There is so much more to wheat’s effects than gluten intolerance. Among the most darkly fascinating (and creepy) are the effects of wheat on the human brain.

Wheat’s effects can show up as difficulty concentrating or behavioral outbursts in a child, anxiety, rage, mania, and depression. It can lead to treating the effects of a bran muffin or chocolate chip cookie with psychoactive drugs, psychotherapy, counseling, even institutionalization. Wheat can disrupt families, relationships, marriages, careers.

A reader, Alysha, posted this telling comment in this blog, a graphic illustration of wheat-induced emotional struggles until she figured out the source: wheat.

Wheat had always been a staple of my diet. Fresh baked bread from the oven is a fond childhood memory of mine. As I got older and the weight started to add on… I tried various diets as is standard for most women. My doctor recommended “The South Beach Diet.” For the first time in my life… I went 6 weeks without any processed food and NO WHEAT. I could believe how much better I felt. Like a fog I never knew existed had been lifted. More energy, upbeat and a general feeling of clear headedness was an amazing reward for a few weeks on a diet. I had horrid dreams though… about the perfect turkey sandwich with the stuffing crammed into the white bread and smothered in gravy. I could almost taste it. But I fought off the cravings.

Then I decided to reward myself for my hard work. I had a sandwich. Within 24 hours I was screaming at my husband because he had phrased a sentence the “wrong way.” I was livid at him. It took a few months of playing with my diet to discover it was wheat that was causing the reaction. I’d feel euphoric for about an hour and then… crash and burn. The longer I live without wheat in my system the harder I crash when I am “dosed” with it. I have found myself wanting to commit suicide because life was too horrid to continue on after some mustard containing wheat was spread on one corn tortilla wrap. I have picked up furniture and tried to throw it through a picture window because I could not find my white bra after having a meatball containing wheat.

My friends don’t really believe that these reactions are… un-exaggerated. Until a recent camping event in which some pasta was mixed in with a rice dish. I vomited out lunch as soon as it was discovered… and then got very very drunk in order to make it easier for my husband to deal with freak-out that we both knew was coming. Within a 4 hour period, I went from being happy and easy going to a full blown panic attack and being unable to breath because I had been crying and screaming so much that my nostrils had sealed themselves shut. I spent 4 days craving pizza so bad I couldn’t leave the house without supervision. Now they won’t feed me anything without checking the packaging 3 times over.

Wheat f—s with my head to such a degree I can not ingest any into my blood stream. I am an extreme case of the symptoms you describe. Minus the few notable accidental wheat dosages above I have been living wheat free for over 5 years. While I am wheat free, my moods are fairly level and any emotional spikes can be traced to an actual cause. While I was living with wheat as a constant in my diet, I would flare up in anger over slight provocations. I would be depressed without reason and just start crying. My mother (who refuses to be wheat free) has the same issues. She won’t give up wheat even with me proving how much my life improved.

The next time a friend of mine doubts that anyone could possible react in such an extreme measure to a food product… I’ll be pointing them at your book. I haven’t read it yet, as I just discovered this tonight… but I will be reading it. Thank you for giving me some science to hand to my friends to prove that I’m not crazy… I’m a recovering drug addict.