Allergies, anxiety, asthma, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, casomorphin, constipation, dairy free, digestive health, fibromyalgia, food allergies, food intolerances, gluten, gluten free, gluteomorphin, gut health, health & wellness, holistic wellness, inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome, leaky gut, Mental Health, My Story, Nutrition, obesity, Parenting, pediatric mental health, sinus issues, stomach pain

Getting ‘Glutened’ is Drugging My Kid! I’ve had it!! (Digestive Health Series, Part 3)

So, What does getting ‘glutened’ look like?

A. Laziness, fatigue

B. Anxious, depressed, irritable, angry

C. Disoriented, unaware, spaced out, Cognitive dysfunction

D. Stomach ache, migraine, joint pain

E. All of the above and then some!!!

Anyone that has talked with me knows this is a hot topic for me. What bothers me the most is the total disregard of our society for the people that have true dietary issues that are ignored by the general population, including much of the medical population. As a nurse practitioner, I don’t like to say we’re missing things in medicine, but… WE ARE MISSING THINGS!!!!

As a mom, I knew there was more to it, and I knew I needed to keep searching for answers. Never. Give. Up. That’s going to be the name of my book. I’m not really a very good writer, avoided it like the plague in school. I have no idea where to start with a book, but it’s a goal of mine, and I need to share our story with other families. Moms need to know that it is worth every bit of energy you use figuring out how to help your child. 

He is so bright, it puts him on a different level. Friends started noticing it before I did, he put concepts together that 2-year-olds just didn’t put together. He was smarter than some of the adults in his world and it caused problems. Problems that gradually got worse as the years went on. There were jokes about Einstein being thrown out of school, he even has a hat with Al on it. But, seriously, it took a decade of lots of struggles and difficulties to realize he wasn’t going to get better with prescriptions or school accommodation or anything else traditionally done for bright, ADHD kids. We’d been trying for years, and things were just getting worse… WHY??? 

This post doesn’t need to turn into that book yet, so let me fast forward a decade to what I’ve discovered after NEVER GIVING UP. It is exhausting to help a child like mine, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I love him just the way he is. (Well, it would be nice if he listened a little better, but he is 14. 😉 )

Here’s what contributed to my boy’s ADHD>>>>> gluteomorphins and casomorphins. It’s that easy! HA! Ever heard of gluteomorphins and casomorphins? Me neither…very few people have. So, it’s not that easy. It’s rarely that easy.

Let’s Start Here

“Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat (…), rye, barley and triticale – a cross between wheat and rye. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together. Gluten can be found in many types of foods, even ones that would not be expected.” Read more here.

“Casein is the name for a family of related phosphoproteins (αS1, αS2, β, κ). These proteins are commonly found in mammalian milk, making up 80% of the proteins in cow’s milk and between 20% and 45% of the proteins in human milk.[1]”    Read more here.

What Happens to Those that are Sensitive to Gluten & Casein

About 40% of our population is sensitive to gluten per the top Pediatric GI Doc at CHOP (Children’s of Philadelphia, 2016), 10% of those have Celiac Disease. That leaves A LOT of other people allergic and/or sensitive to gluten even though they do not have celiac disease. Let me repeat myself… Just because you do not have a positive lab test for Celiac Disease does not mean you are not sensitive or allergic to gluten.

Damaged villi, photo courtesy of

According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, “Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine.  It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide.  Two and one-half million Americans are undiagnosed and are at risk for long-term health complications.” Read more here SO, for those that are gluten allergic or sensitive, continuing to eat gluten WILL lead to a condition called Leaky Gut (diagnostically known as Intestinal hyperpermeability) and sooner or later other disease processes, maybe even progressing from gluten sensitive to Celiac’s. Read more about Leaky Gut and all the disease processes it causes here

Now, why does casein matter? Many of us are not tolerant of casein either. It leads to an inflammatory response that is systemic (full body). How many people do you know that are (or think they are) lactose intolerant? Lots, right? Well, my theory is that it’s the protein not the sugar. Casein is a milk protein (whey is the other), and lactose is milk sugar. Most allergies are to proteins. 😉 Take a moment to think about that. For all you lactose intolerant people out there, get rid of the casein, you just might see some positive health changes. Casein can cause typical allergy symptoms.

Many people think their environmental allergies are bothering them when it may be a food allergy, a food diary can help determine the difference. Gluten sensitivity and casein sensitivity can cause typical sinus and allergy symptoms. There can also be more subtle symptoms that aren’t even thought of as allergy symptoms because the sinus issues aren’t always present. Most people don’t think of a stomach ache or headache as a food intolerance symptom. In my experience, food intolerances seem to be one of the primary causes of childhood abdominal pain and headaches, and let’s not forget constipation.

inflammation leads to

So, how does all this lead to ADHD and Anxiety and Communication Disorder…. back to the leaky gut concept, inflammation, gluteomorphins and casomorphins. So, leaky gut is a phenomenon of intestinal wall irritation and inflammation that causes a breakdown in the digestive process and allows foreign particles into our system that should not be there. Our immune system recognizes these foreign particles and sets up a plan for attack, enter the inflammatory process. When this happens, the immune system starts to build antibodies (defenses) against the foreign invaders. These foreign invaders are gluten and casein proteins that were supposed to continue through the digestive system and exit, not be absorbed into our body. Oops! Not good!

This is where the problems start!

“Gliadorphin (also known as gluteomorphin) is an opioid peptide that is formed during digestion of the gliadin component of the gluten protein. It is usually broken down into amino acids by digestion enzymes. It has been hypothesized that children with autism have abnormal leakage from the gut of this compound. This is partly the basis for the gluten-free, casein-free diet. Studies of this diet have had important methodological flaws, and the scientific evidence is not adequate to make treatment recommendations. However, abnormally high levels of gliadorphine have been found in the urine of autistic children via mass spectrometry testing.” Read it on Wiki.

“Casomorphins are peptides, i.e., protein fragments, derived from the digestion of milk protein casein.[1] … Although research has shown high rates of use of complementary and alternative therapies for children with autism, including gluten and/or casein exclusion diets, as of 2008 there was lack of evidence that these diets had any effect.[7] From Wiki. We’ve learned a lot since 2008, trust me.

So, now that you know gluteomorphin and casomorphin are peptides, let me tell you what they are related to… opioids. Opioids? What?? Isn’t that morphine and heroin and all those other addictive pain killers? Yup, the same drugs that you are thinking about. Are you starting to see the problem???

When people think they are ADDICTED to food… THEY ARE!!!!! Anyone that is sensitive to gluten and/or casein will have the same addiction problems craving food as people have with drugs. In my opinion, casomorphin and gluteomorphin cause disturbances just like drugs too, maybe even worse for those that are really sensitive and/or allergic. When I think of what a little morphine does for a patient post-op, it’s ideal, BUT for short term use only (for a reason). Think about ingesting gluten and casein daily for decades. Think about how inflamed your system is going to be trying to combat and detox from all that. And, there is definitely a detox period. This article, The Storm Before The Calm from the Nutritional Therapy Association, can tell you all about the detox and withdrawal.

Gluteomorphin and Casomorphin peptides sit in the opioid receptors of the brain. Are you wondering if this affects thought processes and cognitive function? Why, yes, yes, it does. Do you see why I said my kid is being drugged from gluten? It makes me want to SCREAM. The conventional medical docs that say there isn’t enough evidence to support the nutrition theory, that it’s quackery. The FDA is a little biased by Big Pharma. We really need to be our own advocates.

I write this article because people need to know.  Share this with anyone and everyone that has ADHD kids, autistic kids, kids with food allergies, kids with anxiety, kids that get migraines, kids that have chronic belly pain, kids that are obese, kids with asthma… you and I both know there are more. That’s a lot of kids, friends!! So, PLEASE SHARE THIS INFORMATION!!!

I am learning more ways to help my son, but that is for another post, this one is lengthy enough. I invite you to learn more, do your research, please share anything you find with me. This is a journey of ever-changing knowledge. We are still learning so much about the brain and how it works. Some of the things I’ve learned to help my son didn’t exist 10 years ago when I started searching. Times are constantly changing and we need to keep up. Don’t let others tell you that your child is destined to be on medication or have challenges that cannot be resolved, DO YOUR RESEARCH!! It will matter, it will pay off, and your family will be healthier and happier for it!

There are too many unknowns and secrets on this crazy journey we call life, the only way we are going to survive is to help each other. So, friends, when someone says their child cannot eat “________” (gluten, dairy, nuts, etc.) please understand it is a matter of daily functioning and survival, not just some fad diet. Trust me, I’ve lived it and know plenty of others that have also. It’s real. So, please educate yourself and others so we can quit drugging the kids and ourselves.

The wellness of our society depends on all of us being educated, and healthy. Don’t depend on someone else to pave the way for you. Make your own path. Learn what works for you and your family. Learn what it takes for you and yours to be well & Enjoy the Journey! 

~Be Well. Kp 🙂

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