Gluten-free Diet Could Help Control Seizures in People With Epilepsy who Have Celiac Disease

Posted Oct 4 2016 in Conditions related to epilepsy

A gluten-free diet could help control seizures in people with epilepsy who have celiac disease, according to a study published in the scientific journal Advances in Clinical and Experimental Medicine.

The researchers, led by Dr Mohammad Ghadami, at Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences, in Iran, studied 113 people with epilepsy in two Iranian hospitals. They first measured the levels of a protein called ‘anti-immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibody’ in their blood, which is indicative of celiac disease. They then took two to three small intestine biopsies from those tested positive for IgA antibodies, to confirm the presence of celiac disease. A total of seven people (6% of all those with epilepsy) were diagnosed with celiac disease in this way.

These seven people then received a gluten-free diet for five months and their seizure activity was recorded. The results showed that at the end of the five months, seizures were completely under control and antiepileptic drugs were discontinued for six of the seven subjects. For the remaining one paticipant, anticonvulsant drugs were reduced by half and seizures were controlled.

These findings suggest that people with epilepsy who have gastrointestinal symptoms should be screened for celiac disease, since the administration of a combination of a gluten-free diet and anticonvulsant treatment may be effective in treating them.

Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune condition affecting the small intestine, which gets worse when gluten-containing foods such as wheat and its products are consumed.

Although the mechanisms underlying the association between celiac disease and epilepsy are not fully understood, some researchers have speculated that antibodies related to celiac disease may be toxic for neurons and trigger the development of epilepsy. A number of studies have shown that epilepsy can also develop in other immune-mediated conditions such as systemic lupus and myasthenia gravis.

Author: Dr Özge Özkaya

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