You wrote “I get a reaction to adjuct beer like Bud, Miller, & Coors.”

            I’m not sure what your reaction is but here is my experience. This is kind of the long way around but important I think. Looking at what happens when milk is pasteurized gave me a clue to my beer consumption/brewing. Unpasteurized milk is a “living” organism full of enzymes and bacteria. When super heated, the bacteria are not only killed they are blown into bits. Our systems don’t recognize the dead bits of bacteria and attack them as foreign matter so, every time you drink pasteurized milk your body reacts with an immune response. Beer is similar in respect to “living”, enzymes and yeast. What I discovered happened to me when I drank pasteurized beer was a “stuffy” head and sinus reaction. I had almost given up on beer when I discovered homebrewing. I have no reaction to unpasteurized beer and I suspect its because there are no dead bits for my body’s immune system to think are foreign invaders and react to.

            Here is an example of a regional brewery in Portland, OR that brews only Gluten-free beer and doesn’t pasteurized it. (link- http://www.harvesterbrewing.com/home )

            I’m not trying to say this is the cure-all for your reaction but a variable you may choose to eliminate and see its effect.

            I probably won’t try the Brewers Clarex™ until more data is available but a good find and good question(s)


        • Jimmy

          DR. Davis,
          Look into ‘Omission’ beer by Widmer Brothers. They O’ mit the gluten from the beer by enzyme action. All the beer is tested to be below 20ppm.

    • Dr. Davis

      You are doing it, Marilyn!

      We change the world, one life at a time. We participate in online discussions to learn, to spread the message. We set a shining example of how wonderful the world of wheatlessness can be and let people ask why you look so fabulous!

    • Nobelly

      While we were away for two months our 14 yr old maltese dog was fed only non wheat food and treats.
      Normally she has difficulty walking due to arthritis but she was noticeably improved on ths 2 month trip with us. After arriving home my hsband started giving her her old treats which contain wheat.
      She started going dwnhill almost immediately – had trouble getting up from her basket and walking.
      I finally made the connection and checked the ingredients on her treats and found they were full of wheat. She has been off them now for about 5 days and already we see a vast improvement in her.
      We wont be giving her wheat again. Could wheat be bad for dogs too? Im beginning to think so.

      • Drae

        Yes! Wheat is bad for dogs (and cats). These animals did not evolve eating grains of any sort – they are carnivores! Our pets can absolutely develop the same sorts of ailments that humans develop from wheat and other grains.

    • Karen Davies

      Marilyn, I love your post! I’m in the UK and also a huge fan of Wheat Belly. I keep trying to say to people, I can see are suffering due to the effects of wheat, just try excluding it for a month……its like talking to crack addicts, they don’t have a problem, they don’t eat much anyway…..etc etc. I’m going to check my cats food now, she is very fat and doesn’t eat much (we don’t give her much :-) )


      • lauren

        you might want to check and see if your cat has a thyroid problem
        Cats should be allowed to free feed a lot of the time as they will stop when full
        dry food left out for them and then wet food offered 2 to 3 times a day since cats don’t drink enough water

  8. Steve

    I suffered from migraines all of my life (I’m 40 now), beginning in grade school. They gave me a powerful depressant, which numbed the pain but made me feel very drugged out. Then when I got older, I was prescribed Imitrex, a little more effective but gave me unpredictable mood swings.

    Then after quitting wheat, I noticed I hardly ever get headaches anymore. When I do, it’s often because I accidentally ingested some wheat.

    So bravo — and way to listen to your motherly instincts!

    • GaryM

      Steve doesn’t it make you angry? The government tells us to eat this crap. I wish I could get years of my life back, but I obviously cannot. A couple of people get backed over by a forklift and they mandate warning beepers on every forklift across the land. Where’s the warning for wheat!

      • Marilyn

        Hey Gary: you are absolutely right. But it is all about the money. I live in ND, in the midst of wheat farmers. I mention “eliminate wheat” and its like run for your life! government pays alot of our tax dollars to raise wheat and promote wheat, the only way to get things changed is simply by not purchasing it. Eventually the food industry might listen to us!

  9. MsG

    Congrats on figuring the headaches out! I have noticed mine are few since I started eliminating wheat. My 15 year old daughter started doing this with me for her digestive issues. Last night she ate something in a restaurant with wheat in it. We both did after a long day at her dance recital. She made the connection for herself that the wheat made her feel bad. I am so proud of her for choosing real wheat free food for herself because she feels better! So happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms who study and fight for their kids well being!

    • Dr. Davis

      That’s great, MsG!

      It’s great that your daughter is already enlightened at age 15!

  10. Sheila

    I suffered for many years from almost daily migraines and stress headaches, as well as sinus and allergy issues. Have been to the ER for a couple of very severe ones, been to every specialist, had lots of tests, and was even put on preventive meds, some of which added to my weight problems. After going wheat-free, I immediately noticed my migraines had disappeared. I was not taking any pain relievers at all anymore! I am so happy and want to thank you so much, Dr. Davis, for your book!

    • Dr. Davis

      That’s wonderful, Sheila! I never tire of hearing success stories like yours!

  11. Deborah Pintonelli

    Yes, I too have had chronic headaches since I was very young. First Excedrin washed down with–a flour tortilla! Many less since trying to go wheat free.

  12. Janzo

    This is yet another wonderful story, and reminds me of an aspect of my conversion to the WB plan — the part about her “gut feeling”.

    I have pre-diabetes, and have tried EVERY popular “change your diet” book published in the last 10 years, with little results: I still fought my lifelong sweet-tooth and cravings for carbs. Last September I got an official diagnosis of diabetes (A1C was 8.2 or something), and reluctantly put myself back on a low-carb program … AGAIN. No grains except Healthy Whole Wheat bread and some crackers, no fruit. I quickly became depressed (all the food in the grocery store was OFF LIMITS!!), my body was tense and ached. Life was miserable. And my fasting glucose readings were still 160 or so; far from the 110 I was looking for.

    After MUCH nagging, I followed my chiropractor’s advice and looked into gluten-free as a way to get my numbers down, and found this blog. I read all the comments: “I don’t even MISS the old foods!” “I feel better than I EVER have in my LIFE!!” “I’ll NEVER go back to eating .” And my eyes rolled. I’d heard this with EVERY diet I’d tried, and failed to maintain. This was just one more.

    But then something weird happened. My gut spoke up.

    I felt a strange sensation in my mid-region, and “checked in” with my gut feelings. They were saying “YES YES YES PLEASE PLEASE CAN WE DO THIS **PLEASE PLEASE???!!!!**” To which my mind said “What the HELL??!” My gut feelings were jumping up and down with excitement, like a puppy when you pick up its leash to go for a walk.

    They say if your head and your gut disagree, your gut is telling you the truth and your head is wrong. So I went with it, and ate my last Healthy Whole Wheat crackers on Saturday. By Tuesday: my depression was gone, my tension was gone, my sweet tooth was gone, and my fasting glucose was suddenly down to 120. Holeeee crud!

    I don’t even MISS the old foods. I feel better than I EVER have in my LIFE. And I’ll NEVER go back to eating wheat. Thanks again, Dr. D!

    • Dr. Davis

      Wow, Janzo: You can see that, once you pinpoint the REAL culprit, everything falls in place.

      I’d like to post your story as a blog post. Thank you for sharing your story!

      • Susan

        How long can your body be safe to have blood sugars above 250 while losing weight. I lost nothing until I weaned myself off meds then started losing like crazy. But blood sugar and BP started going up soon after. Since I have a lot of weight to lose is it ok to have those high numbers for an extended period if time? I tried explaining the fatty acids in the blood stream during weight loss to my Dr. But as expected she had no idea what I was talking about.

        • Dr. Davis

          Sadly, Susan, this is a situation in which you may need at least one medication until this fatty acid flood subsides.

          It sure sounds like you need a much better-informed doctor, preferably one who empowers you, not inhibits your success.

          • Susan

            Ok. But does that mean no weight will come off due to being on the medicine? Then if off medicine, back to the fatty acids in blood stream with good weight loss? I can’t win for losing.

          • Dr. Davis

            No, only some medications will block weight loss, especially insulin. But most other blood sugar-reducing drugs will not.

    • Neicee

      Janzo, wow! “your gut is telling you truth and your head is wrong”. I believe our heads point us down the road to destruction while our gut flounders hoping one day we’ll give it what it needs, not what looks good at the moment. That needs to be on a tee-shirt or bumper sticker….;)

  13. Paula R

    I have cut out wheat because of congestion and instant wheat belly, but now and then I will cheat, like tonight. I just had a spoonful of stuffing and instant headache on the left side of my head. I have never had a headache reaction until the last few months. I have realized that I am going to just have to cut it out all together. I have been gluten free for about a year or more but every now & then I’ll nibble on a roll or something I’m fixing for everyone else. It is not worth the reaction I get afterwards. I bought Einkorn flour hoping that would help but it didn’t for me. I was disappointed because thought that would be a solution, but got an instant headache and congestion. Eating gluten free is hard at first, but I am so used to it now, I don’t mind it at all. I lost ten pounds the first few months. Gluten free breads and pastas are so high in carbs and being borderline Diabetic, they don’t work for me. The Quinoa/corn blend is the best I’ve found.

  14. Dean Taylor

    I know this unrelated to the blog post, but I didn’t know where else to ask this question…Our 7 year old son has PKU and is on a medically prescribed low protein diet. The foods his dietitian recommends, besides vegetables and fruit are all high in starches, corn syrup, ect and are over-processed. Do you have any advice for low protein diets?

    • Dr. Davis

      This is, I’m afraid WAY beyond what we can achieve in a blog post, Dean.

      But it sounds like just adjusting to wheat elimination while ridding his diet of the junk carbs, while dumping this ignorant dietitian and finding someone who actually knows something about nutrition, would be a good start.

  15. Uncle Roscoe

    My son suffered from chronic (nearly daily) headaches and dizziness for 3 months, missing 30+ days of school in that time. Three days after removing wheat from his diet, he is headache-free. Chronic constipation gone. Former pale skin, dark circles under his eyes: gone. Energy level back, moodiness: gone.

    Taking him off wheat was always my gut instinct, but we were told by everyone in the medical field that it couldn’t possibly be from a food issue. We had tried numerous medications, took every blood test possible, MRI, massage, acupuncture, chiropractic, with no long-term success.

    ……I had a few people suggest that he was allergic/sensitive to wheat. Asked for a gluten intolerance blood test, so had a full blood work up and all came back normal.

    The intestines release a protein called zonulin in the presence of certain harmful antigens. Generally these antigens thrive on sweet tasting foods. Zonulin causes the intestine walls to become porous, and release undigested food into the bloodstream. The digestive immune system recognizes these antigens by their protein sequences. Grassy grains contain the same protein sequences, so grassy grains cause the same porosity reaction.

    Any chemical in the digestive lumen which passes into the bloodstream could have been causing Karen’s son’s symptoms, and the causes would still be 1) harmful antigens, and 2) grassy grains. When the body perceives a threat from a particular antigen it creates antibodies. The antibodies attack the antigen and attack the tissue which the antigen is threatening. The tests which Karen’s son took, and the remaining tests he could take, all test for the presence of these antibodies.

    If the antigen which causes the problems 1) is not part of a grassy grain, but is facilitated by a grassy grain, or 2) is causing damage without eliciting an immune reaction, no test for antibodies can ever detect the fact that sugar and grassy grains cause the problems.

    And medical science will never be able to detect the cause.

    The ONLY way to test for these causes is what Karen did with her son, stop ingesting sweet tasting substances and grassy grains for 3 weeks. See what happens.

  16. Dave

    “I guess the only true test is to feed him wheat again, but I really want to give his body time to heal before I test him.”

    Hi Karen,
    I’m so glad that you’re son is feeling better. I suffered wheat-induced brain fog and depression for well over a decade. I experienced immediate relief once I began a strict low carb weight loss diet. Like you, I was left with the task of figuring out which of the foods I eliminated was causing the symptoms in my head. Figuring that gluten was the leading candidate, I decided to temporarily reintroduce all of the non-gluten carbohydrates (potatoes, rice, beans, corn, sugar), but continue with strict gluten elimination. None of the foods I reintroduced triggered the brain fog or depression, so I concluded that gluten was responsible. Given what I now know about wheat, I see no reason to reintroduce it into my diet in order to prove conclusively that it’s the true culprit behind my health problems. I’m happy being 100% wheat-free, and have no plans to change.
    If you want to try reintroducing foods, maybe it’s best to try fermented dairy first.

    • Uncle Roscoe

      Apparently you have eliminated the antigen which is causing damage and/or causing an immune reaction. You may or may not have eliminated the food which caused the intestinal porosity which ushered the antigen into your bloodstream.

        • Uncle Roscoe

          Wheat damage starts because wheat causes the small intestine to release zonulin. Zonulin causes the intestine walls to become porous, and pass undigested digestive lumen into the bloodstream.

          We should all ask why this happens. It happens because the small intestine releases zonulin in the presence of harmful pathogens, most notably candida albicans fungus. The immune system recognizes these pathogens by their protein sequences. The most common scenario sees the immune system recognizing candida by a surface protein called hyphal wall protein 1 (HWP1). Wheat contains HWP1, so the immune system causes the small intestine to release zonulin in the presence of both wheat and candida. Many pathogens contain HWP1. These pathogens use HWP1 to attach to the intestinal wall. These pathogens share other proteins with wheat, and the zonulin reaction can key on these proteins also.

          Any food which feeds any of the pathogens which elicit zonulin can cause the same porosity reaction which wheat causes. The most common pathway sees fructose feeding candida albicans fungus.

          If you stop ingesting a single food in order to test your sensitivities, you will most likely fail. That’s because multiple sensitivities tend to rule. The solution is an “elimination challenge”. Choose a large bundle of suspected foods. Eliminate all of them at once. If your symptoms start abating over a couple of weeks, then the food(s) you are sensitive to are part of the group you eliminated. After three weeks start adding foods back to your diet one at a time. If you react to a food, re-eliminate it, stabilize, and continue the process with other foods.

          Suspect grassy grains (wheat, barley, rye and oats), dairy, eggs, fructose (anything which tastes sweet), legumes (peanuts, beans and peas), nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes and peppers), foods with high dye content (yellow corn and turmeric). You can depend on meat, fat and non-legume vegetables.

          Good luck.

          • Dave

            Thanks Uncle Roscoe. That was very interesting. Would it make sense then to get a candida test (is there only one type of test?) in addition to doing a broad food elimination challenge?

  17. Mary

    Hi Dr Davis;
    For those of us who have had decades of wheat consumption and all the painful issues associated with, is there hope that the more silent cardiovascular issues like atherosclerosis can also reverse as well, along side the more obvious life changing elimination of abdominal aches and pains, headaches and mental fog?
    Thank you for your time.

  18. Elizabeth

    I came here because it’s more “private” than Facebook. I shared on that site recently my progress with W.B. after being on it 3 months! It was just this past few days (since Friday actually) that it occurred to me that I may not have the brain-fog I’d been experiencing since my diagnosis with R.A. and Fibromyalgia–then the subsequent drugs for them. Today I cleaned our house and it’s the middle of the day—I’m feeling great! The “jury” is still out on if this is affecting the pain I sometimes experience with the R.A. and fibro. I’m keeping track now to determine all this.
    I hear my friends and family complaining about “this and that”—it pains me that they’re not open to trying W.B. Sometimes I’ll get the response from them after they hear what I’m doing—they’ll say “I could NEVER do that!” I understand that but would they rather suffer their “whatever” or feel good??!!
    I’m so thankful to have come upon the W.B. book—for me it was a process to come on board but once I did I plunged in feet-first and haven’t looked back.
    We’ll be traveling this next week to our former home (approx. 1200 miles). This trip will definitely test me at so many levels. Hoping I can stay true to the W.B. plan!!!!!

    • Dr. Davis

      Wow, Elizabeth: You are getting your first tastes of just how powerful this simple approach can be!

      Stay the course: I anticipate wonderful things in your future!

  19. 35+ years of migraines gone with eliminating wheat (and all gluten). I tried EVERYTHING over the years, from the conventional to the bizarre. There isn’t anything I hadn’t tried. As soon as I stopped eating wheat (and gluten).. no more migraines. Been 9 months now. The only time I have had a migraine in that time is when I have been accidentally glutened.

  20. Sally

    Karen, I am thankful you have found the cause of your son’s problems.
    About 9 months ago our 27 yr. old son called to confide in us he had been having unbearable cramps and bleeding rectally 16-20 times a day (all the time) for 3 months (he is a chef – ugh). Uninsured, he spent a fortune for medical doctors to tell him there was nothing wrong. Having had recently read Dr. Davis’ Wheat Belly, I suggested he eliminate all gluten from his diet, go on a good probiotic, and be tested for ulcerative colitis. He tested positive for UC. All symptoms cleared up very quickly after eliminating gluten.
    I decided to go off of wheat et al with him, lost weight and felt better. Long story short, I just cheated this past week and immediately had monster headaches, brain fog, bloating, gas, acid reflux and swollen nasal passage plus a weight gain of 2lbs! I never realized the source of those decades of headaches, mood swings, leg cramps, brain fog…… What a waste of time feeling lousy and thinking it was ‘normal’. No more wheat for me.

  21. robin

    Hi,I have been following the wheat belly diet for over 5 wks ,and feel worse than ever. I can not seem to get rid of the persistant headache. I am on BP meds and have had to re adjust as my pressure has dropped. I am also on diuretics,and my electrolytes are off. One be K+,i have no choice but to eat 1/2 a banana or a sm orange and the palpitations are much less with in an hour. I have also started taking Mag,but nothing seems to help. I am ready to call it quits. My co workers have also started at the same time-their H/A’s are gone,joint pain is improving and generally they feel so much better. I started all this for the very same reasons-my H/A’s over the years have become unbearable at times and daily. I don’t what to do. Neither my PCP or my Cards MD thought excluding wheat would have much effect.

    • Dr. Davis

      Very odd, Robin, and completely off the charts for wheat-free experiences.

      The response to potassium may be telling and should be easy to remedy with potassium supplements. But it sounds like there may be more going on. An answer should come from your doctor, perhaps from a neurologist.

  22. robin

    Thank you for your response. I am on K+/Ca replacement, and have been since starting diuretics years ago. .