Imagine eating something that quickly causes a dramatic change in personality and behaviour. Or perhaps just creates a mental fog, or a depressed mood. Does that sound like a powerful drug, or mind-altering substance? It’s neither of those. It’s something most people eat every day.
In 2018, researchers published a disturbing case history in the journal Nutrients. They told the story of a 14-year-old girl who in 2012 developed psychosis, after recovering from a fever. Her symptoms included headache, irritability, crying episodes, apathy, and trouble concentrating.
The child was referred to a local neuropsychiatric outpatient clinic and treated with the psychoactive drug benziodiazepine. It had no effect, and her mental health deteriorated, with the onset of complex hallucinations. At the same time, she developed gut problems: bloating and severe constipation.
After months of tests, misdiagnoses, scans, a lumbar puncture, and several hospitalizations for psychotic episodes, her symptoms not only remained a mystery, they got worse. By September 2013, she was experiencing severe abdominal pain together with depression, “distorted” and paranoid thinking, and suicidal thoughts.
Two months later, a nutritionist was consulted — not for the child’s psychiatric symptoms, but for her gastrointestinal problems. A gluten-free diet was prescribed, and within a week both intestinal and jpsychiatric syptoms “dramatically improved”.
The child’s mother later reported that, after remaining on a gluten-free diet, her daughter had returned to being a “normal girl”.
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