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  • Scott Adams
    Scott Adams

    Multiple Sclerosis and Celiac Disease

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    The following research was compiled by Don Wiss and posted on the Celiac Listserv news group:

    The MS/gluten/casein connection is mostly only anecdotal as it has never really been studied. This is what I have (much contributed by Ron Hoggan):

    (1) Roger MacDougall was a famous British playwright, who was diagnosed with MS in the 1950s. The doctors felt it was best to keep the information from him. They thought it was in his best interests not to tell him what he had. It was not until he was bedridden that he learned what illness he had. When he knew about it, he did some reading, and went on a gluten & casein free diet. He recovered almost totally. This is from Can a Gluten-Free Diet Help? How? by Lloyd Rosenvold, M.D., [Keats Publishing, 27 Pine Street (Box 876) New Canaan, CT 06840-0876, 1992, ISBN 0-87983-538-9]. MacDougall eventually wrote a pamphlet titled My Fight Against Multiple Sclerosis, pub 1980 by Regenics Inc, Mansfield, Ohio. Rosenvold also includes some other anecdotes in his book.

    (2) In the Oct. 5, 1974, Lancet, Dr. Norman A. Mathesons letter Multiple Sclerosis and Diet was published on p. 831, wherein he outlined his having been diagnosed with MS and subsequently reading Roger MacDougalls story. He then described his return to good health and ended with: I thank Roger MacDougall, whose diet made it possible to carry out these observations.

    (3) Ashton Embry has written an article MS - probable cause and best-bet treatment in which he discusses the dietary and food allergy links to MS.

    (4) In Gluten Intolerance by Beatrice Trum Hunter, Keats Publishing Inc. New Canaan, CT. ISBN 0-87983435-8 She talks about a Dr. R. Shatin in Australia who has suggested that an inherited susceptibility to multiple sclerosis is from a primary lesion in the small intestine resulting from gluten intolerance, and that the demyelination is secondary. Shatin suggested that the high incidence of multiple sclerosis in Canada, Scotland and western Ireland may be related to the predominant consumption of Canadian hard wheat, which has the highest gluten content of all wheat varieties. In contrast, the incidence of multiple sclerosis is low among indigenous Equatorial Africans who mainly consume non-gluten containing grains such as millet.

    (5) In Multiple Sclerosis, by Jan de Vries, Mainstream Publishing, (Thorntons?) UK it recommends absolutely no gluten and very high reduction of dairy products, refined sugar, and saturated fats. He says that one of his most successful case studies, confirm that absolutely not one pinch if flour i.e. absolutely no gluten at all... otherwise you are deceiving yourself.

    (6) According to Dr. Joe Murray at the University of Iowa there is the possibility that the MS patient suffers from a neurological complication of undiagnosed celiac disease. About 5% of celiac patients get nerve damage that can vary from tingling and numbness in the feet to confusion, memory loss, dizziness and loss of balance, visual abnormalities. This sometimes happen in the absence of GI symptoms.

    (7) Lutz, W.J., The Colonization of Europe and Our Western Diseases, Medical Hypotheses, Vol. 45, pages 115-120, 1995

    Dr. Lutz argues that there is a clear, inverse relationship between civilisatory diseases and the length of time the people of a given region of Europe have had to adapt to the high carbohydrate diet associated with the cultivation of cereal grains that was begun in the Near East, and spread very slowly through Europe.

    I quote from the first page of the article:

    In over thirty years of clinical practice, I have found, as published in numerous papers and several books (3, 4), that diet works well against Crohns disease, ulcerative colitis, multiple sclerosis, heart failure, acne and other problems.

    Don Wiss can e-mail a copy of the article text to those requesting.

    (8) There is a fellow named Dave Q that has recovered with a gluten-free diet and lots of supplements. He discusses this, along with other recovery stories.

    (9) There is supposedly a newsgroup for those interested in Natural Recovery of MS. Its alt.support.mult-sclerosis.alternatives. Ask your system administrator to add it if you cant find it. But it seems to be hard to find.

    (10) A page on Milk and MS is from the Carbondale Center for Macrobiotic Studies and blames dairy for the distribution of MS. Visit: http://www.macrobiotic.org/health3.html

    (11) The following is a list of articles in medical journals, which were published at about the time that prednisone became popular in the treatment of MS. They appear to connect MS with celiac-like intestinal morphology.

    • Cook, Gupta, Pertschuk, Nidzgorski Multiple Sclerosis and Malabsorption Lancet; June 24, 1978, p. 1366
    • Fantelli, Mitsumoto & Sebek Multiple Sclerosis and Malabsorption Lancet May 13, 1978 p. 1039-1040
    • Davison, Humphrey, Livesedge et al. Multiple Sclerosis Research Elsevier Scientific Publishing New York, 1975

    I find it curious that the connection between malabsorption and MS stopped at about the same time that prednisone and other such steroids became the treatment of choice for MS. As Im sure you know, prednisone incites the re-growth of the villi despite the ingestion of gluten, in the celiac gut. Investigators who did endoscopies on MS patients admit that they have not asked about the patients use of such drugs.

    (12) Some literature from the celiac view point:

    • Drs. Cooke & Holmes in Celiac Disease 1984; Churchill Livingstone, NY say that 10% of celiacs have neuropathic symptoms. Many appear to be associated with demyelination. Fineli et. al. echo that figure in Adult celiac disease presenting as cerebellar syndrome Neurology 1980; 30: 245-249.
    • Cooke & Holmes come right out and express some of their frustration with neurologists for ignoring the potiential for neuropathic celiac.
    • A new school has emerged, on the heels of the following report:
    • Hadjivassiliou, et. al. Does cryptic gluten sensitivity play a part in neurological illness? Lancet 1996; 347: 369-371
    • They found that 57 percent of those with neurological problems of unknown cause also had antibodies to gliadin, which is a component of gluten. Sixteen percent of them had celiac disease, a much higher level than normally found. Most of the patients with the anti-gliadin antibodies did not have other symptoms of celiac disease such as poor absorption of vitamins.

    (13) There is supposedly a book on MS written by a Greg Nooney, a fellow that has cured himself with a gluten-free diet. He may be in Colorado.


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    2007 had a full-scale MS blow out - degenerated, full 1.5 yrs in bed and dying. Within a couple of days of dying, friend suggested possible gluten Intolerance. We'd never even heard of it before (this was before the awareness craze!). Started the diet that hour. Within a day could understand and speak English again, the next day I could sit up, the next could hold a fork. Remarkable recovery off my death bed, though I had been so far gone with full body systemic shut down that it took another 3 years to heal using foods, nutrition, herbs and getting OFF 15 drugs that ultimately were killing me. For a year after completely healed, I walked, hiked, and swam at the gym 5-6 days a week and had my life back! But this past month, I am in full neurological melt down again. Don't know if I am being inadvertently exposed to gluten or if it's some toxin in my environment - or what. Running out of time and tricks. But I swear there's a direct connection with our gut issues, immune system, gluten intolerance and neuro symptoms (for some of us.) Looking into medicinal pot next as I've seen new studies regarding benefits of cannabis on MS.

    Did you also give up dairy. I keep reading that people with MS do that too.

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  • About Me

    Celiac.com's Founder and CEO, Scott was diagnosed with celiac disease  in 1994, and, due to the nearly total lack of information available at that time, was forced to become an expert on the disease in order to recover. Scott launched the site that later became Celiac.com in 1995 "To help as many people as possible with celiac disease get diagnosed so they can begin to live happy, healthy gluten-free lives."  In 1998 he founded The Gluten-Free Mall which he sold in 2014. He is co-author of the book Cereal Killers, and founder and publisher of Journal of Gluten Sensitivity.

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