Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Is Depression Really a Chemical Imbalance or Does Gluten Play a Role?




Patients with depression are told they have a chemical imbalance.  If someone else in their family is also
depressed, the “gene card” is played.  “Your depression is genetic”, they are told.

I have been in practice for over 20 years and I find the above data to be false.  Consistently we find patients who are suffering from depression and anxiety to be gluten (and dairy) sensitive.

How could a food cause depression?  Let’s take a look:

After the digestive tract, the most common system to be affected by gluten is the nervous system. It is thought that depression can be caused by gluten in one of two ways. 

First, gluten causes inflammatory changes. The immune system in an individual with glutensensitivity or celiac disease responds in a negative, inflammatory fashion to the protein gliadin.  Unfortunately, that protein is similar in structure to other proteins present in the body, including those of the brain and nerve cells. A cross reactivity can occur whereby the immune system “confuses” proteins in the body for the protein gliadin.  This is called cellular mimicry and the result of this confusion is the body literally attacking it’s own tissues. When inflammation occurs in the brain and nervous system, a variety of symptoms can ensue, including depression.

Research shows us that patients with symptoms involving the nervous system suffer from digestive problems only 13% of the time.  This is significant because mainstream medicine equates gluten sensitivity almost exclusively with digestive complaints, a mistake that causes millions to suffer needlessly.

In a study examining blood flow to the brain, 15 patients with untreated celiac disease were compared to 15 patients treated with a gluten-free diet for a year.  The findings were amazing. In the untreated group, 73% had abnormalities in brain circulation while only 7% in the treated group showed any abnormalities. The patients with the brain circulation problems were frequently suffering from symptoms such as anxiety and depression.

In addition to circulation problems creating symptoms of depression, other research has looked at the association between gluten sensitivity and its interference with protein absorption.  Specifically, the amino acid tryptophan can be deficient. Tryptophan is a protein in the brain responsible for a feeling of well-being and relaxation. A deficiency can be correlated to feelings of depression and anxiety.

Is it worth it to discover if your depression is being causes by something in your diet? Absolutely, in my opinion.

Our society is too willing to accept a “chemical imbalance” as an explanation for their symptoms and instead of getting to the root cause of the condition, simply opt to swallow a pill – a pill that in the case of anti-depressants has very dangerous and sometimes lethal side effects.

The frequency with which we are able to successfully taper patients off their anti-depressants is considered “unbelievable” to many mainstream doctors, yet we do it regularly.  How is that possible?  We actually diagnose the root cause of the depression.  Frequently the culprit is gluten.

I hope you found this informative. If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, consider calling us for a free healthanalysis – 408-733-0400. We are a destination clinic and we treat patients from across the country and internationally. You don’t need to live local to us to receive assistance. We are here to help!

To your good health,

Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN
Co- author of TheGluten Effect
Author of the e-book: Gluten Sensitivity: What you don’t know may be killing you!


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