Use of a Gluten-Free Diet in Schizophrenia: A Systematic Review

Adv Nutr. 2018 Nov 1;9(6):824-832. doi: 10.1093/advances/nmy056.


We performed a systematic review of the literature to determine whether adherence to a gluten-free diet (GFD) leads to improved outcomes for patients with schizophrenia. We searched the AMED (Allied and Complementary Medicine; 1985-June 2016), MEDLINE (1946-June 2016), and Embase (1980-2016 week 24) databases using the terms "wheat" or "glutenin" or "gliadin" or "gluten" AND "schizophrenia." A total of 9 studies met the inclusion criteria for this review: 1 randomized controlled trial, 7 crossover studies, and 1 open-label pilot study. Six of the included studies demonstrated beneficial effects including improved functioning and decreased symptom severity after the course of a GFD, whereas 3 studies found no benefits. All of the included studies found that a GFD is well tolerated and can be adhered to by patients with schizophrenia. The findings of this systematic review should be interpreted with caution due to limitations inherent to nonrandomized trials, as well as the heterogeneity in the study design and the length of the GFD applied in each study. Publication bias is another potential limitation. Further research is required to examine the biomarkers of gluten sensitivity and inflammation to effectively target those patients with schizophrenia who will benefit most from this dietary intervention.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Diet, Gluten-Free / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pilot Projects
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Schizophrenia / diet therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome