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.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Behavior Issues, Autism and the Digestive System

Many children on the autism-spectrum suffer with digestive problems. Pain from gas bloating, loose stools, constipation, inflammatory bowel disease have been well documented in this patient population. This is a very important subject, and critical for people to understand. The bowel problem with children on the autism-spectrum is a HUGE concern, and can lead to constant pain which can translate to behavior, sleeping, cognitive, and academic problems. Is it really a mystery that a child who is sick and doesn't feel well physically is not in a receptive mood or even capacity to learn? Of course not - we all recognize this to be true.

Also, if you think of yourself when you do not feel well - whether it is from not enough sleep, too much alcohol, nausea, fever, head cold, etc. you do not feel like conversing, and most people want to be left alone. So is the case with children on the autism-spectrum which is compounded by their inability to communicate effectively. They often act out in frustration because they are in pain. This article by Dr. Krigsman is a good reminder of this issue. Dr. Krigsman is a specialist in evaluating the intestinal systems of children on the autism-spectrum. Through specialized analysis we can obtain important information about the integrity of a child's digestive system and implement appropriate biomedical therapy such as dietary changes, medications, and more based on these findings. The biomedical assessment for individuals on the autism-spectrum is critical for long-term health.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Combination Multi-Vitamin/Mineral/Anti-Oxidant Shows Benefit for Kids with Autism

Having trouble with capsules or powdered supplements that just are not palatable? New Multivitamin/Mineral/Antioxidant called Syndion is now available from New Beginnings at

This combination formula could be a useful supplement for your family – particularly if you have had difficulty getting your child to take capsules or powders that are not palatable. I like the profile of the supplement as a combination vitamin/mineral/antioxidant remedy and the ingredients are chemical, gluten, casein, soy and egg-free.

Jim Adams from Arizona State University did a study:

“A pilot study indicated beneficial effects on the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC) in all areas, including Speech/Language,
Comprehension, Sociability, Sensory/Cognitive Awareness, and Health/Physical Behaviors” reports James Adams, PhD, an autism researcher at Arizona State University. “There was a 26% improvement in the total ATEC score during the 8 week study.”

Key Facts about Syndion®-SF:
*Is a comprehensive supplement that supplies necessary vitamins and minerals in a form that can be absorbed. It may replace several supplements and could save money.

*Contains important antioxidants which reduce oxidative stress in the body and support the immune system.

*Contains MSM and N-acetylcysteine which are sources of sulfur that support normal transulfuration pathways that contribute to adequate glutathione status.

*Contains adequate doses of B vitamins, folate and folinic acid, and minerals to support normal methylation pathways that can be involved in modification of heavy metals, regulation of gene expression, regulation of protein function, and RNA metabolism.

*Supports natural detoxification pathways that remove toxic substances from the body.

*Safely and effectively increases levels of fat-soluble nutrients and antioxidants.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Autism and the Controversy Over Vitamin D

Much has been discussed lately about the role of vitamin D and autism - particularly is additional vitamin D a beneficial biomedical therapy. Some indications are that many children on the autism-spectrum have very low levels, and that this deficiency can adversely affect brain development with respects to higher cognitive function such as complex thought, awareness, language development and more. The majority of children that I have tested show low levels of vitamin D (sometimes very low)- as evidenced by a 25(OH)D test - indicating that autistic children definitely appear to show a lack of this nutrient. However, this is not unique to autism as many individuals test low indicating that vitamin D deficiency in general may be a bigger issue than once realized. In traditional medicine the role of vitamin D has been mostly used to assist in calcium metabolism for bone health support. However, vitamin D has other function such as immune function support and protection against cancer.

There is a controversy brewing within the biomedical field for autism about vitamin D therapy, and the appropriate dosing of vitamin D. On one side there is the recommendation that higher doses of vitamin D (upwards of 5,000 to 10,000 units per day) are needed to get blood levels up high enough - in the range of 70 to 80 ng/ml - to help promote optimal health in an autistic individual. For years the standard dosing for kids has been between 100 to 400 units per day - sometimes a 1000 units per day in severely deficient children. There has always been a fear that excessive levels could be toxic. Recent information from the Vitamin D Council has shown that higher levels are likely needed to reach optimal effects, and that in general vitamin D dosing have been too low, and higher dosages are safe and appropriate.

The other side of this controversy is information put out from an organization called the Marshall Protocol. This group feels that vitamin D even at moderately elevated levels can be immune suppressive and dangerous - particularly if someone suffers from an autoimmune condition. Autoimmune diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis or Rheumatoid Arthritis are conditions where the immune system attacks various body systems - in these cases the nerves and joints, respectively. The Marshall Protocol and Vitamin D Councils position on vitamin D are polar opposites. There really does not seem to be any middle ground between the two. So who is right? In the weeks to come I will be posting some additional information about vitamin D - particularly information about the benefits of this therapy. Listed here is an interesting article from Dr. Mercola talking about the Marshall Protocol. My viewpoint, after much research, is in agreement with Dr. Mercola. Vitamin D definitely has its place as a biomedical therapy for autism.

"Ever since I started promoting the benefits of vitamin D there has been a small but vocal minority of advocates of what is referred to as the “Marshall Protocol”.

As much as I would like to ignore it due to its lack of validity, I can no longer do so, because so many people are using this information and at the very least, they are placing their health at great risk and in many cases they are damaging their health.) Read More

Monday, March 16, 2009

Biofilms – A Potential Issue for Unresolved Yeast and Bacterial Problems in Children with Autism-Spectrum Disorders

The Biofilm Protocol is a therapy that can be employed in those individuals where conventional anti-bacterial or anti-yeast treatments have not resolved the issue. Listed here are a few things to consider with the use of this protocol:

Lack of stool culture findings for yeast and/or bacteria – but, individual seems to improve when placed on antibiotics or antifungal medication.

Adverse behavior in autism-spectrum disorders such as aggression, agitation, head-banging and others that is thought to be gut related, but no direct evidence of digestive pathogens.

Individuals with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), perseverative and/or repetitive behaviors – who tend to get worse in the spring and/or fall, yet do not test positive for strep infections.

Persistent and unresolved yeast and/or bacteria as evidenced on Organic Acid Test from Great Plains Laboratory (such as arabinose for yeast or HPHPA for clostridia bacteria.

Biofllms are a polysaccharide-type matrix (think of a large gelatinous glob) secreted by opportunistic bacteria and yeast. These pathogens secrete these biofilms as a defense mechanism to prevent immune detection which allows them to survive in an otherwise hostile environment. Unfortunately, with expansion of abnormal bacteria and yeast biofilms, the normal flora in the digestive system are reduced in number and overtime the digestive system becomes more and more stressed with increasing numbers of bad bacteria and yeast. In many situations these bacteria and yeast secrete toxins which adversely affect health. An example of biofilms is dental cavities. Bacteria in the mouth can produce biofilms which lead to cavity formation. A brand of mouthwash is now available called Biotene (found in most drug stores) which is specifically designed to help breakdown biofilms in the mouth.

The biofilms are held together by a combination of negatively charged minerals (aka. ions) such as calcium, magnesium and iron. In fact, iron seems to play a role in how many different types of pathogenic bacteria evade the immune system. The negative ions in biofilms are vulnerable to a certain chelator called EDTA (ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid). The EDTA binds these ions which makes the biofilm less stable. The addition of specific enzymes helps to breakdown the polysaccharide matrix, and the combination of the two – enzyme plus EDTA – makes the bacteria and yeast encased in the biofilm sludge exposed and vulnerable to attack. This not only allows the immune system access to the hiding pathogens, but antibiotics, anti-fungals or natural remedies such as herbs are now able to adversely affect the colonies of hiding bacteria and yeast.

The Biofilm Protocol has been set forth by Anju Usman, M.D. from Illinois. Dr. Usman is a long-standing member of the Defeat Autism Now! (DAN!) organization and an experienced biomedical autism treatment specialist. Her Biofilm Protocol (as mentioned by her from previous writings and lectures) is a work in progress, with each person needing to be treated individually.

The Biofilm Protocol (aka. program) consists of three stages: 1.) Breakdown and Detachment of the Biofilm using specific enzymes 2.) EDTA, Attacking of the microbes, and 3.) Cleaning-up phase.

The Biofilm Protocol, as well as additional biomedical protocols (from Heavy Metal Detoxification to Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy) as well as video lectures, daily access to Dr. Woeller through an interactive parent forum and twice weekly video chats and much more can be obtained from Autism Action Plan This membership site is a great way to empower your ability to help your child.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Ibuprofen (aka. Motrin) Appears to Help Eradicate Candida Overgrowth

Another potential option for treating chronic yeast infections (i.e. Candida) has been discovered - Motrin. In a recent study by Pina-Vaz, from the Department of Microbiology, Porto School of Medicine in Sweden it was shown that Ibuprofen at various concentrations had 'inhibiting' effects on Candida species proliferation, and at higher doses 'cidal' effects (aka. killing) were seen. The cidal mechanism was directly related to damaging the cell wall of Candida.

In addition, it was shown that an additive benefit was seen when Ibuprofen was used along with Fluconazole (aka. Diflucan) - a common medication used for Candida infections. I have have used Motrin for children on the autism-spectrum as a remedy to help decrease inflammation in the body - particularly the brain. Motrin (purchased over-the-counter) is implemented as a 7 to 14 day trial to see if it helps a child with respects to eye contact, focusing, attention, behavior changes, etc. With some children it does, and this has always been assumed to be a direct effect on neurological inflammation. However, with the findings of this new study it is possible that some of the benefits seen with Motrin may be related to an anti-candida property of the drug, and a reduction in toxic levels of yeast.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Vaccines Can Cause Neurological Problems - Some Appear Like Autism

A few weeks ago I wrote a rebuttal editorial about a vaccine court decision of the link between autism causation and childhood vaccines - particularly the MMR (see blog post dated February 14, 2009). The ruling authorities in the court determined there was not enough evidence to show that vaccines had caused autism in three separate cases being tried through the vaccine court. Obviously, this was devastating news to the parents involved, and for other parents and care-givers of children with autism who strongly feel that a particular vaccine(s) contributed to their child's regression.

On February 25th an article from Robert Kennedy, Jr. and David Kirby has revealed that a separate government vaccine court has been hearing testimony from families whose children have been damaged by vaccines, and in some cases awarding these families financial sums of thousands of dollars in damages. The difference between the two courts is the former the cases were being presented as pure autism causation, and the latter as neurological damage from vaccines that likely contributed to or exacerbated an underlying medical condition related to autism-spectrum (i.e. PDD-NOS) or autism-like conditions.

Basically, what is happening is the word "autism" has become a lightening-rod of controversy, and the courts will not budge on their stance regarding vaccines and autism causation. However, semantics are at play here, and the decision to acknowledge a link between adverse vaccine reactions and neurological disorders that contribute to or are autism-like in appearance through another government court is an indication that the government at large knows there is a problem.

I would encourage you to read the entire Kennedy/Kirby article here.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Could Your Child's Behavior Be Related to PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infections).

There is a health condition recognized in the biomedical field for autism and related disorders called PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infections). This is a condition caused by an immune reaction triggered by the presence of Group A Beta-Hemolytic Streptococcal infection. Various strep bacteria produce toxins as part of their infectious nature. The immune system responds in an attempt to neutralize and eradicate the toxins. However, this immune-toxin (aka. antibody-antigen complex) reaction creates immune complexes which are deposited in various tissues of the body. If these immune complexes land in the kidneys there is an immune reaction called post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis, in the heart it is called rheumatic fever, and in the brain PANDAS can ensue. This autoimmune reaction (self-directed immune reaction to body tissue) in PANDAS is directed to the Basal Ganglia area in the brain. This area has been associated with disorders such as obsessive-compulsiveness (OCD), strange body posturing/movements called chorea, and the typical TIC movements (quick jerking or vocal tics) associated with Tourette’s Syndrome. With obsessive-compulsive behavior anxiety is usually a major problem.

Some individuals on the autism-spectrum suffer with extreme anxiety, but without obsessive-compulsive behavior, while in others the OCD is severe. Even though PANDAS remains a controversial topic in medicine it is reported that PANDAS can cause or exacerbate Tics, Tourettes, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Approximately, 25% of individuals who have one or more of these conditions have what appears to be PANDAS.

Unfortunately, treatment options are limited, although certain biomedical autism treatments such as low dose naltrexone, dietary intervention such as the gluten and casein-free diet, and various supplements that support normal immune function such as Transfer Factor can be helpful in reducing the overall reactivity of the immune system, PANDAS remains a difficult condition to treat.

Some individuals respond quite well to antibiotics. I have seen in cases where a short course of antibiotics, such as 10 to 14 days of Keflex, Penicillin or Zithromax definitely helps, particularly with the OCD behaviors. In other situations more advanced biomedical therapies such as intravenous immunoglobulins (IVIG) are needed to short-circuit the autoimmune response. Plasmapheresis, which is a blood cleansing process performed to help diminish the immune-toxin reactions, has shown benefit for some individuals. Unfortunately, no treatment is 100% effective for everyone, and some people remain symptomatic even after medical intervention. Great Plains Laboratory – carries a Streptococcal Panel which highlights immune reactions to strep. If positive this can then be correlated with behavioral and physical manifestations related to PANDAS to see if a trial of treatment is indicated.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Biomedical Autism Specialist Physician's Viewpoint about the Current Vaccine Courts Decision Regarding Autism and Vaccines

The recent ruling by a vaccine court involved in vaccine damage litigation regarding causation between vaccinations such the MMR, and the vaccine ingredient thimerosal (mercury) and autism as being without merit or not showing enough scientific evidence is both tragic and misleading. It is tragic because for years families have sought restitution for their families' emotional and financial suffering in caring for what they know is a vaccine damaged child. It is misleading because the traditional medical community will use this decision to put forth their mantra that vaccinations for ALL children at the current schedule (approximately 24 vaccines before the age of 2) – regardless of a child’s hereditary or genetic variances is completely safe, and any indication of toxicity or link to childhood neurological problems is unwarranted.

This commentary is not an attack against vaccines in general. The argument is always brought up that vaccines have saved thousands of lives – not only here in the United States, but across the world, and to go without vaccines would endanger thousands of other children. Both of these statements can be viewed as accurate. Most of us who speak out about the vaccine and autism connection have never advocated the elimination of childhood vaccines, or indicated that vaccines are the only cause of autism. We all know that vaccines in the history of medicine have contributed to preventing and reducing infectious disease. Enough said. Vaccines are not going away, nor should they.

The deeper issue is that certain vaccines are associated with a risk of adverse reactions that can impair certain individuals neurologically – seizures, motor dysfunction, paralysis, and even death. The Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) would not exist – and record data on adverse vaccine reactions on a yearly basis - if vaccines did not have the potential to cause problems. Someone can debate all they want about the risks, percentages, actual cases, etc., but the fact remains vaccines carry a risk for adverse side effects.

The vaccine court determined that there was not enough scientific evidence to indicate vaccines were a cause of three different children’s autism. No one disputes that vaccines can have side effects such as fever, shock, brain inflammation, and even death in some circumstances with the brain inflammation leading to temporary or permanent neurological deficits. Less than a year ago another vaccine court ruled that a young girl by the name of Hannah Poling became autistic after receiving a series of vaccines. However, the vaccine autism critics point out that this only occurred because Hannah was found to have an underlying metabolic abnormality that likely predisposed her to a vaccine adverse reaction. In this scenario the court acknowledged that the vaccines exacerbated an underlying medical problem. What is missing in the current decision is the language of “contributed to”, “exacerbated,” or “potentiated” a child’s regression into autism. The vaccines in these three cases may not have been the ‘single’ cause, but they certainly could have contributed to the child’s development of what is classified as autism characteristics.

I have been in medical practice for over 11 years. For the past decade I have helped evaluate the medical issues of children on the autism-spectrum, and provided biomedical treatment to support their health and well-being. In this time, I have had the opportunity to interview families from across the United States and abroad. I have seen kids of all shapes, sizes, colors and socioeconomic backgrounds. I have seen kids who appeared delayed from birth, and others who regressed into autism slowly starting around the age of 2 years, children who became autistic because of natural infections, and a few who even became autistic who never had been vaccinated.

Tragically, I have also seen children who became autistic within days of their 15 to 18 months vaccines – usually after a combination of the MMR and others. In one case, a parent described taking her child to the pediatrician for an early morning office visit for immunizations, and by the time the father got home that evening the girl was spinning in circles, hand-flapping, and not responding to her name. Essentially, she disappeared into the world of isolation and odd behavior – what we all in the medical community refer to as autism. In many cases, a typically developing child – social, engaged, happy, healthy and thriving – develops severe digestive problems almost immediately after their MMR vaccine. With this also comes regression of normal typical behavior to the autistic characteristics of isolation, loss of language, and others.

What is sad and frightening is so many of the stories that these parents tell are very similar. Their child was developing normally – many have video and pictures to prove it – and suddenly their child (within 3 weeks to 3 months) are completely changed – commonly associated with their 1-1/2 year vaccines. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that commonality of stories from families of different socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds over many, many years holds some validity in the realm of probability. In many of these cases, the main connecting mechanism was childhood vaccines.

Of course, there are variables in this population. I do not feel that vaccines are the sole contributor to all children’s autism. As I have mentioned before, I have seen children with varying medical backgrounds where the link to vaccines or other environmental causes is not clear cut. However, in a vast majority of kids who fit the regressive pattern of autism – where normal development both physically, verbally and cognitively are being met – and suddenly the child completely changes in a short period of time. The adverse reactions to vaccine(s) are to blame – at least this is my medical opinion.

The argument isn’t whether vaccines cause, contribute to, potentiate, etc. ALL cases of autism, but is it possible that for some children who may carry unique biochemical imbalances, along with genetic variances as was the case with Hannah Poling – are more susceptible to adverse vaccine reactions. Logic tends to dictate - Yes! It is plausible because nothing in medicine is 100% effective or 100% without risk – including vaccines.

The medical authorities, vaccine courts, or other naysayers regarding adverse vaccine reactions and autism can argue all they want about there being no link. The reality is these decisions are being determined in the courtroom, and we all know that a court ruling is not always indicative of absolute guilt or innocence – reference the case of O.J. Simpson’s murder trial. I think we can all agree the legal decision didn’t match what we all suspected was the truth.

The fact is that thousands of parents who have lived through the fear and devastation know the truth of seeing their child disappear into autism – in some cases almost overnight – and are now living a nightmare of emotional, physical and financial stress to care for their child. They know what they saw, and they know what kind of child they had before that fateful day at the pediatrician’s office. For over a decade, I have heard these stories through their words and seen the pictures and videos of a once normal child.

The link of vaccines to autism is real. Not in all cases, but in a significant amount. My heart goes out to those families who have dealt with such trauma and frustration. Because of this current court ruling once again they are left to fend for themselves as their voices go unheard by the system that encouraged, persuaded, and even intimidated them to vaccinate in the first place.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Biomedical Intervention - How Quickly Before You Know a Therapy is Working?

Over the years I have recognized trends in clinical practice that have helped me to determine early on if a child is going to be a quick responder to biomedical intervention, or more of a slow responder. Ultimately, this does not mean that just because a child is a slow or subtle responder at first that they will not have great success overtime. In fact, many kids who appear to be slow starters with biomedical intervention after many months will be advancing greatly in many areas of behavior, language, social develop, etc. at near or the same level as a child who had immediate positive changes even after a few weeks of biomedical intervention.

An example of this is a child who within a few days of stopping milk begins speaking, has greatly improved eye contact, and starts sleeping through the night. This does and can happen. However, compare this to a child who after three months of the gluten and casein-free diet has no noticeable change behaviorally or cognitively – except slightly improved eye contact, but overall seems healthier with improved bowel movements and less sinus and nasal congestion. Positive changes are happening for this child, but not as obvious. The important thing to remember is success with biomedical intervention is not rated on just a few weeks of using a supplement or making a dietary change, but with many months of use, and in most several years of continual therapy.

What I have recognized is there are key biomedical therapies that tend to give ‘Immediate’ feedback with respects to cognitive and behavior changes such as, better behavior, more awareness, improved language abilities and skills, better health with less bowel problems such as diarrhea, improved sleep pattern, more social, more interactive, etc. I list these as ‘Immediate’ and ‘Long-Term' feedback remedies. These categories are just a guide and should not be considered absolutes for every child. There are exceptions with any therapy, and all things need to be considered on an individual basis, but for many individuals the two categories tend to hold true. Finally, it is important to remember that just because something is listed as an immediate feedback therapy doesn’t mean it will not provide long-term health support. In fact, all of these therapies work best overtime, and the longer they are used – many times in combination - the greater positive effects are seen.

Immediate Feedback Therapies
With many individuals positive changes are seen within 2 to 6 Weeks, on average 4 weeks:

Medical Diets (GF/CF, anti-yeast, phenol reduced).
Basic Nutritional Supplements – multi-vitamins and minerals, B-vitamins, essential fatty acids, calcium/magnesium.
Methylation Support – Methyl-B12, DMG, Folinic Acid.
Treating Yeast (and bacteria.)

Long-term Feedback
With many individuals positive changes are seen within 6 to 8 weeks, sometimes 2 to 6 months…or more.

Heavy Metal Detoxification.
Anti-Viral Therapy – Valtrex, natural antivirals.
Traditional Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) – clinic based which is normally done over a few month period of time. Exception is the “30 days In-home HBOT Program” which places it is the Immediate Feedback Category – if positive changes are seen.

IMPORTANT: These are meant to be viewed as generalizations and NOT absolutes. Every child and their treatment response are different. Just because a therapy is listed as immediate feedback does not mean it will not give long-term benefits, and vice versa, i.e. in some cases antiviral or heavy metal detoxification can give immediate, recognizable benefits.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

High Fructose Corn Syrup Contaminated With Mercury, New Study Finds

The use of high fructose corn syrup has skyrocketed over the past few decades. It not only is a food item that should be avoided because of its tendency to cause blood sugar issues, which can contribute to diabetes and heart disease, now we find out many versions of HFCS are contaminated with mercury. Mercury we know is a neurotoxin that even in very small amounts is a contributor to nerve cell damage and even death. The best advice is eliminate HFCS from you and your child's diet. Once you start looking for this ingredient in the food items you buy, and avoid it, you will immediately improve the quality of food purchased and your family will be healthier overall - Dr. Woeller

Minneapolis – Mercury was found in nearly 50 percent of tested samples of commercial high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), according to a new article published today in the
scientific journal, Environmental Health. A separate study by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) detected mercury in nearly one-third of 55 popular brand name food and beverage products where HFCS is the first or second highest labeled ingredient—including products by Quaker, Hershey’s, Kraft and Smucker’s.

HFCS use has skyrocketed in recent decades as the sweetener has replaced sugar in
many processed foods. HFCS is found in sweetened beverages, breads, cereals, breakfast bars, lunch meats, yogurts, soups and condiments. On average, Americans consume about 12 teaspoons per day of HFCS. Consumption by teenagers and other high
consumers can be up to 80 percent above average levels. “Mercury is toxic in all its forms,” said IATP’s David Wallinga, M.D., and a co-author in both studies. “Given how much high fructose corn syrup is consumed by children, it could be a significant additional source of mercury never before considered. We are calling for immediate changes by industry and the FDA to help stop this avoidable mercury contamination of the food supply.”

In the Environmental Health article, Dufault et al. found detectable levels of mercury in nine of 20 samples of commercial HFCS. Dufault was working at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration when the tests were done in 2005. She and co-authors conclude that possible mercury contamination of food chemicals like HFCS was not common knowledge within the food industry that frequently uses the sweetener. While the FDA had evidence that commercial HFCS was contaminated with mercury four years ago, the agency did not inform consumers, help change industry practice or conduct additional testing.

For its report “Not So Sweet: Missing Mercury and High Fructose Corn Syrup,” IATP
sent 55 brand-name foods and beverages containing HFCS as the first or second ingredient to a commercial laboratory to be tested for total mercury. Nearly one in three products tested contained detectable mercury. Mercury was most prevalent in HFCS containing dairy products, followed by dressings and condiments.

In making HFCS, caustic soda is used, among other things, to separate corn starch
from the corn kernel. For decades, HFCS has been made using mercury-grade caustic
soda produced in industrial chlorine (chlor-alkali) plants. The use of mercury cells to produce caustic soda can contaminate caustic soda, and ultimately HFCS, with mercury. “The bad news is that nobody knows whether or not their soda or snack food contains HFCS made from ingredients like caustic soda contaminated with mercury,” said Dr. Wallinga. “The good news is that mercury-free HFCS ingredients exist. Food companies just need a good push to only use those ingredients.”

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Stool Color Appearance - What is Normal and Abnormal

Many parents of children on the autism-spectrum report seeing black flecks in their child's stool when implementing anti-viral or anti-yeast treatment combined. People have theorized that these black flecks may be heavy metals or viruses detoxifying from the body. To date no one knows for sure. One explanation could be the accumulation of bile acid imbalances from poor liver function, along with cellular debris from the lining of the digestive system from chronic inflammation. Also, the accumulation of pigments from food could give the darkening appearance as well. Overall, it is difficult to say what these black flecks are exactly, but they do seem to occur with detoxification therapy.

White, frothy material - this has been speculated to involve yeast coming out in the stool. This certainly is possible particularly if you look at images of oral thrush (which is caused by Candida). However, it is likely too to be excretion of mucus (or mucus strands), along with sloughing epithelial cells from intestinal inflammation.

The normal appearance of stool should be dark to light brown in color. It may appear at times to be dark green depending on the level of vegetables consumed. Dark leafy vegetables have dark green pigments. If your child consumes beets this will turn the stool dark with almost a burgundy appearance.

Black stools - usually indicates blood in the stool normally caused from bleeding high up in the intestines.

Bright red blood in stools - indicates bleeding from lower in the intestines. One common cause of this is rectal irritation from hard stool, or internal hemorrhoids. If you see blood in your child's stool it is always recommended to inform your child's physician.

Normal pigment process of stools is caused by the breakdown of heme. Heme is part of the porphyrin system, and is involved in hemoglobin production (for oxygen transport throughout the body), as well as cytochrome reactions in the liver for detoxification.

Heme pigment breaks down from red to yellow to green to brown as it passes from the bloodstream to the liver to the upper intestine, and finally down to the large intestine. If stool is colorless this indicates a block somewhere in the initial breakdown of heme. If the stool is green (unless one is consuming large amounts of green powder drinks) it indicates increased transit time through the digestive system.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Regression - Sudden Onset

Regression is a problematic occurrence that happens with some individuals on the autism-spectrum after there has been significant gains being made in cognitive development, social interaction, etc. Sometimes the regression pattern is sudden. Here are some clues:

Dietary Infractions - this is high on the list. Sometimes a hidden ingredient, or a change in ingredients that you are not aware, i.e. from a Gluten-free, Casein-free food. Also, getting sabotaged with the diet - not necessarily intentional - from friends, family members, at school, a new therapist, your child getting into another child's lunch, etc.

Supplement Changes - sometimes a new supplement, or a new ingredient in a supplement can cause regression. An example would be a change in the amount of particular vitamin - such as B6, or a new flavor for Cod Liver Oil. Also, increasing the amounts of supplement(s) could contribute to regression.

Other Food Exposure - such as dyes, preservatives. Or new natural foods that are high in phenols - grapes, plums, bananas, etc.

Yeast Overgrowth - this is very common, and can come on quickly. Sometimes you will not know what caused it. I have seen kids get yeast issues following a cold, flu or even allergies from the environment. In Southern California there are Santa Ana winds that blow warm air in from the deserts about 4 to 6 times per year. This usually brings a lot of allergens with it. Other regions have their own unique environmental changes. Increase in allergy can cause a shift in the immune system with increased inflammation. A trial of anti-fungal medication like Diflucan or Nystatin, or natural remedies like Grapefruit Seed Extract can help. If it is a yeast issue, the behavior will shift for the better in 5 to 7 days. Also, if allergy is suspected taking an anti-histamine could help.

Time Cycle Changes - regression patterns can occur with time changes - summer to fall, fall to winter, winter to spring, etc. This commonly occurs with sudden changes in dark and light cycles - particularly in areas when the clocks move backwards or forwards twice yearly.

Stress - change at school or therapy. A new challenging task, new teacher, new kid(s) is class. Anything that is upsetting the routine that a child is use to. The same pattern can occur at home with new or sudden changes.

Recent illness or coming down with a cold/flu/Allergies - see above explanation under Yeast Overgrowth.

Constipation or sluggish bowels - many times a change in bowel function - usually with a child going through a period of sluggish bowels - can create a situation of increased bowel toxins. These toxins get absorbed and create imbalances in the body and brain. Giving some additional magnesium to bowel tolerance - as citrate - can help to improve bowel function. Bowel tolerance means the 'point at which loose stools occur' is the time to cut back on the dose of magnesium. Magnesium can also help with hyperactivity. If needed, a laxative or child's enema can help clear the bowel of stored up stool.

Growth Spurt - regression in kids can sometimes occur with a growth spurt. Many times when children go through growth spurts they have an increased appetite or sleep more soundly at night.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Autism - 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 the 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 chemical that cells of the immune system use to talk to each other. 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, 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. Many parents report that their children are healthier overall, and do not get the frequency of illnesses, i.e. colds, ear infections after starting it.

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 (TD-LDN) which is easy to apply once nightly to the skin between the hours of 9 to 12 pm. 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.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

What is the Difference Between Nystatin and Diflucan as a Biomedical Therapy in Autism

Nystatin (a non-systemic anti-fungal medication) and Diflucan, Nizoral, Lamisil, and Sporanox (systemic anti-fungal medications) are effective therapies for individuals with chronic candida and other yeast infections - including children on the autism spectrum. The difference between the two groups has to do with absorption and overall effectiveness.

Nystatin is considered a local anti-fungal medication, i.e. local to the digestive system. It does not get absorbed into the blood stream (or at least to any significant degree) and therefore has its effect locally to yeast inside the digestive system. I equate Nystatin to Pepto-Bismal. Pepto-Bismal coats the stomach, while Nystatin coats the intestinal tract. Therefore, in order to get maximal benefit it needs to be dosed multiple times throughout the day because the coating wears off quickly. Because it does not get absorbed it can be taken for prolonged periods of times (months, and in some cases years) without requiring blood work to check for liver function stress.

Diflucan (along with Nizoral, Lamisil and Sporanox) are all systemic anti-fungal medications. This means they have some effectiveness in the digestive system, but they also get absorbed into the bloodstream and have more of a systemic effect on yeast throughout the body. There half-life is longer than Nystatin and only need to be dose once, and sometimes twice daily. However, because these medications do get absorbed into the bloodstream and are metabolized through the liver periodic blood work (every 2 months) is necessary to evaluate liver function.

Both groups of anti-fungal medications are effective, and can play a role in anti-candida therapy for children on the autism-spectrum who have difficulties with chronic yeast issues.