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Update on a Celiac Disease and Parkinson's Disease Link

Wendy Cohan, RN


I've been very interested in reading the responses to the previous blog discussing whether there could be a link between celiac disease or gluten intolerance and Parkinson's disease. There still is not any clinical information linking these two disorders. Many people do feel there is some connection, or in some cases, gluten-sensitivity driven neurological symptoms have lead to being misdiagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Three or four people are currently embarking on a gluten-free diet and are tracking their symptoms for me. So, in the future there may be at least a few anecdotal cases to report on. If you have Parkinson's like symptoms, don't give up hope!


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Great articles. When I found out about my own celiac in 1996, I knew that my Auntie Tia who had Parkinson's also had celiac. I tried to get in touch with Michael J. who lived in Burnaby near Vancouver. We still have to get in touch with him! How? My Auntie Tia was my mum's sister. My mum was diagnosed at the age of one or so with celiac disease: 1923. It was called an intestinal disorder or a diabetes linked condition. Nonetheless, Mum was put on a gluten-free diet and lived. Her brother, Norman got Rheumatoid Arthritis and went blind by the age of 20. He wrote a book, No Time For Why about living crippled and blind. The other brother in the family, Wallace, had diabetes and depression. So 4 children in the family had celiac related conditions. My grandparents both had intestinal problems and Grannie died in her 50s from related problems. It is too bad that the rest of the family didn't go gluten free along with my mother.

All the best,


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The Mayo Clinic has published numerous articles on SYMPTOMATIC MYOCLONUS, a/k/a SECONDARY MYOCLONUS. A CNN article discussing these Mayo Clinic studies is available to everyone at this address: http://cgi.cnn.com/HEALTH/library/DS/00754.html.


In summary, Parkinson’s Disease is a SYMPTOMATIC MYOCLONUS. And, according to the CNN article, and the Mayo Clinic studies, so is the SECONDARY MYOCLONUS related to Celiac Disease.


According to the Google dictionary, myoclonus is roughly and non-medically defined as, “a clonic spasm of a muscle or muscle group.â€


Although Parkinson’s Disease and the SECONDARY MYOCLONUS related to Celiac Disease are both Symptomatic Myoclonus, they have different causes. Research scientists still do not know what causes Parkinson’s Disease. According to the Mayo studies, the Secondary Myoclonus related to Celiac Disease is caused by improper nutrition, a common problem with Celiac Disease, because of damage to the villi in the small intestine, caused by exposure to gluten. This is why those with Celiac Disease remove gluten from their diet, so that their small intestines and the villi within, may heal. There are many secondary medical conditions related to damaged small intestines. But my post is only about the Secondary Myoclonus related to Celiac Disease.


So, the good news is that Secondary Myoclonus related to Celiac Disease may not get any worse (worse tremors) once gluten is removed from the diet. (Some damage may not ever heal though) The bad news, is that with Parkinson’s Disease, we don’t have a lot of answers yet. Also, it is difficult to find a neurologist that has sufficient knowledge to differentiate between the Secondary Myoclonus types, unless they have intimate knowledge of Celiac Disease. I know several people, with Celiac Disease, who have been misdiagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. They are all now under the care of qualified neurologists with an understanding of Celiac Disease; however, they don’t often require the medical care of neurologists anymore now that they are on gluten-free diets. One, previously and wrongly medicated for Parkinson’s Disease, no longer takes meds.


On a personal note please trust your instincts and your own heart. Doctors can't always get it right it isn't statistically even possible, as we with Celiac Disease already know. Most of us could make A LOT of money on the misdiagnoses doctors have thus-far made on us. Which is why I can't understand why doctors aren't picking up on the 1/132 is it? 10 years ago in med school some were told it was 1/2000. Seems to me this is something they should pick up on faster, given the potential for getting sued. Anywho...

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Hi everyone,

I have been experiencing some mild myoclonus in my hands mostly. I have been trying a variety of supplements, which in some ways have helped, but never really stopped my myoclonus. Recently, I read two things that do seem to make a big difference. First, is what you are discussing, the connection of celiacs and myclonus. The days I intentionally remove wheat products from my diet, I essentially have no problems. Additionally, many of my symptoms were similar to a magnesium deficiency. I have been taking a magnesium supplement and that also seems to help significantly.


Best of luck.

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I have Young Onset Parkinson's Disease, tremor onset 2002, and celiac disease, formerly IBS. I do not have any of the genetic markers identified so far to indicate Parkinson's Disease, but I do respond dramatically to the PD medications. I have been on a strict gluten-free diet for over a year now, and have had no PD symptoms abatement.


What I can offer you is that both diseases are felt to be triggered through the gut. Someone may have the predisposition, for either one or both, but may never experience symptoms if there is no trigger.


I seem to be acutely sensitive to toxins of all stripes. I can smell and taste what others can't. Are some of us just more susceptible genetically to certain kinds of disease? I don't know. Anyway, food for thought...

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