Celiac disease and gluten ataxia

Celiac Disease, gluten sensitivity and Gluten Ataxia

Gluten ataxia is abnormal gait, posture or speech due to a reaction to gluten


Celiac disease has been associated with a host of autoimmune disorders, including conditions that affect the central nervous system. Of these, gluten ataxia is perhaps the one that has been most widely described. Gluten ataxia is a chronic condition that causes problems with balance and gait. It occurs when the antibodies that are produced in response to the ingestion of gluten attack the cerebellum, the portion of the brain located in the back of the skull just above your neck. The cerebellum plays a vital role in controlling movement, helping you coordinate the motions associated with activities like articulating speech, walking or running, as well as controlling posture and balance. In this article we discuss  the connection between celiac disease, gluten sensitivity and gluten ataxia.

Gluten ataxia progresses slowly, but left undiagnosed and untreated, the condition progresses, causing irreversible brain damage and lifelong problems with speech, motor control and balance. In fact, MRI studies indicate damage to and shrinkage of the cerebellum is not uncommon in patients with gluten ataxia.

The link between gluten and ataxia has only been demonstrated relatively recently, and not all doctors are aware of the potential association between gluten sensitivity or celiac disease and speech and balance and motor control problems. That means it’s vitally important for people with gluten sensitivity and celiac disease to watch out for symptoms like dizziness, loss of balance and difficulty walking, or problems with articulation (pronouncing words) that could indicate the condition is present and to tell their doctors if they believe they’re experiencing any signs of the condition. The opposite is also true, those with unexplained symptoms of ataxia should find out whether they have antibodies to gliadin using a blood test (a test used in the diagnosis of gluten sensitivity and celiac disease), and explore a possible diagnosis of celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

In addition to ataxia, celiac disease has also been associated with a wide range of peripheral neuropathies, or numbness, tingling or shooting sensations in the hands and feet – that is, those nerves that exist outside of the spinal cord and brain. Most peripheral nerve symptoms are relatively mild and are confirmed by skin biopsy. A few, however, may cause weakness and sensory loss if left untreated.

Brain “fog” is another common complaint among celiac sufferers that may be associated with nerve and brain dysfunction, although no studies have been conducted providing a definitive link. The cerebellum has been implicated in some cognitive and learning processes, so it’s not unreasonable to assume that the same sort of effect that causes ataxia also contributes to problems with cognition, memory or “clear thinking.” In fact, a study conducted by the Mayo Clinic came to the same conclusion in a study of celiac disease and cognitive decline. Another study published in 2014 found patients with celiac disease who complained of brain fog improved markedly when placed on a gluten-free diet.

Being vigilant and talking with your doctor about any unusual symptoms you experience is an integral part of maintaining your health, and so is supporting good nutrition. Since the bowel is already compromised, absorbing nutrients from foods becomes much more problematic in patients with celiac disease, yet the body needs optimal nutrition to help it fight the effects of the disease and to function normally. Taking nutritional supplements is an important way to ensure your body isn’t missing out on critical nutrients that may not be readily available in a gluten-free diet. CeliVites were developed using the most bioavailable forms of nutrients so you can feel confident your body is getting the best nutrition possible. Read more about CeliVites and the science behind the supplements on our website.

This original article is made possible by Gluten Free Therapeutics. Our mission is to educate, inform, and provide the most effective nutritional products possible to allow those with celiac disease and serious gluten intolerances to heal their bodies. CeliVites complete line of superior gluten free supplements includes multivitamin/multimineral supplements, iron supplements, and calcium supplements for people living with celiac disease. All CeliVites products are designed to help you heal, restore and rebuild your body, because going gluten free isn’t enough! 

Comments ()

  1. Rachel Lanford says:

    I am sensitive to glutton & want to know about your product ..

  2. sherry davis says:

    I had a serious gut problem, bloating, nasty smelling gas, felt like I had swallowed a bag of cement, severe constipation back about 15 years ago. They took out my gallbladder, they said it didn’t work, even though they was nothing wrong with it. There was no stones, gravel and looked fine. For two years I had diarrhea, then just as it started to be normal movements, it stopped, I was back to being totally constipated. I went on a couple more years back to the same problems. It had its toll and I got very sick. I started have walking problems, feeling wierd in my head with in a week I could do nothing but drag my legs while holding on to someone. My nervous system was totally affected, could not hold on to anything, I had rythmatic movements in my hands, I could not control the moments. I was very weak to point I did not know if I would breath through some nights. Dr. diagnosed me with have a nervous breakdown. Ha Ha, I had not been sad or crying, nothing. I was so mad but just wanted to go home and lie down. After weeks and getting second opinions he finally took a Sedimentary test. It was almost at the highest number possible. No apologies just put me on steroids and said I probably had polymyalgia rematica. Eight years later I was still taking them and no diagnosis. I starting throwing up at night. I was fed up with Drs, and specialist. They were doing nothing to find out what was wrong with me. One day I was on line and starting doing some research and Celiac came up. I read it and said I am going on the diet. With in a week I was almost well, I threw away the steroids and it has been over five years now and well. Couldn’t not believe my current Dr. said I am glad we could find out what was wrong with you. I just shook my head. Unbelievable. I never put the nervous problem with the Celiac disease, but it makes sense. I had a year of nursing, which helped me find this. I am so thankful for that. Thanks for the article

    1. Sarah Jordheim says:

      I would be interested in learning more about his information…….thank you.

    2. Shawn says:

      OMG I know exactly how you feel and what you went through. Your story sounds so simular to mine. Thank god they never took out my gold blatter. But since i was 13 doctors have try to put me on pain management and give me vicodin. Yet they had no idea what was wrong. thank god i was to smart to let them turn me in to a drug addict. Took 34 years to figure it out my self. I gave up on doctors and just stoped letting them torture me with tests. Finally thought i got cancer or crones and had to get myself to a doctor. Did a lot of research on my own about colitus and why people get it. When i read how simular celiacs was to crones I figured the only chance i had to not have to start the torture of being back at the mercy of a dr. was to try changing my diet. Plus i was so weak and sick with colitis that i had to eat a special diet anyway to just heal my stomach. I made a food jornal of everything that went passed my lips and every time it came down to gluten in my food that was hidden as artifical or natural flavor.

  3. Crystal Ricca says:

    I have alot of problem’s with food … was told I have leaky gut …

  4. Barbara says:

    My problem is alot like Sherry’s but they put me in the hosp and thought I had everything from cancer, lung problems to heart attack with over doses of steroids. My lung doc’s wife is also a Dr and she took one look at me ( dark under eyes, pale,weak )and said it was gluten, put me on the diet and did the Celiac blood test. I went on the diet that day was was feeling good in 7 days when the test came back positive.

  5. susan says:

    I was told I have celiac disease. Four years ago I threw up bright yellow yuk. I was taking 3 antacids a day prescribed by the dr. Not working. I was in the hospital for 3 days and lost 30 pounds in a month. I went on the gluten free diet and in that 30 days did not take any antacids from then on. I still have brain fog and my speech is slurred at times. If I eat anything that has modified product in it I have to clear my throat for a hour. I feel like I am chocking for an hour. Dr’s have tested my t3 &t4 but never the t5. I think they really don’t believe a person at times. Really tired of being and feeling sick and fatiged.

    1. Sabrina gonella says:

      It know how you feel but can’t stay on my diet

  6. Barb says:

    I have been having balance problems. I had fallen about 6 times within the past couple years. I fell about a week ago..face down on the kitchen floor…Bruised my nose and ribs and had a knot on my forehead.

  7. Carol says:

    For over 30 years I went thru test after test to see why I always had diarrhea after everything I ate! I went thru times when I wouldn’t eat till after 2:00 in the afternoon because I didn’t want to be in the bathroom all day or I just wouldn’t eat. They kept saying it was from not having my gall bladder! Finally after all those years I started with a new Dr. and was told about gluten sensitivity. I started reading and asking questions and watched eating gluten and guess what I haven’t had any diarrhea in over 2 years!

  8. sherry davis says:

    I am glad my story is helpful. I also had dizziness and speech problems. If anyone is having stomach issues and they want to call it IBS, get tested or go on a strict gluten free diet. I would also take a good Probiotic at least at first. Sometimes you have to take your own health into your own hands, the Dr.’s today are pushing pills. I had to take my own health into my own hands because they would not help, eight years of their doing nothing but putting on more meds., I am glad I found the problem. Yes I miss wheat but feeling good is much better.

  9. Johnnie Denson says:

    I was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2010 & have been following a gluten free diet since then. There have been times I have unknowingly consumed food containing gluten, even though we are VERY careful. The results are terrible pain , diarrhea & vomiting. Recently I was hospitalized with terrible headache, dizziness, slurred speech & lack of balance. Many tests were performed to rule out stroke, heart, etc. Final diagnosis was vertigo. I was discharged with scheduled appointments to determine on set. Final was on set unknown. After reading the above article I’m curious, could gluten ataxia trigger vertigo? Thank you!

  10. Sabrina gonella says:

    I have ataxia to

  11. Debbie Stevens says:

    Do you make your multivitamins in spray form? If not, would you consider doing that? I’m worried about the vitamins not being absorbed very well in the intestines. Thanks.

    1. GFT Staff says:

      Hello Debbie,
      We do not use any delivery system other than capsules. We have seen vitamins in liquid form on the market. If you find one you like just make sure it is gluten free.
      Good luck and thank you for your question.

  12. Sue Hanson says:

    This has been a real eye-opening article for me. I fall over often, have terrible balance and get numbness and pain in legs and hands. I never though it could be due to the coeliac disease.
    Currently on a strict gluten free diet and I love when I stick to it as I feel so well, think clearer and have reduced need for anti-infammatories.
    Thanks for the article and everyone’s response- have helped me a lot!

    1. GFT Staff says:

      Yes Sue, Your comment is what we found during the research for this article. While ataxia is diagnosed it is not always traced back to celiac disease. As the studies have shown there can be a connection. Going on a strict gluten free diet will cut down on inflammation which has numerous benefits. Thank you for sharing your story and we wish you good health.

  13. Jenn says:

    I have Gluten Ataxia bad. I woke up paralyzed at age 31. I have over 30 symptoms including permanent brain damage.
    I have a fb page @helpfightglutenataxia. I have found 1 other with Gluten Ataxia from this page and would love to meet more. Please feel free to contact me via fb if interested in meeting others with this disease.

  14. Linda Summers says:

    I have been progressively having more pain and numbness in my feet. I have been gluten free for14 years. Interested in CeliVites.

  15. Bob says:

    Can this ne easly be misdiagnosed as ALS? Seems like the same syptoms. And can this disease be treated?

  16. Shirley says:

    I have ceciliac disease loss my balance have head ache loss balance numbness I hands and feet depression sores on my bottom brain fog and so tired help

  17. Greg Fagan says:

    I was an athlete for 30 + yrs 50 mi per/wk
    runner . Started having balance problems 5 plus
    yes ago . A friend told me a few days ago
    about going GF . It’s only the 3rd day of GF
    when Zi google Gluten and balance problems
    It was me exactly .I hopeIm not too late

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