#Gluten Withdrawal Symptoms

I am currently helping a particular chap who, we assume, is suffering with ‘gluten withdrawal’. This is a pretty common phenomenon when you remove what are essentially very addictive (and opoid-like) substances from your body. I wrote about this here and here too.

P is suffering from neurological symptoms (mostly anxiety and depression) and not having a very nice time of it. He has been searching for reassurance on the internet (as we all do!) and came up with a couple of really useful links, (actually ones already on this blog – follow the second link above), but we share them again here for anyone else needing them:

First, a LiveStrong piece: Gluten Free Diet and Withdrawal which details some of the theories why it happens to some people. It doesn’t happen severely to most people in my experience with patients so far, but almost everyone gets some form of fatigue, hunger, headachy detoxy feeling at least.

Second, a Living Without magazine article, focusing on a case history of a woman who tested negative to all gluten (official) tests, but improved greatly after going gluten free (but only after a pretty nasty time of it): Giving Up Gluten

Thanks P for sharing that. And if anyone has any words of encouragement for P (and others who will no doubt read this when they need some), we would be really happy to receive them.

For me, I was ravenously hungry all the time, very fatigued but mentally hyper. Anyone else…?


143 thoughts on “#Gluten Withdrawal Symptoms

  1. hi there i was having stinging in muy intestines for a good few months taken no notice of it as it used to go away but the last 3 weeks it has hit me with a bang.. started with eating mcdonalds bang started getting pins and needles in hands and 3 weeks later still the same after i eat i feel like getting sick alot of the time and stinging, every single morning without fail i end up cranping and needing to pass… seems to be if i eat bread i get worse i only noticed it recently like my joints in my hands started gettign sore had all my bloods done all came back good vitamins levels great etc and celiac came back clear , went for lunch 2 days ago got salmon and there was pastry around it and some sause took off pastry and ate the salmon potatoes etc 15 mins later i felt like i was going to puke all the signs are there that its celiac i started a wheat free diet yesterday was the first time i tryed it and i was HUNGRY all the time due to it will u feel tired for the first week coming off it?? i am a grease junky i eat burgers chips kebabs all the time 😦 any help needed thanks oh and how long for body to clear from wheat and do sinuses clear too? thanks

    • Hi Colin, sounds like you are gluten intolerant! Believe you will need to come off cow dairy products too, at least until your stomach heals, so for at least six months. My appetite fluctuated between never hungry to always starving. you have a tough journey ahead but it will be all worth it in the end! My pins and needles, numbness, brain fog, arthritic symptoms are so much better now. Don’t forget you may also need to cut out products containing barley and rye! Good luck!

      • Thanks for your support, there AJ. Agree, will be a shock to the system quite literally to come off a greasy chip diet and remove the gluten, but you will get there, Colin, and feel so much better eventually. Just eat very often, every 2-3 hours at least; your body is needing nourishment to get it through these first few changes I would imagine.

      • Hi AJ, I do t know if you will ever read this due to you posting your response in 2014 and it’s now 2015. I’ve been on a Gluten free Diet for 2 months now. And 2 weeks ago I came down with these flu like symptoms but what’s scaring me is the Pins and Needles and Numbess. And still body aches. After 2 weeks. I don’t know if this is just I’m having Glutenwithdrawals or I’m coming down with Neuropathy. (Which I hope not the case) this is scaring me a lot. I’m 31 and never experienced these symptoms before.

      • Hi Tiff, well done for taking that step then. It sounds to me like there still might be some hidden going in, which you can become more sensitive to once most is out of your diet. Or it could be a cross-reactive food maybe. Neuropathy isn’t normally a common withdrawal symptom in my experience. See your doctors, of course, if it continues. But check your toiletries, meds and supplements etc for hidden ingestion.

  2. Diagnosed Celiac last week and cold turkey quit gluten, corn, soy, dairy, many RX’s (including several benzos) and caffeine. First few days I had the typical caffeine withdrawal headache. Now I feel as though I’m living in reverse, experiencing the various health issues I encountered over the many years leading up to last week, one by one. Insomnia and tinnitus is maddening during the withdrawal. I’ve been tripling my probiotic consumption as directed and my supplements arrive next week. Hoping that helps take the edge off a bit. Hot water with a lemon slice and some honey helps with the detox and is soothing to the gut. Determined to get through this and back to health and well being.

    Diagnosis leading up to Celiac diagnosis (spanning 40 years…searching for the answer):

    Gallbladder issues
    Chronic sinusitis
    Peripheral Neuropathy
    Secondary Hyperparathyroidism
    VIT D deficiency
    Auto-immune (idiopathic)
    Chronic Fatigue
    Mood disorder
    Sleep apnea

    • Well done for making that huge leap. Careful just stopping meds like that though, you should talk to your doctors! That is bound to cause some withdrawal problems.

      The reversal is interesting. In naturopathic medicine, we were always told to watch out for a reversal of symptoms. Sometimes people will reverse back through time and that is a really good sign of healing.

      My view, given that list of health issues, is to make sure you are off all grains and legumes – follow the Barrier diet if you can. And use the barrier protocol which is designed to support you – look too at the enzymes on the Gluten Illness page which can help with the morphine-like withdrawal.

      Good luck, let us know how you get on. I hope it all calms down for you soon. Be interesting to see where you reverse too: that is sometimes the trigger point when it all went wrong for someone!

  3. I’m starting GF today, I found out I have a severe gluten intolerance. I’m lost as to where to start. Any advice?

    • Hi Christie, well done for identifying it then and starting to do something about it :). There is a ton of info on this site for you. Look at the gluten treatment page for your options of where to start – traditional GF, grain free, barrier plan. Also, look at the Gluten Resources page. Get a cuppa and sit down and read through the site – it will pay dividends in the end, promise. Good luck and let us know how you’re doing here or on the TGF facebook group.

    • How did you find out? I found out over a year ago now and am now just about to start reintroducing things after being pretty strict on the barrier plan which is very exciting! Never grains though. Where to start? Here basically. This is the best resource you will find out there. Massive amount of community help and Micki is a genius and pretty hands on with help as you see from her swift reply below. This site and soon the facebook group (when I get my act together) have helped and will continue to help me with this annoying affliction. Good luck and any questions I’d head either here or the facebook group 🙂

  4. Has anyone experienced GERD symptoms when giving up ?

    I was desperate like so many others for answers to why I was always feeling sick ( living of sick tablets ) tummy discomfort / fatigue / chronic IBS / anxiety /brain fog / weakness / manic depression / suicidal thoughts / and my mental state ( scitzophrenia ) to be way out of control.
    Out of desperation I cut nearly everything out except rice / potatoes / salad / meat / veg / and just started to dispise food to the point of almost giving up eating.
    I used to cry when eating or fearful to because of not knowing what would happen.
    I had no choice but to get help so I did York testing diagnosed me through an allergy blood test
    Which was positive I found out I can’t eat Wheat / Yeast / Gluten / Buckwheat.
    It has been 3 days in to my new way of eating and in all honesty I can say I so far have felt my skin is itchy, I have acid reflux , irritability. But my bowels movements feels better even though I still get little bits of IBS cramps.
    I was not a big fan of eating wheat or dairy in the first place before I was diagnosed so I had Cut down nearly eliminating wheat for Rice which Im fine with.
    But I had a shock when I realised all the hidden culprits in other stuff I was eating I had no idea I had not really cut out the culprits and so have just done so.
    I choose not to go back to dairy as I feel better of it but I insist you Watch it with (alpro) rice milk it has hidden gluten in it .. I switched to Almond milk and I am more than happy with it.

    • You’ve made a good start then, well done Kitty. See how it goes for the next couple of weeks – people often get weird symptoms when they first give up. Think: is it something new or more of you are eating, is something hidden still going in etc. Hope it goes well!

    • Keep at it! It gets a lot easier. 2 years later and I am still learning what I can and cannot eat but the stress and frustration is gone. I remember the first few months feeling like I was mourning the loss of wheat, physically and mentally. Then all of a sudden I felt like a new person, no more stomach cramps, fatigue was gone and I felt so much healthier. Good luck!

  5. Hello, I am on week two of gluten and wheat free. I was feeling better in my mind for a few days and got excited I had found the cure for my acid reflux and feeling how I can only describe as being poisoned hours after eating bread etc. Then I started getting the acid but even worse than I had it before, no matter what I eat. Which is salad veg fruit and some meat and fish at the moment. Do you think it could be dairy that I need to cut out on too? I eat Greek yoghurt for breakfast with fruit because I don’t know what else to eat, I have milk in tea and eat eggs and cheese with my salads. I felt so down this morning I cried for about two hours, I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Today I felt a bit weak and shaky and tired so I’m. Going to bed to relax. Are these normal symptoms when not eating wheat and gluten any more?

    • Hi Sam, well done for making the change then. It is indeed quite normal to feel a bit ‘knocked about’ after a few days off an allergen; it’s almost like the body starts to do some detox or repair work sometimes. The withdrawal would certainly explain things like flu-like symptoms, brain fog etc. That said, the most common reason for a continuing symptom is either some hidden going in or indeed a cross-reaction to gluten and you are right to suspect dairy. Remember, though, that eggs are not dairy! Try coming off both for 10 days or so and see how you go. Be kind to yourself, hydrate properly and eat often to keep blood sugar up. Good luck, and try the TGF Breakfasts ebook to help with brekkie ideas, people usually find breakfast the most difficult to think of something as we are so entrenched in cereal and dairy choices – there are some lovely ideas in there to inspire you! https://purehealthshop.ecwid.com/#!/TrulyGlutenFree-grain-&-dairy-free-Stuff/c/12778036. Also join the TGF FB group for support, some lovely people on there 🙂 https://www.facebook.com/groups/Trulyglutenfree/

  6. Reblogged this on Write Dorne – Putting life into words. and commented:
    Thanks to Micki Rose for this post and blog.
    I have gone gluten free and am in my first week of the withdrawal symptoms. Feel rubbish at the moment, but hope to feel better and lose some of my big bottom!
    I’ll be back to bore you with the details and explain my reasons for giving up gluten… when I can stay awake long enough.
    Thanks for reading.
    Dorne x

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