This is a fascinating example of a movement disorder responding dramatically to a gluten-free diet. – Dr. Perlmutter
I’m a 55 year old woman and I developed worsening of a slight eye tic that I have had for a few years which suddenly turned into very hard spasms on the entire left side of my face. They were constant whether I was awake or asleep. They were so severe my speech was slurred; I couldn’t drive, read or do much of anything. My life came to a complete halt! I was even dealing with a lot of depression as a result. I just did not feel right. I went to a neurologist in and the diagnosis was hemifacial spasms. I also had an MRI that showed white matter lesions on my brain with the possibility of MS. The good news was that there was no tumor pressing on the facial nerve causing the spasms, so most likely there was a vessel pressing on the nerve.
I was informed that there are only two treatments for hemifacial spasms. One is Botox injections every three months in the muscles of the face to stop/freeze the muscle from spasming, and the other is brain surgery to put a Teflon barrier between the blood vessel causing the problem and the nerve. In the majority of cases Botox works well and surgery is not needed. I chose the Botox, and it turns out I was the statistic that did not tolerate it well. It completely paralyzed the left side of my face and closed my left eye completely. I had double vision so bad I could hardly walk without assistance. I went back to the neurologist and he said it should clear up in a few days. It turned out to be almost 3 months. As my closed eye began to open, I could not blink so I developed dry eye. The Botox had gotten in the optic nerve. As I was having more blood tests run, it was obvious not only was I having spasms, but my body was depleted in many vitamins and nutrients. I was no longer absorbing much from my foods.
My endocrinologist was speaking at a medical conference in Orlando. While there he heard Dr. David Perlmutter speak about gluten sensitivity, white matter lesions on the brain and how sometimes what looks like MS can be brain inflammation caused by gluten. My doctor spoke to Dr. Perlmutter after his lecture and told him about my face and MRI. Dr. Perlmutter asked him to send a video of my facial spasms. After seeing my video, Dr.Perlmutter agreed to an appointment after the effects of the Botox wore off. The Botox eventually began to wear off and the spasms began to return. Dr. Perlmutter ordered the Cyrex lab tests to be done before my appointment with him. It clearly showed I was highly gluten sensitive. He agreed with the hemifacial spasm diagnosis, but said if I’d try the gluten free, sugar free, high good fat, and protein diet for two months, he thought there was a good chance my problem would correct itself. If not, he said I would need the surgery. He put me on B12 shots and lots of supplements.
So when I left his office, I went straight to a health food restaurant and began this new regimen. Within a couple weeks, I began to notice a difference in the spasms. After a month they were almost completely gone. I still occasionally have a few mild spasms, but they are minimal. I’m driving again, leading a normal life, and I feel better than I have in years. I have been very strict with my diet and the benefits have been life-changing. Even muscle stiffness that I have had for a few years is gone. I could have never imagined that changing my diet could have such a dramatic effect on a condition that would have required brain surgery.