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Autism Treatment – Serotonin Imbalances, & MAO-A

Posted on 15 March 2010 by admin

There appears to be growing evidence that in Autism, what we may be seeing chemically, at the brain level, could have to do with a serotonin imbalance. For many years it’s been thought that for people who have depression, mood problems, mood instability issues, difficulty learning, etc, could actually have a deficiency in serotonin. It’s been thought even too with some of the kids on the Autism spectrum that there may be a serotonin deficiency which can again lead to some of the mood problems, behavioral problems, depressive episodes, as well as issues in learning, attention, etc. In many cases, if it’s real severe, kids are put on things that help to stimulate serotonin or at least preserve the serotonin production in the brain such as things like Zoloft and Paxil and whatnot. And in some cases it does help with some of their underlying sensory issues.

But, it may be what were looking at is well we’re not necessarily have a true deficiency of serotonin, but the active metabolite of serotonin is not being produced adequately. There’s an enzyme in our body, and it’s active in the brain, called MAOA (Monoamine oxidase A) and there’s actually two versions MAO-A and MAO-B. MAO-A helps to convert serotonin, it also helps to convert norepinephrine and histamine but specifically serotonin it actually helps to convert it into its active form. And when you convert it into its active form, the serotonin works more effectively and therefore we’ve seen an improvement in many of the underlying issues in kids on the Spectrum the less self stimulatory behavior, improved sensory issues, attention, focusing, learning capabilities. And one interesting thing about serotonin if it’s actually too high in it’s inactive state, it actually can inhibit oxytocin receptors and we know that oxytocin is very important for eye contact, facial expression recognition, socialization and even anxiety. So again, going back to understanding the biochemistry of how things work in the brain is critically important and specifically important in the condition of Autism.

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Autism Treatment – Serotonin Imbalances

Posted on 07 February 2010 by admin

I have talked before about serotonin levels within kids with special needs, particularly those on the Autism spectrum. I have also talked about how serotonin has an influence on learning, on brain function, on mood, on states of happiness. That is the reason why many individuals are given medications like Prozac or Paxil or Zoloft, these things are called serotonin reuptake inhibitors because for many people in our society, serotonin becomes depleted and people become depressed. Now for kids on the Autism spectrum, what appears to be happening with many of them is that they can’t convert serotonin into its more active form and that has adverse effects on many of the overall core issues we see in Autism from self stimulatory behavior to language issues to eye contact problems to behavioral problems.

There is an enzyme in the brain called MAO-A (monoamineoxidase A) that seems to be one of the problem areas. MAO-A which helps with this conversion of serotonin into its active form is not working appropriately. Now there is actually a therapy called reserpine, reserpine is from an Indian herb. This has been shown in the past to be used with individuals on the Autism spectrum even dating back into the ‘50’s where reserpine was used to help boost the levels of MAO-A and to help essentially with many of the core issues we see in Autism. There is actually a therapy called Respen-A which is a patch, it is a homeopathic derivative of reserpine which is showing some good benefit with respects to many of these core issues, the eye contact, the focusing, the attention, the self stimulatory, the sensory seeking behavior, the language problems that are so common.

So the complexities of brain chemistry are being unfolded more and more as research goes on into the complexities of Autism. But that is one particular area that is of great interest is this link between serotonin, is the link between MAO-A activity and the potential use of this Respen-A as one therapy that can help in this area.

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