Far too many medical professionals swiftly encourage the route of standard (yet outdated) medications for autism and ignore the abundance of science and research that currently supports effective recovery protocols. Such protocols do lead to cures for many children with autistic spectrum disorders (ASDs) and as healers, we must embrace them at all levels if we’re to ever unleash reliable methods of treatment to the over one million children with autism.
The first perception we must eliminate from our discourse on this subject is that vaccines are the primary cause of autism. There are few advocates more against vaccinations than myself. I have asserted repetitively over the years that when it comes to vaccines, don’t sit on the fence and that most of the evidence now suggests that the healthiest children in the future will be unvaccinated.
However, after years of researching studies and filtering through piles of scientific data, it has been impossible to conclusively link vaccines as the primary cause of autism. That doesn’t mean vaccines are not a contributor or that there is no correlation with the incidence of children with ASDs, because there is. What it means is that there is no basis for causation without considering the multitudes of other factors involved, such as the abundance of toxins and pollutants in our foods, environment and the obvious genetic predisposition which can no longer be denied. If vaccines were scientifically defined as primary causation for ASDs, then every child vaccinated would be diagnosed with some form of autism. This simply is not the case.
Once we have relieved ourselves of the confusion on that very controversial issue, we can then remove the guilt and anger associated with what we term vaccine-injured children and focus on recovery and treatment protocols that actually work.
Making Strides To Help Children With Autism
According to the Journal of the American Association of Pediatrics, mothers of autistic children maintain remarkable strengths in creating parent-child relationships and social support. I’ve known many parents who have austistic children and always reflect on the same thought, “they picked the right parents.” The strength of these parents and the determination in their character to rid the disease is really something quite incredible. Look at the video above if you doubt that.
For an overwhelmed parent looking for answers, the amount of scientific and medical information about autism is staggering. In fact, if you Google “autism”, you’ll get over 76 million links to weed through! Thanks to the efforts of many talented and dedicated scientists, critical discoveries have been made that help understand the decline into and recovery from autism. This information is being used to recover autistics of all ages.
Autism is a complex biological disorder involving simultaneous and interrelated dysfunction of the detoxification, immune, digestive and neurological systems.
Gluten-Free, Casein Free Diets
While dietary strategies may not appear to be doing much in the short-term, the long-term benefits can be outstanding. Many parents have claimed a high degree of success from dietary strategies to reduce the symptoms of ASD. According to researchers from Penn State a gluten-free, casein-free diet may lead to improvements in behavior and physiological symptoms in children diagnosed with ASD.
“Research has shown that children with ASD commonly have GI [gastrointestinal] symptoms,” said Christine Pennesi, medical student at Penn State College of Medicine. “Notably, a greater proportion of our study population reported GI and allergy symptoms than what is seen in the general pediatric population. Some experts have suggested that gluten- and casein-derived peptides cause an immune response in children with ASD, and others have proposed that the peptides could trigger GI symptoms and behavioral problems.”
“Gluten and casein seem to be the most immunoreactive,” Klein said. “A child’s skin and blood tests for gluten and casein allergies can be negative, but the child still can have a localized immune response in the gut that can lead to behavioral and psychological symptoms. When you add that in with autism you can get an exacerbation of effects.”
“If parents are going to try a gluten-free, casein-free diet with their children, they really need to stick to it in order to receive the possible benefits,” she said.
Detoxification and Immune Systems
In the body of an autistic individual, portions of the detoxification system, as well as specific metabolic processes become dysfunctional, leading to a diminished ability to completely break down certain foods. When analyzed by sophisticated scientific instruments, a portion of these partially digested substances are shown to resemble morphine (yes, morphine). These neurotoxins (opioid substances) leak out of the digestive tract, into the blood stream and attack the brain/nervous system, producing the symptoms and complications associated with autism. Diminished levels of critical substances such as glutathione (resulting in oxidative stress) keep this process in place.
Recovery of autism requires:
– Stop the production of neurotoxins (opioid substances)
– Reduce or eliminate oxidative stress
– Heal the nervous system
In October of 2001, a team of clinicians and researchers led by William Walsh, Ph.D. then at the Pheiffer Treatment Center, affiliated with the Health Research Institute now of Warrenville, IL, made available a scientific study entitled “Metallothionein and Autism”. Metallothionein is a protein that is critical to the process of detoxification of harmful substances, particularly heavy metals and toxic chemicals.
The paper describes a study of 503 patients on the autism spectrum vs. aged-matched non-autistic patients. The conclusion of this study was that “most autistic patients exhibit evidence of metallothionein (MT) dysfunction and this dysfunction may be a universal characteristic of autism-spectrum disorders”.
Translation: the detox systems of autistics are impaired.
Walsh also concluded that “MT dysfunction and autism may result from the intersection of two factors: (a) a genetic defect involving marginal or defective MT functioning, followed by (b) an environmental insult during early development which disables MT.”
According to Walsh’s paper, once MT becomes compromised, a host of other dysfunctions occur, including:
–Detoxification of mercury and other toxic metals
–Development and functioning of the immune system
-Development and paring of brain neurons
-Regulation of zinc and copper levels in blood
–Prevention of yeast overgrowth in the intestines
–Production of enzymes that break down casein and gluten
–Response to intestinal inflammation
-Production of stomach acid
-Taste and texture discrimination of tongue epithelia
-Hippocampus function and behavior control
-Development of emotional memory
Walsh’s paper continues: “Examples of biochemical factors which can disable MT proteins include (a) severe zinc depletion, (b) abnormalities in the glutathione redox system, (c) cysteine deficiency, and (d) malfunction of metal regulating elements (MRE’s).”
Glutathione is frequently mentioned in biomedical discussions of autism due to its critical role in the detoxification pathway. Glutathione is produced by a metabolic process known as the methionine cycle. Important work has been performed describing the most vulnerable parts of the methionine cycle. This cycle starts with methionine and is supposed to end with glutathione. However, because this metabolic process has been disrupted in autistics, little or no glutathione is produced. Indeed, oxidative stress, or low levels of glutathione have been described as a hallmark traits of autism.
Because glutathione is so critical in the detoxification pathway, diminished levels begin to interfere with a variety of other metabolic processes as initially described by Dr. Walsh and borne out via subsequent research. These include the dysfunction of the methylation and sulfation processes. Following is an excerpt from “Autism is Curable. How a Generation Was Poisoned And How To Correct It” by Dr. Stuart H Freedenfeld describing these processes.
“Methylation is an extremely important process that is essential to our health. It activates brain-signaling molecules and inactivates DNA and RNA (it is how liver cells learn to be different from muscle cells and how we inactivate viruses). Impairment of the methylation mechanism impairs another process called sulfation. Sulfation is necessary to produce many substances including the protective coating of the digestive tract and the connective tissues of the body. It is also the source of the most important detoxifying substance in our body, glutathione. This substance is so important that if its level falls below a certain amount in any cell, that cell will self-destruct. Glutathione is also the essential mechanism to remove toxic metals from inside the cells.
Using Cord Blood To Cure Autism
Dr. Michael Chez, director of pediatric neurology at Sutter Neuroscience Institute in Sacramento, Calif., said he and his colleagues have processed a trial in cases where there is no obvious genetic link.
“What we are looking at, is cases that don’t have an obvious genetic link,” Chez told FoxNews.com. “Patients that we presume something went wrong with their brains, which caused a change to autistic features.”
In other words, the trial’s patients will essentially have no reason to have autism — or at least no genetic markers for the disease. This means they must have presumably developed it through another factor, such as the environment or exposure to an infection.
Chez got the idea to ‘treat’ autism with cord blood stem cells when he observed the cells make a big difference for a little boy who had cerebral palsy.
Elisa Rudgers of Sacramento, Calif., had a normal pregnancy — but a difficult delivery. Her son, Rydr, was stuck for seven hours in the birthing canal, so doctors used a vacuum to remove him. At birth, he was not moving or breathing, and he had no lower brain function. Rydr spent six weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit, and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at 11 months old..
Rydr’s parents chose to bank his cord blood at birth with CBR — a cord blood storage company based in Arizona that will provide Chez with participants for his trial.
Rydr received his first infusion at 15 months old. This was a child who couldn’t walk, talk or eat on his own — but he began crawling three months later.
After the second infusion, he began walking and talking, and after the third infusion, Rydr was also able to chew and swallow soft foods.
“I can verify he definitely got better,” Chez said.
Now, Chez wants to put Rydr’s experience to work for children with autism.
Chez will give 30 kids infusions of their own cord blood cells. Most of the children for the trial have already been lined up, and they have been screened to make sure they don’t have any other issues that may have caused their autism (for example, Fragile X syndrome, stroke, head injury or prematurity).
Using the child’s own cord blood will make the study safe and ethical — plus, the cells are younger and have not been exposed to environmental factors, like viruses or chemicals, which can alter the cell’s function and structure. By using the children’s own stem cells, their bodies cannot reject them.
However, in the future, a sibling’s cord blood could theoretically work — as long as the siblings shared the same blood type.
Researchers can develop further goals when and if they see results.
The Neurological System
Imagine for a moment the impact of having a dose of morphine delivered into your bloodstream and brain after every meal, day in and day out. Now observe the way an autistic child or adult behaves. Is it possible that they have been living under the burden of a highly potent and destructive opioid neurotoxin on a daily basis for a large portion of their lives?
Following are quotes from “Unraveling the Mystery of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder: A Mother’s Story of Research & Recovery” by Karyn Seroussi, which beautifully describes the recovery of her son from autism via diet. “…these opiates, if they are permitted to enter the brain, can have a widespread effect on the nervous system similar to that of hallucinogenic drugs; and this results, in a developing child’s brain, in autistic behaviors. The proof of this lies in the presence of such drugs in the urine of the autistic children.
These effects will include disrupting neurotransmission in all the main systems (dopamine, serotonin, GABA, etc.). Consequently, perceptions by all of the senses (hearing, sight, taste, proprioception, pain, etc.) will be affected to a varying degree. At the same time, so will the ability to filter out what is important from what is not.” From “Unravelling the Mysteries of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder” by Karyn Seroussi.
Other evidence that morphine-like substances are reaching the brain is the frequent observation that autistics tend to crave and eat the same food, diary and wheat based, all the time. Mac and cheese. Pizza. They appear to be addicted to their own food. They fly into fits when they don’t get it. Once they eat it they appear to lapse into a “food coma” until the addiction once again overwhelms them and they demand more.
Other observed neurological manifestations could be the result of opioids reaching the brain include seizures and changes to brain structure observed on imaging studies. But the real proof is in the ability to reverse the processes causing these symptoms resulting in improvement and recovery.
Recovery from autism:
(1) Stop production of opioid neurotoxins
(2) Reduce or eliminate oxidative stress
(3) Heal the nervous system
Knowing the metabolic processes at play that result in the symptoms of autism, one can begin to envision that reversal of these processes could lead to recovery or at least diminishment of symptoms. This is exactly what happened with recovered autistics.
Stop the production of Opioid Neurotoxins and Reduce or Eliminate Oxidative Stress (Yes, these can sometimes be addressed with the same treatment methods):
Methlyated B-12 shots
Another key method to halt the production of opioid neurotoxins and reduce oxidative stress isthe use of methyl-B12 shots. Administration of methlyated B12 via shots seems to get the methionine process (described earlier) going again in short spurts, resulting in the availability of greater levels of glutathione for critical metabolic processes. Once glutathione is produced, many of the “downstream” problems (enzyme function, digestive system permeability, etc.) seem to right themselves, and production of neurotoxins is inhibited or stopped. But the process takes place only while methyl -B12 is present. So a continuous supply of M-B12 is required. One shot (which can be administered in a painless way to the buttocks) is required approximately every three days.
Use of M-B12 shots made a significant difference in the life and recovery of our daughter and in the recovery of a number of children that we have sent to DAN! (Defeat Autism Now) doctors for treatment. M-B12 represents a real alternative for older kids when the CFGF diet is less effective. DAN! clinicians I have spoken to report that a high percentage (but not all) autistic kids that receive M- B12 shots are “responders”, and some are eventually recovered. The protocol for administration must be followed precisely (see www.drneubrander.com for video and written instructions).
Another tool that is gaining prominence in the “Heal the Nervous System” category is the use of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT). HBOT involves the administration of oxygen while a patient’s body is in a pressurized situation. It sounds scary and actually looks even scarier if you saw a chamber in use, but in fact it is simple and straightforward. Under the care and guidance of DAN! clinicians, families can rent or buy “soft” chambers and set them up at home. HBOT allows for greater levels of oxygen to be available to the nervous system/brain by creating a gradient that gently “pushes” oxygen into these starved cells. Increased levels of oxygen in brain cells allows for cell repair. Small studies and anecdotal use of HBOT with autistic children appears to support that this is an important emerging tool in the healing of autistics. In addition, use of HBOT appears to decrease the frequency and severity of seizures that occur in a significantly high percentage of autistic cases. (Also see “Tales of Healing” for a story about the use of HBOT in a child with autism and seizures.)
Chelation is the active detoxification of heavy metals and other toxic substances built up in the tissues of autistics. These result from the impaired detoxification processes previously discussed. Chelation is facilitated by a substance that helps lift the toxin from the tissues so that it may be eliminated by the body.
For the most common forms of heavy metal intoxication–those involving lead, arsenic or mercury–the standard of care a number of chelating agents are available. DMSA (dimercaptouccinic acid) has been recommended for the treatment of children, however it’s synthetic form is prone to some side effects such as removal of vital minerals from the body.
More natural and effective alternatives include organic, raw, whole, pure, and nanonized ingredients containing chlorella and cilantro. BioRay NDF liquid is one example of a high quality liquid supplement at this quality level.
Rhinebeck Health Center’s Approach
For the past 25 years Kenneth A. Bock, MD, has dealt with complex medical problems by integrating alternative modalities with conventional medicine into a comprehensive integrative medical practice, and for the last eight years he has focused that approach on children with autism spectrum disorders and ADD/ADHD.
Dr. Bock’s Healing Program for children affected by these disorders, which consists of environmental controls, dietary modification, nutritional supplementation, detoxification, and medication, is at the vanguard of the new biomedical approach to the treatment of autism, and when combined with appropriate behavioral and educational interventions, has shown significant improvements in many children.
Bock believes many affected children with autistic spectrum disorders have some type of mitochondrial dysfunction which although not at a level of a frank mitochondrial disorder, nevertheless represents more subtle dysfunction, affecting one or numerous processes in the complex system of energy production and/or transfer in the brain and other organs.
Below the level of the conscious awareness, cellular processes are an ongoing life providing and supporting activity, which requires energy. In other words, it’s not only overt visible activities such as running across a room, jumping on a rebounder, or picking up an object that requires energy. It’s all those silent metabolic processes of cellular function, including ingress of nutrients and egress of wastes across cell membranes, cell receptor function, cell signaling processes, intracellular assembly, maintenance, and repair processes, and intra and intercellular transport and communication. When there is a problem with energy formation, energy transfer or energy utilization, it has profound ramifications on proper cell function. This is a key concept that he believes is applicable to many children.
When it comes to treatment of children with autism spectrum disorders, there are some important generalized caveats that he emphasizes:
- The treatment needs to be individualized. This is very important and is one reason why he would discourage you from jumping on every treatment that you read about or hear about. Dr. Baker referred to this whole process of individualization so well in his lecture when he was speaking of the diagnostic and treatment problem involved in patients with chronic illness of unknown cause. He refers to the process of thinking about each child as an individual, beginning with two simple questions:
a. “Is there something for which this person has a special need, which if met would result in better function?” (such as nutrients)
b. “Is there something of which this person should rid, which would result in better function?” (such as toxins and allergens) We spend a lot of time as clinicians figuring out what toxins are involved and how best to get rid of them, as well as which nutrients are best suited for each individual child.
- Don’t go it alone. Work with an experienced DAN practitioner who can help you navigate the journey through the myriad of evaluation and treatment possibilities that exists for this complex disorder.
- Trust your intuition, as well as the doctor/health practitioner you choose to work with. The decisions frequently are not black or white, and clinical experience and knowledge as well as intuition and “the art of medicine” can be very important in terms of outcomes, dealing with potential transient adverse affects, as well as your comfort zone as a parent and partner in the treatment of your child.
- Recognize that these children are metabolically “fragile” and that he or she may react adversely to an intervention that has significant positive effects in another child, or even in many other children. Also don’t be discouraged by this. Report this to the doctor with whom you work, and hopefully this information can be used to chart additional navigational pathways.
- Go slowly – add new interventions one at a time, allowing at least 3 to 4 days to a week between them to assess response/reaction. (Recognizing that sometimes it may take much longer for these responses/reactions to fully materialize). Don’t go “Gang Busters” and add 10 things to your child’s treatment at once – firstly because you increase the risk of adverse reactions, and secondly because you won’t have any idea of which reactions pertain to which new intervention.
- Let go of any guilt that you might feel regarding your role in your child’s problems. This includes the fact that you may have brought him or her to the doctor when they received their thimerosal containing vaccines, and allowed them to, or even requested that they be administered. This was the standard of care at that time and you did nothing wrong.
- A truly integrative approach includes the full spectrum biomedical approach, consisting of nutritional, immunologic, metabolic, gastrointestinal and toxicity/detoxification considerations. Additionally, in certain situations, adjunctive pharmacological management can be helpful as long as it is not a solo treatment, but is part of a comprehensive biomedical treatment program. An integrated treatment approach must also include the appropriate array of educational, behavioral, and therapeutic interventions. We can do our best to detoxify the cells, especially the neurons, and nourish them appropriately to support optimal function, but they need to be (re)taught and (re)trained via the numerous methodologies and programs that have been specifically developed to do just that.
- Don’t ever give up. Don’t lose hope. The first diagnosis you may have received at the hands of a pediatric neurologist or developmental pediatrician no longer guarantees a grim prognosis. We are all involved in the recovery of more and more children, and although there is no guarantee, there is reason to be hopeful that your child can be a part of that sometimes miraculous, and always heartening, journey to recovery.
Every autistic child is diferent. There are many children who have fully recovered and others partially through some of the above methods. The important thing is to help them reach their full potential whatever that may be for each child. Don’t let anyone dictate your child’s future or potential by limiting your options to medication or ineffective treatment methods. The possibilities are limitless.
Dave Mihalovic is a Naturopathic Doctor who specializes in vaccine research, cancer prevention and a natural approach to treatment.