During my recent research week, I read a lot of info from various experts around the world.
First up, I listened to a video discussion between Dr Peter Osborne at the Gluten Free Society and Dr Charles Parker at www.corepsychblog.com. You can access the full video as a member of the GFS here.
Dr Parker is a classically-trained psychiatrist who says he was trained to ask only about the dreams and fantasies of his patients, which he did for many years. Then he realised that, for many, the meds and treatment weren’t working and started to consider why. He began to question their gut absorption and asked: ‘how many times a day do you go to the loo?’, for example (man after my own heart!).
He considered that, for many, the meds simply weren’t being metabolised properly, that gut problems meant a lack of absorption of nutrients needed to create and metabolise neurotransmitters, that an underlying immune problem was going on. Just tweaking neurotransmitters was only dealing with a surface problem and wouldn’t work fully until the immune problem had been solved.
His view now is to find the reason why neurotransmitters are not working, or even present at all, in his depressed, anxious, psychotic, neurological (twitching, ADHD etc etc) patients. He wants to know why, on brain scans, they see hypoperfusion very often in these cases (this is under-oxygenated brain tissue) – which is often seen in coeliacs and gluten sensitives.
He now looks for gluten and casein sensitivity and coeliac disease as causes of the malabsorption issues, gives gut, immune and healing prescriptions as well as standard meds as necessary. Most people, he finds, get much better on this protocol.
If a person doesn’t get well, he looks for other immune antigens (eg other foods or environmental substances eg lectins, dyes, E numbers etc), at hormones (including adrenal and hypothyroid which he sees a lot – like I do, plus oestrogen dominance as in PMS), and measures the brain markers to see exactly what is going wrong.
But, he says none of it works whilst the gluten or casein is in the system so that is priority number one.
He says he sees casein (the dairy protein) even more than gluten. Corn and lectins are also common. Corn issues may be because it is often GM, that there is a form of gluten in corn, that there is evidence of high fructose corn syrup affecting liver function and that there may be other substances like lectins in the food that cause the problem instead of or as well as the gluten. Dr Osborne pointed out too that there are several studies showing corn induces immune reactions – GSs and CDs have a higher risk of developing antibodies to corn and corn is known to induce a nitric oxide release in the gut. Certainly, I am finding corn is a ubiquitous problem and often the main one after wheat.
It takes at least a year to get a gluten-related hormone issue like adrenal fatigue to turn around, Dr Parker says.
The science is so new – even in the last 5 years there has been an explosion in this area. He says it is very exciting to finally be able to have some answers and that he is pleased to have been able to marry the core of his psychiatry training with functional medicine to help more people. It has significantly changed the way he practices.
There are lots of links to gluten and casein at his blog. Certainly it chimes with my own clinical practice experience where I have seen so many people with restless legs, behavioural issues, anxiety and depression get much better on a high nutrient, gut-healing wheat, gluten and dairy free diet.
My first ever patient taught me the importance of this, in fact, and it was a lesson well-learned. It’s no good pumping someone full of mood-altering meds if the underlying issue is not addressed and they cannot absorb nor metabolise them properly. Get the body environment right by removing damaging allergens like gluten and dairy, increase absorption, feeding dense nutrients to repair and increasing cellular activity and, if still needed, the meds will work more effectively in my – and his – opinion.