Peripheral neuropathy is a disorder that affects nerves outside of the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include loss of sensation, muscle weakness, pain, and abnormal reflex response. For instance, a person may experience pain, numbness, or a “pins and needles” sensation in any part of the body. Diverse factors can cause these symptoms, but some people report significant relief on gluten-free diets.
Many of these individuals claim that their neuropathic pain was exacerbated by consuming gluten-containing foods. Additionally, some people have experienced less pain when avoiding ingredients such as wheat and gluten.
Learning more about the condition is vital to manage your symptoms. Read on as we discuss the connection between peripheral neuropathy and gluten-free diets.
Is There a Connection Between Gluten Sensitivity and Neuropathy?
An immune response to food that contains gluten causes the autoimmune disorder known as gluten sensitivity or a celiac disease. The body may develop antibodies to proteins in the brain, optic nerve, or spinal cord after ingesting gluten. Yet, is gluten sensitivity connected to neuropathy or nerve damage in any way?
A sensitivity to gluten in the diet has been linked to nerve damage called neuropathy, and a new study appears to back that up. The study found that a gluten-free diet may help reduce pain caused by gluten sensitivity in some people.
Can Gluten-Free Diets Decrease the Pain of Any Kind of Peripheral Neuropathy?
The term “gluten-free” refers to avoiding foods containing wheat, rye, or barley. Essentially gluten gives the dough its flexible texture. Gluten-free products use substitutes like rice or soy flour.
A study published in 2018 found that gluten-free diets helped ease pain associated with gluten neuropathy. When it comes to other forms of neuropathy it has been reported that a gluten-free diet can decrease the pain of neuropathy.
Another observational trial found that reducing consumption of foods containing soluble fiber (such as bread, breakfast cereals, and pasta) can significantly reduce pain for people suffering from diabetic nerve damage (neuropathy). This is because such foods increase blood sugar quickly. In contrast, healthy whole grains like quinoa and oats don’t have this effect on blood sugar.
What Is Gluten Neuropathy and What Causes It?
Gluten neuropathy is a form of neuropathy that causes numbness and pain in the extremities. For those with celiac disease and gluten neuropathy, consulting a doctor before embarking on a gluten-free diet is important. As it helps to rule out other potential sources of neuropathy.
Gluten neuropathy is one of the most prevalent neurological signs of gluten sensitivity. It falls under idiopathic peripheral neuropathy (i.e. neuropathy with an unknown cause) with serological evidence (i.e. blood tests) of gluten sensitivity. Blood tests can help identify celiac disease, as people who consume gluten have a higher level of some antibodies.
There are many possible causes of peripheral neuropathy, including:
- Genetic factors
- Autoimmune diseases such as diabetes and lupus
- Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation
- Certain medications such as chemotherapy agents, and
- Antiretroviral agents used to fight HIV/AIDS
Damage to the myelin sheath of peripheral nerves causes gluten neuropathy. Conversely, in a healthy body, this nerve coating is impermeable and acts as a protective wrap around the axon of a neuron. Consequently, symptoms begin to present themselves when there is damage to the myelin.
Better Outcomes with Gluten-Free Modifications
A recent study discovered that patients who avoid foods containing gluten experience less pain from neuropathy than those on a more traditional treatment regime. Making small, yet impactful, lifestyle modifications can result in an improved quality of life and greater overall health for the body and mind.
WinSanTor is a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on the discovery and development of treatments for peripheral neuropathies. We believe in creating a solution that works and brings relief to millions that are struggling with this disease. Learn more about our company, our drug and subscribe to our newsletter.
- “Gluten-Free Diet Curbs Pain in Gluten Neuropathy”. Medscape
- “Gluten-Free Diet Helps Control Pain in Gluten Neuropathy”. Celiac Disease Foundation
- “Cutting Out Gluten May Help Some Battle Nerve Pain”. WebMD
- “Celiac Disease Screening”. Celiac Disease Foundation