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Gluten Withdrawal Symptoms + How Long Do They Last?

Gluten is defined as a protein composite (gliadin and glutenin) found in grains such as: barley, rye, and most commonly, wheat. The word gluten is derived from the Latin word “gluten” which roughly translates to “glue.” Gluten is what gives grain-based products a chewy texture and allows these products to maintain a specific shape. In addition to being used in foods, gluten is also an additive in many cosmetic and dermatology products.

In the past, gluten was never considered a staple part of the human diet. Only in recent generations with the rise of high-carbohydrate diets has gluten consumption become problematic. The increased consumption of gluten has lead people to develop adverse reactions such as: celiac disease (an autoimmune disorder), gluten-sensitivity, “leaky gut,” and other wheat allergies. Many would also argue that since humans didn’t evolve to eat gluten, its consumption may elicit detrimental effects on both bodily functions and cognitive performance.

Due to rampant health concerns regarding gluten consumption, as well as an increase in science-based evidence suggesting that gluten may be problematic, some people have attempted to kick gluten from their diet. Although many people are successful in eradicating gluten from their diets, others end up experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms that makes it tough to stay gluten-free.  One reason may be due to the fact that when digesting gluten, it breaks down into “exorphins” which bind to opioid receptors in your brain.

The exorphins are basically particles of protein that are derived from an exogenous source (e.g. food, drugs, etc.) and mimic the effects of endorphins.  Each time you eat gluten, you’re getting A5, B4, B5, and C exorphins that may make you feel calmer or feel slight degrees of pleasure.  While gluten-based opioid stimulation may not be as significant as heroin, it can make the withdrawal process more difficult than expected.

Factors that influence gluten withdrawal

There are several factors that are important to consider when eliminating gluten from the diet. Thing such as: amount consumed each day, time span over which you’ve consumed gluten, your individual physiology, as well as the rate at which you discontinued – can all influence the severity and length of withdrawal symptoms.

1. Daily Consumption Amount

Generally the more products you consume with gluten on a daily basis, the harder it will likely be to discontinue. More gluten means greater stimulation of the opioid receptors in your brain, leading to a potentially significant physiological backlash when you discontinue. If you’ve been pounding wheat-based products for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner – you probably have a high gluten intake.

Those with a high-gluten intake baseline are likely going to develop more severe symptoms when they discontinue. If you’re someone that doesn’t consume large quantities of gluten on a daily basis, you may not notice nearly as intense of a withdrawal. The lower the amount of gluten you’re currently consuming, the easier it will likely be to quit.

2. Cold Turkey vs. Tapering

How quickly did you discontinue gluten from your diet? Did you find everything with gluten in your kitchen and toss it in the garbage? Or did you make a conscientious effort to slowly reduce the amount of gluten in your diet in a tapering method. There is debate as to whether tapering off of gluten products (e.g. gradually titrating consumption amount) is a superior method of withdrawal to giving it up “cold turkey.”

Many people find that when they quit cold turkey from a previously high gluten intake, that they cannot handle the withdrawal symptoms. Part of this may be due to certain gluten-induced endorphin deficiencies. Those that “taper” down their gluten consumption before finally quitting generally find that withdrawal symptoms are less severe because they’ve given their physiology some extra time to transition and adapt to reduced consumption.

3. Time Span

How long have you been consuming gluten, and at what frequency? If you’ve eaten lots of wheat products on a daily basis for your entire life, it’s going to be more difficult to discontinue than someone who only began eating a lot of wheat in recent years. Most of the United States population has been eating products with gluten for their entire lives.

If you happened to be gluten-free for awhile, sporadically broke the period by eating some gluten, and are withdrawing again, it probably won’t be quite as bad. Even if you can’t think of any wheat-products that you’ve consumed, take a careful look at the ingredients on the foods that you eat. Unless you’ve made a conscious effort to stay gluten-free or carbohydrate free, it’s likely that you consume gluten on a daily basis.

4. Individual Factors

It is important to consider individual factors when discontinuing gluten consumption. Things like an individual’s: physiology, genetics, dietary intake (other foods), and general lifestyle may influence the severity and duration of withdrawal symptoms. Everyone wants a definitive answer regarding the length of gluten withdrawal and unfortunately one cannot be given due to significant individual variation.

You need to withdraw for yourself to know how long gluten withdrawal takes. For one person it may last a week or two, while for another it may last over a month before symptoms fully subside. Avoid comparing your situation to that of others when withdrawing from any substance because there are significant individual influential factors.

Gluten Withdrawal Symptoms: List of Possibilities

Some people experience very subtle or no withdrawal symptoms when stopping gluten, but others experience moderately debilitating symptoms that can last weeks before improving. Below is a list of possible symptoms that you may experience when discontinuing gluten. Keep in mind that the severity and duration of symptoms will be largely individualized.

  • Anger: If you turn into a raging maniac when discontinuing gluten, you are not alone. Many people have reported anger outbursts and feeling especially irritable when they cannot have their gluten. It could be related to the lack of opioid stimulation (which can calm us down) from gluten.
  • Anxiety: Some people end up feeling increasingly anxious when they withdraw from gluten. This anxiety may be due to a number of biochemical changes that occur in the physiology as a result of gluten discontinuation. The body is expecting to receive the energy and opioid effects from gluten products, but it doesn’t and you feel nervous instead of calm.
  • Bloating: This is characterized by swelling or increase in the diameter of your abdominal area. It may be a highly uncomfortable experience during gluten withdrawal, but should eventually subside. To offset bloating, make sure you are eating healthy foods that contain fiber (e.g. broccoli, berries, etc.).
  • Brain fog: During the initial stages of withdrawal, you may feel as if your concentration is at an all-time low. While eventually your mental clarity and focus will likely return and be sharper than they were with gluten in your diet, the fogginess can sometimes be difficult to deal with. Do not be surprised if your ability to think clearly is hampered in early stages of withdrawal.
  • Constipation: Some people become constipated when they stop eating gluten. This may be due to their new dietary choices as well as lack of fiber in the diet. It could also be a result of transitory physiological adjustments taking place in the body. Realize that this will be temporary assuming you are eating a healthy gluten-free diet.
  • Cravings: One of the most prominent symptoms that you’ll experience when withdrawing from gluten is that of cravings. These cravings are generally severe in the early stages, and tend to lessen the longer you’ve been gluten-free. Like going through any drug withdrawal, cravings tend to be the worst in the first few weeks or months of withdrawal, but will eventually subside completely. Keep in mind that if you aren’t eating sufficient alternative gluten-free foods, cravings may intensify as a result of hunger or lack of nourishment.
  • Depression: Certain individuals become depressed when they stop eating products with gluten. This may be a result of their dependence on the mood boosting effects of the gluten exorphins. The depression may persist for awhile, but mood will eventually stabilize and/or become boosted over the long-term as a result of going gluten-free.
  • Diarrhea: Some people notice that they cannot hold down food as well when they quit gluten. They experience diarrhea in the early stages of discontinuation, but eventually digestion stabilizes. This is a less common reaction than constipation, but still one that certain people report.
  • Dizziness: You may feel slightly dizzy when you discontinue from gluten. This may be due to the neurological mechanisms by which gluten affected your brain. Generally the dizziness won’t be too severe, but it may be uncomfortable. Keep in mind that it’s temporary and shouldn’t be long-lasting.
  • Fatigue: Another very common symptom to experience is that of severe fatigue during the early stages of gluten discontinuation. This fatigue may be debilitating for some people to the point that they just want to sleep all day. As long as you’re eating other high quality foods, your body will eventually adapt to gluten-free foods for its source of “fuel” and fatigue will subside. In fact, many people who’ve been gluten-free for an extended period report having more energy than when they ate gluten.
  • Flu-like symptoms: Those that react severely during gluten withdrawal may develop symptoms similar to having influenza. They may experience dizziness, a headache, joint pains, nausea, and in some cases vomiting. (Obviously make sure you aren’t actually sick with a virus or the flu). If these symptoms emerged when you quit gluten, it could be a direct result.
  • Headaches: Many people have reported headaches during the first couple weeks of going gluten-free. These headaches are more likely to occur in the earliest days of withdrawal, but should ease up the longer you’ve been functioning without gluten.
  • Hot flashes: Elimination of gluten from the diet may result in experiencing hot flashes (or cold flashes) throughout the day. This is due to the fact that the physiology comes to expect gluten in the diet, and when it doesn’t get it, your body reacts by changing its temperature.
  • Irritability: If you find yourself becoming irritable when you stop eating gluten, it’s probably because your brain is no longer getting the same stimulation. Gluten affects the brain in many ways including by stimulating exorphins, which make us calm. By eliminating gluten, you no longer feel the minor opioid effects, making you feel more irritable than usual.
  • Joint pain: Many people also report feeling intensified joint pain and body aches when they discontinue gluten. These aches and pains can be problematic in early stages, but should actually improve as you alter your diet to include healthy gluten-free foods. Pain tolerance may be slightly decreased during early stages of withdrawal due to slight opioid alterations.
  • Lightheadedness: If you feel lightheaded, you are not alone. Some people experience dizziness accompanied by lightheadedness during the first few days they go without gluten. Within a week or two this symptom should improve significantly.
  • Mood swings: If you find yourself flipping out or becoming noticeably “moody” – it may be a result of changes occurring as a result of going gluten-free. You no longer are getting the same exorphin stimulation as a result of gluten in your diet, leading you to feel more moody than usual. The good news is that moods tend to not only stabilize, but improve the longer you’ve been without gluten.
  • Nausea: Some people note feeling nauseous when they give up gluten. The nausea may lead to vomiting or lack of appetite. Most people that experience nausea find that it’s relatively mild and eventually subsides within a couple weeks.
  • Stomach aches: Your body may be expecting to receive gluten, and when it doesn’t, all sorts of symptoms arise including stomach aches. These are likely due to changes in your body’s digestive process. As long as you’re getting sufficient fiber and eating other healthy foods, stomach aches shouldn’t be overwhelming.
  • Vomiting: In some cases, people actually get stick when they go without gluten. This reaction is generally experienced by those who ate high quantities of gluten-based foods and quit cold turkey. If you’re to the point that you’re vomiting, you may want to consider tapering off at a more gradual rate.
  • Weight changes: You may find that gluten withdrawal leads to fluctuations in your weight. Obviously whether you end up losing weight or gaining weight may depend on the foods that you replace gluten-based foods with. A majority of people though end up losing weight after they’ve discontinued gluten.

How long does Gluten withdrawal last?

Everyone wants a specific answer regarding how long gluten withdrawal will last. The problem is that no specific answer can be given due to significant individual variation in: gluten consumption, physiology, lifestyles, and duration over which gluten was consumed. It also may make a difference as to whether you decided to “taper” your gluten or quit “cold turkey.”

Some people may not notice any major symptoms at all when stopping gluten. Most people feel noticeably better after 2 to 4 weeks of complete gluten discontinuation. Others may experience protracted cravings and withdrawals that persist for several months. It is very difficult for some people to give up diets with high gluten for numerous reasons such as: foods with gluten can be addicting, they can lead to temporary pleasure or mood boosts (via exorphins), and they can alter the way we metabolize food.

When going through gluten withdrawal, realize that your body needs to recalibrate its metabolism, gut biome, and other physiological functions. Therefore it may take awhile before all withdrawal symptoms to clear up and noticeably improve. Understand that many of these symptoms are a direct cause of eliminating the gluten-derived opioids (exorphins) from daily consumption.

You may want to consider various dietary supplements including: sea salt, magnesium, and probiotics to help mitigate the effects of gluten withdrawal. Also remember to stay sufficiently hydrated, but don’t over-hydrate (as this can lead to problems). If you’ve experienced withdrawal symptoms when cutting gluten from your diet, feel free to share in the comments section below. Discuss the severity of your symptoms, what you experienced, and how long they lasted before noticing improvement.

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{ 212 comments… add one }
  • EDL November 26, 2016, 10:00 pm

    I am so relieved to find this site! Day 2 for me gluten and dairy free and I was very surprised to find that I am experiencing withdrawal. I did notice initially that I was feeling irritable (kind of like PMS), and I’m past all that (61 yr old female) so I was kind of wondering what brought that on and when it will end… and THEN, next I got a tightness in my jaw just like when I quit smoking and I thought, wait a minute… could I possibly be in withdrawal?!!

    So, I googled (thank God for Google) and found this site. I had to laugh at the list of symptoms… yes, yes, and how! I’m so achy, I can hardly get up the stairs (knees are killing me.) But… I can hardly wait to see where this takes me!!! I know it’s all good… just got to hang in there.

    I know it’s good because I already feel cleaner, lighter, younger, sexier, more hopeful and enthusiastic about my life. Thanks so much for this site and all the input! Celebrate healthy life!

  • Noelene Beldon November 17, 2016, 7:34 am

    I went cold turkey 6 weeks ago. I have had mood swings a few headaches and I don’t feel like myself. I have also had tests and have high copper and low zinc. As soon as all tests are back we (my dietitian and GP) will work on them. I had an infrared sauna today to help rid me of toxins. It was quite nice. Please comment if you can relate to my journey.

  • Jane Graham November 16, 2016, 9:39 pm

    I have been gluten free for 2 weeks now. This week I am totally wiped out with exhaustion. The stomach pains have more or less subsided but my anxiety has increased massively and I am a bit tearful and feel overwhelmed at work for no explainable reason. Hot flushes throughout my body every day and some joint pain.

    I still have a bloated abdomen on some days. However I am sticking to a gluten free diet, knowing things will get better. GF bread is pretty disgusting and also I was surprised to see how much fat and sugar are added to some GF products so trying to just let them go where I can.

  • Sonya November 16, 2016, 3:24 pm

    I just wanted to thank everyone on this thread for sharing their experiences. After weeks of digestive issues, blood work, in and out of the doctor’s office, I finally figured out that every time I was eating food with gluten in it, it was causing a severe intestinal reaction. I do not have celiac but my doctor believes it is likely non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

    I am 35 years old and have been a very heavy gluten eater – I’ve also been a vegetarian for the past ten years. Going gluten-free has been a major challenge for me as I realize that I am a complete gluten addict. Withdrawal is real! For the first few days, my stomach cramps disappeared and I began to regain some energy. Now, on Day 8, I still feel like I am on a rollercoaster – a couple of good days followed by a really bad day. The fatigue continues, and as a very active person, I haven’t been able to do more than take a walk.

    Hearing everyone else’s stories gives me hope that this is just part of the process and that eventually I will regain my strength and energy and feel better. I’ve found that if my stomach begins to act up or the nausea comes back, coconut water can be a real life-saver. It soothes the intestines and also provides some calories. I am one of the many on this thread who cannot afford to lose weight so I’ve been focusing on eating whole foods – but realize I need to get on a probiotic too. Thanks everyone!

  • Matt Jones November 4, 2016, 2:32 am

    I gave up sugar, coffee, dairy and gluten cold turkey 10 days ago. Have lost 8kgs of weight in 10 days (was 115kg) – without exercise. But my body is fighting back. For the first 8 days I was constipated, but from 2 days ago I have constant severe headaches and extreme gut pain and need to be close to toilet due to diarrhea.

    I made the change to my diet as my thyroid kicked the bucket on me about 20 years ago and I haven’t been looking after myself – feeling always tired, sick and stressed I decided that the only way I was going to improve was to change my diet and start exercising. When I met my wife 17 years ago I was 88kg, fit and healthy – my goal is to get back to that fit, healthy person my wife fell in love with all those years ago… So the current headaches and gut pain is worth it for me.

  • SPF October 25, 2016, 10:09 pm

    I am a 60 years young modern positive woman. I was diagnosed in July 2016 being a celiac. As a chef I thought I knew what I was doing! I have never known such pains in my whole body extreme fatigue, extremely exhausted daily and nightly, depressed I have 16 of the systems. I spoke with the doctor, dietician of how poorly I felt.

    I thought I had cancer, lost a brother to stomach cancer in 1998. My stomach was in extreme pain day & night. I was afraid to know what to eat checking all ingredients. Doctors had no answers just blood tests, biopsy came back negative, which was great. However what is wrong with me? I have never felt this ill and not been able to be diagnosed.

    Went to see my NHS consultant and dietician asked many many questions even they had no ideas to why I felt so poorly and in so much pain, trial & error I was told by the dietician as long as I kept away from rye, wheat and gluten. A friend rang me on the 23rd October 2016 a retired nurse, when I told her how poorly I felt and what I was diagnosed with she told me straight away what was wrong with me. I found this site a huge thank you for helping me know what is wrong with me along with my friend.

    Now I have to pay to see someone that can help me through this whom is a registered dietician. What angers me is that no medical professional knew about the withdrawal symptoms of being diagnosed a celiac.

  • Cathy October 22, 2016, 5:13 am

    I decided to try GF, not for any obvious health reasons, but because of what I have been reading about gluten in the diet. I just started a few days ago. I’m here because I too am having withdrawal issues. Makes me wonder if it is worth weeks of unpleasantness if I was not having any noticeable problems to begin with. I guess I will give it some time, but not if it takes weeks to feel decent again.

  • Cheryl October 19, 2016, 10:57 pm

    Hi, I decided to give up gluten as I have just been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and the reading I did said I needed to quit gluten. I gave up gluten 5 days ago. Not the best time to do it when your on holiday I wish I had of done my research before doing this. I’ve had a headache from hell everyday so far my joints are killing me I’ve been vomiting and feeling so ill. I’m either burning up or freezing cold. I’ve now broken out in a rash all over my body. All I want to do is sleep but the pain from my joints kills me. Is there anyone else out there that’s all been this serve? Thank you.

  • Yvette Mc Alpine October 6, 2016, 10:28 pm

    I went off carbs (and gluten) as well as sugar 4 days ago. I went cold turkey. Since yesterday I’ve experienced a lot of joint pains and this afternoon my upper leg muscles feels like they have gone into a severe spasm which is VERY painful and I battle to walk. I know the joint pains can be a result of my cold turkey. Can the severe pain from my leg also come from that or is more of a sports injury? I did go for a run yesterday. Thank you.

  • Sharrie October 6, 2016, 1:39 am

    It’s been one month that I’ve gone gluten free! I’m having a headache and lightheadedness again! I thought I was done going thru that! I lost 5 lbs!

  • KR October 1, 2016, 4:26 am

    I was recently diagnosed with celiac disease and I’ve been completely gluten free for 2 weeks. I quit cold turkey and I had no idea about gluten withdrawal. I’ve had very bad constant headaches for the past week, I’ve had upset stomach, dizziness, and the jitters. I also started taking prenatal vitamins so at first I thought that was the cause of my symptoms. But now I know it’s not. I’m going to start eating a little bit of gluten to see if I feel better… I just can’t eat a lot since I’m celiac now.

  • Margaret September 29, 2016, 11:56 pm

    I am commenting very late here. But I gave up all flour products, wheat and gluten products about a week meaning to go cold turkey. I did make some mistakes but for at least 3 days I have been completely cold turkey.

    I have found I feel a lot colder and get shivers. But I have found the opposite of brain fog and feeling depressed. I have become clearer and also feel an elation to the point that I will have a smile that almost turns into a giggle for no reason.

    Just wondering if some of the stuff they put in gluten free substitutes could also have a bad effect. This is because I do not eat any of them. For example rather than using gluten or wheat free bread I wrap my sandwiches in cos lettuce or use nori an make a wrap using ingredients and a nori wrap.

    Note: I do not put rice with it but fill it up with tomatoes, sauerkraut, pickles, alfalfa, etc. I do still eat dairy as I do not believe it has any effect on me. This morning I had a BLT (bacon lettuce and tomato) sandwich. No bread. It was very yummy.

  • Sharrie September 20, 2016, 1:37 am

    I’ve been gluten free for exactly two weeks and my stomach pain is gone! I don’t miss my breads at all and I will never eat another piece of cake or cookie ever again, because I don’t want that awful stomach pain! I’m feeling some lightheadedness and tiredness, but I know it will pass soon! I lost 4 lbs in 1 week, and I can see the shape in my stomach coming back after I lost all that excess gluten that I didn’t need!

  • Cathy September 18, 2016, 8:56 pm

    I am gluten free, once again, after having been off for 6 months and then going back on for 3 months. I’ve also cut out dairy. I feel horrible – depressed, stressed, irritable and exhausted. I have other health issues that this is compounding. Last time it took a LONG time to start feeling better. I have to remember how terrible this withdrawal is! No more gluten, and no more dairy!

  • Christy September 14, 2016, 4:26 pm

    I stopped gluten and coffee around May of this year. By June I started having panic attacks, no appetite, racing heart, shortness of breath, tingling in neck/face/chest/left arms, fatigue, and neck pain. About a month ago I started having really bad tension headaches with weird vision problems (wavy vision and patterns moving).

    I have lost 8 lbs. I have been to the ER several times, had my eyes checked, CT scans EKG’s, echo cardiograms and everything with no answers except that my PCM thinks I have anxiety and that I need to take a multi-vitamin. They have tried several times to put me on antidepressants and benzos but for some reason I cannot process anything now and get severe side affects to everything.

    Everything that I take including vitamins makes my heart pound. I finally got tested for vitamin D and it was low. I tried to take vitamin D supplements but I cant even tolerate them (400 ius). I sit in the sun and use a phone app to help get my levels up. I am feeling better now and I walk 45 minutes a night and eat a healthy diet but still cant tolerate vitamins/meds.

    I have bad muscles spasms, vision issues, headaches and a funny tingling feeling in my chest at 3+ months later. Anyhow, I am glad that I stumbled on to this website because I thought my body was going crazy and everyone thinks I am crazy! I am going to a cardiologist to make sure I am not having heart rhythm issues tomorrow.

    I am just trusting God to see me through. After reading your stories I am thinking this is from cutting gluten out. It’s unbelievable what it can do to your body! I hope each and everyone of you find relief soon if you haven’t. God Bless!

    • BTS September 15, 2016, 2:29 pm

      I hope you feel better! :)

  • brian longhurst August 25, 2016, 9:11 pm

    I am on my third week of going cold turkey gluten free and still having body pains plus feeling very hot and know it’s not just because of the hot weather. But am going to stay with it until my body has got used to gluten free. With a long history of depression I must give it a long time if need be.

  • Candace August 15, 2016, 9:07 pm

    Wow, so glad I read all these comments. I quit gluten two weeks ago and I had no idea the symptoms would be so dramatic. I have not eaten whole grains in a long time but I ate pasta and white flour etc. After going on vacation and eating much more than usual I decided to quit altogether because I was not feeling well.

    Since then I have felt worse, I have had a stomach ache for a week and thought there was something really wrong, now I understand that it might just be the withdrawals. I have also had a mild headache and low energy and my digestion is not normal. Anyway I’m grateful to know this is all part of the detox.

  • Toni August 9, 2016, 6:41 pm

    Doc told me to stop gluten 4 months ago as part of diet changes to treat arthritis. I was not told about possible withdrawal symptoms or that they were even possible. While searching for withdrawal symptoms related to the use of Percocet I came upon this gluten information. Because the diet change was supposed to reduce my pain from arthritis, I stopped both.

    Who knew I would through my body into such a spin??? It’s been 3+ months since I stopped gluten. I used Percocet as needed, most frequently 1/2 tab a day for 2 years or so and have not used any at all for about 2 weeks. It’s interesting that each of these have a positive effect on mood. I have been irritable, dizzy, very moody (tears, depressed), and have virtually no energy.

    I have never had problems sleeping but am having them now. In an effort to find out what might be going on, I decided to do some research. I’m thinking that stopping these two things together has amplified my symptoms and am encouraged to give my body more time. The use of OTC pain relievers is not advised for me because of heart issues so wish me luck!

    • Cathy September 18, 2016, 8:58 pm

      Good luck – I’m having a hard time too. Hard to ride it out, but that’s about all we can do!

  • Anna August 8, 2016, 3:06 am

    Sinus problems with gluten withdrawal? I’ve been GF for two weeks and my sinuses have been draining and dried out alternately for several days. The circles under my eyes are darker and I look puffy. Is this normal? I’ve been dairy free for a while FYI.

    • Whitney September 9, 2016, 6:09 pm

      Yes! I’ve been gluten free for about 3 months now and I am just now getting over sinus issues! Terrible pressure and migraines!!!

  • Emily Mewett August 7, 2016, 10:17 am

    I have been gluten free for 2 months but I made a bad decision about 5 days ago when my mom brought home fish and chips. For the past 4 days I’ve been dealing with a severe (for me) acne break out on my face. I was feeling great in terms of my stomach aches that I’ve dealt with my entire life but for the last 3 days or so its been hurting pretty bad (lots of gas). I also have had an itchy chin where the breakout is since yesterday but has subsided. The weirdest symptom is small blood vessels popped on BOTH eyes. I regret my decision so much.

    • Pomme Nicoll August 15, 2016, 4:48 pm

      Hi Emily, I have been off gluten and mostly off dairy for a month now because of an autoimmune disease I’ve been diagnosed with 3 years ago and that nothing cures (been on chemo, immunosuppressants which ended up giving me drug-induced hepatitis, nothing works). After about 10 days, I started to experience mood swings, nasty face/eye/head aches as well as feeling very tired all the time.

      Lately, face/eye/head aches come with popped blood vessels on both eyes too!!! Eyes ache so much, they feel as if they’re being crushed and pulled to the back of my head. Face pain irradiates down to my nose and jaw/cheeks, it’s so very bad. I’m so relieved to read I’m not alone with the bloodshot eyes as it was very scary.

      I guess we just need to hang in there but I hope all this goes away sooner than later as I find it to be a very rough ride.

  • Maxine August 4, 2016, 6:38 am

    It took a month before my symptoms started and I had no idea to expect withdrawal so it took me a few days to realise that my stomach cramps, bloating, joint pain and fatigue were actually symptoms of gluten withdrawal. I feel more informed but still uncomfortable and I think people need to be more informed prior to stopping, so they know what to expect.

  • Samantha July 31, 2016, 2:51 pm

    I’ve been gluten free for three days, and I felt great up until last night. I couldn’t sleep, and vomited multiple times. I’m exhausted and my stomach hurts terribly. I quit cold turkey with my mom and sister, and they seem to be totally fine; I’m the only one having so much trouble! Right now I’ve got a sleeve of low sodium crackers next to me that I’m slowly munching on. I hope weaning helps me because I really want to cut gluten out of my diet as much as possible! Still, glad to know that it’s not something more serious.

  • Susan Nash July 31, 2016, 1:58 am

    It might be a good idea to supplement with Tryptophan or 5 HTP (both make serotonin) as well as Magnesium Glycinate which calms anxiety and doesn’t cause loose stools. Those will help with depression and anxiety. Make sure you are getting enough carbs in other forms that are gluten free. Your body needs energy to digest with.

    If you have Celiac your intestines have damage and difficulty absorbing nutrients. So try some fruit smoothies in small amounts to give your body some easy to digest carbs while you are adjusting. Also you can take digestive enzymes when you eat fat or protein to help until your intestines heal (if you have steatorrhea).

  • Becky July 29, 2016, 2:42 pm

    I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in February and have been gluten free ever since. All my pain has disappeared but I’m having horrible shaky spells. They’re making me crazy.

  • Whitney July 20, 2016, 7:58 pm

    Okay, so who knew this “gluten- withdrawal” thing was real. I was diagnosed gluten sensitive around 3 years ago. Already being lactose intolerant, gluten was just another thing to add to my list. At first it just gave me stomach issues. I went off and on for a few years, but the symptoms were never super terrible. About 2 months ago, I noticed that every time I would eat gluten, I would get SO tired, dizzy, brain fog, anxiety, etc.

    So I decided that it was time to cut it out completely. Week one of being completely gluten free wasn’t too bad. I would get super hungry every couple of hours and start to feel a little dizzy, and figured it was because I needed to eat and I just needed nutrients. I would pack little snacks with me and I would immediately feel better. Then came the slight anxiety, not too terrible.

    On week two… OH MY GOSH. I was hit like a ton of bricks. My appetite was completely gone overnight, my anxiety was worse, I was nauseous, dizzy, brain fog, I had hives all over my shoulders (from anxiety I’m assuming), I was so tired all of the time and didn’t know what the heck was wrong with me. So here I was week 2.5 ish and I am so upset and don’t know what is going on.

    I had to cancel my photoshoots (I am a photographer), family events that I had been planing for weeks, and I am just not myself. I told my doctor that I cut out gluten and he ran blood tests and everything came back perfect. “Oh you just have anxiety, take Lexapro”. I have been on lexipro in the past. I took it for about 6 months starting last may.

    After I got off of it I never had anxiety and I was the happiest, most positive person ever! Everyone would always compliment my positivity and enthusiasm. I absolutely LOVE my job, am in an amazing relationship and everything was so great and it still is. I was skeptical to get back on lexipro because I didn’t think that anxiety was the only issue I was dealing with and I had heard horror stories about antidepressants.

    I also don’t really like just taking a pill to fix what is going on. My boyfriend did some research and found all of these articles on Gluten Withdrawals. I woke up from my nap and he told me all about it and every. single. symptom. was spot on. It explained everything EXACTLY to what I was going through. I still think my friends and family think this isn’t a real thing but it is the absolute worse thing I have ever been through.

    I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. Now I am on week 3, I wasn’t as bed ridden as I was in week 2. I wake up feeling super unmotivated. I don’t want to get up because I know I need to eat and the thought and smell of food makes me want to vomit. After I force myself to eat something, because I know I need energy, I feel a little better but it still makes me gag while I eat.

    I have been living off of gluten free chicken nuggets, BANANAS (oh my gosh I have probably eaten at least 20 in the past 10 days), and green smoothies (Water, ice, spinach, half an apple, half a banana, and a half scoop of vanilla protein powder). Right now, my biggest issue is the loss of appetite (even though my stomach is growling) and anxiety. I get anxious about eating and I need to work and I just hate being behind.

    I have managed to work a little here and there (I own my own business luckily, so I have taken off for 2 weeks) but I am so used to go go going all the time that it is driving me crazy to be sitting and anxious and nauseous. I also get restless leg syndrome at night and it drives me crazy as well. Epsom salt bubble baths with lavender oil and a collection of lavender scented candles is my sanctuary at the moment.

    I have been taking a probiotic (which I believe helped tremendously once I started taking it after 2 weeks of being GF). I take 100-200 mg of Magnesium because I heard it helps with energy and anxiety. I have also been taking 3 Woman’s One a Day Gummy Multi Vitamins. The only thing that gives me hope is reading all of the comments and forums on these articles.

    It makes me feel like I am not the only one going through this and it gives me hope to all of the people who have gotten through it or are feeling better. I hope that this post helps someone, even just a little. Good luck to everyone and if you have any advice on how to get through this miserable withdrawal, please let me know what you did to help!

  • Carole July 7, 2016, 8:40 pm

    A month in to strictly gluten-free I had a questionable meal out and have had diarrhea ever since. I have had IBS on and off for years and think I may have angered the gut gods because I was doing well for that first month. Going to give gluten-free a bit more time because my blood pressure is back to normal without drugs. But this diarrhea is getting old.

  • Robin July 7, 2016, 6:34 pm

    I was so relieved to read that the symptoms I have been experiencing are normal and to be expected. I had no idea! I have been gluten and dairy free for 1 week and for the first three days I thought I was coming down with the flu. I felt better on day 4 but am still experiencing bad headaches. Looking forward to seeing improvement in the near future. Again, thanks!

    • Ella July 10, 2016, 12:26 pm

      @Robin, Like you, I started at the beginning of July but only going gluten-free. I was wondering if you’d like to compare notes on our respective journeys. I still have whole grass-fed milk in my Starbucks but with all of my flu-like symptoms, I’m still knackered. The interesting thing is that I am now starting to lose my zeal for coffee which I am sure is a good thing.

      I also drink a lot of water because I feel quite dehydrated and sometimes sweat profusely. Brain fog is now typical and I’ve got these two subdermal cysts near my mastoid process (back side of the neck) which has got to be part of my body process changing. To me, it’s all interesting to note the changes because I had no idea that these affects would occur.

      My sole reason to do this was that I decided that I’d get to my natural weight (and help my arthritic ankle) if I focused on vegetables/fruit and healthy protein sources secured in an ethical manner. I only eat halal/kosher meat and am going to grass-fed on this too. I read somewhere that chickens/turkeys are commercially prepared by being hung by their legs and then their heads are dipped into electrified water to kill them for slaughter which shifted me permanently to the more humane method of halal/kosher.

      I had no idea that this was such an amazing journey or that so many others were on the same journey. It’s good to see others on this journey too and I wish the best for all. :)

  • Becky July 6, 2016, 4:44 pm

    Please say this will end. I was told by naturopath that I am gluten intolerant via lab-work. I am seeing him for anxiety, thyroid, female hormone issues. I have the following:
    -No appetite
    -Losing weight (I don’t have room for this)
    -Stomach cramps
    -Cold all the time (thyroid levels are fine)
    -Dehydrating easily, although drinking a lot
    -Extreme fatigue

    I’m about 2-3 weeks in. When will this end?!!!

  • Roro June 27, 2016, 4:23 am

    I went off gluten and, for the most part, sugar. I felt fine for 3 weeks. It was almost too easy. Then week 4 hit and I am finally feeling the symptoms described in the article above.

    I kept thinking I would have gotten through this unscathed. I have had a headache for 4 days, I’m nauseous, cravings, and feeling dehydrated. I am also extremely nervous and constipated most days. I cannot concentrate and am sweating profusely.

    What troubles me, why the 3 week delay? Why were the first few weeks so extremely easy on my body? Just curious if anyone else felt this delayed reaction?

    • Shelley July 29, 2016, 10:01 pm

      Maybe you had gluten reserves? Is that a thing? And so it didn’t start depleting until later?

  • Rachel June 17, 2016, 4:46 am

    I have gone grain free for 7 days now and I feel horrible. The first few days I was fine. And then it all started 2 days ago. Super fatigue, stomach aches, dizziness, rapid heart rate, etc. It seems to come in waves, I’ll be fine one minute and the next I’m feeling terrible. I hope this ends soon because I plan on sticking it out.

  • Judy Gaul June 15, 2016, 9:03 pm

    I am having a hard time determining which symptoms are from quitting sugar & carbs, cold turkey, 23 days ago. My symptoms are getting worse instead of better, and include: diarrhea, extreme weakness & fatigue, aches & pains, a bloated, achy belly & becoming short of breath doing the slightest activity, like scooping my cat’s litter-box. I walk dogs for a living and am unable to do my job the last couple of days. I went to my doctor today, but she denied that any of the above symptoms are diet related. (?) She just did blood work, which I don’t have results for yet.

  • jodi June 15, 2016, 1:15 am

    I made it to Day 5 completely gluten-free and 4 o’clock that afternoon I started throwing up uncontrollably and it has going on until Day 5. My question is should I keep going or stop if I can’t handle feeling this way?

  • Eva ramos June 14, 2016, 5:56 pm

    I had my entire life eating gluten foods. Recently I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, pre-diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. I refused to take prescribed-chemical medications including synthroid, and consulted a naturopath Doctor instead. She recommended starting a gluten-free diet and a new natural protocol.

    It almost 3 weeks already and last week I started feeling awful…dizziness with vertigo, lightheaded, sleep disturbances, ringing ears (tinnitus), horrible brain fog, extremely tired, day sleepy, stomach distended, bloating, headache, joint aches especially my shoulders (had 2 reflexology massages last week). I never thought that gluten withdrawal it gonna be so difficult.

    Reading all people comments make me feel I’m not alone in this process, hopefully all this effects gonna subside soon.

  • alana hombsch June 13, 2016, 11:36 pm

    I’ve gone cold turkey from gluten for one week now as an elimination trial for my baby that has eczema and is breastfed. I’m constipated, with stomach craps, gas and feel generally awful. I’m trying so hard to stay strong but this is awful. To make matters worse, I bake my own sourdough bread and I’m missing it terribly. Please tell me this will get easier.

  • Shayla June 12, 2016, 1:54 am

    I’ve been gluten free for about a month now and can say that all the symptoms do eventually subside. I had the joint pain, headaches, nausea, dizzy spells, cold shivers, and depression; needless to say I was miserable. However, going gluten free was the best decision ever!

    My stomach issues and sinus problems are gone. I have mental clarity, energy galore and have lost a lot of weight. I’m in my forties and feel healthier than ever. So be patient and hang in there because it does get better. 😉

    • Kay October 19, 2016, 5:00 am

      I’m so glad to hear this, I’m on day 12 of my GF detox the first few days were not that bad but about a week ago I started feeling like I had a cold (stuffy nose, sore throat) and a few days I woke up with joint pain while other days I didn’t. I’m not sure what to expect or how long this will last but now I’m developing a cough. Fingers crossed it will clear up soon but I’ll report back in a few weeks.

  • wellington May 31, 2016, 7:56 am

    I quit essentially cold turkey a few weeks ago, but it’s strange. I didn’t really get any symptoms at first, but now I have a pounding headache, nausea, terrible cramps when I don’t go number two in the morning, but also just cramps overall. I feel like there must be a vitamin in gluten food that’s making me like this that isn’t the gluten… maybe not I suppose… either way, I was wondering if anyone else has experienced no symptom/sudden symptoms?

  • Chris May 28, 2016, 12:09 am

    Hello. I’ve been GF For nearly three weeks and was hoping the withdrawal symptoms would have subsided by now. While I feel badly for all of us on this journey, it made me feel better to know I’m not alone. Weekly acupuncture has given me some relief from my symptoms. It’s expensive but for a few days afterwards, I feel better.

  • Celesti May 26, 2016, 5:55 pm

    It’s close to two weeks that I have stopped eating gluten. I am tired all the time. I feel dizzy, my glucose level had been really low and shortly after I eat I get terrible cramps followed by painful gas and I am desperate to make it to a toilet in time. I am really hoping it is the result of withdrawal and that it passes soon.

    Even right now I am sitting in bed and I am feeling dizzy, cloudy mind and oh so tired. I barely stay awake past 8pm at night. I am an early riser and am up at 4:30 am most mornings but around 10am I am knackered. Anyone else feel like this?

  • Lanae May 22, 2016, 7:06 am

    Went to the ER nearly 2 weeks ago, had severe inflammation in my colon and gallbladder wall. The Gastroenterologist suggest I go gluten free so I started immediately. Wow, acid reflux, nausea, join pain, abdominal pain, bloating, gassy, major anxiety attacks, emotional, loss of weight and appetite.

    One thing I will say that is helpful and helping me through this is hemp CBD tea, non-psychoactive so no need to worry about drug testing, etc. This has been saving my life through these symptoms no joke. I have also been using essential oils such as Doterra Balance, and On guard. I take Epsom salt baths for relaxing helps relax stomach cramps for me. Good luck everyone on this journey it’s not for the faint of heart.

    • ElizabethG January 2, 2017, 10:42 pm

      How much CBD do you use in mg? I’m in week three GF and really struggling. I would like to try CBD.

  • Eileen May 21, 2016, 6:33 pm

    I was not having stomach problems, but because of migraines I had blood work done showing sensitivity to certain foods. 5 weeks dairy and gluten free. Ugh! Is anyone ever tempted to just go back to eating healthy, lower carbs, no GMO, grass fed beef, etc? I am so tired and not myself on total gluten and dairy free and still have migraines. Loose bowels not an issue before but is now. I’m glad for this forum, but I just want to feel better and get my energy back. This withdrawal is taking longer than I expected without seeing results. And I am on plenty of supplements from a natural path MD.

    • Margaret September 17, 2016, 2:07 pm

      Heheh. Sorry you’re going through this. Some people say it takes 6 months. Not something I want to hear (I’m only 2 weeks into my protocol), but it encourages me to keep going.

  • Connie May 15, 2016, 1:38 pm

    I reduced gluten for the month of March and went gluten free starting April 1st. I don’t feel any better. The withdrawal symptoms have not subsided. I am headachy, neck pain and lightheaded off and on each day. Seems like an unreasonably long time to endure withdrawal. I was an overeater of gluten products for a very long time.

  • Gill May 13, 2016, 9:56 am

    I have Fibromyalgia and know that wheat/gluten is a problem. I am on my 2nd week. I have had the really hot face and the sinus pains last week – did inhalation of Albus oil and hot compresses on cheeks and eyes and ended up washing my nose out with salt water. All this to try to get rid of the pain!!

    I now have really bad joint pains, especially in my hips and knees. I have pain from the FM as well so now really find it difficult to deal with – everything causing me pain. On top of that one of the symptoms to FM is brain fog, but never had it this bad. The feeling in my head is really bad!! Let’s hope it all gets better…

  • Lisa B May 11, 2016, 1:33 pm

    I just quit eating gluten yesterday. My doctor told me at about 10am that he wanted me to cut all of it from my diet, a “cold turkey” approach. I had one last hurrah for lunch and ate Chinese food with breaded chicken. Within a few minutes I felt exhausted, something I’ve been noticing for a while when I eat gluten-heavy foods. I have NO energy.

    Last night I ate a gluten-free dinner, and today I feel even more horrible. I am very hungry, feel nauseated, foggy in my head, and absolutely exhausted, worse even than yesterday. I think I might leave work after half a day. I really need these symptoms to go away. I need something to eat! Please offer me some advice about what I could eat today that might perk me up a bit, so I can be back at work tomorrow!

  • Natalie from London April 8, 2016, 1:08 pm

    I gave up wheat 2 weeks ago as I have always suffered with migraines (1 or 2 a week) and read that it could be down to wheat intolerance. First couple of days was fine and then I’ve had a migraine everyday since and my neck pain is more intense than usual. I was constipated after the first week too but back to normal now. Just really hoping this dizziness and brain fog and persistent headaches go soon!

  • Nigel Dupree from Chicago April 6, 2016, 8:34 pm

    Thank goodness for this post and all the great comments. It’s so empowering to hear that others have suffered the same/similar to what you are going through. It gives me hope. I’d love to hear from many of you again to see how you are doing now. If you posted a long time ago, please update us.

    I was diagnosed with Celiac’s and am month 3 into going Gluten free. I did cheat a few times and I’m still trying to figure out my new diet. I am very active and thin so I don’t like losing the weight. I never used to get headaches and now my head won’t stop throbbing. It hurts most when I stand up. I know it’s the Gluten withdrawal but this is unbearable.

    I can barely function. I can barely work and I’ve had to cancel many/most social engagements and sports. I know it will get better but I never expected this to be so hard. In the past I have cut waaay down on wheat and gluten during allergy (asthma) season but I guess cold turkey is a whole different can of worms. Here is to all of us sticking with it and coming out whole on the other side:)

  • totallyGF March 27, 2016, 3:44 am

    I noticed most of these comments are from people who are currently suffering so I wanted to give you all hope from the other side of it. I went gluten free 4 years ago and haven’t turned back since. I suffered severe withdrawal – irritability, lethargy, severe hunger, insomnia, mania, depression, anger, joint pain so bad I couldn’t walk more than ten minutes before sitting down.

    I went through these phases for about 3 months before things started to level out. Then I saw a naturopath a year later for other symptoms as my immune system was battling withdrawal still. I cut out everything except vegetables and chicken/eggs and fish and took supplements to heal my leaky gut. While I was on that diet, I never felt better.

    In all, it was about 2 years or more before everything cleared up and I started eating normally again. I am grain free now as all grains have gluten. Everyone is different, but all I want to say is it is a process, a lifetime commitment and a change that is absolutely worth it because it will change your life and save your life. You feel like your true self and you do not miss gluten at all.

  • Madeline March 26, 2016, 12:24 pm

    Have been gluten free for 2 months. Just the old slip up. The pain in knee joints 60% diminished greatly, diarrhea diminished 95%, however now notice other food sensitivity such as alcohol. But this has been a revelation into my woes physically for 4 years of my life with gradually increasing illness and pain. Oh and the debilitating fatigue is gone. My visits to doctors a pointless exercise in being advised it was a mental health issue. I’m very thankful I trusted this path and didn’t continue to slide down the path of worsening health under the guise of ignorant health professionals.

  • WheatKicker March 24, 2016, 3:57 am

    I have consumed wheat nearly every day for over 30 years. Something a friend mentioned about gluten intolerance made me look into wheat allergies and all of the symptoms fit me, but all gluten intolerance symptoms do not. I have mainly chosen to create a GF diet, since all wheat has gluten.

    Today I am on day 8 of cold turkey wheat free living. After day 2, I started experiencing joint inflammation and headaches, but did not associate it with withdrawal symptoms. At day 6, I took a very bad turn and started developing almost every symptom imaginable and my joint inflammation became quite severe.

    *fogginess, dizziness, light headedness, brain fog, headaches, hot/cold flashes
    *nausea, blotting, cramps, upset stomach, acid reflux, irregular bowel movements
    *severe pain and inflammation in shoulders, back, hips, neck, elbows, wrists, and particularly a knee and foot that have had injuries in the past, flu-like symptoms, even my acne (a big driver for kicking the wheat) is seriously inflamed with new break outs
    *fatigue, anger, depression, dysphoria

    I feel like the worst case scenario withdrawal, but I’m glad not to be vomiting. On the morning of day 7, I woke up even worse, realized it’s a withdrawal and started digging for information to see what I could do to aid my body thru the process. If I knew a week ago, what I know now, I would have been much better prepared. Here is what I’ve found that I wish I could have told myself a week ago.

    *Do not exercise (I made the mistake of doing some labor in the first few days and wonder if my inflammation might not be so bad now if I had taken it easy.)
    *Drink lots of water
    *Take a 30-50 billion CFU probiotic with preferably 10 bifido/lacto cultures. (I was already taking an acidophilus, but my stomach issues have certainly improved since I introduced a more potent probiotic yesterday.)
    *Take 1200 – 1300 mg’s of magnesium MALATE 2-3 times a day. (It is a hard supplement to find, but a vitamin specialty store should have it. Within hours of taking it yesterday, I felt my joint pains ease a little. The pain is still the same now with no further improvement today.)
    *Take an iodine supplement, preferably Kelp, around 250 mcg. (The one I’m taking is 300. I can’t say if it’s made any difference for me. I found it at a supermarket in the organic section, but specialty stores have it too.)
    *Use salt (It helps with light headedness.)
    *Supplement Omega 3 fatty acids – EPA/DHA of 3000 mg’s per day. Not from fish oil. I have not picked this up yet so I have no feedback on it. I’m hoping to be able to drive again soon and find it.)

    Even if I had known it would be this bad, I still would have gone cold turkey. I am hoping to be over it in 2-4 weeks or at least more functional next week. I will come back and give an update after I’m doing better. I hope sharing what I’m experiencing and what I’ve found will help someone here. Once we all get thru it, we will have an amazing triumph and healthier, happier lives!

    • Whitney July 20, 2016, 8:01 pm

      How are you feeling now?! Did all of the supplements help? Thank you for the advice. I posted my story to the bottom of these comments.

  • Tischplatte March 20, 2016, 12:24 am

    For those experiencing SEVERE depression-did it improve? How long before you felt better? I have tried quitting gluten a few times, but my depression and panic become so much worse that I am terrified. I am at my wit’s end, I can’t do this anymore…has anyone had experience with this?

  • Julie March 18, 2016, 4:01 am

    I’ve been gluten free for about 4 months now, due to the link with hashimotos (under active thyroid disorder) it has taken this long to feel any difference at all, but now I feel a lot better. Apparently it takes 6 months for gluten to completely leave your system, so you have to be persistent!

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