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AutismTreatment – Digestive, Allergy, and Behavioral Problems

Posted on 06 September 2011 by admin

Ongoing digestive problems such as bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and reflux are often seen in clinical practice with individuals needing autism treatment. Recently, attention has been turned to an opportunistic intestinal infection called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). Dr. Amy Yasko has been looking at this bacteria as a contributing factor in autism, and I have seen over the years in certain autistic individuals that Helicobacter pylori is a causative or contributing factor in their persistent problems of food allergies and intestinal dysbiosis. So what is Helicobacter pylori?

H. pylori is a bacterial infection that invades the lining of the stomach and upper intestine. It is commonly associated with ulcer formation, and is a risk factor for stomach cancer. Typically symptoms of H. pylori manifest as pain and pressure in the stomach region, bloating, distention, and reflux disease (heartburn). In individuals on the autism-spectrum these issues may manifest as behavioral problems such as irritability, agitation or self-abusive behavior after eating, poor appetite, avoidance of eating meat, night waking with irritability and self-stimulatory behavior such as chest pounding. Periodically, bad breath not associated with gum disease, and bowel dysfunction such as diarrhea and/or constipation are present.

A common finding in someone dealing with this infection is the need for digestive enzymes and antacids. H. pylori can cause reduction of hydrochloric acid (HCL) production in the stomach leading to the inability to adequately digest food, especially protein. Antacids work by reducing the amount of organic acids that are released by partially digested food, as well as neutralize the stomachs production of HCL. Although there are many natural treatments for H. pylori, it is generally recommended that one use antibiotic protocols to eradicate this organism, while using natural supplements such as garlic, colostrum, mastic gum, and lactoferrin as adjunctive therapy. The use of Matula Tea also seems to have promise against this bacteria as well.

A common mistake with H. pylori testing is inadequate data collection. H. pylori blood testing can be misleading, and most of the medical literature still debates the most effective means of diagnosis. However, I have had good success with diagnosis based on clinical suspicion, patient history, and the use of specific antibody testing. Antibodies are specific immune chemicals that are produced against bacteria, viruses, and parasites. These antibodies are called immunoglobulins (Ig) – IgG, IgM, and IgA. Most medical doctors will only test for IgG against H. pylori sometimes missing the more subtle immune response of the other immunoglobulins. I like to perform all three to increase the yield of detection. I will also perform an H. pylori stool test from BioHealth Diagnostics Laboratory because in certain individuals the Ig blood testing is inconclusive. In children on the autism-spectrum where blood testing is too difficult simply doing the stool antigen test from BioHealth is often enough to detect the presence of the organism.

Helicobacter pylori eradication is an important component in improving overall digestive function as well as total body balance. The human body should always be viewed as a unification of body systems and interrelated physiological function. In autism treatment, this is critical. The traditional medical community needs to move past its archaic viewpoint that autism is purely a neurodevelopmental disorder, and better understand that medical conditions can often be at the root of an autism-spectrum person’s problems.

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