Supplements are Critical for the Treatment and Healing of Autism
It can be difficult to know where to begin with a treatment plan for autism. It is important to consider your child’s specific needs. Sometime it is quite obvious, as it was in our case, what your child’s most urgent needs are. Our son was terribly constipated and had very little speech, so everything we did at first focused on those two main concerns. His treatment plan at first was the GAPS diet, sulphur homeopathic remedy and a few supplements to help him cognitively as well as to promote bowel movements. Your starting point might look a little different if your concerns are more focused on detoxification or social interaction let’s say and there are supplements that will help with these things.
If you are like me, your first question when you found out your child was diagnosed with autism, was probably why did this happen? When you are given any diagnosis from a medical professional, you probably want to know why, or how did this happen? Even though it is unlikely you will be given any satisfactory answer to that question. This is especially true with an autism diagnosis. Some will simply tell you your child was born that way and there is nothing you can do. You will probably be offered Applied Behavioral Therapy or ABA as your course of treatment. This is essentially all we were offered. Well, I just didn’t buy it. Researching genetics let me to discover that only about 10% of autism cases can be linked to genetics strictly. There might be a genetic effect going on here, but it’s most likely to be epigenetic. And there is a huge difference between the two. Epigenetic’s aren’t pre-determined they are affected by environmental influences. (source) This is also the only possible explanation for the explosion in autism rates over the past 20 years where rates have risen from 1 in 500 to now 1 in 45. What is it in our environment that is effecting epigenetics? Well, there are too many to name here, but environmental toxins such as those found in much of our food and in personal care products are worth consideration. The reason this is so important to my discussion on supplements is because if your child’s autism is caused by environmental factors, then you have power! These are factors that you can control and eliminate and supplements can help your child body undo the effects of these epigenetic influencers.
I also think it is wonderful if you can get a doctor or naturopath to help you with supplementation and the overall treatment of your child. Lab testing can be a helpful method for determining what your child needs. If you can get them tested for nutrient deficiencies you will have a clearer picture of what supplements they need. You can also get stool sample analysis done to help you determine if there are pathogens in the bowels that you might need to eliminate with diet and supplements as well. Read more about gut imbalances and treating with the GAPS diet in my article on how I healed autism with food. There is room for error and sometimes it’s very hard to tell if you have made a mistake. So don’t take this lightly! I’m not an expert on this, but I have used supplements all my life, and I read everything I can get on each supplement before we take anything. Their is such a thing as too much of a good thing so be smart with supplements!
A few things I have learned:
- Pay attention to how you feel when taking supplements! Do you feel better/worse? Is something not quite right? Learn to listen to your body. Just because it’s a supplement that is supposed to be good for you, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a bad reaction to it!
- If you are supplementing a child, pay attention to how they react. Do they seem to have worsening symptoms or are they improving? Are they irritable? Do they complain of headaches or tummy aches? These could all be signs that something is off with supplementation.
- Look in the toilet! Sometimes your poop or your kids poop can tell you a lot about how things are working inside! If you see some strange colors in there you might want to eliminate a supplement for a few days and see if it changes or improves.
- Even when you think something is working for a while, it still might stop working one day. You have to keep paying attention!
Now another important note about supplementing your body for nutrients, amino acids etc…if your body is functioning optimally already, and you eat a variety of nutritious foods, your body will produce the nutrients it needs on its own. It is not totally necessary to supplement in call cases. And getting nutrients from food is the best way to obtain them! The body assimilates them better. Now unfortunately most of us do not eat an adequate diet to get the nutrients we need just from that. The food is simply not as nutrient dense as it once was because of changes in farming methods and the depletion of nutrients in our soil. So this alone puts us all at a disadvantage. But for many things, like amino acids, if your bodies detoxification pathways are working well, you might not need any supplementation in this area. Now you might not know whether it is or not, and if you want to supplement nutrients or amino acids then there are some wonderful ways to do this that don’t require just popping lots of pills everyday! I’ll go into that a little later. But I wanted to make this point, this rigorous list of supplements we use for our son is not something everyone would necessarily need to take. We are addressing some very specific issues here and I just want to emphasize that as this list is certainly not a “one size fits all” type of list. It’s merely information so that you have a starting point!
Here is a list of the supplements we use:
- Methyl B-12 – this is important to support the detoxification pathways in the body. Kids like my son that are dealing with speech delays, sensory issues, social issues, ADHD and autism, are dealing with inflammation on a cellular level. Studies have shown this is the case 100% of the time! So inflammation is what we are really addressing here. Methylcobalamin B12 has been shown to help the body reduce this inflammation in the brain and the rest of the body by assisting the body’s natural detox pathways to do what they are meant to do naturally. Click here for an excellent study supporting this information. I use this brand.
- Cod Liver Oil – this I can say as a blanket statement quite confidently, we all need this! You should be taking this! This is a much better way to get your body the omega 3’s it needs for brain development than what you get from basic fish oil supplements. It also gives you vitamins A and D which are highly necessary for optimal health. We make sure to give CLO with high quality pasture butter. There are some brands that have combined the butter with the CLO also. Read about why to take CLO and why to add butter here! I prefer Carlson or Blue Ice Fermented CLO.
- Probiotics – again something we all do really need. If you take nothing else, this is what I would put at the very top of the list. Again due to the lack of variety in our diets our gut is not populated with a sufficient amount of good bacteria. This is why you are hearing about “leaky gut” so much lately. We give the Klaire Labs Infant Formula which is a powder that you can just add to milk or something like that. I wanted to update this and say that it is important to not stay on the same probiotic long term or chronically. When you do this, you create a monoculture of bacteria in your gut that is not optimal. We have actually stopped using a probiotic now and we only use Restore instead. I think when first starting out a probiotic can be helpful, but for us switching to using Restore has brought about the best outcomes for our son. I write more about Restore a little farther down!
- Digestive Enzymes – Some people might find these helpful if you have digestive trouble such as bloating, constipation or even heart burn. It is estimated that more than 50% of the US population suffers from low stomach acid which is one of the main factors that cause the aforementioned symptoms. Pre-biotics are an excellent way to support stomach and gut health. Pre-biotics will help your stomach begin to break down and digest food when stomach acid is lacking. Our son had severe constipation issues and digestive enzymes definitely helps him stay regular. You might also like a comprehensive stomach support supplement if you suffer from more than just constipation. This blend of enzymes supports overall stomach health and includes a beneficial pancreatin blend of amylase, protease and lipase among other things. If you find yourself reaching for tums regularly, I highly recommend giving this blend a shot and see if it doesn’t eliminate your heart burn!
- Restore – to take probiotics a step further we recently added in this supplement. It takes things a step further and starts a process in the intestines where they will develop a full range of bacteria that should live in your gut, but probably doesn’t. This uses million year old soil if you can imagine, because this soil contains exactly what we need to balance our gut bacteria back to an optimal level of 20,000 to 30,000 different species of bacteria that should be in there rather than just the 6-24 different species you can gain from probiotics alone! It’s really a dramatic difference and a ground breaking product. You can find out more about this one here: www.restore4life.com
- Protandim – This supplement is uses Milk Thistle Extract, Turmeric, Green Tea Extract, Bacopa and Ashwaganda, synergistically to help your body get rid of free radicals and upcycle DNA through better methylation, which also boosts the detox pathways and reduces inflammation. It has also been found to increase natural glutathione production as much as 30%. You can certainly take these supplements individually and actually we do use Turmeric/Curcumin on top of this, but it is easier to get a child to take one tablet each day rather than 5 different ones! Therefor, I order this through a friend, it is sold by LifeVantage which is an MLM and this is the link to her website: LifeVantage
- Turmeric/Curcumin – This is such a powerful supplement for inflammation and reducing oxidative stress that we give it on top of Protandim.
- NDF Calm – This is an herbal blend made by Bioray Kids and it’s made to support detoxification of toxins through the liver and to improve adrenal function. It is an herbal blend in liquid drops. Anything we can do to support detoxification, we do!
- NAC (N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine) – *Important note here, you don’t need this everyday. This is a take once or twice a week type supplement, or when you need it. If your body gets too much of this it can set off other problems so be aware of that when it comes to this supplement!** This supplement supports the methylation cycle and production of glutathione. When the methylation cycle is not functioning properly, glutathione levels tend to be low. Several other key amino acids also can become off from problems in the methylation cycle, but I’m going to focus on glutathione. NAC supports the natural production of glutathione. Your body needs glutathione to support, you guessed it, detoxification of toxins, fighting free radicals, reducing oxidative stress, all that good stuff that keeps us healthy. NAC also supports healthy lung function and I have found it has eased my asthma symptoms greatly. It is also excellent support for someone suffering from bronchitis or even a mild cough. I use this brand.
- Glutathione – Then occasionally, we give glutathione directly. The body can use it, but not as efficiently as if it made it on its own, but it can help to boost those levels directly. Just pay close attention when using this one. We gave too much of this and saw some negative behaviors and had to back off. Now we give it only 2-4 times per month! I use this brand.
- GABA – we use this to reduce stress and anxiety mainly. Due to other stressors on our boys body, he suffers with stress, which is a terrible thing to see in a 3 year old! But GABA is a wonderful calming effect and can be terrific in treating mild anxiety. I use this brand.
- Magnesium – most of us have a magnesium deficiency so we just spray a little on our feet to help boost these levels. I use this spray.
That is our lengthy list of supplements we use to help reduce our son’s symptoms. We are reading more and finding out more all the time so this list adapts with his needs as we go along. It is astounding to use the difference supplements have made in healing our son’s autism symptoms. Some supplements or other things that are used in treatments for autism that we haven’t tried yet are: sulphorophane, GCMAF, creatine, hyperbaric chambers, chelation therapy and I’m sure there are even more! Right now the above list along with the GAPS diet is what is working for us! If you have found any supplements that are working well for your child I would love to hear about them. I would also love to your success stories of treating your kids with supplements as well! Please share your stories in the comments below!
Here’s to getting ourselves and our kids healthy together!