(16) BCM-7 can also be hydrolyzed further to produce the shorter exorphin
with greater opioid receptor binding affinity, beta-casomorphin-5 (BCM-5).
One hypothesis to explain how gluten can cause behavioral changes (gluten is also implicated in attention deficit, hyperactivity, and autism) is what I call the Exorphin Dysfunction Hypothesis.
Further lending credence to the exorphin dysfunction hypothesis are studies using "mixed agonist/antagonists" drugs (e.g., cyclazocine and nalorphine) that artificially stimulate and suppress the body's endorphin receptors and have been known to produce profound dysphoria bordering on psychosis in patients.
For example, wheat and dairy products contain exorphins
(they're like endorphins but not made in the body), which bind to opiate receptors in the brain and produce a euphoric, even drug-like haze.
These criteria include the following: a) many of the foods that "cause trouble in children are weak inhibitors of the conversion of EFAs to prostaglandins (PGs)"; b) boys are affected to a greater degree than girls and "males are known to have much higher requirements for EFAs than females"; c) abnormal thirst is one of the cardinal signs of EFA deficiency; many children suffer with this symptom; d) "many children have eczema, allergies and asthma", all of which can benefit, or be alleviated by EFA supplementation; e) many children are zinc deficient, and zinc is required for conversion of EFAs to PGs; and f) allergies affect many children, especially wheat and milk, "which are known to give rise to exorphins
in the gut," which in turn may block conversion of EFAs to PGEI.
In addition, casein, a milk protein concentrated in cheese, also contains a source of opiate-like compounds called exorphins
are other food chemicals cited by advocates of the stone-age diet.
`These potent endorphins and exorphins
give us pleasurable, comforting sensations we can get hooked on.' Strangely, some people who can't get enough dairy are actually intolerant to it.
Exorphins are morphinelike molecules derived from incomplete digestive breakdown of the common food allergens dairy and grain.
Opioid peptides derived from food proteins: The exorphins. J Biol Chem.
Many investigators have reported behavioral improvements with avoidance of dietary gluten and casein, presumably by lowering exposure to exorphins
. (48) A cholinesterase antagonist has had a positive impact on behavior in some patients, (49) perhaps by partially compensating for the damage to cholinergic receptors described above.
He noted that alterations of gut barrier function are common and well-documented in these children and that the absorption of exorphins
from incompletely digested casein and gluten may significantly contribute to the neurological manifestations of autism.