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Autism Treatment – Gluten Sensitivity & Serotonin Levels

Posted on 03 February 2010 by admin

I have talked before in various recordings on this site about gluten sensitivity and Celiac disease. We’ve also mentioned that gluten for many kids with special needs actually creates peptides, peptides are small amino acid chains that actually have a chemical or drug like effect on brain chemistry. So they can affect attention and focusing and behavioral issues. There is an interesting phenomenon with gluten in that gluten the digestive system can actually, through the breakdown process and if it is not broken down adequately enough create a situation where serotonin is being produced in too high amount, actually in the digestive tract.

We think of serotonin as a neurochemical in the brain that helps with mood, states of happiness, it can be involved in learning. One reason why so many people are given so many antidepressants is to help maintain adequate levels of serotonin in the brain. Well it turns out that for many kids on the Autism spectrum, they actually have the potential to create too much serotonin in the brain and what is happening is their brain chemistry is not breaking down or processing that serotonin appropriately and converting the serotonin that is being produced in its active form. That can contribute to some of the things we see like self stimulatory behavior, attention and focusing problems, behavioral issues, obsessive compulsive behavior, etc.

So if you are creating a situation where they already have too much serotonin that is not being broken down into its active form. Now you are eating gluten and the gluten is stimulating an overproduction of serotonin in the digestive tract and the serotonin is absorbed into the bloodstream, carried throughout the body, that just leads to serotonin an overall increased pool of serotonin. That can be one reason why some children on the Autism spectrum have such a sensitivity to gluten. It is really set apart from tried and true diagnostic assessments or what is known to be with respects to Celiac disease.

So there is a lot of complexity to food sensitivity and how some of these foods react in our body. But that is one mechanism, is that gluten and the breakdown process or the inability to breakdown gluten in the digestive tract can stimulate serotonin production, serotonin production is therefore increase and then the problem of actually converting that serotonin into its active form can be problematic for many kids with special needs.

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