I want to expand a little more about detoxification. Our bodies are designed to burn fuel for energy production and get rid of waste material through detoxification. We have a wide variety of biochemistry in our body to help us do that. Detoxification occurs through our kidney function, through our liver function and through our digestive tract. When our body is bogged down with toxins, like certain chemicals, those chemicals can be accumulated in our body and can prevent our body from functioning optimally and can hinder detoxification. That may impact our kidney function or our liver function and we can become chronically sick from it. If you are talking about kids on the spectrum we know that certain things like heavy metal toxins can create oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is when those anti toxin chemicals that our body uses to try and keep us healthy become depleted and don’t function properly anymore to aid in detoxification. That causes stress in the cells and stress in the organ systems and eventually our bodies start to breakdown. We know that a lot of kids on the Autism spectrum have a deficiency in glutathione. Glutathione is a very powerful chemical in our cells that protects our cells from toxins and also aids in detoxification. Digestive function is huge. We know that our digestive system is the main way of getting food into our system but it also is a major route of detoxification. It is like the physical window of our body, more things enter our body through our digestive system than any other route. So if our digestive tract if unhealthy due to chronic constipation or chronic overgrowth of yeast and bacteria then we may have a problem in detoxifying even our own waste products, let alone any environmental toxins. I always point out to parents that no matter what you are doing for example treating issues like yeast, methyl B-12 therapy, supplementation with B vitamins, probiotics, calcium, magnesium, etc., a gluten and casein free diet, or other special diets, all of those things support detoxification of your child’s body. You may not necessarily be doing something specific to detoxify chemicals or heavy metals but biomedicine in general through all of these treatments, diet, supplements, digestive support, methylation support, it all aids detoxification. That is the key, because detoxification is the foundation for health. All of those things need to be looked at as far as a comprehensive biomedical approach to improve your child’s health and their wellness and to get them down the road of higher functioning and eventually with the hope of recovery.
In biomedicine for Autism we talk a lot about detoxification. There is some confusion around that term and what detoxification means. What exactly is detoxification? If you think about our body, its main function is to take in food and water for fuel. Our body is constantly using fuel from our food to create energy for the rest of our body to function. Our cells take in sugar, fat and protein and make energy out of those so the rest of the body can function appropriately. Whether that is your heart, your muscles, your digestive tract, your lungs, your brain, etc., that is a normal part of metabolism. Anytime you are metabolizing food to make energy, you are going to generate waste material. That waste material is like exhaust that must be detoxified. When you put gasoline into your car you get exhaust in the back end. What our body is designed to do is to burn fuel for energy but to also get rid of the waste material, or detoxifying, of the metabolic process. We detoxify through our lungs when we take in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. We also detoxify through our skin where our body releases heat or moisture, and in some respects through things like sauna therapy we can get rid of chemical toxins through our skin. But the primary routes of detoxification are our kidneys, liver and digestive system. Our kidneys filter out toxins and our liver is like the oil filter of our body, which breaks down substances of metabolism, excretes it into the digestive tract and then we excrete it out in our fecal matter. That is the normal detox process of our body. Many kids on the spectrum have problems in their body’s ability to detox effectively. That doesn’t necessarily mean they have some type of liver or kidney disease but they either lack certain chemicals that help with detoxification or certain functions in the liver are not working optimally so they have a difficult time getting rid of toxins as compared to someone without impaired detoxification capabilities. What we are doing when we aid detoxification through good diet, through supplement therapy, through therapies like methyl B-12 or giving glutathione which is a very powerful antioxidant is we are improving their body’s ability to detox. This helps their overall medical condition. Detoxification is a normal part of our body and when you are providing a wide variety of substances in a biomedical treatment protocol, you are essentially aiding detox.
We talk a lot about the gluten and casein free diet for children on the Autism spectrum and there are a couple of reasons why. One is that it is a tried and true remedy. There is statistical data that has been accumulated over the past number of years that has shown for a wide variety of kids, upwards of 65%-75%, report a positive improvement as a result of implementing the gluten and casein free diet. This improvement can be seen in better eye contact, better language skills, more attention, better focusing, better awareness environmentally and an overall improvement in health and particularly bowel function just by implementing the basic gluten and casein free diet. Now what is gluten and what is casein? Gluten is a protein found in wheat and casein is a protein found in dairy and in this case we are talking about cow dairy. Other types of grains, rye, barley, etc. will also have gluten like substances which means when you are on a gluten free diet you need to eliminate these as well. With casein you are essentially eliminating cow dairy for most kids. There is a chemical effect that gluten and casein can have that is apart from the immune system so much that you might be thinking about a food allergy or food sensitivity. But there is something called a peptide effect where the particular type of protein or a sequence of amino acids called a peptide that is found within these chemicals. This chemical structure looks really very similar to some of the opiate chemicals in the body. That is why they refer to the peptide of gluten as gluteomorphine and the peptide of casein as casomorphine because they look similar to morphine. Gluten and casein can have a drug-like effect like morphine or other opiate chemicals. We know that this peptide effect can have a direct impact on brain chemistry which affects attention, focusing, concentration, language skills, etc. So when you remove gluten and casein from your child’s diet, you are removing them not just because there is an allergic sensitivity. You are removing gluten and casein because chemically they have an adverse neurological effect on these kids. You are removing gluten and casein to remove that drug like effect with the hopes that it helps in the areas of attention, focusing, eye contact, environmental awareness, etc. The gluten and casein free diet is a very important part of an early biomedical intervention and something you can implement on your own. It can be quite helpful with respects to your child’s overall ability to function and to get them on the road to health and wellness.
Food allergy and sensitivity testing and what you need to know
Let’s talk about the differences between a food IgE and a food IgG. Most food allergy tests that are performed look at food reactions through a chemical called IgG. IgG is the most abundant immune chemical in the body and It reacts with food quite adversity which can lead to low level inflammatory and immune reactions in the body. These reactions are called IgG delayed hypersensitivity reactions. They are not life threatening but in the digestive system they can cause bloating, gas, diarrhea. In the body that can lead to low level inflammation that might lead to joint pain, muscle pain, fatigue, brain fog, etc. With kids on the spectrum many times they have elevated food IgG reactions that can weaken their immune systems over time that makes them more susceptible to things like viruses and bacteria that they are exposed to. So a food IgG reaction, even though sometimes it is called an allergic reaction, it is truly not an allergy but rather a hypersensitivity to those food proteins. So when you do a food IgG panel you are looking at 90 or 96 different foods that your child is eating and measuring that immune chemical against it. Now an IgE reaction is a true allergy. This is something an allergist can test through the blood for a food, pollen, dust, animal hair, etc. They can also do this through skin prick testing to look for an IgE reaction. Most food reactions we come in contact with and are testing for are not IgE reactions but they are more IgG reactions. And an IgE reaction is usually pretty obvious. It can many times happen within minutes of eating something. We’ve heard these cases where someone reacts to peanuts or strawberries or pineapples or shell fish. In a real extreme case they can develop welts on their body, their lips may swell, they get runny eyes or an itchy throat and these are types of reactions that are immediate after having a food. In severe situations it can lead to anaphylactic reaction or anaphylactic shock. Someone who has a true allergy to bee stings for example can develop and anaphylactic reaction and need to be hospitalized and take medication to short circuit that reaction. So there is a difference. When you are looking at doing food sensitivity testing for your child, you are primarily looking at doing an IgG food sensitivity testing. The profile that I tend to use in my practice is from Great Plains Labs and is called the food IgG profile and that is where you are actually looking at these immune chemicals to your child’s diet. Hopefully that clears up some of the confusion surrounding IgG and IgE allergy testing. Just remember that IgE is true allergy and IgG is sensitivity.
I am often asked the about the difference between a medication such as Nystatin and a medication such as Diflucan and their effects on yeast and what are some of the things you need to be aware of when using these medications. Both Nystatin and Diflucan are considered antifungals which mean they have an eradication or inhibiting or killing effect against yeast organisms, specifically candida. We know that candida is a big problem for many kids on the spectrum. We commonly treat using Nystatin and/or Diflucan to lower the levels of candida to bring on improvement in behavior. We know yeast can increase stimming behaviors, silly, goofy and giddy behaviors, and other negative behaviors. Nystatin is considered a local antifungal. It inhibits the overgrowth of colonies of yeast that line the digestive system. There is no significant absorption of Nystatin into the bloodstream so it can be taken long term with no major concern. It can be taken for months or years in many cases. Think of Nystatin like Pepto Bismal, Pepto Bismal coats the stomach and Nystatin coats the inner lining of the digestive tract. Because it coats the lining of the digestive tract, generally we need to take it several times a day to keep that coat in place. So, 3, 4 or even 5 times a day is ideal, even though that is difficult to do. Minimally 3 times per day, preferably 4 and Nystatin becomes quite effective. In comparison, Diflucan is considered a systemic antifungal which means when you take it orally it will be absorbed into the blood stream within about 2 hours. It also has a local effect in the digestive system as well but it is absorbed into the body and is metabolized in the liver. So there is the potential for risk of liver stress with long term use. So if your child is taking Diflucan you will want to run blood work every 6 – 8 weeks in my experience to check for liver stress. What you can do with Diflucan is you can take it for a short time like 2 weeks, 3 weeks or 4 weeks and then take a couple week break and cycle back to it and in many cases that works well. There are other medications that fall into the same category as Diflucan called Nizoral, Lamisil and Sporonox. The primary ones I use in my practice are Diflucan and Nizoral and both are systemic and so with use over a prolonged period of time, you do need to check liver enzymes function. Nystatin really doesn’t need to have the liver function tests because it just stays in the GI tract. As a recap, both Nystatin and Diflucan are antifungal medications. Nystatin has a local effect with minimal systemic absorption, if at all. Diflucan is a systemic antifungal so you do need to do liver tests to check for liver function periodically.
What are probiotics and what do they do?A probiotic by definition is something that helps to promote life.This is the normal bacteria in our digestive tract.Many people don’t realize that our digestive tract harbors billions and billions and billions, if not trillions of bacteria and sometimes yeast that are health promoting to our body.They have a regulating effect on our immune system, they help us assimilate vitamins and nutrients from our foods and are absolutely necessary for us to survive.Probiotics are supplements that help provide some of the normal bacteria, called flora, for our overall health.We know that taking certain drugs like antibiotics can deplete a certain percentage of the normal flora.So probiotics are supplements that can be used to build back up the normal flora levels.We commonly use probiotics for kids on the spectrum to improve their digestive health and improve their overall immune function by giving probiotics.There are a wide variety of probiotics.The two that you have probably heard of bacteria wise are acidophilus and bifidobacter.We know that Acidophilus is a bacteria that generally resides in the small intestine and bifidobacter usually resides in the large intestines.They are both very important for keeping a balance of healthy bacteria in the gut.When you give a multi spectrum probiotic, an example would be the Probiotic Support Formula from New Beginnings or Therbiotic complete from Klaire labs, those are a multi-flora probiotics.They are generally health promoting, they give a wide variety of normal bacteria, sort of like a multi-vitamin for your child’s digestive system.There are other types of Probiotics that are more treatment specific like Culturelle.Culturelle is a specific type of bacteria called acidophilus GG and it has a specific affinity for clostridia bacteria.Clostridia bacteria is pathogenic and it does cause problems in the body and for kids on the spectrum.Culturelle is very target specific for colostridia.There is another probiotic called VSL #3.VSL #3 is a very high potency lactic acid producing probiotic that is very helpful for breaking down oxalates.Oxalates are organic compounds that we get through our foods, they can cause mineral depletion in the body and in some people when they are absorbed in high amounts over prolonged periods of time can lead to kidney stones.So VSL #3 is very oxalate specific.Threelac is another type of probiotic and its effects are more antifungal, it tends to attack more yeast.So you think of Threelac as something that you would be using as an anti-yeast treatment.There is another type of probiotic that is commonly used called Saccharomyces boulardii.Saccharomycesboulardiiis actually a yeast so it may not fall into the classic definition of a probiotic because it is not something that is essential for our health and well being but it can be used as a remedy to help attack and eradicate Candida.It also does help to attack clostridia.Saccharomycesboulardii is a more treatment specific type of probiotic.Probiotics are very important supplements for interventions for your child, especially in respects to digestive health and come as both broad spectrum probiotics and treatment specific probiotics.
One of the first things I ask parents in my practice is about how their child is sleeping.If your child is not sleeping, that generally means mom and dad are not sleeping which leads to exhaustion, frustration and a breakdown of the family unit.Sleeping is very important and children should be sleeping between 8 and 12 hours per night.Some children sleep very little, 1 -2 hours per night or have very erratic sleep patterns.Some questions to ask are does your child go to sleep easily?Does your child have difficulty falling asleep.If they do go to sleep easily, do they wake up in the middle of the night?If they wake in the night, what are they doing when they wake up?The most desirable pattern is a child who falls asleep between 20 and 30 minutes of going to bed and who sleeps through the night.Many times you can have a child with a combination of sleep problems, who has a hard time falling asleep and wakes up in the middle of the night as well.If you have a child that wakes at night, you need to be aware of what they are doing.Are they coming into your room?Are they agitated?Are they talking to themselves?Are they playing?Are they stimming?Are they goofy, giddy or silly?These things can tell us what may be going on medically and biomedically that we can intervene with to treat sleep issues in Autism.If you have a child that wakes up at 2 am or 3 am and is goofy, giddy or silly, you may have a child with an underlying yeast problem.If your child is waking up and is agitated it could be an underlying bacterial problem or even possibly an underlying seizure disorder.Your child could have a food allergy or sensitivity as well that is making sleep problematic.A very simple remedy for sleeping problems in Autism is melatonin.Melatonin is a hormone that is secreted by the pineal gland in the brand.It is the molecular equivalent to darkness.Melatonin is secreted when it gets dark and helps our brain go to sleep and sleep through the night.A dose as low as 1 mg 20 – 30 minutes before bed can work wonderfully for a child who has a hard time going to sleep.Or you can give a dose at bedtime to help keep them asleep.Or you can give melatonin in the middle of the night, 1 – 3 mgs to help them go back to sleep.The typical dose is 1 mg for a child who just starts using it, you can even start with a ½ dose for the first time.Some children need 2 mg – 3 mg, I have even recommended up to 4 mgs.I recommend New Beginnings Nutritionals and they carry a 1 mg melatonin.There can be other issues that contribute to sleep disturbances but melatonin can be an easy, natural remedy for sleep issues and autism.I cover more information on Autism and sleeping issues but melatonin can be a very easy remedy to sleep issues in Autism.
Magnesium Sulfate, aka. Epsom Salts have been around for a long, long time.We’ve used them for aches and pains, join aches after vigorous exercise or for a child who is feeling sick.When they have a cold or the flu, a nice warm bath with Epsom salts makes them feel better.Epsom salts has also been a remedy for constipation.You can take a can a little Epsom salts to help flush the bowels.As it turns out, Epsom salts are also a nice remedy for some children on the Autism spectrum.Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate.Magnesium is a mineral that is very relaxing to the body.Many people, particularly in the United States, have a deficiency in magnesium levels.That can contribute to sleeping problems, behavioral issues, cramping muscles and a tendency to just not feel well over all.Magnesium can be absorbed and can cause relaxation.If it is swallowed in bath water it can be beneficial for kids with constipation.The other component to Epsom salt is sulfate.Sulfate is commonly deficient in children with Autism.We can measure serum sulfate levels which most of the time are low.The biochemistry with kids on the Autism spectrum is quite unique and there are various deficits that happen where the sulfur chemistry becomes depleted.This is important because sulfur chemistry is deeply connected to detoxification.The detoxification system in our body is critical to rid the body of toxins and for many kids we know that toxicity is a big problem.Simply adding Epsom salts to your child’s bath can be a nice remedy not only to add magnesium but to add extra sulfate to their system as well.Normally you can add between 1 and 2 cups of Epsom salts.If you have never done Epsom salts, I would recommend 1/2 cup to their bath water for the first night.Some kids may have sensitive skin and may have some slight irritation but each night thereafter you can slowly increase the amount of Epsom salts depending on their reaction.On Average most kids in my practice use between 1 ½ to 2 cups of Epsom salts nightly, on occasion I have recommended 3 cups or more depending on their size and tolerance.Epsom salts is a nice remedy to add to your child’s bathwater at night, it can have a calming effect.Another thing to consider with respects to Epsom salts is that some kids have reactions to phenols.Phenols are chemicals in certain foods like dark fruits and vegetables.Phenol reaction for most kids can manifest as hyperactivity, irritability, agitation and a sense of being over excited with respects to behavior.We know that phenol sensitivity can also lead to headaches and psychiatric issues.A good example is artificial food colors.If you have seen your child have a behavioral problem after eating an artificial color you are likely seeing a phenol response.The chemical in the body that helps process phenols is sulfate.Through the sulfur chemistry system, if we add Epsom salts to the bath water at night we can start to increase the sulfate system in the body, improve the efficiency of sulfur chemistry and many times phenol sensitivities can be diminished.Think of Epsom salts as one biomedical remedy for your child simply by getting some Epsom salts from your local drugstore and adding it to their bath water on a nightly basis.
The organic acid test is a urinary profile that is run from a lab called Great Plains Labs.It is one of the first things I do in my practice to help assess yeast and bacterial problems.The organic acid test also evaluates other metabolic issues, what are called inborn errors of metabolism, or can also pick up on function vitamin and nutrient deficiencies so it is an important test to run.Since the organic acid test is a urine test, it is easier to run than other tests.The two markers that are very important to evaluate in children with Autism are yeast and bacteria.Yeast is a very common problem for kids with Autism.Children with Autism can be greatly affected neurologically by yeast markers on an organic acid test.One in particular is called arabinose which is a byproduct of candida.Arabinose can greatly impact neurological function particularly manipulation of various chemicals in the brain that can affect attention, focusing, it can create problems behaviorally, where kids become more agitated or irritable, sometimes can cause silly, goofy, giddy, behavior or inappropriate laughter.Many kids with Autism who have elevated yeast markers on an Organic Acid test can become more stimmy.Whether it’s visual stimming, physical stimming or just higher sensory needs, becoming more sensitive to sounds, light, or need more pressure, whatever it may be, yeast can be a factor.Bacteria markers on an organic acid test can also be problematic.And we are talking about intestinal yeast and intestinal bacteria.One particular type of bacteria that is evaluated on the organic acid test is called Clostridia.There are many types of clostridia and the specific marker on the organic acid test, called the HPHPA marker, helps to identify the presence of clostridia bacteria.Many kids who have problems with clostridia have the opposite issues as with yeast.Many kids who have high clostridia markers on the organic acid test can be more irritable, agitated, can be aggressive and sometimes self injurious.They are just more agitated whereas yeasty kids tend to be goofy, giddy or silly.Once in a while you can have a child with a real bad yeast issue who can be irritable.The issue is when you have both markers present on the organic acid test.When you have both yeast and bacteria the picture can get a little blurry and it is not a real text book case presentation.The organic acid test is important to delineate between the two.It also becomes important in determining how to treat, whether you are going to treat with anti-fungals, herbs, supplements, or go after clostridia with antibiotics and more specialized probiotics.The organic acid test should be considered a first line diagnostic tool.It is generally easy to obtain because it is a urine test.And I think you will find it to be a very important tool in the overall biomedical assessment of your child.
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