AUTISM AND GUT HEALTH
WHAT IS THE LINK?
Fifty years ago, the incidence of Autism was said to be about 1 in 10,000. When I started practice in the early 1990's, the incidence of Autism had increased ten fold to about 1 in 1,000. The latest statistics continue to prove this trend. The latest statistics come from the CDC, courtesy of Jon Baio (Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders — Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 14 Sites, United States, 2008. Surveillance Summaries). The incidence of Autism as of 2008 stands at 1 in 88, with males affected four times more often than females (UPDATE: -- it's now 1 in 50). And all the while, the average doctor will tell you that they have no real idea what is behind this epidemic, how to prevent it, or how to effectively deal with it once it strikes.
FOR THOSE WITH AUTISTIC CHILDREN
THE EVIDENCE IS A KICK TO THE GUT!
Even though most people are mortified by the very thought of bacteria living inside their bodies, the truth is, these 'good' bacteria known as Intestinal Flora perform all sorts of vital functions in the body. They not only help to digest food, they actually manufacture certain vitamins and then transport them, along with their mineral co-factors, to where they need to be. They act somewhat like a "plug" for our porous Intestines. Without the good bacteria doing their thing, LEAKY GUT SYNDROME is sure to follow. And once you have a leaky gut, all bets are off as far as the array of health problems you are sure to develop.
Much of this has to do with the fact that of the various jobs performed by the Gut, the most important has to do with Immune System function. This is because 80% of your entire Immune System is housed in your digestive tract (HERE). Stop and contemplate that last sentence for a moment. Could this simple fact be important to our overall health? Does it mean that your intestines do more than simply digesting food and purging waste products? Absolutely! In fact, Time Magazine stated last August that,
"Much of the time, our gut bugs are indeed more helpmates than invaders. They’re essential to the digestive process and they can boost the immune system by regulating the population of certain immune cells and preventing autoimmunity. But like all long-term house guests, the bugs can also make a mess. They’ve been linked to a range of nasty conditions, including obesity, arthritis, and high cholesterol. Now, two newer areas of research are pushing the field even further, looking at the possible gut bug link to a pair of very different conditions: autism and irritable bowel disease..... Up to 85 percent of children with autism also suffer from some kind of gastrointestinal distress such as chronic constipation or inflammatory bowel disease."
INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASE AND GUT HEALTH
In response to a week-long series of articles on Autism run by the West Plains Quill back in 2005, I sent a letter to their editor (as well as to numerous area newspapers --- HERE). Although Wakefield's findings were tainted by lapses of judgement and some dubious financial Conflicts of Interest (not unlike like the rest of the medical community ---- HERE), I would contend that he was closer to the truth than many of the people in power would have us believe. One of the claims made by Wakefield was that the Guts of Autistic children contained measles virus --- not from wild measles, but from the genetically marked / genetically engineered strains used in today's Measles Vaccines. Could there be any validity to Wakefield's claim?
"Now a team from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina are examining 275 children with regressive autism and bowel disease - and of the 82 tested so far, 70 prove positive for the measles virus. Last night the team's leader, Dr Stephen Walker, said: 'Of the handful of results we have in so far, all are vaccine strain and none are wild measles." As reported in the May 28, 2006 issue of The Daily Mail; a British Newspaper.
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Despite what Big Parma is telling you via their various media outlets, there is more to the discredited Wakefield's premise than Big Medicine would have you believe. A 2005 study from the Netherlands called Differences Between the Gut Microflora of Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders and that of Healthy Children was published in the October edition of the Journal of Medical Microbiology. What did the authors determine? The first part of the quote below comes from the study's Abstract. The second part comes from the study's Conclusion.
"Children with autistic spectrum disorders (ASDs) tend to suffer from severe gastrointestinal problems. Such symptoms may be due to a disruption of the indigenous gut flora promoting the overgrowth of potentially pathogenic micro-organisms....... There is now evidence that the gut microflora plays a role in autism. Modulation of the gut microflora by reducing the numbers of certain clostridia [a pathogenic bacteria] in ASD patients, while stimulating more beneficial gut bacteria [PROBIOTICS / FECAL TRANSPLANTS], may help alleviate some of the related symptoms."
DR. NATASHA CAMPBELL-McBRIDE GETS INVOLVED
Like many other doctors who have researched this hot-button topic, she has come to the conclusion that autistic children seem to have a common denominator ---- mothers with poor gut flora (the ratio of good bacteria to bad bacteria living in the gut has gone South). We already know that 80% of the Immune System is made up of bacteria living in the Gut (HERE). But the thing that is becoming increasingly clear is that for better or worse, this "flora" is passed on to the baby at birth. There are several ways that this is accomplished, including mom's skin, mom's milk, and mom's birth canal (proper vaginal flora is critical in the birthing process --- women who take Antibiotics have tangible proof of the short term consequences). I have even seen information touting the fact that the father gets to contribute to the baby's flora via sexual relations during pregnancy.
Dr. Campbell-McBride believes that one of the biggest problems in this whole issue (one that most doctors refuse to acknowledge) is that the incredible numbers and potencies of today's vaccinations given to infants and children are simply too much for an under-developed or compromised Immune System to take. Immature or weakened Immune Systems can and do, to varying degrees, become overwhelmed by the assault. The end product is always neurological damage in some form or fashion. Some of this neurological damage is what we today refer to as "Autism". But Vaccines are not the only problem here. The thing she says puts babies at the greatest risk is mom taking Antibiotics while pregnant. Combine these two items and you have the potential for a neurological disaster. Dr McBride goes as far to say that.....
"If your child has abnormal gut flora, we can assume that your child has compromised immunity, and these children must not be vaccinated with the standard vaccination protocol because they simply get damaged by it. They should not be vaccinated."
Believe me when I tell you that after the Wakefield fiasco, this is a sensitive topic. Most doctors would not want to touch this issue with a ten foot pole. If you think about it, researching this subject is a potential career breaker. (Think not? Just ask DR. HUGH FUDENBERG about picking the wrong topic to devote your life to studying.) What did the Pediatrics study have to say?
Endoscopic analyses of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Gastrointestinal symptoms have revealed the presence of a subtle, diffuse inflammation of the intestinal tract. Characterizing the nature of this inflammation remains an area in need of further investigation to fully understand and to provide further evidence of its relationship to Gastrointestinal symptoms in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
First, you need to understand that this study has to do with DYSBIOSIS ----- a condition characterized as an overgrowth of bad critters in the gut (yeasts, fungus, bad bacteria, etc). These bad organisms can take over and literally crowd the normal flora out of the Gut. Secondly, understand that in some capacity, Dysbiosis is related to poor carbohydrate digestion. This is especially intriguing in light of Dr. McBride's GAPS Diet and the fact that almost 100% of the children on the Autism Spectrum are GLUTEN SENSITIVE and addicted to carbs / sugars (more on this in a moment). Without going into great detail, let me show you some quips that were cherry-picked from the study's Abstract.
Recent reports suggest certain behaviors among children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) may indicate underlying gastro-intestinal (GI) problems, and that the presence of these behaviors may help alert primary care providers to the need to evaluate a child with ASD for GI problems. Unusual sleeping or eating habits and oppositional behavior were significantly associated with GI problems. These behaviors, however, were frequent in both children with and without GI problems, suggesting they may have limited utility in a screening capacity for GI problems.
Number two; according to the study, it seems that significant numbers of children have poor gut health. Should we be surprised? Once you understand how poor gut health causes so many other health problems (HERE); and that sugar / starch consumption is what feeds Dysbiosis, this is actually what we would expect to see in our society. If you stop and think about this for a moment; the fact that both groups had such serious health / behavioral issues to begin with, raises another interesting question. It seems that even though study after study shows evidence of bowel dysfunction in Autistic children (not to mention non-Autistic children), these are rarely accompanied by statistically significant numbers of positive endoscopic findings.
"One impression I had, though, is that there’s a dearth in the scientific findings of intestinal clinical signs, such as from endoscopy, in autistic people, which has made it rather difficult to establish any definitive link.
Some clinical findings point to esophageal dysfunction: one study found more reflux in autistic children, another identified a rare esophageal disorder associated with three cases of autism, and yet another found esophageal dysfunction in girls and women with Rett syndrome, a genetic form of autism. Another option for explaining at least some GI problems in autism is a non-infectious, non-inflammatory cause linked to misfires of the enteric nervous system, the ‘little brain’ that resides in your abdomen as a multiplex of nerves that indeed sometimes seem to have a mind of their own.
But confirmatory endoscopic evidence for the lower gut is scant, as far as I knew." Emily Willingham writing in the November 2012 issue of Forbes, in an article called, Specter Of Wakefield Retractions Haunts Evidence Of Gut Inflammation In Autism.
It has to do with something that I have been writing about for over two decades. I am not picking on Mrs. Willingham here, but it appears that she, along with the biggest portion of our Scientific / Medical Community, do not understand the difference between Gross Pathology and Functional Disorders. The plain truth of the matter is that lots of people have all sorts of health problems, yet have little or nothing to show for them as far as tangible evidence is concerned, linking their specific symptoms to a specific positive medical test. I can give you numerous examples of what I mean by this. Let me show you a few that I deal with every single day in my practice.
- GLUTEN SENSITIVITY -vs- FULL BLOWN CELIAC DISEASE: About one in 100 Americans has Celiac Disease. But depending on whose research you believe, as many as 1 in 3 (maybe even 1 in 2) is at least to some degree, Gluten Sensitive. Why is this only now starting to come to the forefront of progressive-minded medical doctors? It's simple. Up until recently, there was not a valid test for Gluten Sensitivity (now there is CYREX). It used to be that if you did not have a positive Intestinal Biopsy (the test for Celiac Disease), doctors believed that wheat protein (Gluten) had nothing to do with your condition. The truth is that people who are "only" Gluten Sensitive, can have worse symptoms than people who actually are full-blown Celiac.
- IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME -vs- CROHN'S DISEASE, REGIONAL ILLIITIS, ETC: This is for you Emily. How many people have serious bowl issues, yet their upper GI, lower GI, and endoscopic examinations are essentially clear? Almost all of them. We need to stop and ask ourselves why. Why, for one, are there are nearly 10,000 medical studies pertaining to INCREASED INTESTINAL PERMEABILITY, yet you never hear treating physicians talking about this nearly "UNIVERSAL" health problem?
- PEOPLE ARE OFTEN TOLD THAT THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THEM SINCE THEIR PROBLEM DOES NOT SHOW UP ON AN X-RAY, CT, MRI, BLOOD WORK, ETC: How often does this happen? Let me just say that it is common. Dog common. Ridiculously common. Embarrassingly common. Especially with problems related to things like FASCIAL ADHESIONS or PIRIFORMIS SYNDROME or a host of others. In fact, lack of positive findings is the very hallmark of FIBROMYALGIA. I would venture to guess that many, if not most of the CHRONIC PAIN SYNDROMES that I deal with on a daily basis would fit into this category as well. There is a recent book on this idea by a man whom many would refer to as one of the world's most brilliant physicians; Datis Kharrazian. His book is called "WHY DO I STILL HAVE THYROID SYMPTOMS EVEN THOUGH MY BLOOD TESTS ARE NORMAL?".
- HEADACHES: Look no farther than headaches as another great example of this "PATHOLOGY -VS- FUNCTION" debate. People with chronic headaches will be given X-rays, brain scans / CT's / MRI's / blood work, and who-knows-what-else as far as diagnostic testing is concerned. I am not necessarily against doing this at some point in their care, but how often is an "organic pathology" such as a brain tumor or aneurysm going to be the culprit? Oh; it happens all right. But compared to the number of people who suffer from unrelenting HEADACHES, gross pathological findings as the cause of these headaches are exceedingly rare.
- SID CROSBY & DR. CARRICK'S FUNCTIONAL NEUROLOGY: Nowhere is this issue of "Function-vs- Pathology" more clearly revealed than in the brain. All too often, subtle neurological dysfunctions cause tremendous amounts of pain and health-related problems --- yet leave nothing as far as everyday medical tests are concerned. One of the best examples of this phenomenon was found in story that came out of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED last year. For more information on this subject, you can also look HERE.
The truth of the matter is that if you take a moment to look at the list of CHRONIC PAIN SYNDROMES that I deal with in my clinic on a day-in-day-out basis, few of these problems have tests that definitively show what is going on to cause a patient's pain / dysfunction. Unfortunately, a side effect of our technological advances is that we have become so enamored with the science of doctoring, that the art of doctoring is often times left on the side of the road --- to make room for more diagnostic tests and paperwork.
Rest assured; this creates lots of angry, frustrated, and depressed patients. They know they have something darn drastically wrong with them, but 'testing' does not reveal what it is. And without gross pathological findings, the average doctor will tell you that there is nothing really wrong with you. All too often, in their eyes you are a scam artist --- a drug seeker --- or a fraud, looking to get on SSI Disability.
You want real-life proof? Just look HERE. To better understand what I am talking about. HERE is a whole series of posts I have written on the MYTH OF EVIDENCE-BASED MEDICINE. Understanding the difference between dysfunction and pathology is critical as far as understanding the paradox of modern medicine. On one hand, our technological advances bring so much promise. On the other hand; when when that promise does not pan out the way it was supposed to, improved health becomes a pipe dream. The millions of you who have lived or are living this right now, know what I am talking about.
MORE AUTISM / GUT HEALTH INFORMATION
In our study, we have demonstrated a marked increase in neuroglial responses, characterized by activation of microglia and astroglia, in the brains of autistic patients. These increased neuroglial responses are likely part of neuroinflammatory reactions associated with the Central Nervous System's (CNS) innate immune system. In innate immune reactions of the CNS, microglial activation is the main cellular response to CNS dysfunction.
"Certainly, a lot of these children had peculiar cravings for high-carbohydrate foods that caused their behaviours"
"One very striking piece of evidence many of us have noticed is that when autistic children go in for certain diagnostic tests and are told not to eat or drink anything ahead of time, parents often report their child’s symptoms improve—until they start eating again after the procedure. If symptoms can improve in such a short time frame simply by avoiding exposure to foods, then we’re looking at some kind of chemically driven ‘software’—perhaps immune system signals—that can change fast."
By and large, the average medical doctor is tackling this issue of Clostridium overgrowth as well as other forms of Dysbiosis with their old standby. Since the dysbiotic overgrowth is so often a bacteria, they usually start by prescribing ANTIBIOTICS ---- the very thing that caused the infection in the first place. Because this has not worked out so well, they are now looking in a different direction to solve this problem. They are looking into something else believed by many to be heavily involved in creating this whole mess. They are looking to create new vaccines.
Professors at Guelph University in Canada have teamed up with Stellar Biotechnologies of California to create yet another vaccination ---- this one against Clostridium. There are many different bacteria in the Clostridium family. There is Clostridum Difficele, which we have already mentioned. There is Clostridium Botulinum, which causes Botulism. And the one most-associated with Autism right now is called Clostridim Bolteae. Chemistry professor, Dr. Mario Monteiro, had this to say about their work.
"Based on our experience with our polysaccharide C. diff. vaccine, we are confident that we can apply the same approach to create a vaccine to control diarrhea caused by C. bolteae and perhaps control autism-related symptoms."
"Well, my first paper was published in 1951. It was based on work I did as a medical student in the late ‘40s and we finally had enough data to publish it in ’51. And at that point, my wife and I and another medical student all agreed to take some antibiotics to see what the impact would be on the bowel flora, and so we documented changes, even with the crude techniques available at that time. Now, I’ve been at it ever since then. Our first anaerobe entered our stock collection in 1957, but we were working with them for several years before that..........
Antibiotics have an impact on the bowel flora. Virtually all of them do. Some, when given systemically, do not enter the bowel, so they would not, but most antibiotics, even given systemically, are secreted into the bowel to some extent. So, virtually all the time that we use antibiotics, one of the lesser-known problems with antibiotic use is that they do impact the bowel flora. The bowel flora, we’re finding out more and more in recent years, does a number of amazing things for the body. Our innate immunity is developed by virtue to exposure from bacteria living in the gut. And we know now that at least some forms of obesity are related to changes in the bacterial flora from the norm. We don’t know that antibiotics are involved in that particular problem, but they certainly seem to be in autism and clearly are in Clostridium difficile-associated colitis...........
We think that bacteria are very important in autism, as I mentioned, and knowing what bacteria do in other circumstances, it’s easy to visualize spread of these bacteria to siblings of autistic children. And we do see now more multiple cases in families than we did before and an increased frequency of autism, probably because of spread of these organisms by way of the environment and even direct transfer from one person to another"
STILL MORE ON THE LINK BETWEEN GUT HEALTH AND AUTISM
"I think it [Autism] is pretty common. I think it may be more common than not. Certainly, in my experience, it's been more common than not. People come to me because they know that I'm interested, but I think that probably the majority of people have some part of it."
"I think that there are a number of different levels for hostility. One of them is, medical doctors are trained to believe that drugs are more efficacious than remedies like diet. There's a strong prejudice against diet and nutritional interventions. Another thing is that the parents are not doing this under the control or guidance of their medical professionals. And that is a problem...... If you think of the brain as being affected by the whole body, then when you affect the body, you can affect the brain. And that's the rationale of what the parents are doing.... The brain and the immune system and the gut are intimately related. The cells in those systems have common features. They work together seamlessly, and when you disregulate one, you disregulate all the others. And systems biology is a way of looking at how we work as an integrated whole. I think that's 21st-century biology. To be honest with you, I think that parents have beat medicine to Systems Biology."
TOP TEN WAYS TO RESTORE THE
IMMUNE SYSTEM / GUT / BRAIN / AXIS
IN PEOPLE WITH AUTISM
- DO YOUR RESEARCH, MAKE A WRITTEN PLAN, AND FOLLOW YOUR PLAN: Do not think that you can rely solely on my material in doing this. A written plan will help you figure out what needs to be done and help keep you on track as far as doing it is concerned. I have presented you nothing more than a generalized outline. There is a wealth of information on this topic online. If you will dedicate to spending some regular time on this issue, it will not be long before you are more knowledgeable about it than your doctor --- much more knowledgeable.
- SERIOUSLY STUDY THE VACCINE ISSUE: Listen people. There is simply too much evidence out there to ignore this issue any longer (just look at the previous link). I do not really care what your doctor tells you. When it comes to this matter, they are a cog in an agenda-driven wheel ---- and the agenda is putting money in Big Pharma's pockets. Do your own research. Be aware that even though the majority of the doctors quoted for this post are not against government-mandated Vaccination Policies, when questioned, they would almost universally admit that we are learning things about the Immune System that were totally unknown just a few short years ago. This means that VACCINATIONS might pose a bigger threat than we ever dreamed possible --- particularly in certain genetic populations. My goal is not to convince you that Vaccines are universally bad. My goal is to get you to actually do some research into the matter yourself. Educated decisions are generally good decisions.
- DO NOT TAKE ANTIBIOTICS OR EAT FOOD THAT WAS TREATED WITH ANTIBIOTICS: If you understand half of what you just read, the thought of taking ANTIBIOTICS should scare the living daylights out of you. And rightly so. Despite the fact that many think I am a half-crazed lunatic, I have been warning people for decades that Antibiotics are one of the single biggest destroyers of health in America. Hopefully after reading this post, you begin to understand why.
- CUT OUT THE GRAINS (GLUTEN), THE DAIRY, AND THE GLUTEN CROSS-REACTORS FROM YOUR DIET: This is not exactly easy. But Dr. McBride's GAPS Diet gives you a blueprint to follow. Oh; and do not go on a Gluten Free ELIMINATION DIET without first understanding what GLUTEN CROSS-REACTORS are.
- EAT A CLEAN, WHOLE FOOD BASED DIET: This is the starting point for just about any health problem that you try to tackle without drugs or surgery. HERE is some good general information on this topic. I almost always recommend PALEO.
- THERE ARE SPECIFIC NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS THAT HELP WITH AUTISM: Some of the most common include things like PHARMACEUTICAL GRADE FISH OIL, Glutathione, and Probiotics (more on this one in a moment). But be aware, Autism sometimes requires extremely specialized supplements that can only be determined via metabolic testing. Also understand that supplements cannot replace a healthy diet of clean, organic, meats and vegetables.
- UNDERSTAND THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN GUT HEALTH, LEAKY GUT SYNDROME, DYSBIOSIS, AND THE ENDOCRINE SYSTEM: Although I have covered all four of these to some degree in this post, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE. If you understand the information in these links, you can successfully deal with virtually any health problem under the sun.
- TAKE HSO PROBIOTICS: Antibiotics kill bacteria. PROBIOTICS restore the good bacteria. Just understand that all Probiotics are not alike. You need a broad-spectrum HSO product that contains the same bacteria found in healthy organic soil. Along these same lines, I would suggest that you eat fermented foods. The more good bacteria you can get into your Gut, the better off you are as far as your health is concerned.
- HELP STRENGTHEN THE BRAIN AND NERVE SYSTEM: CHIROPRACTIC ADJUSTMENTS can help with this, as can BRAIN-BASED THERAPY. I would also suggest a version of the Interactive Metronome for your home computer as well. Again; the internet is a wealth of information on restoring brain function. Use it.
- BE AWARE THAT IT IS POSSIBLE TO BE TOO CLEAN: Sounds crazy, but it's true. Many of us are just too darn clean. In the same way that Antibiotics create Antibiotic-resistance, so dos constant use of things like too many showers, Antibacterial soap, Antimicrobial hand sanitizers, and other similar products. I wrote on this topic a couple of years ago (HERE). Let your kids get out and get dirty --- no, I mean really dirty. Better yet, have them help you in the garden.
- CHEMICAL EXPOSURE CAN KILL THE GOOD BACTERIA LIVING IN YOUR GUT: This could be in the form of CHLORINE / FLUORIDE from the water you use, pollution in the air, or toxins in the foods you eat. Chemicals are rarely a good thing as far as health is concerned.
- GET TESTED / SEE A SPECIALIST IN THE FIELD: Whoa, whoa, whoa. I did not tell you to go see the first medical doctor in the phone book. You'll likely get more of the same old status quo that you have been getting for who knows how long. You need to find someone (preferably a chiropractor with training in Functional Neurology) who understands Functional Medicine. Although I know several of these sorts of people, I have attended a couple of conferences put on by a medical doctor in the St. Louis area who specializes in treating children with vaccine damage and ASD (Dr. Amy Davis-Wright of Crossing Back to Health).
25 SCIENTIFIC STUDIES ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN GUT FLORA, IMMUNE SYSTEM DYSFUNCTION, & AUTISM
But the fact remains that he published a tremendous number of peer-reviewed papers on inflammatory bowel disease as well as the Brain / Gut link in children with ASD and other developmental disorders. It is impossible to believe that he was wrong (or lying) about all his findings. At the very least, other people's research gives us warrant to study this topic in much greater depth. Here are some of the other studies on this subject from the peer-reviewed scientific literature. I did not include the studies that I dealt with in the body of this post. Although there has been a great deal of study on this topic lately, the newest of these studies are at least four years old.
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