Gluten Intolerance and Peripheral Neuropathy

Dr. Rutherford:  We’re going to share with you in this particular broadcast and will keep it relatively short. This is a topic that can really get away from us. We’re going to be talking about gluten intolerance and peripheral neuropathy. Gates and I work as some of you may know who watch these a lot with chronic pain neuropathy tends to be a significant part of our practice. There are probably about 80 different causes for peripheral neuropathy as per the neurology series that is put out by the medical profession, every what, every four years or something like that.

Dr. Gates:  Yeah, contemporary neurologists.

Male Voice:  And the contemporary neurology series, which is the Bible for the medical neurologists and their surgeons and so on and so forth, even though a lot of people have been told it’s either diabetes or your back or tarsal tunnel, or we don’t know what it is; and so that’s four. There are about 80; they are correct. We have found that, unfortunately, to be true and one of those 80 is a gluten intolerant peripheral neuropathy. It seems like gluten still gets some bad press out there. I actually saw the big boy, what’s his name? He used to be on Oprah.

Dr. Gates:  Dr. Oz.

Dr. Rutherford:  Dr. Oz had a little controversy a few weeks ago saying, “Well it’s a scam,” he said to the audience. They screamed, and then he said, “Well, well, maybe it’s not a total scam.” Well let me tell you it’s not a scam. And there is a certain percentage of you that have it and there’s a certain percentage of you that have it that don’t know you have it; and there’s a certain percentage of you that know about gluten that don’t know that gluten intolerance may not manifest as messing up your stomach and giving you symptoms there, but may mess up your nervous system, your brain and all your nerves. And there’s a certain moderate to small percentage of you in which it will have an effect or actually create your peripheral neuropathy.

Dr. Gates:  Right.

Dr. Rutherford:  So I’m going to leave it to Dr. Gates to take it from there relative to his findings and working with peripheral neuropathy patients and his research and he can share that with you so you have a better understanding of that one mechanism of what may potentially be causing your peripheral neuropathy.

Dr. Gates:  Well, it was first observed in celiac disease patients, that they had an increased risk of developing peripheral neuropathy as well as things like balance problems, termed ataxia. But the landmark study …

Dr. Rutherford:  Celiac is?

Dr. Gates:  Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease against gluten, where if you eat gluten your immune system not only attacks the gluten but attacks your intestines.

Dr. Rutherford:  Right.

Dr. Gates:  Now relative to the …

Dr. Rutherford:  They have gut problems.

Dr. Gates:  And there is only a marked study coming out of England with Dr. Hajira Sulu. I’ll pronounce his name correctly one of these years.

Male Voice:  Okay.

Dr. Gates:  But Dr. Hajira Sulu, out of the United Kingdom in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry in 2006, had this amazing study where he took a bunch of patients with ‘idiopathic peripheral neuropathy, which means we don’t know the cause of their peripheral neuropathy. They don’t have diabetes, they don’t have B12 deficiency, but they have neuropathy. And he found that 34% of them had a gluten intolerance, meaning their immune system was attacking the gluten. It was in a different form than those with celiac disease, but when their immune system was attacking gluten that could be associated with peripheral neuropathy through an indirect mechanism that we don’t need to go into.

Dr. Rutherford:  Well this gentleman is the lead researcher; he is the top neurological researcher relative to gluten and its effect on the brain and nervous system in the world.

Dr. Gates:  Yes.

Dr. Rutherford:  Bar none, and he is like the word on this stuff.

Dr. Gates:  He has over 100 articles published on the matter.

Dr. Rutherford:  Yes.

Dr. Gates:  And so this has created a huge stir in the neurology community. It’s come up against a lot of resistance, but frankly Dr. Hajila Sulu has won. Now he has a chapter in the Handbook of Clinical Neurology on gluten- related disorders, meaning problems of gluten causing neurologic complications, including problems with balance, including peripheral neuropathy. We are now seeing that certain muscle diseases can be secondary to gluten problems. So those out there suffering with ‘idiopathic peripheral neuropathy’ you really need to be screened for a gluten intolerance. Also note that the lab testing is not fantastic on this matter. We did an entire broadcast, for an hour, that you can get on regarding gluten and the testing problems relative to sensitivity and specificity. So just know that you have to get repeat testing for gluten antibodies and know that it could be causing your peripheral neuropathy and we’re now seeing that it can cause a significant number of idiopathic neuropathy cases.

Dr. Rutherford:  And what would be the symptoms that the viewer would expect to see in a gluten sensitive peripheral neuropathy?

Dr. Gates:  That’s really interesting, because it can manifest in any way, shape, or form of peripheral neuropathy. It can cause small fiber neuropathy characteristics, which means you have more pain, more burning pain, more autonomic features, which is where your feet will turn blue or you gain erectile dysfunction at the same time that you have this burning pain in your feet; or it can manifest with kind of the garden variety of peripheral neuropathy, termed dissymmetric neuropathy, which is basically you get numbness and tingling in your feet and you start to get a few problems with balance, but your muscle strength is good. It can manifest as a sensory neuropathy, which is also known the ganglia anopathy, just fancy terms. All you need to know is where the person can’t feel anything throughout their entire body. And Dr. Hajila Sulu showed one of his reports that upwards of half of these cases were due to gluten. I mean this is just phenomenal, because as soon as you get into the nuances of this as Dr. Rutherford said, you know, there could be 80 different causes of peripheral neuropathy past diabetes. Gluten is showing its head as a major formidable
factor relative to this entire problem of peripheral nerve disorders.

So I think that pretty well covers it. You know, in our clinic we look at factors such as gluten heavily in testing of our patients with peripheral neuropathy. And we do a unique form of peripheral nerve rehab for brain cases back of idiopathic peripheral neuropathy where we actually have patients feeling better in terms of their numbness, tingling, burning pain, lack of balance problems. And it’s very rewarding. It coupling the approach of shock in the nerves back into life and facing the underlying metabolic problems; and for those with the gluten neuropathy it’s basically getting gluten out of the diet. And studies have shown that if you eliminate gluten from the diet and you have peripheral neuropathy, secondary to a gluten [inaudible: 00:07:03] peripheral neuropathy that the nerves will actually conduct signals better. But lots of times the symptoms don’t go away. And there have also been studies done where they’ve gone and they’ve tried shocking the nerves back into life and the person will feel a little bit better for a couple of days, but then they go right back to how they were working.

And so we’re pretty excited because we’ve coupled the two approaches together and we’re seeing some neat changes. And so, again, if you have any other questions go to You can forward us individual questions there as well as the fact that we have tons of other videos on gluten. We have one on small fiber neuropathy. We just did one on B12 deficient neuropathy and we’re going to do one on statin neuropathy right now. So thank you for watching, and we’ll see you soon.

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