Pieces of milk and wheat proteins (peptides) that mimic the body's own
narcotics, the endorphins. were described by Zioudro,
Streaty and Klee as "exorphins" in 1979. Other food proteins, such as gluten,
results in the production of substances having opiate- (narcotic) like activity.
These substances have been termed "exorphins." Hydrolyzed wheat gluten, for
example, was found to prolong intestinal transit time and this effect was
reversed by concomitant administration of naloxone, a narcotic-blocking drug.
Digests of milk proteins also are opioid peptides
human brain effects of exorphins have not yet been studied, but may contribute
to the mental disturbances and appetite disorders that routinely accompany
food-related illness. The possibility that exorphins are addictive in some
people is a fascinating lead that needs further exploration. Another mechanism,
similar to dependency on food-derived neuroactive peptides like the exorphins,
would be a dependency on gastrointestinal peptides, released from the bowel
during digestion. Deficiencies in the bowel production of regulatory addictive
peptides, such as endorphins, would likely be associated with cravings and
compulsions to increase food ingestion. There are a large number of
gut-regulatory peptides feeding back to brain control centers to form the
brain-gut axis. The information flow between the gut and brain is likely
critical in regulating feeding behaviors.
reviewed the peptide research, especially the link between food and
schizophrenia. He suggests: "The discovery that opioid peptides are released by
the digestion of certain food has followed a line of research that assumes
pathogenic connections between schizophrenic psychosis and diet."
wheat proteins have been studied and shown to yield active peptides. These
substances may be numerous in the Digestive Tract after a meal and several
effects could occur in sequence. The absorption of larger peptides may be
irregular, with variation in symptom production after meals, making the
interpretation of milk and wheat disease difficult. Other foods are likely to
yield similar peptides. From our basic understanding of protein digestion, we
should predict that there will be regular traffic of peptide information passing
from food digests into the body. Ingestion of normal food may result in
information-molecules streaming into our bloodstream from stomach or small
intestine with all the impact of narcotic drugs.
A "Gluten Stimulatory
Peptide is also described with narcotic (opiate) antagonist properties. It has
been suggested that gluten hydrolysates, digests of wheat protein, have mixed
opiate agonist-antagonist activity and, like two drugs with mixed narcotic
activating and blocking actions (nalorphine and cyclazocine), produce dysphoria
and even psychotic symptoms. Loukas and colleagues have derived the structure of
cow's milk-derived exorphins:
Opioid activities and structures of
following two peptides carry information by finding and binding to brain
receptors which ordinarily respond to endorphins. The message is go to sleep,
feel bad, but go back for more.
Arg-Tyr-Leu-Gly-Tyr-Leu-Glu (digested from
Tyr-Pro-Phe-Pro-Gly (digested from beta casein)
(Morley JE. Levine AS et al. Effect of exorphins on gastrointestinal function, hormonal release, and appetite.
Gastroenterology.1983 84(6) 1517-23.)
activities and structures of casein-derived exorphins.( Loukas S. Varoucha D.,
Zioudrou C. at al.1983 Biochemistry 22:4567-4573)
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