Gluten Intolerance is All in Your Head (i.e., Brain)

by Patrick Nemechek, D.O. on January 17, 2016

Blog GlutenFor many of us, gluten intolerance is “all in our head”.  The key to the problem is silent Autonomic Nervous System dysfunction in our brain.  

Gluten is a protein molecule found in wheat, barley, and rye.  Gluten gives dough elasticity, helping it rise and often gives food a chewy texture. 

Some individuals become sick eating gluten because they have developed an autoimmune disorder in the small intestine called celiac disease that is fueled by gluten in their diet.

Other people notice that cutting gluten out of their diet makes them feel better even though medical tests show they do not have celiac disease.  These people have non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

People blame gluten sensitivity on a condition called leaky gut; medically this is known as increased intestinal permeability.  Gluten is capable of passing through the space between intestinal cells called tight junctions.

When patients with gluten sensitivity eat gluten it leaks through the tight junctions across the gut and triggers an inflammatory reaction.  This causes a host of intestinal and systemic symptoms (cramping, achiness, joint pain, rashes, and fatigue).  But this is not the complete picture.

Studies are now showing that gluten leaks across the gut of all individuals whether or not they have symptoms.  It is just that some people do not develop inflammation to gluten.  So the reality is that we all have leaky gut but not all of us develop inflammation.  The difference lies in the way our immune system reacts to the gluten.

Mechanically, our brain controls our digestion through the Autonomic Nervous System.  The Autonomics control our digestive tract, nutrient storage, bladder control, and gastrointestinal motility.

Interestingly, we are also learning that the parasympathetic and sympathetic branches of the Autonomic Nervous System regulate the immune system as well as the permeability of the tight junctions of the intestinal tract.

In my experience, many patients feel better when they restrict gluten from their diet.  But their real problem is not the gluten causing inflammation; it is the underlying Autonomic damage they have suffered from silent (emotional) or physically traumatic concussions that causes the inflammation.   

And after a few months of treatment designed to restore Autonomic function, my patients not only feel much better in a variety of ways but their gluten intolerance is also gone.  In other words they can enjoy bread, pasta, and beer again.

Symptoms from gluten in your diet are indicative of possible underlying Autonomic damage that is usually repairable.  The answer to fixing gluten intolerance might just be “in your head” where you Autonomics are.

© Copyright 2016.  Dr. Patrick M. and Jean R. Nemechek.  All rights reserved.


How I Reverse Autism in Children

December 7, 2015

For anyone with small children with Autism, this article is my Christmas present to your child. Skeptics, stop reading right now. This article is not for you.   There is growing scientific evidence that an imbalance of intestinal bacteria called SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) is responsible for triggering Autism.   Small numbers of bacteria […]

Read the full article →

Menopause is Permanent PMS

October 25, 2015

Some women suffer for decades after menopause. But what if we approach it like a traumatic brain injury or a concussion? What if relief lies in repairing the brains and nervous systems of these women just like repairing the brains and nervous systems of male pro-athletes? There are new treatments for postmenopausal women, turning off […]

Read the full article →

Polyps and Cancer Cells are Immortal

September 27, 2015

Unlike normal healthy cells, cancer cells never die. This is an essential component of cancer. The majority of our cells live only a few days or weeks. They are designed by nature to routinely die off in a process called apoptosis. When cells die off they are replaced with healthier cells. These new cells help […]

Read the full article →

Breakfast is Not Your Friend

August 7, 2015

Fasting and the Elimination of Breakfast Breakfast is often referred to as the “most important meal of the day”.  But is it?  An increasing number of studies suggest otherwise. Our metabolism may work best when we eat in a 6 to 8-hour window during the later portion of the day.  Metabolic mechanisms are turned on […]

Read the full article →

Suffer from Intestinal or Digestive Distress ?

July 4, 2015

  Do you have intestinal distress (constipation, diarrhea, frequent urination), excessive bloating or cramping after meals, food intolerance, anxiety, skin disruptions (eczema, rosacea), chronic pain, or recurrent UTI/bladder/strep infections? Or do you have a sour stomach if you miss meals, wake up feeling nauseated, get heartburn after certain foods, or have unusual patterns of hair […]

Read the full article →

Always Look For The Cause Beyond the Label

May 16, 2015

I was given important advice during my residency by my mentor Hans Einstein, the nephew of famed physicist Albert Einstein. He taught me to ignore the labels attached to patients. Labels like Irritable Bowel, Anxiety, Stroke, Alzheimer’s, Cerebral Palsy, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Fibromyalgia or Autism were originally intended to help researchers understand a particular […]

Read the full article →

Chronic Pain is Often Broken Inflammation

March 23, 2015

Are pain management efforts actually working against people? A number of people that I see suffer from chronic pain. They have been told their pain is from damaged cartilage, bone on bone, bad discs, or that something is pressing on a nerve. The technical truth is that their pains are from uncontrolled inflammation, and surprisingly […]

Read the full article →

Measles Vaccine & Gut Bacteria, a Different Perspective.

March 2, 2015

To grapple with the issue of whether to vaccinate your child, you should consider 3 things: (1) the need for vaccination, (2) the fear that children may change after a vaccine, and (3) the new explanation that the alteration of the child’s intestinal bacteria, not the vaccine, is the real problem. Today’s youth have grown […]

Read the full article →

Which Happens First? ….. Bad Thyroid or Bad Bacteria?

January 17, 2015

Why do so many women have thyroid problems? Surprisingly, it looks like thyroid problems are closely tied to an overgrowth of intestinal bacteria. This opens up a new set of treatment options that makes one ask which problem happened first, the bad thyroid or bad bacteria? By age 65, roughly 10% of women develop low […]

Read the full article →