Diet, Nutrition, Herb & Flower Remedies
Using natural remedies to enhance your emotional, physical & spiritual development...
Before using any diet, nutritional or herbal supplements for the management of autism, supervision by a qualified and registered Nutritional Therapist should be sought because there are many possible unwanted interactions with other medicines and conditions which can be harmful. I was supervised by my GP and a family member who is a medical doctor when I was using any alternative or complimentary medicines or remedies. I continue to ask for guidance from the necessary professional where I am not qualified to make such decisions. However, I am now studying to be an accredited Nutrional Therapist so that I can add this to my knowledge for my personal use and research and to be able to offer this advice as part of my service for you...
As part of my Master of Arts research degree, I wrote a 5000 word research assignment entitled, 'Using nutritional supplements for the management of autism' and can explain the research and understanding behind using nutritional supplements to you at your consultation. I work in partnership with other qualifed professionals who are amongst others, nutritional therapists, homeopaths, medical doctors, child and adult psychologists and psychiatrists. One of these professionals is MO RAMZAN at Buxton and Grant in Bristol who is a qualified Pharmacist and is a member of my AUTISM - AS IT IS Professional Network.
The following information is from my MA Autism assignment on the 'management of autism' of which I chose to research, 'Managing Autism with Nutritional Supplements,' having used vitamin therapy along with other interventions and alternative complimentary medicines and therapies for our daughter when she was between the ages of two and four; and on and off since. Additionally, I was wanting to understand further how giving her nutritional supplements based on what I had read back in the 1990s of how they could possibly make a positive difference to her development, could be the positive difference we have witnessed over the years until that point and has contributed to the amazing young lady she has developed into today. She is now at university studying and BA (Hons) degree.
From the following descriptions below of how the vitamins B6, B12 and Magnesium, play a role in our bodies,it can be understood how hypotheses may have emerged and why some improvements have been seen in the use of these supplements to treat oxidative stress, rebalance methylation, improve brain function; possibly repair the gut, DNA and RNA; as well as their relationship to many other psychiatric disorders (Miller, 2003; Berk et.al., 2008; Ng et al., 2008; Tsaluchidu et. al., 2008).
Vitamin B6 is water-soluble and is composed of 3 forms (vitamers), pyridoxine, pyridoxal and pyridoxamine. One of the co-factor forms of B6 is pyridoxal-5'-phosphate (PLP), which is a co-factor for the metabolism of amino acids and the methylation of methionine to cysteine (glutathione can be methylated from cysteine (James, 2004)). It is essential for the production of red blood cells and manufacture of prostaglandins, which amongst other functions modulate inflammation. B6 is necessary for function of the nervous system, involved in antibody production, cellular replication, biosynthesis of neurotransmitters, sodium potassium balance, the conversion of tryptophan to niacin (vitamin B3), absorption of B12 and the production of hydrochloric acid in the gut. As well as impairing these functions, B6 deficiency has been shown to cause irritability, auditory sensitivity, insomnia, nervousness, depression and a 'loss of responsibility.' In a rare disorder of B6 dependency and involving GABA and glutamate decarboxylase enzyme, large amounts of B6 are required to avoid seizures and even death. There are a couple of deficiency tests suggested, some more reliable than others. The high pressure liquid chromatography test is the preferred method (Food Standard Agency (FSA), 2003; National Institute of Health (NIH), 2007).
Vitamin B12 is also a water-soluble vitamin and is a member of a group of molecules called corrinoids. It has a nucleus with a ring structure that contains a colbalt ion, which enables it to attach to methyls. B12 is present in every animal tissue but not in plants. It originates from algae, fungi and bacteria. Its dietary form is mainly as a methyl (methylcobalamin), acquired from meat, fish and liver. Some studies have suggested that B12 may be helpful for sleep disorders when given in high dosage. One of the many enzymes B12 is a co-factor for is methione synthase, which is critical in the synthesis of methyl S-Adenosyl methione (SAMe) and the metabolism of folate (folinic acid) within the methylation cycle. Its deficiency is mainly seen in the elderly or those with a hereditary or acquired defect and results in malabsorption or a B12 transportation malfunction within the body. Supplementation is given via injection for those with malabsorption problems within the gut. For people who have gastric acid or digestive enzyme secretion problems, protein binding in some foods may impair bioavailaility of B12. The largest store of B12 is found in the liver. Testing for B12 deficiency in the plasma is not always the most reliable and there are a number of suggested tests which may be used to ascertain different types of B12 deficiency (FSA, 2003).
Magnesium is a metallic element and does not occur as a pure metal naturally but is found in other minerals. It is found in nearly every food in varying amounts but mostly in vegetables, grains and nuts at higher amounts than meat and dairy. Magnesium salts are used in food additives and supplements; in medication for treating malabsorption, [perioperative] surgery and for special diets. They are also good 'purging' agents and hence used in antacids and laxatives. Magnesium is found in higher amounts in hard water areas. It is required for protein synthesis and the metabolism of glucose. It is a necessary cofactor for many enzymes. It has a multi-functional role in cell metabolism, especially in cell division. There are suggestions that magnesium is necessary for the production of nucleotides for the syntheses of RNA and DNA. It is a calcium channel blocker, regulates movement of potassium in myocardial cells and is essential in the metabolism and function of vitamin D; and the synthesis and secretion of parathyroid hormone. Hypocalcaemia is a result of magnesium deficiency and several magnesium-activating enzymes are inhibited by calcium. Magnesium is absorbed along the whole intestinal tract with maximum absorption being in the jejunum and ileum. Deficiency of magnesium has been linked to gastrointestinal and nervous system disorders. Overdose adverse affects are only noted with pharmaceutical medications containing magnesium salts, resulting in diarrhoea. Deficiency is analysed by a tissue spectroscopy (FSA, 2003).
B6, B12 and magnesium all support intracellular functions and are important for detoxification, neurotransmission, DNA, RNA, methylation and cell division (FSA, 2003; NIH,2007) therefore, professionals should be informed of this approach, so families wishing to try it can be supported (Siri and Lyons, 2010; Jepson and Johnson, 2007). Nutritional supplementation is only one piece of the autism management puzzle, which maybe a necessary foundation for other interventions. A team of professionals, all collaborating to identify and manage a child's individual autism profile and intervention program, through an integrative approach, would be beneficial (London, 2010). This would provide families with support and safe guidance whilst giving the autistic child a chance of a best possible prognosis.
AT AGE 2-3, I GAVE MY DAUGHTER HIGH DOSE VITAMIN B6 & MAGNESIUM VITAMIN THERAPY (A brand which is balanced out with many other vitamins and minerals including vitamins B12, D, magnesium and zinc) UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF OUR GENERAL PRACTITIONER. Back then I had to order it in from the USA but now it can be bought here in the UK.
I am currently studying to become a qualified Nutritional Therapist, accredited by the Complimentary Medical Association (CMA) and will be adding this vital practice to my holistic services very soon!
BERK, M., NG, F., DEAN, O., DODD, S. and BUSH, A.I. 2008. Glutathione: a novel treatment target in psychiatry. Trends in pharmacological sciences, 29(7), 346-351.
FOOD STANDARDS AGENCY (FSA): EXPERT GROUP ON VITAMINS AND MINERALS. 2003. Risk assessment: vitamin B12. [WWW] http://www.eatwell.gov.uk/healthydiet/nutritionessentials/vitaminsandminerals/vitaminb12/ http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/evm_b12.pdf (16 March 2010, 2010).
FOOD STANDARDS AGENCY (FSA): EXPERT GROUP ON VITAMINS AND MINERALS. 2003. Risk assessment: vitamin B6 (pyridoxine). [WWW] http://www.eatwell.gov.uk/healthydiet/nutritionessentials/vitaminsandminerals/vitaminb6/ http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/evm_b6.pdf [3/16/2010, 2010].
FOOD STANDARDS AGENCY (FSA): EXPERT GROUP ON VITAMINS AND MINERALS. Risk assessment: Magnesium.[WWW] http://www.eatwell.gov.uk/healthydiet/nutritionessentials/vitaminsandminerals/magnesium/ http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/evm_magnesium.pdf [3/20/2010, 2010].
JEPSON, B. and JOHNSON, J. 2007. Changing the course of Autism: A Scientific Approach for Parents and Physicians. 1st edn. United States of America: Sentinent.
LONDON, E. 2010. A [Reevaluation] of the State of Autism: The Need for a Biopsychosocial Perspective. In: A. CHAUHAN, T. CHAUHAN and W. BROWN, eds, Autism: Oxidative Stress, Inflamation, and Immune Abnormalities. 1st edn. Boca Raton, Florida, United States of America: CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Group, pp. 389-390- 413.
MILLER, A. 2003. The Methionine-homocysteine Cycle and Its Effects on Cognitive diseases. Alternative Medicine Review, 8(1), 7-8-19.
NG, F., BERK, M., DEAN, O. and BUSH, A.I. 2008. Oxidative stress in psychiatric disorders: evidence base and therapeutic implications The international journal of neuropsychopharmacology / official scientific journal of the Collegium Internationale Neuropsychopharmacologicum (CINP), 11(6), 851-876.
SIRI, K.L.,LYONS T., ed.2010. Cutting-Edge Therapies for Autism 2010-2011. 1st edn. New York, USA: Sky Horse Publishing.
TSALUCHIDU, S., COCCHI, M., TONELLO, L. and PURI, B.K. 2008. Fatty acids and oxidative stress in psychiatric disorders. BMC Psychiatry, 8, 1-3.
My daughter had the well known sleep problems associated with autism and our GP/Homeopath prescribed Valerian for BOTH of us which was brilliant for helping us both sleep well! It can also be used for anxiety and stress.
When you decide to buy valerian, it is important to consider which type/brand to buy as some have hops, lactose and other ingredients which may affect children who are on a Gluten and Casein Free diet. Ask your Homeopathic Pharmacist for advice.
Here are some links about the benefits, use and contraindications of Valerian:
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, oats, rye, barley, spelt, semolina, kamult and bulgur.
What is casein?
Casein is a protein found in milk and dairy produce.
How is the Gluten and Casein related to autism?
(cited from Autism as a Metabolic Disorder: Guidelines for a Gluten and Casein Free Diet (2001) by Paul Shattock; Paul Whiteley and Dawn Savery)
Back in the 1990s, Paul Shattock and Paul Whiteley were researchers at Sunderland University and based on their research and other researcher's work, they theorized that autism behaviours are the result of a metabolic disorder related to a compromised enzyme system in the gut causing insufficient breakdown of the proteins in gluten and casein. This creates an excess of opioid peptides and opioid activity which subsequently severely disrupts a large number of processes within the central nervous system (CNS), including neurotransmission.
The enzyme system is suggested to be working insufficiently due to either a genetically determined deficiency of the specific enzymes; specific vitamins and minerals deficiency which are required for the enzymes to work (supplementation may be necessary to correct this); or the pH in the necessary areas of the gut is incorrect for the enzymes to act on the gluten and casein proteins.
All this consequently affects a person's perception; cognition; emotions; mood; higher executive function and causes the observed 'bizarre' behaviours characterized in autism; some similar to opioid-facilitated addiction.
Many children with autism have been found to have what is termed as a 'leaky gut' which is where the gut lining has for *some reason* become more permeable (lets through more substances) than normal. This means that the excessive peptides in the gut can pass through the gut lining into the bloodstream and into the CNS where they can further travel to the brain and cross the blood-brain barrier and cause an opioid effect on the brain. This is why you can often see a child with autism appear to crave bread and milk. It's an addiction to the opioids and the theory is that the gluten and casein proteins are causing a toxicity in the child's system not an allergy (as is the case with Coeliac disease). Therefore, test for allergies to gluten or casein will very often return negative or minimal positive results, as these kind of tests are looking to find the presence of specific antibodies. However, 3-4% of people with autism may have undiagnosed coeliac disease and this should be considered.
* Leaky gut or damage to the gut lining has been suggested to be possibly caused by a number of conditions:
- Candida in the gut (yeast overgrowth)
- Physical action such as surgery
- A natural deficiency in the Phenyl Suphur Transferase (PTS) system
- following encephalitis or meningitis
Back in 1998, Paul Shattock came to Bristol and hosted a conference to parents about this theory. My husband and I attended. Parents were offered the opportunity to have their children tested to see if the GFCF diet may be worth implementing to make a positive difference to their progress and development. My husband and I chose to have this test done and sent Farrah's samples to the laboratory at Sunderland University, in a specialist pack which came with instructions. The results returned as negative and we therefore did not implement the diet.
Now Paul Shattock is the Chairman of ESPA-Research and Paul Whiteley is one of the directors there. They are continuing their research work in this area and you can contact ESPA here to request a specialist pack and send your child's samples for testing. You can also purchase the booklet which explains the Gluten and Casein free diet and the theory relating to autism in much more depth from the ESPA website.
What difference can a GFCF diet make to my child?
Many parents have reported positive results from implementing a GFCF diet and improvements in their child's sleep; eye contact; speech; reduction in aggressive behaviour; normalising of stools from diarrhoea or constipation; concentration; attention and learning.
Some parents choose to start the diet by gradually removing milk and diary produce and introducing non-dairy until dairy is completely removed and replaced first. This is a less challenging way to introduce the diet to your child and less likely to cause a withdrawal affect from the opioids. Some of my clients have seen an improvement in their child after only two weeks completely dairy free. Then they do the same gradual exclusion and replacement of gluten.