Evidence-Based Practice: Introduction of a Gluten-Free and Casein-Free Diet to Alleviate Psychotic Symptoms

Tuesday, 31 October 2017: 8:20 AM

Yolanta Kreklow, PMC, PMHNP
University of St. Francis, Joliet, Illinois, Streamwood, IL, USA


A case review of a young boy yielded an unexpected resolution of psychotic symptoms after the introduction of a gluten-free, casein-free (GFCF) diet. Elimination of casein (dairy products) and gluten (grains) from this patient’s diet helped to eliminate his psychotic symptoms. The majority of the research and case studies confirm that a gluten-free, casein-free (GFCF) diet helps alleviate psychotic symptoms.


Psychiatric practitioners frequently face a lack of positive outcomes for schizophrenic patients in the treatment of psychosis. The purpose of this paper is to show that health care professionals may use a gluten-free and casein-free diet (GFCF) as an additional element to standard treatment methods, to alleviate psychotic symptoms. Using a GFCF diet either alone or with medication therapy provides for a more holistic approach to dealing with psychosis. This approach is especially important for adolescents and young adults, who may not tolerate certain medications.


A review of literature research studies and case studies, from 1966 until the present, reveal a cause for psychotic symptoms. Additionally noted were similarities between autism and schizophrenia. These similarities allow us to extrapolate autistic symptoms into the psychotic symptoms noted in schizophrenia.



In autism and schizophrenia, incomplete digestion of certain proteins, gluten and casein, cause an autoimmune response as indicated by elevated levels of IgA and IgG antibodies. This intestinal malabsorption also causes pathogenic elements (peptide fractions), which bind to opioid receptors by crossing the blood-brain barrier. This releases exorphins (opiate-like substances, similar to certain drugs) that cause psychotic symptoms.


Introduction of a GFCF diet helps reduce psychotic symptoms, and gives another option for patients resistant to traditional treatment methods, especially adolescents and young adults. Additionally, this diet provides a more holistic approach to treatment (augmenting medication therapy), reduces hospital stays, and improves outcomes.

Keywords: autism, gluten-free, casein-free diet (GFCF), psychosis, schizophrenia