Monday, December 29, 2008

Oxytocin and Facial Recognition

Oxytocin is a brain hormone that is released in large amounts during labor, as well breast-feeding. It appears to play a role in bonding with a new baby. Research has shown that it also enhances facial recognition, particularly with increasing focus on the eye region of the face.

A recent study by the School of Psychology in New South Wales, Australia had 52 healthy male subjects presented with 24 neutral human faces after they received intranasal oxytocin or placebo. The results showed those who received oxytocin had increased total gaze time to the eye region of human faces.

Oxytocin has been used in the biomedical autism community for quite some time to help improve social interaction, decrease anxiety, and increase eye contact. Oxytocin can be obtained from many compounding pharmacies who prepare it as a nasal spray take once daily.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Hyperactivity When Using Cod Liver Oil

Cod Liver Oil (CLO) has been used for many years with children on the autism-spectrum to help with visual stemming and side-glancing behavior. The natural vitamin A is thought to assist a normal pattern of visual input through the eyes to the visual cortex of the brain. However, with some kids they seem to react negatively to CLO, appearing irritable, agitated or with increased hyperactivity. This usually indicates a problem in absorbing and transferring the oil into the body cells. The addition of Carnitine at 500 to 1000mg can help remedy this situation. Carnitine acts as a transport mechanism across the cell membrane so fats/oils are used by our body more effectively.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Toe Walking - A Common Issue In Autism

Toe walking is a common problem with children on the autism-spectrum. It is debated as to what are the causes of this behavior. In some kids, the problem is so severe they under going surgery to shorten their ankle tendons, while others are put into braces forcing their feet to the ground. Here are a few things to consider with toe-walking.

Fairly common in kids less than 3 years of age.

Kids older than 3 years of age - generally associated with neurological immaturity.

Commonly associated with vestibular imbalances that cause body position orientation issues.

Biomedical Interventions: Chronic Constipation - constipation can put pressure on the lower bowel and a child will lift up on their toes to relieve the pressure. Also, yeast overgrowth and food sensitivities such as food colorings/flavorings can contribute to toe-walking.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sandy Appearance in Stools of Autism-Spectrum Children

It is commonly reported by parents of children on the autism-spectrum that their fecal matter has sand or a sandy appearance to it. This is not an imaged event. Sandy stools is associated with a bile acid imbalance caused by a taurine deficiency. Taurine is a amino acid in our body that is involved in the production of taurcholic acid. Taurcholic acid helps produce bile in the liver. Bile acids are involved in fat absorption, and when there is a lack of taurine a sand-like substance can develop in the digestive system and show up in the stool. Long-standing intestinal inflammation and sulfur depletion can contribute to this problema. Taurine as a supplement of 100 to 500mg per day can be helpful for some children. Taurine helps to produce bile acids in the liver.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Adverse Immune Reactions Following Aluminum Containing Vaccines

Bergfors, E., C. Bjorkelund, et al. (2005). "Nineteen cases of persistent pruritic nodules and contact allergy to aluminium after injection of commonly used aluminium-adsorbed vaccines." Eur J Pediatr 164(11): 691-7.

"Rare cases of persistent pruritic nodules, sometimes associated with aluminium (Al) allergy, have been reported after the use of several Al adsorbed vaccines. During vaccine trials in the 1990s a high incidence of pruritic nodules (645 cases/76,000 recipients), in 77% associated with Al allergy, was observed after the administration of diphtheria-tetanus / acellular pertussis (DT/aP) vaccines from a single producer. In the present report 19 children with pruritic nodules after vaccination with Al hydroxide-adsorbed DTaP/polio+Hib (Infanrix, Pentavac) are described. The children had intensely itching nodules at the injection site, often aggravated during upper respiratory tract infections, and local skin alterations. So far, the symptoms have persisted for up to 7 years. The median time between vaccination and onset of symptoms was 1 month. 16 children were epicutaneously tested for Al, all with positive reactions indicating delayed hypersensitivity to Al. The condition is not commonly known but is important to recognise, as the child and the family may suffer considerably. Future vaccinations with Al-adsorbed vaccines may cause aggravation of the symptoms and the Al allergy. Al-containing skin products, such as antiperspirants, may cause contact dermatitis. Nodules may be mistaken for tumours. Even though the incidence of itching nodules and Al allergy after administration of Infanrix, Pentavac and other Al-adsorbed vaccines is probably low, research to replace Al adjuvants seems appropriate. We conclude that intensely itching subcutaneous nodules, lasting for many years, and hypersensitivity to aluminum may occur after DTaP/polio+Hib vaccination of infants."

Researchers in Europe studied the after affects of pruritic skin nodules in children receiving vaccination for DTap, polio, and Hib. Irritated skin nodules which developed at the injection site - some of which have persisted for years - were shown to be reactive to aluminum. Aluminum is placed in various vaccines as an immune adjuvant to help stimulate the immune system. This study shows that the immune hypersensitivity can persist for years. Obviously, there are concerns about systemic reactions to aluminum in vaccines - particularly in how these vaccines could affect the nervous system. Rarely are these reactions isolated events just found at the site of injection. If aluminum reactions are triggering aberrant immune reactivity locally one can surmise that a similar reaction could develop systemically to other parts of the body if this aluminum is transported elsewhere.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Natural Remedy Support for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in Autism-Spectrum Children

Obsessive-compulsive behaviors or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a fairly common condition among children with an autism-spectrum disorder.

What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

Quoting from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) website "Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, OCD, is an anxiety disorde characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviors (compulsions). Repetitive behaviors like handwashing, counting, checking, or cleaning are often performed with the hope of preventing obsessive thoughts or making them go away. Performing these so-called 'rituals,' however, provides only temporary relief, and not performing them markedly increases anxiety."

"People with OCD may be plagued by persistent, unwelcome thoughts or images, or by the urgent need to engage in certain rituals. They may be obsessed with germs or dirt, and wash their hands over and over. They may be filled with doubt and feel the need to check things repeatedly."

Treatment is Available

According to the NIMH effective treatment is available. However, this treatment usually means pharmaceutical medication, which in some cases may be necessary. Unfortunately, medications can bring unwanted side effects.
However, there are some natural medicine options. One in particular is a supplement called Inositol.

Inositol, which was once considered to be a vitamin, is converted in our bodies from dietary sugars. It is found in various food sources such as fish, meat, poultry and dairy products.

Various Dosages of Inositol Found to be Effective

In a nutritional study through the American Journal of Psychiatry (1996) high doses of Inositol were found to be effective at alleviating OCD in some adults. A follow-up study later found that smaller dosages (approximately 2000mg/day) were effective as well.

The PDR for Nutritional Supplements (2000) indicates that "no significant adverse effects noted...use of daily dose of 8.8 grams of Inositol Hexaphosphate taken for several months" (Autism: Effective Biomedical Treatments - Baker & Pangborn).

Start with a Lower Dose and Increase as Needed

I have seen Inositol work very well for some kids with OCD. One memorable case was a child who would pull his hair out from his scalp. Aggressive and destructive behavior can also be alleviated too.

General recommends are start with small doses (start low, start slow, and build-up as necessary) at first to see what effect it has on your child. An initial starting dose for small to medium-size children is approximately 350 to 700mg per day. Larger children and/or adults may need to start with 1000mg or more. Many forms of Inositol comes as a tasteless powder with ¼ to ½ teaspoon equaling 700mg (make sure to check dosing amounts on bottle). In some kids, increasing the dose may be necessary to see desired effects. 700 to 3000mg may be necessary – this is usually split dosed throughout the day – some taken in the morning and some in the evening. Higher doses of up to 10 grams may need to be used for serious aggressive and destructive behavior.

I have never seen Inositol interact negatively with medications and it has been well tolerated by both children and adults. However, before giving any new supplement to your child - particularly if they are taking prescription medication for any psychological condition - your prescribing doctor should be informed before.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Benefits of Low Dose Naltrexone

Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) is a medication that has been used to treat immune dysfunction and auto-immune diseases. Its success has been seen in cancer, AIDS, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, Lyme disease, Multiple Sclerosis, chronic fatigue/ fibromyalgia and any condition relating to allergy and inflammation. LDN has also been used with good results as a biomedical autism intervention for autistic children (ASD).

The primary role of naltrexone is to block opioids. At face value this may not seem to be desirable. However, the result of the opioid block is that body compensates by producing even more of its natural endorphins. These feel-good chemicals can stay elevated for up to 18 hours.

Opioids can act as cytokines – the major signal and communication cells of the immune system. By balancing cytokines we can modulate aspects of the immune system known as Th1 and Th2 – which are commonly a problem in autism. These two aspects need to exist in balance – but often, Th2 becomes dominant over Th1. Inability to mount a sufficient Th1 response can result in chronic infections and cancer, while a dominant Th2 response can trigger allergy and play a role in auto- immune disease. Therefore getting these two back in harmony can go a long way in promoting healthy immune function and preventing chronic illness. LDN has shown to be an effective biomedical autism intervention to do just this.

Side effects of LDN appear to be minimal. There is no known toxicity associated with the medication. I have seen a few children experience earlier wakening the first few nights after starting LDN, as well as some initial hyperactivitiy as well. These can be avoided by starting on ½ dose for the first few days. LDN as a biomedical autism treatment has been compounded into a transdermal form, which is easy to apply.
The benefits I hear most frequently from adult patients are improved sleep, decreased pain, better digestion, and general resolution or improvement of symptoms. In ASD kids, parents report better mood, ‘happier kids’, improved sleep and behavioral gains.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008 Launches Doctor-Driven Biomedical Autism Treatment Website Launches Doctor-Driven Biomedical Autism Treatment Website

Bad/Naughty Behavior with Positive Gains

Biomedical autism therapy and interventions such as the Gluten and Casein-Free diet, Methyl-B12 therapy, supplement support, etc. can have tremendous benefits for individuals on the autism-spectrum. Many of these benefits have to do with improved attention and focusing, increased language skills and understanding, increased environmental awareness, as well as socialization skills. However, sometimes when these positive gains are being seen unexpected changes also begin to emerge - particularly with smaller children

Here are a few things to consider if you are doing biomedical intervention with your child, are seeing some positive changes as described above, but are also seeing some bad and naughty behavior as well.

This is a fairly common scenario - particularly with smaller children. Not all behavior is an indicator of trouble or problems - even though naughty behavior (deliberating mis-behaving, not listening to directions, hitting, screaming, and acting out) can be quite troubling and stressful to deal with.

When you are seeing positive gains with your child - better eye contact, more awareness of their environment, social interaction, etc. - you may also see more willfulness with your child as well. Many kids as they begin to emerge from their cognitive limitations develop many typical behaviors of other children their similar age.

Some kids who emerge from their autism limitations will begin to go through the various stages of behavior issues - in this example, a 5 or 6 year old now exhibiting 3 year year old behaviors. Their body and mental/emotional condition needs to time to catch up.

Trying to recognize what is autism behavior and what is typical childhood behavior can be a challenge. However, remember that a willful child will normally push the envelope - whether they are on the autism-spectrum or not, and an child with autism who has not been extremely willful in the past may become more so as they begin to heal and gain a better understanding of the world around them.

Monday, December 8, 2008

GFCF Infraction Remedies

Gluten & Casein Infraction Remedies

Gluten and casein infractions sometimes occur when you least expect it - at a friends house, school, a birthday party, or out for dinner with the family. To off-set the potential for adverse reactions (irritability, increase stimming behavior, loss of words, eye contact, etc.) to gluten and/or casein such as regression, loss of eye contact, speech problems, irritability, aggressiveness, etc. you can keep some things on hand to help:

• Carry some peptide enzymes with you. Peptidase enzymes contain specifically DPP-IV which helps break down the proteins of gluten and casein. Usually, 2 to 3 right after an infraction can help digest the proteins of these foods.
• Pepcid AC (over the counter) - 1/2 to 1 tablet taken right after the infraction can help diminish the adverse effects.
• Activated Charcoal - 1 to 2 capsule (approximately 500mg) - taken right after the infraction can help prevent absorption of these food proteins.
• Alka-Seltzer Gold - 1/2 to 1 tablet taken right after the infraction.

Another option is to get your child into a bathtub ASAP and add Epsom Salt. Epsom Salt baths can help with detoxification - 1/2 to 2 cups of Epsom Salt in bathwater can help. Let your child soak in bathtub for 15 to 20 minutes. Epsom salt can be purchased from most drug stores. If you do not know your child's tolerance to Epsom Salt than starting with a smaller amount is advisable - 1/4 to 1/2 cup.

If the infraction has occurred hours before the implementation of digestive enzymes, Pepcid AC, etc. may have limited benefit, but you can still try them and see if it helps. In some cases, if you do not catch the infraction soon enough you will likely have to ride things out for 3 to 4 days. Usually after this time a child will bounce back without long-lasting issues. Make sure to check with your child's doctor before implementing any new type of supplements or therapy.