Jump to content
  • Join Our Community!

    Do you have questions about celiac disease or the gluten-free diet?

  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    ADHD Caused by Digestive Disorder?

    Celiac.com 05/08/2009 - In 1996-1997, in an effort to test a hypothesis by scientist Karl Ludvig Reichelt, Norwegian researchers began a long-term study of 23 children aged 4 to 11 from the southwestern Norwegian town of Stavanger. All of the children suffered from hyperactive disorders including ADHD. All children showed abnormal levels of peptides in their urine.

    Dr. Reichelt believed that metabolic disorders impair the effective breakdown of certain proteins in children and thereby cause mental problem, such as hyperactive disorders. Related international research has established links between protein disorder and the conditions of autism and schizophrenia.  A growing number of studies also hint that some cases of ADHD are tied to digestive disorders. Data from this Norwegian study supports the idea that ADHD may also arise from a digestive disorder.

    This study indicates that consumption of certain foods, such as milk and gluten, may contribute to ADHD in children who lack the enzyme that breaks down proteins like casein, a component of milk--which also helps in the formation of cheese.

    Interestingly, when children who lack this enzyme eat foods that require the enzyme to properly digest proteins like casein, their brains experience an opium-like effect, which might explain at least some of the spaciness and impaired attention these kids exhibit.

    According to Reichalt's theory, hyperactivity can be controlled by reducing the intake of foods that require the presence of this missing enzyme to properly break down the offending proteins.

    In the study, 22 of the 23 children were placed on strict milk-free and/or gluten-free diets. They were taken off milk products and other foods containing casein. All exhibited a rapid improvement in general well-being, including improved mental health and general behavior, improved attention-span and better learning abilities. After a year, 22 of the 23 families reported clear improvements in their child's behaviour and attention-span.

    When the kids were taken off their diets, their symptoms returned nearly immediately. Before changing their diets, most of the children were taking medications, like Ritalin, to treat their symptoms. After their diets were established, their medications were discontinued.

    By 2004, a number of the children had ceased their diets for various reasons and some have returned to medication. Still, six children remained milk-free and several had also cut out gluten, which is found in wheat, rye, barley and to some extent oats.

    Due in part to the small sample size, and limited amounts of data from comprehensive studies on the number of ADHD children who suffer from peptide-breakdown abnormalities, the study has been met with a certain resistance among the medical community, where most doctors still believe that the evidence best supports medications like Ritalin as the best way to treat the ADHD.

    Still, the results carry weight among the parents, and among the Norwegians, as hundreds of other Norwegian children with ADHD, mainly in and around Stavanger, have in recent years been put on milk-free and/or gluten-free diets to help control ADHD and related disorders.

    Agence France Presse 2008.
    Yahoo! News 2008


    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    Ever since my now 9 year old son started preschool, I have repeatedly been told that I should have him tested for ADHD. I thought that was pretty young to just jump the gun and conclude that he has a behavioral disorder, so I waited to see how he was after he matured a little bit. His behavioral issued stayed and when it started to impede with his academics, I decided that I should consider that he may in fact have ADHD. That was about two years ago. Around that same time, however, I read an article about digestive issues and behavioral/autistic problems. My son has had years of digestive problems that we have repeatedly seen the doctor for. Back then, when I first inquired about a gluten intolerance, I was succinctly dismissed and my son's digestive problems, I was told, were due to his nervousness. Funny, I told them, that he didn't seem nervous to me. Since then, he was diagnosed with ADHD and about a month ago, I made the decision to put him on Concerta. Not two weeks ago, fed up with the run around about the simple blood test to check for a gluten allergy, I put him on a gluten and dairy-free diet and stopped his meds. He was pretty sick for about five days, but after that he's been a normal kid without the behavioral issues and the digestive trouble that has plagued him for years. Maybe I haven't given enough time to see for sure, but the change has been wonderful, if not miraculous.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Hi, I have a 12 year old and people have also always told me to take him to doctors for his behavior issues. I honestly just thought he would grow out of it. Anyway, last year he was diagnosed with ADHD. He has also suffered from chronic acid reflux for about 4 years now. I will definitely try this diet! Thank you so much for sharing your story!

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites


    Join the conversation

    You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
    Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

    Guest
    Add a comment...

    ×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

      Only 75 emoji are allowed.

    ×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

    ×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

    ×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams 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 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.

  • Related Articles

    Dr. Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.
    The following piece was written by Ronald Hoggan who is a teacher at Queen Elizabeth High School in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
    The Polish one is: Kozlowska, Z.E. Results of Investigation on Children with Coeliakia Treated many Years with Gluten Free Diet Psychiatria Polska 1991; 25(2): 130-134.
    The German one is: Paul, et. al. EEG-befunde Zoeliaki-kranken Kindernin Abhaengigkeit von der Ernaehrung Zeitschrift der Klinische Medizin 1985; 40: 707-709.
    The first indicates that 71% of celiac children, when newly diagnosed, demonstrate EEG abnormalities. Now please note this caution: I HAVE NO TRAINING IN THE INTERPRETATION OF EEG READINGS.
    Nonetheless, when I compare the authors descriptions of the EEG abnormalities in celiac children, and the abnormalities in children who have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, there are some startling similarities.
    Paul, et. al. are paraphrased by Reichelt et. al. in THE EFFECT OF GLUTEN-FREE DIET ON GLYCOPROTEIN ATTACHED URINARY PEPTIDE EXCRETION Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine 1990; 5: 223-239.
    They say: In celiac children provocation with gluten after diet causes alarmingly high frequency of EEG changes that persist up to a year (Paul et al 1985).
    I would urge (those with ADD) to be very careful to avoid contamination in (their) diets, and I would ask you to consider some alternatives to stimulant therapy (Ritalin is a brand name of the most commonly used stimulant.).
    The concept of drugging a child to facilitate learning is upsetting to me, especially when there is cause to suspect that, on the Gluten-free diet, she may improve without intervention. I know that she is falling behind now, but if her experience is similar to mine, many of my ADD type symptoms did go away during the first year. I will also forward a part of report that was forwarded to me, that showed that vitamin B-6 supplementation was as beneficial to a group of children with attention deficits, as Ritalin was. Especially in celiac disease, where vitamin deficiencies are so common, that seems a viable alternative.

  • Popular Contributors

  • Forum Discussions

    Welcome.  Your diet may not be so strict.  Is the restaurant you are eating at 100% gluten free?  If not, you have the risk of cross contamination at restaurants.   If you are getting gluten exposures, your celiac disease activates.  Digesting anything then, is going to hurt until your body stops attacking your small intestine.  That could be days, weeks or months!     One month is not usually long enough to heal.  You are still finding your way (most likely making dietary mistakes).  
    My allergist prescribed H2 antihistamines for the hives.  Before my hives erupted every afternoon, I had abdominal pain.  It felt like I was getting hives in my gut first! So we thought it was allergy or autoimmune related.  Maybe even Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (have a standing order to be tested at ER).  But the GERD-like symptoms lingered after the hives went away (about six months).  I went on the Fasano diet, but no relief.  Then I finally agreed to a repeat endoscopy. I had healed villi
    ·         I was diagnosed with Celiac about one month ago. I've stuck to a strict gluten-free diet and I've felt fantastic. Well, minus the heightened sensitivity to eating large portions (at a restaurant), or heavy meals that don't sit well. Prior to diagnosis I described my pain to the doctor as extreme period cramps. Today after lunch I began to feel on oncoming gluten pain, but it would also make sense as PMS. Asking for today and for future reference... Do most celiac diagnosed individuals
×
×
  • Create New...