The Healthy Melissa's Blog

My journey into the world of Health,Wellness, and Functional Medicine

Category: Leaky Gut

Leaky Brain: The GABA Challenge

“There are a lot of people who have no ‘neurological disease’ but they have functional impairment of the brain and neurodegeneration. This means that the degeneration is there, but they’re not far along enough to be diagnosed as having a disease.” – Dr. Datis Kharrazian, June 2017

We all hear about “Leaky Gut” or the scientific name Increased Intestinal Permeability. But did you know that you can also have Leaky Brain and Leaky Lung? Basically anywhere that you have barriers, such as the Blood Brain Barrier or the tissue in the gut (endothelial tissue) (which is identical to that of the lungs). Inflammation tends to happen simultaneously in both areas. So ‘leaky lung syndrome,’ ‘leaky brain,’ & ‘leaky gut syndrome‘ go hand in hand!

“Leaky Brain happens when the tight junctions and fragility of the blood-brain barrier become compromised and leaky.” -The International Journal of Molecular Science

What can cause a leaky blood brain barrier?

1. Inflammation. Brain on fire = Gut on fire. Leaky gut = Leaky Brain

Credit: Dr. Datis Kharrazian

2. Low antioxidants. Not having a diet high in fruits and vegetables, eating non-nourishing foods.

3. Low Glutathione levels. This is the most powerful antioxidant in your body. Glutathione has many roles in the body, such as participating in liver detoxification, helping to get rid of heavy metals in the body, protecting the blood brain barrier, anti-aging.

4. Eating wheat. Eating wheat/gluten literally destroys your brain tissue. Hundreds of documented studies have show the brain MRIs of white matter lesions in people eating wheat before and then after the healing of those lesions after being gluten free for 4-6 months.

5. Eating wheat!!!!!! *(I can’t stress this enough) Dr. Kharrazian conducted a study in 2013 showing that that the gluten in wheat LOOKS like cerebellar tissue and through “molecular mimicry” causes antibodies to a persons own cerebellum. The cerebellum controls coordination, balance and movement. There is no other food protein more devastating to the brain than gluten.

Quick test to show if you have weak/degenerating cerebellar function:

  1. Try to balance on one foot for a few seconds. First stand on your left foot only. Then stand on your right foot only. Are you easily able to balance? Do you fall to one side?
  2. Stand on each foot with your eyes closed and see if you are still able to balance.
  3. Walk heel to toe with out wavering or falling to one side. If you cannot take 3 steps then you have a cerebellar issue.
  4. Walk heel to toe with your eyes closed. If you cannot take 3 steps with out falling or wavering, you have a cerebellar issue.
  5. Try to coordinate the exact speed and timing of the right and left hands with repeated and alternating supination and pronation.

If you had any issue with doing those tests, you have degeneration of your cerebellum. You must stop eating wheat #1. And you need to strengthen the cerebellum by doing those exercises until you no longer fall over or are imbalanced.This creates neuroplasticity.

And if you still don’t think you should stop eating wheat:

You can try doing The Array 3 from Cyrex Labs, this tests the entire wheat proteome instead of just alpha gliadin (which is the most commonly tested part of wheat to determine if you have a wheat allergy. So if this comes back non reactive, you’re deemed “okay” totally neglecting all the other portions of wheat)

Transglutaminases are antibodies to your OWN tissues. The red circle is Transglutaminase 6, found in the cerebellar tissue. This is showing that every time this person eats wheat they are creating antibodies to their brain tissue. The blue circle is Gluteomorphins, which bind to the opioid receptors in the brain – actually causing you to become addicted to wheat and feel withdrawal symptoms when you stop eating it.

How to tell if you have a leaky blood brain barrier:

You can’t exactly tell if you have leaky brain, because you can’t FEEL it. There are no Nociceptors (pain fibers) in the brain. If you get a head ache, that is a vascular issue. We have to look at the whole picture of what is going on with the gut and also some questionnaires to determine what areas of the brain are degenerating.

One hypothesis that Dr. Datis Kharrazian touched on is the GABA Challenge.

Credit: Datis Kharrazian

GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter within the Central Nervous System (CNS) that reduces excitability in the CNS, and causes us to feel calm. It also plays a role in muscle tone.

  • (Side note: Ataxia is an “idiopathic” condition that is characterized by loss of muscle control, stiffness in muscles, unable to move. Studies have found that wheat can create confusion in the process that creates GABA, and cause antibodies to the enzyme responsible for the synthesis of GABA. ‘GAD 65 antibodies’.)

GABA is a relatively large molecule and should NOT pass through the blood brain barrier. So if you’ve ever taken GABA in pill form and it WORKED, you felt relaxed/sleepy….this means you have a leaky blood brain barrier. Not good!

The GABA Challenge is precisely this:

Credit: Datis Kharrazian

  1. On a night when you have nothing planned, take 1000mg of GABA
  2. Notice any unusual slowing down type feelings, tiredness, lethargy.
  3. Although rare, this response can happen too: feeling wired, excitation, agitation. This is still an indication of a compromised BBB.
  4. Any sort of change is an indication for damage to the BBB.

The protocol for repairing leaky brain is similar to that of repairing leaky gut.

1. Support the brain with nutrition. Absolute most important step is to remove inflammatory foods out of your diet.

2. Activate the vagus nerve with exercises such as singing, stimulating your gag reflex (do while brushing your teeth), and gargling water really violently for 5 minutes ’til you have tears coming out of your eyes and snot flowing!

3. Exercises to increase brain function

4. Take anti-inflammatory supplements and spices or eat them in food form. Resveratrol and Turmeric. These work to dampen inflammation in both gut and brain.

5. Aloe vera – Eating Aloe repairs mucosal lining (remember gut on fire = brain on fire)

6. Take probiotics (not cultured on dairy) – Think of the Gut – Brain axis. They are one.

7. EPA/DHA – DHA is a key part of BBB integrity. Consuming fish or a fish oil (or plant based source of DHA if you’re not into fish). 2-3 months of consuming hydrogenated fatty acids, your cell membranes become more rigid. Switching to high quality oils/fatty acids like EPA/DHA causing the cell membranes to be more fluid and carry nutrients more optimally. This impacts the BBB.

8. Doing brain exercises for memory and cognition:

– Matching card games, memory apps such as Brain Trainer, Vismory, Icue Memory, Memory Boost, Memory Pro, Memory Mice IQ Brain Teaser



The Role of Brain Chemistry and The Physiological Impact by Datis Kharrazian

Leaky Gut: How to test for it & How to heal it

Increased Intestinal Permeability, or “Leaky Gut,” is the name for when the tight junctions in your gut lining break apart and allow all kinds of food particles and antigens to cross through, that are normally too big to cross through your gut lining.

Why You Should Care About This:

In hundreds of peer reviewed studies, Leaky Gut has been linked to Cancer, Chronic Systemic Inflammation on a cellular level, Crohn’s Disease, development of Auto-Immune Diseases, Bowel and Intestinal Diseases, Parkinson’s Disease, Constipation, Food Sensitivities/Allergies, SIBO, Acid Reflux, Bloating…the list goes on.

Over 70 million people in the United States have Gut/Digestion issues. These can range from:

-Bloating after you eat a meal (No, bloating is not normal. You’re never supposed to feel bloated after you eat food.)
-Constipation (or alternating between diarrhea and constipation)
-Not going to the bathroom every day – yes you should go every single day.
-Ulcers or Gastritis
-Acid reflux / laryngopharyngeal reflux / GERD (all the same root cause)
-Excessive Belching after a meal
-Excessive Gas after you eat
-Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth
-Food Sensitivites/Allergies
-Candida overgrowth or yeast infections

A lot of these gut issues that plague 70 million Americans seem to be similar to the issues that having Leaky Gut can cause. *BING* Lightbulb moment.

How The Immune System Works:

Oral tolerance is the state of local and systemic immune unresponsiveness to the foods you eat. Simply put, Oral Tolerance is like the super power your immune system has. This super power is to not react negatively react to what foods you put in your mouth.

When you have “lost” oral tolerance, this means that your immune system is severely dysregulated and you’re reacting to everything you’re eating. This can be evidenced by how many foods you react to on a food sensitivity test. If you react to almost everything, then the test is no longer a measure of what you can and can’t eat – it is a measure of oral tolerance.

Regulatory T Cells are the cells that determine what foods you are going to react to or not. When these guys become dysregulated, they begin reacting to almost everything that you eat and this contributes to leaky gut, creates more allergies, auto-immune issues, rashes, asthma, and over all lowered immune function against viruses and bacteria.

What Can Trigger An Immune Response To A Food?

For your immune system to not react to a food/antigen, it must be broken down to less than 5,000 Daltons. (A Dalton is a specific kind of measurement, such as an inch or millimeter that we use to describe distance. A Dalton is a measurement of a particle size.)
So, your food must be broken down by Hydrochloric acid that is in your stomach, and it must be broken down less than 5,000 Daltons. If it is not broken down that small, your immune system will send out cells that tag this food you just ate as a foreign invader. And then other cells come out and destroy this invader – which creates a cascade of inflammation and immune activation. This also creates a memory for any time in the future that you eat this specific food, your immune system will go out and attack it again. While your immune system is busy fighting off these foods, this leaves an opening for viruses and bacteria to sneak through the gates and wreak havoc. Your immune system is so busy with the food that it doesn’t see the viruses and bacteria as quickly. Boom, you get sick. You get cold sores often, you have a weaker functioning immune system.


How Can I Find Out If I Have Leaky Gut?

Above is a sample of a person’s leaky gut test, Green is negative. Yellow and Red mean Positive for antibodies and confirm that you have leaky gut. – This Lab tests for antibodies to different parts of your intestinal barrier as well as the bacterial endotoxin that is only present IF you have leaky gut. If you have any of the follow markers present, it indicates the breakdown of a healthy intestinal barrier, which allow the penetration of large antigenic molecules to travel where they should not be.

A little more detail on the anatomy of your gut lining: The gut is comprised of “The Actomyosin Network” which is a complex protein that regulates intestinal barrier function by maintaining the plasticity of tight junctions.
Zonulin is a protein that regulates the permeability of the intestines.
Occludin is part of the main component of proteins that holds together the tight junctions of your gut lining.
The zonulin and occuludin are supposed to allow the tight junctions of your gut lining to open and close to allow things to pass through. But the problem is when the tight junctions are broken open and remain open constantly.
Lipopolysaccharides are large molecules found in gram-negative bacteria. These are endotoxins, and they can elicit a strong immune response. If these are present in your leaky gut test, this means that these endotoxins have infiltrated through the gut barrier and are now circulating in your body.

What If I Do This Test & I Have Leaky Gut?

Congratulations! You have identified the areas where you are “leaking” and now can pin point how to heal!

The #1 thing that you should do if you have leaky gut or any sort of GI/Neurological issues is……..GET OFF OF GLUTEN AND DAIRY. (See my previous post on how gluten & dairy can contribute to neurological disorders.)

The University of Maryland’s Center for Celiac Research stated that “No one can properly digest gluten. We do not have the enzymes to break it down,”  “It all depends upon how well our intestinal walls close after we ingest it and how our immune system reacts to it.” His concern is that the gluten protein, which is abundant in the endosperm of barley, rye, and wheat kernels, is setting off an aberrant immune response.”

#1 It is vitally important you clean up your diet when you are trying to heal leaky gut. When you eat foods that you are sensitive to, the tight junctions of your gut lining break apart within 5 minutes after exposure. Stick to it, and don’t cheat, because you’re just cheating yourself out of health.

#2 Probiotics are essential to maintain a healthy gut microbiome. Everyone should be taking a probiotic – Ideally it should be one that is not cultured on Dairy. Kombucha is another source of probiotics, and any other fermented veggies.

#3 Prebiotics are the food for the probiotics.

#4 Aloe Vera. Aloe is extremely healing to your gut lining. It works instantly if you have a bout of acid reflux or gastritis. *Side note*: Acid reflux is caused because you do not have enough stomach acid to digest your foods – so your food is putrifying to digest itself. You actually need to take digestive enzymes, drink ACVinegar, Drink celery juice in the morning on an empty stomach to help rebuild your HCL. The stomach has an extremely acidic pH of 1-3. If you have reflux, your stomach is too alkaline.

I recommend Stockton Aloe 1 because it is organic, taken off of the leaf by hand instead of machine processed. When aloe is processed by machine it gets the skin in the mix and that is what can cause diarrhea.

#5 Collagen / Bone broth – Collagen hydrolysate is amazing for repairing mucosal linings, ligaments, tendons, hair, skin , nails. Also, bone broth is like liquid collagen. I recommend My Organic Juice to order the bone broth from. MOJ has the highest quality bones out there, grass fed and grass finished.

#6 Have an Attitude of Gratitude  Feeling happy, having a feeling of gratitude can increase regulatory T cell function. The opposite effect happens for depressed people.

#7 Vagal Nerve stimulation – In the brain, the Vagus Nerve helps control anxiety and depression. In the gut, it increases stomach acidity, digestive juices and  gut flow/motility.

Gargling with water for 5 minutes every day. The vagus nerve activates the in the back of the throat that allows you to gargle. Gargling contracts these muscles, which activates the vaguest nerve and stimulates the GI tract.

Stimulating your gag reflex with a tongue depressor. Start at the tip of your tongue and slowly inch the tongue depressor back towards your throat to facilitate a gag response.

#8 Vary Your Diet – Make sure you rotate your foods, meaning you do not eat the same thing every day. For example: if you eat eggs on Monday, you do not eat them again for 4 days later. Doing this will decrease your future development of more food sensitivities and allow your immune system to regulate its response to certain foods.

#9 Have Optimal Vitamin D Levels – In conventional medicine, the recommended vitamin D range is 20-50. In functional medicine, the range you want to be at for vitamin D is 70-80. Every cell in your body has receptors for vitamin D. Studies have shown that just by having adequate vitamin D levels you cut your risk for all kind of cancers by more than 50%. If you have an auto immune disease some functional medicine doctors could even recommend pushing your vitamin D levels a little greater than 80. Studies have also shown that having optimal levels of vitamin D make it easier for your body to shed fat. (Take 5,000 IUs per day, its a no brainer.)


Other Tests To Consider If You’re Just Not Convinced:

Array 3 – Wheat/Gluten Proteome Reactivity & Autoimmunity

  • This test all 23 proteins that the wheat protein is comprised of. Most doctors only test 3-4 of these to see if a person has antibodies or a sensitivity to wheat/gluten. If those come back negative, “you’re fine.” This is the true way to test for a gluten sensitivity.

Array 4 – Gluten-Associated Cross-Reactive Foods and Foods Sensitivity

  • This tests all the foods and grains that commonly cross react with gluten. Meaning, they look similar to gluten to your immune system.

Array 10 – Multiple Food Immune Reactivity Screen

  • This is the ultimate food sensitivity test. Almost all other food sensitivity tests out there test only raw food proteins. Aristo Vojdani, the most incredibly brilliant immunologist who developed this lab, has found that when foods are cooked, it changes the structure of food. He discovered that people can react to cooked and raw foods differently. This tests for sensitivity to the following foods cooked and raw: Dairy, Eggs, Grains, Beans, Nuts, Seeds, Fruits, Veggies, Fish, Seafood, Meats, Meat Glue, Herbs, Spices, Gums, Brewed Beverages and Additives.

You should check out their website and read about it for more information:


All of the supplements for healing leaky gut are available at Dr. Jack’s Wellness Center!

Gluten Causes Neurological Diseases

wheat 2“I don’t have Celiac Disease so gluten doesn’t affect me.”


Gluten is the protein found in wheat. It gives breads, pastries and pasta its fluffy texture. Over time, constantly eating gluten will break apart the tight junctions of your gut lining, resulting in multiple food allergies, autoimmune disease and leaky gut. But it wasn’t always this way. Wheat was a friend at one point before it was hybridized. Now it is a foe. Emerging research has confirmed that gluten not only affects the gut lining, it also affects the brain too.

Our physiology has not changed much since our ancestor’s time, but our food has rapidly transformed within the last 50 years. Modern food manufacturing, including genetic engineering, has allowed us to grow grains that contain up to 12% to 58% more gluten than grains grown just a few decades ago. The hybridization of wheat was at first considered a good thing because it increased the crop yield, there was more food available. Everyone’s immune system has evolved to tolerate what their endogenous foods are. This is based on wherever you’ve lived, where your grandparents lived, whatever your ancesteral generations have eaten, they have passed on that immunity to you that says whether you do or do not react to a food. Now, there is almost no such thing as ‘native grain’, so its not a matter of Celiac or Sensitvity anymore. It is now a matter of hybridization of a substance that your body doesn’t  recognize. We are in a generational change for food and our immune system just doesn’t recognize the hybridization or the GMO foods that we are consuming. This is precisely why there is a significant correlation between neurological diseases and the consumption of wheat gluten. 

Celiac disease (CD) is an auto immune disorder that involves the small intestines and characterized by an inflammatory process when the individual is exposed to gluten. Within the last few years gluten has been speculated to be the culprit for a whole spectrum of neurological diseases. Unfortunately, the majority of these studies have only been performed using people who have CD, and not the general public. For many people who are not afflicted with CD, gluten is considered safe to consume. Recent research has shown that even if you do not have Celiac Disease, your brain is still affected by it.


In Celiac disease, the gut is the typical manifestation site but atypical neurological presentations are thought to occur in 6 to 10% of cases. Cerebellar ataxia is shown to be the most frequent symptom. (The cerebellum is the part of the brain that controls coordination, balance and movement. When there is ‘ataxia’ this means a lack of control of these functions – and damage to the part of the brain that controls those functions.)  Prevalence of neurological disease within the population of those with celiac disease is staggering. The type of neuro diseases predominantly studied are Epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Autism, Stiff Person’s Syndrome, Schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple sclerosis, and Migraines. The effect of gluten on neurological and cognitive impairment has been studied in those afflicted with celiac disease, but how does gluten effect those with out it?

Does gluten play a role in the development of neurological conditions? And for those who present without neurological symptoms, does gluten still have an effect on the brain?


In two studies comparing Schizophrenic patients with non Schizophrenic patients, the Schizo patients demonstrated 23.1%  and 5.4% higher levels of  antibodies to gluten than the control group without Schizophrenia. 


Know anybody who has chronically high levels of Prolactin? One research study proved one of the brain altering effects of gluten.  In this case, a compound in gluten acts as an opioid chemical that leads to the excessive excretion of the neuro hormone, Prolactin.


Stiff Person’s Syndrome:

 A rare autoimmune neurological disorder characterized by fluctuating muscle rigidity in the trunk and limbs and a heightened sensitivity to stimuli such as noise, touch, and emotional distress, which can set off muscle spasms. GAD antibodies (Antibodies to your own calming neurotransmitter GABA) measured in those affected with Stiff Persons Syndrome, 86% positive results suggested a link between gluten sensitivity and GAD antibodies.


There was a significant elevation of 60% greater reaction in autistic children between antibodies with cerebellar and gliadin peptides (gliadin is a part of the wheat protein) than the control group. Results stated gluten may be responsible for some neurological symptoms.

Adult Onset Cerebellar Ataxia:

36% of Japanese patients with adult onset cerebellar ataxia were positive for antibodies to gluten, and  showed improvement with a gluten free diet.

Neurological Diseases That Have No Explanation:

Gluten sensitivity is common to patients with idiopathic (no known cause) neurological disease. The studies observing antibodies in their samples showed 30 out of 53 idiopathic neurological patients had positive anti-gliadin antibodies (AGA); 5 out of 94 with specific neurologic disease had positive AGA; 6 out of 50 healthy controls with no neurological presentation  had AGA present.

Brain Atrophy/Cognitive Decline/Alzheimer’s:

The first of the two cross sectional studies reported significant brain perfusion abnormalities in adults with celiac disease that were on a gluten containing diet. Results showed improvement in MRI scans with adherence to a gluten free diet. The other study found significant atrophy in the caudate nucleus and gray matter of celiac patients who did not have neurological symptoms. This is important to note that although one has not expressed neurological symptoms of disease yet, there is still damage being done to the brain.


In two studies, results suggested a significant portion of patients with migraines may have celiac disease. A gluten free diet lead to an improvement in migraine duration, frequency and intensity. MRI results showed nonspecific hyperintensities and slow diffusing within the brains of celiac patients. Neurological symptoms and brain scans improved or stabilized with gluten free diet.

In Normal People Without Any Disease:

In 2013 a study was conducted with 400 people who had no diseases, no neurological conditions and were all different ethnicity’s. The goal was to see how wheat and milk proteins affected normal people with no disease. What they found was that milk and wheat proteins cross react with the part of the brain that controls movement and coordination. A.K.A: the cerebellum. What happens is when you eat  milk and wheat, they look similar in protein sequence to the cerebellum and cause an immune response in your body that calls for an attack on your brain. Antibodies develop and you get loss of coordination, ataxia, uncontrollable muscle spasms, and a whole host of other neurological symptoms. The term is called molecular mimicry.

The pathophysiological consequences of molecular mimicry involving wheat and milk with human tissue is difficult to predict. This is because they can be influenced by multiple factors, including an individual’s genes, the timing and level of exposure to gluten and dairy, and the health of the gut and blood brain barriers. Do you want to know if you have leaky gut? Do you want to know what foods you are having a cross reaction to? Do you want to know if you have these antibodies to gluten or autoimmune disease developing? Comment below or email me for further information.

Bottom line: If you have ANY sort of autoimmune disease OR Neurological disease you absolutely must get off gluten. If you have Hashimoto’s, IBS, Crohn’s, IBD, Ulcerative Colitis, Psoriasis, Eczema, Endometriosis, Lupus, Celiac Disease, Sjogren’s Syndrome, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, Alopecia, Fibromyalgia get off of gluten. If you have Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Autism, Epilepsy, Schizophrenia, Bipolar, get off gluten.

wheat 1

What You Can Do:

In the words of the incredible doctor that I have worked alongside with for the last 5 years, Dr. James Jack, “The body is amazing and it can fix anything.” Don’t be alarmed if you have these conditions. Your body can heal and it wants to heal! There is so much you can do to help yourself get into a state of optimal health.

  1. Test, Don’t Guess. Do a Leaky Gut Test to see if you have it so you can repair it. The Array 2 by Cyrex Labs is the first step. If you’d like more information please email me or comment below.
  2. Stop eating all gluten and eventually dairy too. If you are one of those people who need to see the proof, there is also a test for that called the Array 3. This tests the entire protein of wheat to see exactly which part you are reacting to. There is also the Array 4 which tests all the other common foods/grain that commonly cross-react with gluten (ex: corn, soy, egg, dairy, rice, oats, sesame, etc.)
  3. Repair your gut lining. Collagen, Probiotics, Bone broth, Digestive enzymes, Aloe vera. There is more to the whole protocol but this just gives you an idea.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this novel of a blog on Gluten and Neurological Disorders!




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