Gluten sensitivity may be responsible for many cases of mental and neurological illness, particularly those which have never been diagnosed.
But it may also be the cause of some cases of diagnosed conditions such as stroke, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease.
Gluten sensitivity which involves all produce made with wheat, rye or barley, such as bread is one of the most common allergies, and has been linked by leading nutritionists to a number of systemic conditions, such as candida.
But researchers from the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield have now made the connection with many mental and neurological problems, especially those whose cause has been unclear.
They divided 147 neurological patients into two groups 53 suffering from a condition which affects either walking, nerves and so on, but which has never been diagnosed, and the rest with a diagnosed condition, such as stroke, Parkinson's and MS. The two groups were compared against 50 healthy people.
Nearly three fifths of those with an unknown illness had antigliadin antibodies in their serum, which is an indicator of gluten sensitivity. In addition, 35 per cent of the group also had celiac disease, which prevents the proper absorption of gluten.
About 5 per cent of patients with a diagnosed condition had antigliadin antibodies, compared with 12 per cent in the healthy group.
The researchers recommend that patients with neurological disease should be tested for their gluten sensitivity, especially if the cause cannot be diagnosed.
The Sheffield study perhaps should not be considered quite so ground breaking. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has printed a report which not only links nervous diseases and neuroses to specific foods, but also shows how those foods can provide the cure. Epilepsy, for instance, can be cured with a non nitrogenous diet, delirium can be cleared just with a nutritious diet, while egg yoke can also help in many cases. The report, however, was first printed 100 years ago, some time before the drugs industry took such a dominant position in modern medicine (The Lancet, February 10, 1996 and JAMA, February 7, 1996).
Only about half of all psychiatric treatment is evidence based, researchers from Airedale General Hospital in Keighley, West Yorkshire have concluded. In a study of 160 decisions made during six weeks last year, evidence was identified to support 85 or 53 per cent of interventions. The most common concerned drug treatment to treat depression and psychotic symptoms, they report in a letter to The Lancet.
The Lancet, February 10, 1996.