Monday, June 29, 2009

Optimizing Zinc Supplementation

Zinc is an essential mineral that is required by many enzymes in the body. Some functions of zinc are as follows - helps release insulin from the pancreas, necessary for proper hydrochloric (HCL) acid production in the stomach, helps with bicarbonate production to maintain normal intestinal pH, assists various enzymes in the methylation cycle and more. There are a variety of different forms of zinc supplementation – aspartate, alpha-ketoglutarate, amino acid chelates, as well as picolinate, citrate and gluconate. The absorption and metabolic utilization of zinc is controlled by many factors such as digestive enzyme function, competing minerals (such as copper), metallothionein levels (chemical in the body which controls the levels of zinc and copper inside the cells), and the presence of heavy metals. In many cases when the zinc levels do not normalize the answer is not always to give more zinc. Because digestive function, the health of sulfur levels in the body, and the proper ratio of zinc to copper all control zinc utilization and metabolism correcting zinc can take time – even many, many months. Usually, zinc that remains abnormally low means more time is need to work on diet and improving gastrointestinal health.

These are some general rules for giving zinc. Because zinc supplementation can be an ongoing process to get levels up to normal values, here are some strategies that can be implemented:

Give individual zinc supplements (not zinc included in a multi-mineral) between meals twice daily or at bedtime. In some individuals zinc can cause some nausea so taking with a small amount of food can prevent this.

Avoid giving zinc at the same time as phosphatidylcholine or phosphatidylserine supplements. Also, do not take supplements with calcium, iron or folate products (folic acid, folinic acid, etc).

Periodically, a child will have a negative reaction to zinc which can manifest as agitation, irritability, sleeping problems, etc. This is uncommon, but can happen. In most cases the reaction is not from the zinc itself, but something in the zinc supplement. Worsening of behavior could be related to low copper levels as zinc and copper oppose one another. Giving additional zinc could lower copper even more. This phenomenon is usually rare as most individuals with autism have high normal or elevated copper levels. If needed, trying a different type of zinc supplement will help sometimes in resolving adverse reactions.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Probiotics - Growth Promoting Factors

Probiotics (growth promoting factors) are the beneficial bacteria that reside in our digestive system, aka. normal flora. There are approximately 10 times more normal bacteria in our digestive system than all cells in the human body combined. There are literally hundreds of various strains with trillions of natural bacteria living in our guts.

Various Types of Bacteria and Yeast:
Lactic acid producing bacteria
Non-lactic acid producing bacteria
Non-pathogenic yeast

What Do They Do
Assist vitamin utilization – B vitamins, A, K.

Help to breakdown sugars, oxalates, and proteins.

Produce natural antibiotics and antifungal compounds to keep the digestive system healthy.

Some adhere to the lining of the digestive system which stimulates secretory IgA (sIgA) – the major antibody in the gut.

Can be taken up Peyer’s Patches to stimulate sIgA, cytokines and other systemic immune modulators.

Improves intestinal ph – acid/alkaline balance.

Protects against pathogenic yeast and bacteria both in the small and large intestine.

Help to reduce food allergy and sensitivity.


Culturelle (lactobacillus GG – acts against clostridia) – **trace amount of casein – less than 0.01% - 1 to 3 daily for general purposes
Mindlinx - multi-spectrum probiotic with various acidophilus and bifido bacteria – 1 to 2 daily
ProBiotic Support Formula (New Beginnings) - multi-spectrum probiotic with various acidophilus and bifido bacteria – 1 to 2 daily
Sacchromyces boulardii – yeast that inhibits other yeast and bacteria such as clostridia. Does not colonize the bowel permanently. Not affected by antibiotics. Is sensitive to anti-fungals such as Diflucan and Nystatin – 2 to 3 daily.
Ther-biotic Complete – multi-spectrum probiotic with various acidophilus and bifido bacteria – 1 to 2 daily.
Three-Lac – has enterococcus strains specific for attacking candida – 1 to 2 packets daily.
VSL #3 – high potency (450 billion per dose) – oxalate defense. **trace amount of casein – 1 to 2 daily.

Should You Rotate – Sure Why Not:
Some people find benefit with rotating probiotics – one every 1 to 3 days, multiple stains, etc. is fine. However, consistency overtime is what is most effective.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Yeast and Bacteria Die-Off (Herxheimer Reaction) Support

It is important to realize that when bacteria, parasites and yeast are killed (by antifungal and antibacterial medicines or supplements) and begin to die…your child may experience die-off symptoms. These die-off symptoms are called “Herxheimer Reactions” and are due to the dying organism releasing toxins. Supporting liver, kidney and gall bladder function are important in helping the body rid itself of these toxins. These symptoms can come in the form of headaches, rashes, diarrhea, temporary worsening of autistic symptoms, light and sound sensitivity, irritability, hyperactivity, poor sleep, etc. This sometimes is part of the process, and although not pleasant it is important to realize that you must push through these reactions with your child and continue treatment.

Here are a few suggestions that can be used to support liver, digestion and suspected die-off reactions:

Vitamin C – 1000 to 3000 mg daily, and/or
Activated Charcoal – 1 to 2 capsules twice daily 2 to 3 times per week, and/or
Magnesium Citrate - 250 to 500mg daily, and/or
Lemon Water (use organic if possible) – ¼ to ½ lemon squeezed into fresh, filtered water (4 ounces) – Take 2 to 4 times daily.

One option with die-off reactions is to cut back on dosing of antifungal or bacterial agents by ¼ to ½ until die-off improves and then increase dose again.

All of these remedies can be obtained from your local health food store.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Juicing for Glutathione Support

Juicing can be a great way to enhance your child's biomedical health program by improving their nutritional intake and bolstering their antioxidant levels. Glutathione (a critical antioxidant necessary for cellular support and detoxification) is found in so many fruits and vegetables it is almost hard to miss it. However, here is a short list to help out:

• Acorn Squash
• Avocado
• Asparagus
• Broccoli
• Brussel Sprouts
• Cabbage
• Cauliflower
• Kale
• Okra
• Parsley
• Spinach
• Zucchini

Cantaloupe, grapefruit, orange, peach, strawberries, tomato, potato, and watermelon also have glutathione.

There is no particular amount of each vegetables that is required. Just get out your juicer and use a variety of vegetables according to taste. Small amounts of carrot and celery provide a good base of liquid for other vegetable juicing.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Melatonin Effective for Sleep Problems in Autistic Children

A new study printed in the April edition of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that melatonin at 3mg was effective at resolving sleep issues in some autism-spectrum children. This may not be new information for some of you, but it does help to confirm what many of us in the biomedical field have known for years about melatonin - that it can be a safe and effective sleep remedy - Dr. Woeller

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Apr 20 - Three milligrams of melatonin at bedtime can effectively treat sleep problems in children with autistic spectrum disorder or fragile X syndrome or both, according to a study reported in the April 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

"Melatonin can be considered a safe and effective pharmacologic treatment in addition to behavior therapies and sleep hygiene practices for the management of sleep problems in children with autistic spectrum disorder and fragile X syndrome," the study team concludes.

Sleep problems are reported in up to 89% of children with autism and 77% of children with fragile X syndrome, Dr. Beth L. Goodlin-Jones, of the Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders (M.I.N.D.) Institute at the University of California Davis Health System in Sacramento, and colleagues note in their report.

In a 4-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study, 18 children, ranging in age from 2 to 15 years, with autistic spectrum disorder and/or fragile X syndrome took either melatonin (3 mg) or placebo nightly for 2 weeks and then crossed over to the alternate treatment for 2 weeks.

Data on 12 children who completed the study showed that treatment with melatonin was associated with significant improvements in total night sleep durations, sleep latency times, and sleep-onset times. Specifically, Dr. Goodlin-Jones and colleagues report, "Mean night sleep duration was longer on melatonin than placebo by 21 minutes (p = 0.02), sleep-onset latency was shorter by 28 minutes (p = 0.0001), and sleep-onset time was earlier by 42 minutes (p = 0.02)."

"Sleep onset problems at the beginning of the night are very troublesome for children and their families," Dr. Goodlin-Jones noted in a prepared statement accompanying the study. "Sometimes children may take one to two hours to fall asleep and often they disrupt the household during this time."

"The results of this study," she and her colleagues conclude, "suggest that melatonin is an effective treatment for sleep problems in children with autistic spectrum disorder and fragile X syndrome, a finding that is consistent with previous studies of children with autistic spectrum disorder and developmental disabilities."

Monday, April 27, 2009

Agave Nectar Not a Healthy Alternative Sweetener for Children on the Autism Spectrum

Many parents of autism-spectrum children have worked hard to eliminate excess sugar from their child's diet to help reduce poor immune function, yeast overgrowth, and generally to improve overall health. Adults looking for improved health have also turned to the reduction of sugar to lessen their risk for diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. One product that has caught the attention of the health advocate community is Agave nectar which is commonly used as a sugar and honey substitute in teas, health drinks, coffee or cooking items that require sweetening. Agave nectar is now being sold in many health food or specialty markets as a superior sweetening agent often advertised as "natural" or "organic" to appeal to the health conscious individual. The problem is Agave nectar is anything but healthy, and recent evidence suggests that it is a toxic substance on par with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

HFCS has been used for years as a sweetener in many processed food. HFCS is created by chemically altering corn syrup to increase its sweetness. The problem is HFCS is devoid of minerals and other nutrients often found in natural sugars such as fruit, and is a contributor to high triglycerides which predispose to heart disease. For children on the autism-spectrum the consumption of HFCS and Agave nectar the concern is certainly abnormal fat production, but also the increase in inflammation in the body which can weaken their immune system and adversely affect neurological function. In a recent article from food and nutrition researcher Rami Nagel you will learn about the dangers of HFCS and the hoax of Agave nectar as a healthy alternative sweetener. I would recommend avoiding the use of Agave nectar as a sweetener for your autism-spectrum child. It is definitely not a health product. See this link for the article on Agave Nectar.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Autism - Behavior Problems, Allergies, and the Onset of Spring

I have noticed a trend over the past month - right around the beginning of March - that many parents were calling my office (and still are) commenting that they were (are) seeing increased negative behaviors in their children on the autism-spectrum. These include hyperactivity, irritability, lack of focus and eye contact, emotional lability, tantrums, aggression, and even self-injury. I have even had many parents post me through my online website at that they are seeing this same type of change with their child(ren). Many of these kids live in various places throughout the United States - from Southern California (where I live and practice) to Idaho, the midwest, and down south in Florida and the Gulf Coast. All over the country the pattern has been the same.

I have noticed a trend over the years that when spring season comes so do pollens, and other other airborne allergens. We can all be susceptible to these spring time allerges with sneezing, itching eyes, and sore throat. These allergies lead to histamine release and the corresponding inflammation causes the aforementioned symptoms. One issue with seasonal allergies in children on the autism-spectrum is the onset of inflammation in the body that can trigger unwanted chemical changes neurologically. Also, with an increase in inflammation from allergies digestive yeast and bacteria can become exacerbated leading to adverse behaviors as well.

Yeast (aka. Candida) is commonly a trigger for inappropriate laughter (goofiness, giddiness and silliness), loss of eye contact, inattentiveness, and increase stemming behavior. Bacteria - commonly clostridia species - which is commonly found in the digestive tracts of autistic individuals can trigger aggression, irritability, and self-injury behavior. In some circumstances both bacteria and candida can become problematic making matters worse.

If you are seeing a pattern with your child as described above one thing you can implement is an over-the-counter allergy medication such as Claritin or Zyrtec. Be sure to check with your primary care physician about any interaction with other medication your child may be taking.

Great Plains laboratory carries an Organic Acid Test (urine) - that evaluates for yeast and clostridia bacteria toxins. If present these can be treated with various antifungal or antibiotic remedies.

Sometimes simple changes in weather patterns and/or seasons can bring about chemical changes in susceptible children on the autism-spectrum with negative behaviors as a consequence. With this understanding and the use of biomedical intervention for autism much can be implemented to help remedy the situation and improve the quality of health for your child, both physically, mentally, and emotionally.