Environmental Factors and Autism – Part 2

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From the time of conception, babies are de-methylated and as they grow and develop, they go through a process called methylation.  Both methylation and detoxification form an important balance that supports growth and development.  They work hand-in-hand so that as one slows down, so does that other.  Children with autism have shown to have impairments in these cycles, which may begin to explain why children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) are quite susceptible to environmental toxicity.

A 2009 study completed by researchers at the University of Texas, found startling evidence that the environment plays a large role in autism.  The study was designed to determine if living close to sources of mercury pollution in 1998 were related to autism prevalence in 2002. They found that for every 1000 pounds of industrial release, there were a 2.6% increase in autism rates and a 3.7% increase associated with power plant emissions. Overall, for every 10 miles away you got from industrial or power plant sources, there was a decrease in autism rates.

The same researchers revealed an association between environmentally-released mercury and autism rates also in Texas.  For each 1,000 lb of environmentally released mercury, there was a 61% increase in ASD.

Toxins play a large role in the health of our bodies. Lead levels have been linked to ASD, ADHD and learning disabilities.  The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released a study that found an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in umbilical cord blood from 10 babies born in U.S. hospitals in 2004.  Further tests revealed a total of 287 chemicals in this group of children. The umbilical cord blood identified pesticides, consumer product ingredients, and wastes from burning coal, gasoline, and garbage. It is clear that environmental toxicity is impacting all children and adults.

 

Environmental Factors and Autism – Part 1

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As a health care practitioner who specializes in autism, the relationship between autism spectrum disorder, genetics and environmental toxicity is first in my mind always and this has also been the subject of research for many years.  What we do know now is that one of the key reasons for the dramatic rise in autism rates in the last 15-20 years can be attributed to environmental toxicity.

Children with autism are more susceptible to oxidative damage and environmental toxins than other children. Autism research has shown that oxidative stress levels are high and antioxidant levels are low.  Antioxidants protect our bodies from harmful chemicals and substances circulating in food, air, water and soil.  They are essential for normal development.  Environmental toxins such as heavy metals, chemicals, pesticides and other harmful substances lower a person’s antioxidant status.

In each of our bodies there are 7 detoxification pathways that are supported by antioxidants.  There is a relationship between normal development and detoxification that is necessary to be in balance for children to grow, thrive, and learn new skills.

Research has shown that children with autism have depleted stores of glutathione, one of the body’s most important antioxidants that support detoxification of toxic substances. Researchers have identified that children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) had up to 80% of this important compound depleted.  The brain relies 100% on glutathione to support development, therefore as glutathione levels decrease, so does the “fuel” needed for development.

Dietary Intervention – An Important Consideration for Autism

Autism is a complex biomedical disorder that is currently being diagnosed at an epidemic level in children. As research continues to fall short of unveiling a cause or cure for autism, parents and professionals strive to find treatments to minimize the symptoms of the condition. One well-known treatment is the use of specialized diets for autism. A preliminary dietary intervention which is still the most popular within the field of autism is the Gluten Free-Casein Free (GFCF) diet. The GFCF diet strives to remove the proteins of gluten (found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye and oats) and casein (found in dairy products) for optimal digestion. As researchers have further recognized the gastrointestinal component of autism, additional diets to address the symptoms of autism have developed and are becoming more widely utilized.

These diets include:
Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD)
Body Ecology Diet (BED)
GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome)
Feingold
Failsafe
Weston A. Price
Low Oxalate
DAN!

Research has recognized that those with autism have marked gastrointestinal symptoms and by eliminating offenders for the immune and gastrointestinal systems, improvements are often seen in neurological symptoms as well as digestive symptoms. For many children, dietary intervention has resulted in significant improvements in language, social interaction, behavior, and eye contact, along with a reduction in self-stimulatory behaviors and aggression. A healthy diet that addresses the gastrointestinal concerns for those who suffer from the condition is a viable treatment option in reducing symptoms and improving outcomes for children with autism.

A Closer Look at the DAN! Protocol

Standard autism treatments focus on behavior modification techniques, improving developmental delays, speech-language therapy and learning to cope with sensory issues. While these therapies can improve the quality of life for a child with autism, they do nothing about the underlying medical conditions and imbalances that challenge an autistic child’s daily life. The Dan! Protocol is a medical intervention that seeks to correct the physical issues not addressed by traditional autism therapies.

The Dan! Protocol’s overwhelming success comes from its unique, individualized approach as well as its biomedical focus. Since treatment is always preceded by extensive lab work, a Dan! doctor knows the biological deficiencies, imbalances and maladaptive responses for each child before an individualized treatment plan is designed and implemented.

There is not a standard protocol for every child. While many autistic children have similar medical issues such as food intolerances, digestive problems, yeast overgrowth and vitamin or mineral deficiencies, children are always treated according to their individual lab tests. For one child that might mean a gluten-free casein-free diet, digestive enzymes and probiotics to help restore intestinal bacteria balance. Another child might need a strong vitamin and mineral supplement, mb-12 injections, IV glutathione and other chelation methods to address a high level of heavy metals in the body.

Each treatment method has a specific medical reason for being used. Yeast overgrowth impairs digestion and creates malnutrition. Food intolerances cause inflammation, absorption issues and pain. When you correct an autistic child’s medical problems, many undesirable behaviors automatically improve.

What is Defeat Autism Now (DAN!)?

Defeat Autism Now (DAN!) is a project that was founded in the 1960s by Dr. Bernard Rimland. Doctors trained in the “DAN! Protocol,” are taught an approach to autism which begins with the idea that autism is a biomedical disorder. This approach was developed by the Autism Research Institute (ARI) which has more than 1,000 documented cases of autistic children who have recovered.

The belief among DAN! doctors is that autism is a disorder caused by a lowered immune response, issues caused by some foods, and external toxins from vaccines and other sources.

What Type of Treatments do DAN! Doctors Prescribe?


  • Supplements such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, and essential fatty acids.
  • Gluten- and dairy-free diets.
  • Food allergy testing.
  • Treating dysbiosis in the gut using non-pharmacological medications (i.e. intestinal bacterial/yeast overgrowth).
  • Heavy metal detoxification.

What can I expect at my DAN! Doctor Appointment?

You can expect that your child will go through some testing mostly revolving around the state of their internal body. A test for hidden food allergies will be conducted to be sure that any dietary changes that are made as part of your child’s treatment plan are beneficial and not more damaging to them.

You should leave with your questions answered and a customized treatment plan for your child’s needs. If you have questions, ask, ask, ask. Remember, these doctors chose to be DAN! doctors. They believe in this treatment method, and want to see your child healthy!

Body Detox Part II: Detoxification Methods

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82% of All Chronic Degenerative Diseases are Caused by Environmental Exposure to TOXIC METALS.” -World

Health Organization 1974

Sure, 1974 was nearly 40 years ago (can you believe it?), but the World Health Organization knew was was happening way back when. This was well before the huge Environmental or “Green” movement that is so common now. The environment

is still a very toxic place, which we clearly laid out last week. You might remember that we shared a lot of places where environmental toxins exist, some of which you might not even have been aware of.

When a child is diagnosed with Autism, it is typically considered to be a behavioral disorder, which in a sense, it absolutely is. Further testing on Autistic bodies have found that many have toxic levels of metals in them. Others have a lack of minerals and vitamins that are essential for proper immune system function. A lot of these deficiencies can be caused be the pollutants that are consumed.

The first step of clearing up a toxic body is knowing that the problem exists. (Remember, Dr. Chun Wong is offering an

amazing deal on his Hair Analysis Test which comes complete with a full written report as well as a Skype or Phone Consultation with Dr. Wong. Check out the special we’re having for our readers here).

After the problem is detected, and before the body is repaired and restored, the toxins must be removed from the body. Detoxifying is an essential part of the healing process. You can’t just simply put healthy vitamins and minerals into the body when it is still toxic. Imagine having a bathtub filled with water, dirt, bacteria, bugs, etc. Simply pouring bleach or cleaning agents into the water will not do the job. You first must clean out the bacteria, and then improve the way in which it is taken care of.

But how do you detoxify the body?

Chelation

Chelation was introduced into practice during World War I when so many people had ingested poison gas called lewsite. BAL or British Anti Lewsite (formally known as dimercaprol) was used to chelate the lewsite. BAL had very severe side effects, however.

After World War II, a number of people suffered from lead poisoning. The chelating agent EDTA (ethylenediaminetetraacetic) was introduced in order to chelate the lead. Because EDTA is a synthetic amino acid and has no mercaptans (mercury capturers), the side effects were not nearly as severe as BAL.

Since then, there have been a number of modifications and researchers are always looking for better treatment methods that have minimal side effects. There is a low occurrence of side effects when chelation is used at the dose and infusion rates approved by the U.S. FDA as a treatment for heavy metal poisoning.

(We’ve spoken more in depth about Chelation on this blog before. Please do check that out!)

Juicing

As the name suggests, juicing refers to detoxing the body by consuming raw fruits and vegetable

s that are highly concentrated. Juices are digested by the body very quickly – in about 25 minutes. Because of this, the digestive system has very little to do with processing the juice. We aren’t talking about juices that are found in stores. These are treated with sugars and other ingredients that do not benefit the detoxification process.

Juicing is most effective and beneficial when it is made from the right fruits and vegetables at home, specifically organic fruits and veggies. Organic fruits and vegetables are loaded with nutrients and will saturate your body with the healthy enzymes, vitamins, and minerals.

Think about it: doesn’t a nice, long shower with soap and water feel much better than running a wet tissue over your skin for the purpose of cleaning?  It’s a similar situation with consuming organic fruits and vegetables.

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DAN! Protocol

The Defeat Autism Now! Protocol is a series of alternative medicine solutions for Autism. There are several avenues that a DAN! Doctor may explore, but traditionally, the following plan may be enforced.

-Dietary intervention: Omission of Gluten (Wheat) and Casein (Dairy) products from your child’s diet. Additionally omitting junk foods that have refined sugar.
-Vitamin and Mineral Supplements - To balance out the dietary changes, replacement minerals and vitamins that the body may lack will be supplemented. Some of the vitamins and minerals commonly supplemented:  Magnesium, Calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin B5.
-Chelation - the removal of heavy metals which have proven to be very destructive to the Autistic body (as we mentioned).
-Treatment of intestinal bacteria

The most important thing to remember here is the order in which detoxification should be done. First, determine that the body really is toxic. Then, detoxify the body.  Thirdly, repair the body. Then, replace nutrients. It’s important that this order be taken as any other way would not be as effective. You must rid the body of toxins, start with a clean slate, and then proceed with repairing procedures or practices.

What Is DAN!?, What Can I Expect At My DAN! Appointment? and other Frequently Asked Questions

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As a parent, making the decision to see a DAN! doctor is a difficult task.  Surely, you will search the internet until the wee hours of the morning trying to figure out where you can find a DAN! doctor, what’s going to happen in your appointment, and the benefits of the DAN! protocol over currently mainstream Autism treatments. This week, we hope to shine a little light on the DAN! protocol, DAN! doctors, and what you can expect at your DAN! appointment.

It becomes more and more evident with research that a biochemical disruption has, at the very least, a small connection to Autism. A great deal of specialists, researchers, and parents of Autism believe that it has quite a large impact on the developmental disorder that is currently affecting 1 in every 110 children in the USA.

Where Can I Find a DAN! Doctor?

A simple internet search will bring up many lists of DAN doctors. (We like this list for US doctors and this one for international doctors) It may be somewhat difficult to get a recommendation from your family doctor depending on his or her personal views on the DAN! protocol and the DAN practice in general. Be prepared to hear reasons why you shouldn’t see a DAN! doctor. Listen to the reasons, but also take a look at the reasons why it may be a good move for your child. After all, isn’t that what it boils down to? What’s best for your child?

What is a DAN! Doctor? What makes them different than a regular pediatrician or family doctor?

If you’re a parent, then you probably just “knew” something was going on inside your child’s body. As parents its just nature to realize if something is wrong. Maybe you made an appointment at your family doctor. If that was the case, you may have walked out with a suggestion to go through a battery of tests. Or, you may have walked out with a prescription for a psychiatric medication that would help calm the symptoms.

Some Autism families decide to use psychiatric drugs prescribed by their family doctor to control Autism symptoms, but these drugs do not balance the biochemical levels. However, with the biochemical connection, some parents decide to choose an alternative medication doctor who can target the specialized biochemical imbalance. These doctors, called “Defeat Autism Now” or DAN! doctors are credentialed doctors who go through DAN! training and develop skills to treat Autism using alternative forms of medical treatments (or DAN! protocol) which explores treatments beyond psychiatric drugs.

DAN! Protocol? What is that?

The Defeat Autism Now! Protocol is a series of alternative medicine solutions for Autism. There are several avenues that a DAN! Doctor may explore, but traditionally, the following plan may be enforced.

-Dietary intervention: Omission of Gluten (Wheat) and Casein (Dairy) products from your child’s diet. Additionally omitting junk foods that have refined sugar.
-Vitamin and Mineral Supplements - To balance out the dietary changes, replacement minerals and vitamins that the body may lack will be supplemented. Some of the vitamins and minerals commonly supplemented:  Magnesium, Calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin B5.
-Chelation - the removal of heavy metals which have proven to be very destructive to the Autistic body
-Treatment of intestinal bacteria

What can I expect at my DAN! Doctor Appointment?

A large determining factor of what to expect depends on the doctor. Many parents report a friendly and helpful physician who is just as interested in the road to a cure as you are. Their focus isn’t so much on treating the symptoms of Autism so much as healing the damaged, Autistic body. With this approach, symptom improvement often comes naturally.

Your child will more than likely go through a battery of testing mostly revolving around the state of their internal body. A test for hidden food allergies will be conducted to be sure that any dietary changes that are made as part of your child’s treatment plan are beneficial and not more damaging to them.

You should leave with your questions answered and a customized treatment plan for your child’s needs. If you have questions, ask, ask, ask. Remember, these doctors chose to be DAN! doctors. They believe in this treatment method, and want to see your child healthy.

The Link Between Autism and Food Allergies

gluten-freeThough it’s not completely proven, there have been studies that show a strong connection between food allergies and autism symptoms. One of the most frequently heard connections is that between Gluten (wheat) and Casein (milk) products. These food proteins are broken down into smaller proteins, also known as peptides. The two peptides, glutenin and gliadin, and leak into the gut and attach to the opitate receptors of the autistic child’s brain. This is very similar to the body being on a morphine drip. The peptides act as a Narcotic to the autistic body.

One of the primary steps in the Defeat Autism Now! (DAN) Protocol is that the autistic child be placed on a Gluten Free, Casein Free diet for at least three months. Many parents have been reporting a link between Autism and diet for years, but it’s now being found that children who consume gluten and casein regularly have more severe autism symptoms. Some of the research reports that claim to “disprove” this theory, also depend a lot on the idea that this is an allergic reaction that is being claimed to exist. Quite the contrary. In fact, it’s not due to an allergic reaction that the symptoms worsen. It’s because the autistic body cannot break down the proteins properly from gluten and casein.  It’s not necessarily an allergy so much as an intolerance.

When parents make the move to take their children off of Gluten and Casein completely, they’re often worried. One of the main concerns is that their children love gluten and casein products. Many parents have a difficult time getting their children to not eat gluten and casein, as if they’re addicted to it. This is more than just an analogy. It could be completely true. Remember, when gluten and casein break down, they leak into the gut and attach themselves to the opiate receptors of the brain. The same receptors that morphine, codeine and heroin attach themselves to. Your child could literally be addicted to gluten and casein.

Researchers are firm in their statements that “autism is not caused by an allergy.” When some parents read about the effects of gluten and casein, they assume their child is allergic to the foods and that’s the cause of Autism. They take their children off of the foods and expect a cure. Again, as far as we know, autism is not caused by an allergy. However, children with Autism Spectrum Disorders are very sensitive – especially in their immune system in how it reacts to the environment.

One of the primary focuses of the Autism Alternative Medicine field is exploring ways in which we can treat our children’s autism symptoms and getting to the source of the problem. While there have been some reports that go against the connection between food allergies and Autism, there are still researchers who very much believe that there is a valid connection and they’re exploring this intensely.

Biofilm Protocol: What It Is, and How It Works

biofilm

Just in case you missed it, last week, we took a look at the basics of Biofilm. If you did miss it, go on and get caught up, and then come on back.  In summary, Biofilm as a slime like organism that can form almost anywhere where water is present. One of its favorite places to form is in the human gut as well as in the bloodstrean and on teeth. That little fur coat that your teeth seem to be wearing after no brushing your teeth? Yes, that’s Biofilm. In most cases, Biofilm hides itself so well that it is often not affected by even the highest and strongest doses of Antibiotics.

The interesting thing about Biofilm is that once it is broken down during Chelation, it gave off a large discharge of toxic metals into the bowel. This was detected in stool samples. Interestingly enough, a stool sample taken from someone before Chelation may not have shown that high metal level. See how smart Biofilm is? Until its accessed and broken down, it isn’t detected. If it’s not broken down, it’s just holding onto bacteria and metals that can contaminate the body.

High levels of toxic metals has been known to be something that is often found in those with Autism. A large amount of Autism treatments include the removal of these metals and improvement of symptoms has been noted. If these toxic metals are hiding deep inside of a matrix as biofilm does, it makes the removal a bit more difficult.

Enter: Biofilm Protocol Treatment:

The Biofilm Protocol was developed by Dr. Anju Usman and her staff during the Defeat Autism Now (DAN!) Think Tank. It wasn’t discussed much as it was relatively new at the time. The idea of the protocol is to break down the Biofilm by targeting the fibrin that biofilm needs to form. Breaking down the fibirn is done with the help of enzymes such as silk-worm produced serapeptase. Once this has begun, then the body must be trained to recognize what’s about to be released. If the immune system doesn’t recognize the broken-down biofilm, then one may get sick. It’s not always about killing the bugs and sickness. The idea is rewiring the gastrointestinal system to that those bugs cannot exist.

The protocol was also developed keeping in mind that the body may have to go through a heavy metal detox since the biofilm may be holding onto toxic metals like aluminum and lead.

The Protocol itself is meant to be a 2-3 month process and comes in three steps:

ONE: Detatchment of the Matrix – the Matrix is where the biofilm hides itself, so it’s essential that this is broken down. Chelation is often used to be able to disolve the minerals in the matrix to initiate a breakdown. This is done on an empty stomach.

TWO: Targeting the Microorganism: Since the biofilm is now unprotected, a dose of antibiotics is given to the body to attack it.

THREE: Clean up:  The body is given anything that can bind up the matrix and potential metals in the gut.

This isn’t an overnight treatment. It took a while for the body to get to the point where the infectious biofilm forms and is hiding to the point where its affecting the body, but undetectable. So, reversing the situation also takes a bit of time.

In 2009, at the Lyme Induced Autism Conference, an interesting point was brought up concerning the outbreak of MRSA.  The most effective antibiotic to MRSA was vancomycin.  However, it wasn’t effective because there was a biofilm. When the drug was combined with EDTA (a Chelation agent), the elements of the biofilm were extracted and the film was broken down. This shows that the idea of breaking down the biofilm and then dismembering the matrix has been effective in other situations as well.

The DAN! Project

What is “DAN!”?

DAN! stands for “Defeat Autism Now!” and is a project which was initiated by The Autism Research Institute to educate parents, caregivers and therapists about the biomedical approach to healing autism and biomedical testing and research.

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The Autism Research Institute (ARI) believe, as do I, that autism is a treatable condition and that psychotropic drugs, with all of their side effects, are not the best way to treat autism spectrum disorders. The ARI, and many physicians and researchers, believe that there are more effective ways to alleviate, and sometimes cure, these disorders.

Mission Statement

The Defeat Autism Now! project’s mission statement is:-
“Defeat Autism Now! is dedicated to the exploration, evaluation and dissemination of scientifically documented biomedical interventions for individuals within the autism spectrum, through the collaborative efforts of clinicians, researchers and parents.”

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