Common Ingredient Linked to Mental Illness

A recent study in the journal Biological Psychiatry found that gluten sensitivity may be linked to schizophrenia and psychosis.  Scientists at the Department of Pediatrics, John Hopkins School of Medicine studied 471 people including: 129 with recently-developed psychosis and 191 with mild schizophrenia, and 151 people with neither condition to act as controls for the experiment.

Gluten is a set of specific proteins found in some grains like wheat, oats, barley, spelt, kamut, rye, and others, as well as baked goods, cereals, seasonings, and other foods made from them.

The scientists measured levels of various types of antibodies to determine whether people with either schizophrenia or psychosis had any greater sensitivity to gluten than people without mental illness.  Fewer than 1 percent of those with mental illness showed signs of celiac disease—a disease characterized by the inability to digest gluten and many resulting disabling symptoms.  However, a significant number of people with schizophrenia and psychosis had high levels of antibodies to gluten.

The sufferers of mental illness showed many of the same features of celiac disease but a different immune response was involved.  Those with mental illness also differed substantially in their reactions to gluten than did the control group without mental illness.  This study suggests that an abnormal immune response to gluten may be involved with these two forms of mental illness.  Of course, further research is needed but this study gives people an important dietary factor to consider when dealing with mental illness.

5 Gluten-Free Flours
Going Gluten-Free?
9 Gluten-Free Grains

Michelle Schoffro Cook, MSc, PhD, RNCP, ROHP


Camilla Vaga
Camilla Vaga2 years ago


Joan S.
Joan S.2 years ago


Elena T.
Elena Poensgen2 years ago

Thank you :)

Daphne H.
Daphne H.2 years ago


Dale O.

Certainly, more research is required, an interesting article.
As always, there are often many questions and research areas.

Agreed, tiffany t. It is hard to believe that everything about the issue of mental illness is simply in the imagination of psychiatry and that it is a profession used just to boost the pharmaceutical industry, or then one could make the same sort of generalization about all of medicine in particular. There is certainly a variety of treatments available as well as you had mentioned.

Mac C.
mac C.2 years ago

Hopefully this topic has been research more thoroughly in the 3 years since it's been written or perhaps it needs more time. interesting article, nonetheless. Thanks.

Chaaht Aggarwal
Chaaht Aggarwal2 years ago

great information

Fi T.
Fi T.2 years ago

We are what we eat

Nimue P.

Very interesting, thank you Michelle :)

Anne K.
Anne K.2 years ago

Thank you!