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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Are Gluten and Dairy Physically Addictive?

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Celiac.com 11/01/2013 - Dairy and gluten contain "opioid peptides," that belong to the same family as opium. Dairy products contain small amounts of casomorphin, while gluten contains small amounts of gluten exorphin, and gliadorphin/gluteomorphin.

    Photo: CC--JM3When peptides from either gluten or casein react with opiate receptors in the brain, they produce effects similar to opiate drugs, such as heroin and morphine, albeit on a much more subtle level.


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    These receptors influence the part of the brain involved with speech and auditory integration, which means this part of the brain can cause addiction to foods, spacing out or having foggy brain, migraines/headaches, sleepiness, chronic fatigue, aggressive behavior, moodiness, anxiety, depression, and high tolerance to pain.

    Little research exists on the potentially addictive qualities of gluten and dairy. However, there is plenty of research to back up how a gluten-free and casein-free diet can help improve those who suffer from ADHD, depression, anxiety, OCD, schizophrenia and Autism Spectrum Disorders.

    Many people first beginning a gluten-free and casein-free diet experience withdrawal symptoms, many experience powerful cravings. People can get cranky and irritable, and even pick fights and throw tantrums.

    How do you know if you might be sensitive to gluten or casein?

    Signs that you might be having a reaction to gluten or casein include abnormal bowel movements, either constipated or poorly formed; headaches; aggressive behavior, such as biting, hitting, pushing; inability to focus at school; erratic sleep or rising early -- before 6 a.m.

    Also, if your diet is heavily wheat and dairy based, as many are, it can take up to three weeks to fully be rid of gluten and casein with no reactions.

    If you think you or your child might have an allergy to gluten or casein, you should consider visiting a doctor for an IgG food allergy blood panel to see if that really is the problem. Blood tests are not 100 percent conclusive, but still a good measure.
    If you're still not sure, then ditch all the gluten and dairy in the house, and try a 30-day elimination diet should help return to normal.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in biology, anatomy, medicine, science, and advanced research, and scientific methods. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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