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Serotonin & Celiac & Depression

2 posts in this topic

I had am ah-ha moment this week and want to share & maybe learn more from others.

Do I have low serotonin levels?

In May I had a huge reaction to Synthroid that put me in bed for days and I haven't bounced back completely. I suspect it set off a reaction of some sort that totally messed with my absorption and hormone levels. Besides all the physical things, it also has effected my moods, sleep and energy levels and I started to think maybe I am "depressed". I took zoloft about a decade ago and it did nothing for me besides upsetting my stomach and making me have no zest for life so I didn't want to go back on medicine. So I started digging into things thinking maybe I had become deficient in something again (I have a past history of vitamin deficiencies and anemia).

I hadn't been sleeping and tried various things to help over the last few months and nothing really worked consistently to get me to sleep and keep me asleep. I think I have my answer, I suspect I am not absorbing the B group well and perhaps not tryptophan. I started taking sub-lingual B-complex and at night a low dose of tryptophan or 5-htp and I have been sleeping and feeling so much better. I also have to avoid carbs/sugars for a few hours before bedtime or it disrupts my sleep (think it is an insulin issue there) but I am sleeping.

So here's my theory, 80% of our serotonin is in our GI tract (in enterochromaffin cells) and the rest is in our platelets and central nervous system. Our GI serotonin is used to regulate the movement of our intestines, now I know when I have been glutened my intestines do a marathon of movements so perhaps that simple act depletes a significant store of serotonin. Then it is followed up by inflammation which may impede the absorption of the nutrients necessary to replenish it. The enterochromaffin cells also release it to platelets which use it to help with clotting (which explains some of my issues with wounds taking longer to stop bleeding maybe). Stress also will deplete serotonin levels so I wonder if this "stress" of being glutened triggers a depletion and we just don't bounce back quickly. Serotonin also plays a role in the communication of the nervous systems with the immune system. Since we are suffering from an autoimmune disease it makes me wonder if there is more of a key here to the causes of gluten ataxia and other neurological issues we experience after being glutened.

Serotonin is made from Vitamin B6 and Tryptophan (well really 5-Hydroxytryptophan, 5-htp). You cannot take Serotonin as it will not cross the brain barrier but the metabolites will, but I wonder if your GI system is deficient if it uses up most of it and less is available for the brain. I know after I am glutened and get over the initial misery I tend to have a sweet tooth and crave carbs and this is a good sign of being low in Serotonin and my body trying to replenish it (which is not good, I've gained 10lbs since May, ughh).

Antidepressants in the SSRI class (zoloft, prozac...etc) do not make more serotonin, they just try to use it more efficiently. I wonder if those who have tried SSRI's and had a bad experience if it was because there wasn't a sufficient amount of serotonin.

Here are some links to foods with higher levels of tryptophan and B6 (just get past the first page on the tryptophan link, some of it made me go ewwwww and I suspect I won't be alone with that.)

I've been taking supplements but I would like to get to the point where I can consume what I need in my diet and maybe only occasionally need a supplement for say when I've been glutened.

I wish I knew what all I needed to take to counteract the effects of an accidental glutening. I know there is no way to prevent it totally but I would love to be prepared to do what I can so I can bounce back as quick as possible. I just want to feel normal again, whatever that might be these days.


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I love getting into the chemical aspects of this disease as I know from personal experience it is not just "a change in diet" and what one eats. I reaad an interesting article on alcohol and GABA receptors and how glutimate is a primary up-regulation In the production of excitetory nuerotransmitters, and seratonin, all which further a drinkers tolerance to alcohol. Chronic consumption of alcoholic beverages, and the consequent chronic sedation causes a counter regulatory response in the brain to maintain balance..

Google dilirium tremens amd read the wikipedia article


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    • Thanks for pointing that out. I just learned about things that are cross reactive with gluten--that have a similar protein structure and the body reacts as if it is a gluten protein: the list of cross reactors includes: Eggs, coffee most other grains corn, potato, rice, yeast, chocolate coffee, corn, butter soy, eggplant, bell pepper and chili pepper and tomatoes. Son of a !!!! This explains a lot. I would be faithfully gluten-free and still have DH flare ups when I certain things. So I just ate sprouted rice with beans, fruit and oolong tea--and I was fine. Then last week I tried this weight loss coffee called SlimRoast which worked UNBELIVABLE (LOST 3 POUNDS IN 2 DAYS) I was eating potato soup with lots of chili paste and soon I noticed I was depressed, I couldn't focus and began to feel that crawling flesh thing I get when I know I have been glutened.  I did more research on how I could love my body and read about glutamine: "Glutamine is also a critical part of our digestive system. It is the primary nutrient for the cells of the intestinal lining where it helps regulate cellular reproduction. Through this mechanism, glutamine helps prevent and rebuild a leaky gut which is common in people with inflammatory and auto-immune conditions. For this reason glutamine supplementation has been shown to be very effective in individuals with ulcerative colitis, CELIAC DISEASE, Crohn's disease, & irritable bowel syndrome." So now have removed everything but the sprouted rice, back on fruit and beans and have added those things that are high in glutamine. Since I eat plant based I can't get glutamine from meat so lots of raw spinach beets parsley cabbage celery kale brussel sprouts and especially red cabbage --in salads and smoothies. So hopefully I am on the mend--miss my weight loss coffee but its not worth getting sick over.     
    • I got the link fine but if I recall correctly I am a member of Medscape - I believe I just plain signed up for it - I know there isn't any fee for anything I sign up for otherwise I think very long and very hard whether it's going to be worth my money or not.
    • For those of you who get this, how long did it last? I am going on 3 months now, glutening 2 months ago.  Popping zofran in the morning and I feel pretty dizzy and queasy the first half of the day. No, I am not pregnant. I also get flu like aches and accelerated heart rate after eating. 
    • That's how he makes his money... of course you will not get them to agree that the tests are bogus! Same with all these " miracle" supplements that claim to " digest" gluten.  If you call them, , of course they are going to say they work! "We only embrace tests that have endured rigorous scientific evaluations. So far, these tests have received no evidence-based support. Enterolab has never successfully published anything on the accuracy of stool tests (nor have any other stool test manufacturers, to our knowledge) making it difficult to confirm the research results. Because of this, we must make our decisions based on what hasbeen published; Harvard, UCSD, and the American College of Gastroenterology all agree that stool tests are simply not sensitive or specific enough methods in screening for celiac disease. We can say therefore with confidence that the test currently being used by these labs is not good enough. In fact, while it is true that about 40% of people with proven gluten sensitivity have elevated AGA-IgG, it is also true that about 15-25% of the healthy individuals who have absolutely nothing wrong also have elevated AGA-IgG. Hence, about 60% of gluten sensitive people do not have elevated AGA-IgG (making the test not sensitive enough); and about 20% of normal, non-gluten sensitive people have elevated AGA-IgG for no apparent reason (making the test not specific enough)."    
    • Hi Gemini, My birthday is in June, so I'm a Gemini too---and I do agree with some of your good points.  I had written that one could EITHER try Dr. Fine's stool sample testing, where his EnteroLab looks for elevated numbers of IgA antibodies to various food proteins (gluten, milk proteins, soy proteins, yeast proteins, etc.), OR one could just avoid eating or drinking or touching suspect food proteins, for at least a month (3 months is better), and see whether AVOIDING eating and touching such proteins causes improvement or not, in one's symptoms and lab test results. I urge you (and anyone else who wonders about this) to speak by phone, with people working at Dr. Fine's EnteroLab,  and state your objections to them, and see what their replies might be. Here's their phone number: 972-686-6869. I called Dr. Fine's Enterolab, and the folks I spoke with there, were nice enough to reply to any questions that I had, including one lady (I believe she was a nurse) there telling me about the "IgA deficiency" blood test called "total secretory IgA", which one can do first, to see whether it pays to try EnteroLab's stool sample testing! From what I understand, Dr. Fine doesn't try to distinguish between Celiac and non-Celiac forms of gluten "sensitivity". This is because although Celiac Disease is VERY serious, it is the "tip of the gluten-sensitive iceberg", meaning, that higher percentages of gluten-sensitive folks are NON-Celiac gluten-sensitive folks, who can also have major health problems, but the non-Celiac folks have "villi" that are sub-microscopically damaged, and thus, this sub-microscopic villi damage cannot be seen under the microscope--but it's there! And, Dr. Fine's point, is that in both Celiac and non-Celiac types of gluten sensitivity, the cure is the same: AVOID GLUTEN! Dr. Fine doesn't use the term "gluten intolerance", because newer uses of the word "intolerance" refers to NON-PROTEIN intolerances, such as "lactose/milk sugar intolerance" (lactose/milk sugar is a carbohydrate, not a protein), and intolerances are not related to one's immune system, while gluten "sensitivity" and other "sensitivities" ARE related to one's immune system, with ingestion (eating or drinking the offending proteins) causing one's immune system to cause the production of antibodies to those proteins that one is "sensitive" to. Many years ago, a friend of my husband, went to a local doc who told my husband's friend to try avoiding gluten. My husband's friend, without being biopsied, went off gluten, and has become well, ever since that day long ago. Some years ago, both my husband and I did Dr. Fine's "EnteroLab" stool sample testing, for gluten sensitivity. My husband came out positive, and I came out negative. My husband has avoided gluten, ever since then, and I try to do so also, to avoid tempting him to cheat, and he has avoided getting colds, etc., the way he used to, before he stopped eating glutenous foods. And, there is much disagreement (I know, because I'm a retired nurse, and I've been a patient now and then) between doctors, about gluten sensitivity, and about anything medical. So, I've learned to be wary of the terms "valid medical institutions" and "valid medical professionals". What may seem valid today, might be disproved tomorrow, and what might not seem valid today, may be shown to be valid tomorrow. Medicine is always in flux, thankfully. If not, medicine would be "dogma". If you call and speak with Dr. Kenneth Fine (M.D., gastroenterologist, "sensitive" to many food proteins himself, including gluten, but not "Celiac") &/or to the folks working at his Enterolab, please let us know what their replies are, to your objections to his lab's work. In the meantime, let's both try to keep an open mind. Sincerely, Carol Sidofsky (wife of gluten-sensitive non-Celiac hubby, and I'm a retired RN/nurse)
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