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Date: Sat, 19 Oct 1996
Sender: Celiac/Coeliac Wheat/Gluten-Free List
From: Ron Hoggan
Subject: Re: CD & Schizophrenia

Dr. Curtis Dohan dedicated much of his professional life to exploring and publishing the connection between cd and schizophrenia. I believe he is an unsung medical hero of the Twentieth Century. The future will herald his achievements, as he took one of the first major steps toward the understanding some of the biochemical processes at work in many mental illnesses.

Dohan learned about a comparatively high frequency of schizophrenia in celiac disease, in discussion with a gastroenterologist. He had previously been aware of several celiacs among his schizophrenic patients. In 1966, Dohan published a report that schizophrenics improved on the diet used for treatment of celiacs (1)

Dohan and Grassberger, as staff psychiatrists, began double blind trial of a gluten-free, casein-free diet in a locked ward for mental patients. In their published report, this group stated: "These clinical studies support the hypothesis that cereals play a role in the pathogenesis of overt symptoms in those with an hereditary capacity to develop schizophrenia"(2)

A small flurry of research activity followed when this study was supported by Singh and Kay, who had also studied a population on a locked ward, with a similar result (3). The studies that followed provided conflicting information. Where adequate time is allowed, and the diet is strictly observed, improvement occurs. Studies of less than six months' duration, or where the diet is not strictly observed, there are few or no remarkable improvements.

A lesser man might have allowed his insight to wither under the burden of scepticism. Dohan continued his work by searching for confirmation of his hypothesis. Zioudrou et. al. provided support, by discovering endorphin-like peptides (exorphins) in enzymatic digests of glutens (4). Mycroft et.al. discovered that gluten contains a neuropeptide which enhances dopamine activity (5).

Dohan et. al. published a report demonstrating that schizophrenia is virtually non-existent in cultures where glutinous grains are not consumed (6).

Marginalized, and often ridiculed, Dr. Dohan continued to express his ideas, and had his work published in many professional journals. What was the problem? Why was his work less recognized? His work as a researcher withstood the scrutiny of his peers repeatedly, throughout his life.

It is my opinion that Dohan's work threatened much of the social and economic structure surrounding agriculture and the food industry, that his ideas were unthinkable to the readers of these journals. In other words, it was a challenge to the dominant paradigm, so it was dismissed without serious consideration, except among a tiny group.

This tiny, geographically fractioned group has learned to apply this concept to a variety of mental illnesses. Doctor Reichelt in Norway works primarily in the field of autism research, as does Dr. Shattock in Great Britain. In the US, an underground network of concerned parents has emerged on the internet. But the work is scattered, and without funding. (I am currently exploring some connections between gluten and attention deficits, and learning disabilities.)

Dr. Curtis Dohan, of Philadelphia, Pa, pioneered opioid research in mental illness, and has blazed a trail for future generations. He is a genuine hero of Twentieth Century medical scientific inquiry. Our education system is such that we foster this, and similar dynamics of denial within the scientific community. We need to revamp our education system, from elementary to medical school, in the realm of science instruction, in the interest of the survival of human culture. We have not advanced very far from the incarceration (house arrest) of Galileo for suggesting that the earth was not the center of the universe.

I hope this is helpful.
Best Wishes,
Ron Hoggan Sources:

  1. Dohan "Cereals and schizophrenia: data and hypothesis" Acta Psychiat Scand 1966; 42: 125-152
  2. Dohan et. al. "Relapsed Schizophrenics: More Rapid Improvement on a Milk-and Cereal-free Diet" Brit J Psychiat 1969; 115: 595-596
  3. Singh & Kay "Wheat Gluten as a Pathogenic Factor in Schizophrenia" Science 1976; 191: 401-402
  4. Zioudrou et. al. "Opioid peptides derived from food proteins. The exorphins" J Biol Chem 1979; 254:2446-2449
  5. Mycroft et. al. "MIF-like sequences in milk and wheat proteins" NEJM 1982; 307: 895
  6. Dohan et. al. "Is Schizophrenia Rare if Grain is Rare?" Biol Psychiat 1984; 19(3): 385-399
  7. Dohan "Is celiac disease a clue to pathogenesis of schizophrenia?" Mental Hyg 1969; 53: 525-529
  8. Ashkenazi et. al. "Immunologic reaction of psychotic patients to fractions of gluten" Am J Psychiat 1979; 136: 1306-1309

Date: Sat, 19 Oct 1996
Sender: Celiac/Coeliac Wheat/Gluten-Free List
From: Ron Hoggan
Subject: Re: CD & Schizophrenia

X-To: "Donald D. Kasarda"

Hi Don and list,

You said:

"I don't think anything much is gained by hypothesizing grand conspiracies."

I'm sorry if what I said sounded like a conspiracy theory. It was intended as a critical comment on the methodologies employed in teaching science, and the unthinkable nature of the implications of Dr. Dohan's hypothesis.

You say you are unconvinced by his work. Perhaps the work of Abrams and Hoffer, in the treatment of schizophrenia with megadoses of nicotinic acid was what convinced me. Their experience treating thousands of schizophrenics showed results that would be totally consistent with Dohan's hypothesis. If the patient was not yet chronic, (absorption capacity for this vitamin was not yet totally destroyed) remissions could be achieved through megadoses, and the megadoses had to be continued for life, and had to be adjusted to variations in tolerance. I could go on, but what I think is important here is that these folks were working in my backyard (so to speak) and I know that the results they were getting were very real. I know some of their former patients.

There are other, similar triangulations, from the literature, that convince me.

I am also convinced that Dohan's work has some profound implications for cancer research.

Ron Hoggan

Date: Tue, 22 Oct 1996
Sender: Celiac/Coeliac Wheat/Gluten-Free List
From: Ron Hoggan
Subject: Re: CD and Schizophrenia

Hi Chris and All,
On Mon, 21 Oct 1996, Chris Dye wrote:

> 1 How can you do a strict double blind trial of a diet, especially
> in people who are psychotic?

They were conducted on locked wards. Control was quite meticulous.

> 2 Nowhere is the prevalence of schizophrenia almost non existent,
> in actual fact the prevalence is remakably similar across most cultures.
> Outcome is better in certain 3rd world countries such as India

The regions he looked at were: remote regions of Papua, New Guinea (1950-1967) and Malaita, Solomon Islands (1980-1981) and on Yap, Micronesia (1947-1948)

I would welcome his further input on this topic, and I'm confident that there are others on the list who would like to hear his assessment.

Best Wishes,
Ron Hoggan