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Gluten-Induced Neurotoxicity

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Session #6 of 8 
Annual Updates in Environmental Medicine Conference
"Environmental Causes of Common Chronic Neurological Problems
Headaches to Parkinsonism" 

Gluten-Induced Neurotoxicity 

Presented by Tom Alexander, MD

Immune and non-immune reactivity to gluten can present in a myriad of clinical disorders. Some effects are direct while other effects occur due to its effect on the gut and brain barriers. The pathophysiology of gluten related autoimmunity often begins as GI dysfunction and can later manifest as extra-intestinal autoimmunity or neuropathy. Gluten-reactivity may contribute to gut dysbiosis, increased zonulin production and general gut inflammation, which contribute to increased antigenic intestinal permeability. Once the intestinal barrier is breached, wheat and bacterial-related toxins, such as alpha gliadin-33, wheat germ agglutinin, gluteomorphin and lipopolysaccharides, freely circulate in the blood stream. Due to mechanisms of cross-reactivity, inflammatory cascades or molecular mimicry, damage to the blood-brain barrier can occur. In this presentation we explore the basic immunopathology of these pathways and look at the literature and real life cases that will help the clinician spot these problems in their practice and prevent significant morbidity and mortality.


At the conclusion of this educational activity, participants will be able to:

  1. Expertly assess key components of wheat that contribute to neurological disorders.  

  2. Understand the biomechanisms of gut inflammation due to gluten reactivity. 

  3. Interpret biomarkers of intestinal and blood brain barrier damage. 

  4. Map the mechanisms of toxic exposures contributing to neurodysregulation. 

  5. Identify and manage patients with gluten-reactivity to prevent/repair gut and blood brain barrier damage. 

Thomas Alexander, MD 

Dr. Thomas Alexander earned his M.D. degree and fulfilled his residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Missouri, Kansas City in 1998. Following a ten month Endocrinology Fellowship he joined a medical practice in Butler, Missouri and held various posts at Bates County Hospital including Chief of Staff, Medical Director of CCU, Medical Director of Respiratory Care, and Medical director of Hospice.

He has practiced both inpatient and outpatient medicine in addition to about 1500 hours of shifts at the Emergency Department. Seeking a more integrative approach, Dr. Alexander joined the clinic of Dr. Jonathan Wright in Seattle in 2004. He subsequently moved to the Phoenix area in 2007 where he opened his private practice and worked as a Hospitalist at Scottsdale Shea Hospital. He was adjunct clinical faculty at SCNM from 2007 to 2008.

He has lectured both to his peers and to the general public on Insulin Resistance and diabetes, the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disorders, HPA dysfunction, hormonal imbalance, and gastrointestinal disorders. Dr. Alexander is board certified in Internal Medicine.

Purchase Includes:

  • 30-day access to recording
  • Lecture slides and handouts (if applicable) are yours to keep
  • CE Certificate - 1.75 General Credit Hours by the Oregon Board of Naturopathic Medicine (OBNM)