Naturopathic Medicine Options for Autism

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Naturopathic Medicine Options for Autism

Summary of Bio-medical Treatment

This summary follows the DAN! (Defeat Autism Now) philosophy.  It involves treating the underlying causes of the symptoms of autism and emphasizes nutritional interventions. It is based on scientific research, medical testing, and clinical experience.


 Biomedical Treatments

Improving Diet

A balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits and proteins is essential to provide key nutrients.  Avoid sugars, artificial colours, preservatives, fried foods, pesticides.

Food Sensitivities

Due to abnormalities in the digestive tract or immune system, food allergies are common.  Both food allergy testing (via blood work – IgG testing), the elimination diet (eliminating wheat, rye, barley, oats, dairy, sugar, corn, soy, yeast, peanuts, and egges) and diet logging are helpful.

Peptide metabolism: Gluten and Casein

Most autistic children suffer from some degree of intestinal dysbiosis, abnormal intestinal permeability, and nutritional abnormalities.

Increased intestinal permeability is associated with absorption of opioid-like polypeptides from the partial digestion of casein (in dairy) and gliaden (in grains).  Elevated opioid peptide levels have been documented in urine of children with autism (Reichelt, 2003, Nutr Neurosci; 6:19-28)

Study showed a glutin free/ casein free diet improves 63% of children according to parent ratings (Biomedical Treatments for Autism ARI Publ 40, Apr. 2007)

For more info visit:  Book:  By Lisa Lewis, Glutin and Dairy Free Diet

Reduction of polypeptide levels by administration of duodenal enzymes such as secretin, Betaine HCL, Pepsin and Histidine have been shown to improve social and language skills in autistic patients (Horvath, 2002, Curr Opinion in Pediatrics; 14: 583)

Dybsiosis: Yeast and Bacteria

Organic acids, produced by yeast can be found in the urine of autistic patients (Shaw, 1995, Clin Chem; 41: 1094-1104)

Candidiasis – Studies show treatment with antifunal drugs (Nystatin, Diflucan) and antibiotics (Metronidazole) can reduce clinical symptoms of autism (Clin Pract Alternat Med, 2000; 1: 15-26). Naturopathic antifungals/antimicrobials: herbs and probiotics, colostrums can be helpful.

Impaired Detoxification

Studies show metabolic biomarkers of increased oxidative stress and impaired methylation capacity in children with autism (James et al. Am J Clin Nutr 2004; 80: 1611-1617).

Improving detoxification –

§  Methylcobalamin (injections or sublingual) and folic acid – are involved in oxidative phosphorylation and lessen oxidative stress.  Homocysteine increases with B12 deficiency.  High homocysteine is associated with inhibition of N- acetyl-asparate.  A study of 45 autistic children showed autistics had lower n-acetyl-asparate than controls (Friedman, 2003, Neurology; 60: 100-107)

§  Vitamin B6 and Magnesium – high doses have been found to be effective in treatment of autism symptoms in double blind trials.  Magnesium is involved in mitochondrial energy production (co-factor for NADPH and ATP production).  B6 is also involved in increasing mitochondrial function.  Combination of magnesium and B6 thereby diminish oxidative stress and have been shown to be helpful for austistic children (Rimland, 1996, J Autism Dev Disord: 26: 237-241)

§  Glutathione and NAC (pre-cursor to Glutathione) – many autistic children have low levels of active glutathione (anti-oxidant needed to protect the body from toxins and heavy metals – aids with elimination)

§  Omega-3 Fatty Acids – commonly depleted in autism.  One study showed 23% lower levels in autistic children than controls (Vancassel, 2001, Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids;65: 1-7) .  Repletion may restore healthier membrance and receptor function.

Heavy Metal Toxicity: mercury, lead, arsenic

Deficiencies in phase 2 detoxification pathways allow the accumulation of toxic emvironmental chemicals and heavy metals.  Autistic children may not be able to excrete these chemicals and heavy metals because of compromised detoxification pathways.

Lead and Mercury are known neurotoxins and initiators of oxidative stress.  Reduction of total body load of these xenobiotics diminishes oxidative stress and could create conditions under which reversal of symptoms can occur.  Oral or intravenous DMSA (heavy metal chelator) can reduce the body burden of the heavy metals (Bradstree, J Am Phys Surg, 2003; 8: 76-79)

Lab Work

Organic Acid Test

Comprehensive Stool Analysis (yeast, bacteria)

IgG foods

Amino acids

Provocative challenge test for metals

Essential Fatty Acids

References and further reading

**Autism:  Effective Biomedical Treatments by J. Pangborn, PhD & S. Baker, MD

**Children With Starving Brains:  A medical Treatment Guide for Autism Spectrum Disorder by J. Mc Candless, MD

Biological Treatments for Autism and PDD by W. Shaw,

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