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Gluten And Behavior/acting Out/bipolar Disorder

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Perhaps I should start this with a brief (hopefully) history. My hubby was diagnosed with Celiac in May. Together we decided that we would not be a completely gluten free family. We have four kids, three of them teenagers, and decided it would not be fair to take away all that they are used to and enjoy (pizza, burger and such). In addition, as you know gluten free products are expensive and feeding a family of 6 all gluten free is not doable. A bit more of brief history. Previously we were having problems with one of our children (3rd child) and anger, disobedience, and so on. Also very much a Mr. Touch Me Not. We sought counseling and the psychiatrist said he had oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), which I pretty much knew already based on my own research. A friend's research also revealed that many ODD kids grow up to have bipolar disorder. Nothing to treat ODD other than hard discipline and waiting for the next "meltdown".

Since hubby's diagnosis he has been gluten free. The kids have had gluten but it has been greatly reduced. Our dinners are, for the most part, gluten free. Since all this the 3rd child seems to be behaving better. Even the hubby commented on it this weekend. I kinda thought it was because I have been tougher and flat out said if you act up there will not be ____ this weekend. But this morning I read something on here about a child with bipolar tendencies acting better since being gluten free. Now I know that my child is not completely gluten free, but could the reduced amount of gluten in his diet be affecting his behavior? Any thought or personal experiences or research you have reviewed would be appreciated.


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Hi, I don't know the answer, but I have read a lot about the gluten free diet helping kids with autism, ADHD and depression. Many adults on here also had anxiety problems before going gluten free. So it makes sense to me that removing gluten from your son's diet may greatly reduce or even take away his ODD. You may also look into removing casein from his diet too. I know you said it's expensive for your big family to eat gluten free all the time, but it's really not that expensive if you eat mostly whole foods that are naturally gluten free. Potatoes, rice and corn are cheap (especially if you buy in bulk) and there are many ways to prepare them. I get my eggs, meat and some produce at BJ's warehouse (similar to Sam's club) so I can buy in bulk and save money. Anyway, I'm sure you can figure out many gluten free meals that are "normal" and inexpensive without having to buy gluten-free replacements. You really should consider getting your whole family tested for celiac if your husband has it anyway. But even if the tests come back negative, I do think the diet can have an impact on someones health. My husband is not gluten free completely, but we eat gluten free at home. Recently we were out some place and he turned down some gluten cookies. His reason was that he "just feels better" when he eats gluten free. He has always had attention-deficient problems and since eating gluten free he has an easier time focusing.

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Yes, it's possible. Gluten and casein have been both linked to behavioral problems.

There IS a treatment for ODD and other bipolar spectrum disorders that is suitable for kids. It's a nutritional supplement called EMPowerPlus. It's expensive but tremendously helpful and can eliminate the need for meds and psychiatric care (which costs just as much). It is available from http://www.truehope.com. I have been taking it for four years now and it has been a godsend for me. Between the EMPowerPlus, fish oil, and a gluten-free diet, I went from bipolar disorder that responded very poorly to meds to complete remission.

As for the expense of a gluten-free diet, I agree that the specialty gluten-free foods are expensive. However, produce, rice, potatoes, cheese, nuts, chex cereal, natural meats, and other naturally gluten-free foods are normally priced.

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My middle daughter is very interested in this subject. She was FINALLY diagnosed bipolar about 5 or 6 years ago and has been doing a lot better w/ the help of awesome doctors and a good medical cocktail. She was diagnosed w/ celiac about 4 years ago. Now she's really wondering what being gluten free and bipolar might have to do w/ each other. It's a subject that's under study, according to her doctor. With the help of her doctor, she's VERY slowly weaning herself off of bipolar meds (w/ babies in mind, I'm thinking) to see if celiac and bipolar are related in any way. Thank GOD for good docs and good med cocktails.

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my son had classic ODD signs. have you read "The Explosive Child"? it described him to the core. he also had some ADHD signs and sensory issues. within a week of being off gluten he was a completely different kid. the first word out of his mouth was no longer "NO!!!" he would willingly do things when i asked instead of going into rages. gluten really seems to effect him mentally. his GI symptoms didn't kick in until this last fall after having behavioral issues since 2005.

i would highly recommend putting you child on a gluten trial trial for the summer. it will be easier to do it now then when school starts up again. you've got nothing to lose by trying.

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I wish I could put my son entirely on glutenfree. His dad was diagnosed as bi-polar in the beginning of 2008. My son turns 3 in August and has had very bad behaviour issues lately. His favorite word is no also. He is also very very sensitive to a lot of things, has a lot of issues with overstimulation. He's very active, one could think, he's ADHD. It's gotten to the point, that I thought, he had Asperger's, because whenever he gets overstimulated he spins a wheel and stares into it up to half an hour without doing anything else. This really relaxes him. It's gotten so bad, that about a months ago we had a trip to the emergency room, because while he was at his dad's house, his finger got caught in a spinning wheel and jammed into the jarn. Ex-rays showed a crack in his thumb and last week he lost his finger nail. I've tried him on a glutenfree diet, whenever he's with me and he's done so much better. This morning in church there were Oreo's on the table and before I could react, he stuck one into his mouth. About 3 minutes later we had the devil in church. It's obvious, that he's getting better, but his dad is totally whatever about all this. Since I have celiacs and also have problems with my temper (could I also be bipolar?) I strongly think, that something like that must be going on with Lukas. In the years past, when I was still married to my ex he forgot to flush after his toilet business every once in a while and when I went and looked at this by accident, I thought more than once: "This totally looks celiac." Whenever I mentioned this to him and the fact that he was irish, he totally brushed it off. According to his words "My son doesn't have celiac disease." I don't know, what to do. I think, even if Lukas would be diagnosed with it, which with my luck won't happen, he still wouldn't give a d... and expose him to a gluten diet. I don't know, what to do anymore.

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Oh, forgot this one. A while back around the time, when I was diagnosed (2004) there was the notion going around, that Irish people have the highest number of people being diagnosed. Rumors are also going around, that Irish people have an explosive temper, especially when they drink. Well, beer has gluten and the fact that the Irish have an explosive temper and a high amount of celiac disease sufferers, maybe indicates, that there is a connection between mood problems/bi-polar and celiac... just a thought. :unsure:

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my son had classic ODD signs. have you read "The Explosive Child"? it described him to the core. he also had some ADHD signs and sensory issues. within a week of being off gluten he was a completely different kid.

I have not read the whole book, only parts of it. I think I checked it out from the library and had to return it before I could finish. Very little time to read sometimes...Anyway...The parts I did read were so much an almost daily part of my life. My Mr. Touch Me Not would get in physical altercations with his Dad, but Dad may have a touch of ODD as well. Not a good mix. He did attempt to get physical with my once but another son stepped in. The explosions over nothing,well you know how it is.

Thank you everyone for your input and thoughts on this. I did mention to my DH what I thought about this, and he actually agreed that I might be on to something. He said his mom told him that the last time my son came over he was "different" and he actually let her half way hug him. However, the other day when I touched him he was very bothered by it. Could have been a day that he had more gluten than the time she saw him.

I agree that the basic gluten free foods are not expensive and are more nutritious. I am just SO tired of potatoes already - lol.

I have not mentioned to my son that I think gluten affects his behavior. Some things have to be said at the right time and this is not it. It does not seem to affect him physically but I am going to keep track of his migraines - something else he got from his Dad. I want him to still be able to be a kid and eat the cool, fun things his friends do - but maybe less of them. Unlike the above posters son one oreo does not turn him into the devil child in church -thankfully - but it does sound like you are very much on to something with his behavior and gluten. In addition, we only had ODD problems at home. School and friends parents think he is a great kid. I am thankful for that. His ODD seemed to be getting better before the reduced gluten in his diet. I cannot explain why though. What I can say is three people (Dad, Gramma, and myself) have now commented him "being a different kid" since we have reduced the gluten in his diet. For now I am going to continue to reduce the gluten in his diet and watch closely. I will bring this up to him in time.

One other "dumb" question...What is casein?

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