Wednesday, February 9, 2011

CAM and Autism (a short informative paper I wrote)

Many parents currently use complementary and alternative medicine in treating their child’s autistic symptoms. Some treatments noted as relieving autistic symptoms and even curing. After gathering information, the most popular and effective treatments will be presented. The parental pursuit to cure their child’s autism leads to many other parents following in their steps with effective results. However, autism is a spectrum disorder. Therefore, some children will have more dramatic results than others, or one treatment may work better for one child than another. However, these are the most popular and effective treatments, just a few of many.

Autism is a steadily growing neurobehavioral disorder. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated average of “1 in 110 children in the U.S. have ASD.“ This was in 2009, it is the beginning of 2011, and we are now at 1 in 91. More children suffer autism than diabetes, cancer, and aids combined.  There is no cure for autism. However, many parents notice the positive healing effects that complementary and alternative medicine relieves in autistic symptoms. Evidently, a 2009 survey estimates “52-95% of children with autism are being treated with CAM therapies directed by parents or caregivers." Therefore, logical reasoning questions parents to investigate what CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) can do to alleviate autistic symptoms. By review of the following information, autistic symptoms transpire significantly, or diminished through complementary and alternative medicine.

To understand autism, one can compare it against an unsolved puzzle. Unknown definite causes remain, unexplained autistic symptoms, and many reasons why continue unresolved. Some argue genetics, some argue vaccinations, some will say environmental factors such as polluted air, polluted water, or food toxins such as fish containing mercury, produce including pesticides, or plastics consisting BPA among food packaging.  Autism, defined as a spectrum disorder, not one child holds the same symptoms incorporating the same mild or severe symptoms. How does one explain autism? According to Dr. Nicolson, “Autism spectrum disorders (ASD), such as autism, Asperger’s syndrome, etc., are neurobehavioral diseases of primarily the young where patients generally suffer from an inability to communicate properly, form relationships with others and respond appropriately to their environment.”

This spectrum disorder means that “not all share the same signs and symptoms but tend to share certain social, communication, motor and sensory problems that affect their behavior in predictable ways.” These patients frequently show repetitive movements, “develop troublesome fixations with specific objects, and they are often painfully sensitive to certain sounds, tastes, and smells.” Some children may possibly onset severe autistic symptoms. Then later progressively recover diagnosed as mildly autistic. Some autistic children subsequently diagnosed as completely recovered.  Recovered autistic children inspire other parents to fight diligently every day, giving their best efforts to cease autistic symptoms. Thus, such recovery gives comfort and hope promising their child’s future recovery.  Currently, many parents praise the healing that complementary and alternative medicine provides autistic children, and can possibly cure their child’s autism.

Accordingly, these parents need to know what complementary and alternative medicine is all about. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine defines complementary and alternative medicine as “a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered to be part of conventional medicine.” Therefore, instead of just medical drugs, it may combine the use of medical drugs and supplements, or just the use of supplements alone.  It could also be the use of conventional drugs for what is unconventional to most. Likewise, it may include a change of diet by omitting foods.  Also, adding foods to what remains in the current diet may be the answer to reduce or alleviate all symptoms. It may require the use of different types of therapies associated with touch such as massage, chiropractic and others in those categories. What types of complementary and alternative medicines are used to treat autism? First, one must understand what causes autistic symptoms to further understand why certain practices are used for treatment.

Article after article, one will find after reading several, that high toxicity levels remains a major autism culprit. Mainly high levels of metals such as lead and mercury are found when children of ASD are tested.   For example, in a study of 10 children with autism, Asperger’s syndrome, and ADHD, all 10 children showed high levels of lead in their urine along with several deficiencies pertaining to nutritional and detoxification. All children that participated in the study exposed “serious deficits in educational, social, verbal, and motor abilities.” As for mercury, 1184 Texas school districts linked high levels of mercury to significantly higher autism rates, and rates of special education needs. Studies show that vaccines using thimerosal, a mercury containing preservative, is also linked to significantly higher autism rates. The cause is the body’s inability to breakdown and rid these toxins out of the body. The reasons for this may be lack of digestive enzymes or low immunity caused by certain cells inadequate in their defenses. What should a parent do to find out if their child has high levels of metals present in their child’s system?

A provocation test using DMSA (dimercapto succinic acid) is used for testing metal toxicity.  DMSA is FDA approved for treating lead poisoning as early as the age of one. DMSA is proven effective in expelling mercury and other toxic metals. The test can prove if metal exists in the body, and if so, DMSA can eliminate it. DMSA is administered orally, or rectally, but transdermal administration is suggested. Therefore, DMSA is one way parents can find out if their child exhibits high toxicity levels, and parents may use this method to rid toxins from their child’s body. However, some parents may choose to do detoxification therapy by use of supplements, one in particular, melatonin.
Doctors recommend that parents give children affected by autism melatonin. Autistic children may experience night terrors and sleeplessness. Melatonin successfully promotes sleep, but most importantly melatonin rids toxic metals. However, some children may experience the opposite effect because the melatonin rids the body of metals, but this opposite effect remains temporarily. Melatonin injections were given to rats that preceded metal injections. The results concluded that melatonin provides highly significant protection of further tissue damage that would have been caused by the toxic metals.  Whereas the control group lacking melatonin injections suffered tissue damage. Consequently melatonin provides several advantages. Melatonin promotes better sleep, rids toxic metals, and protects further tissue damage by the metals. Another method for eliminating harmful toxins is by soaking in a bath of Epsom salt.
An Epsom salt bath is beneficial in several ways. Epsom salt is rich in magnesium and sulfates. Magnesium is known for relaxation benefits, and to promote sleep. It also improves concentration. Magnesium is needed for proper muscle and nerve function. It is used in regulation of more than 325 enzymes, and lowers inflammation. Sulfates are known for its ability to flush toxins out of the body. It also increases nutrient absorption in the body.  Sulfates also assist in forming brain tissue. How does all this relieve autistic symptoms?
Testing sulfate levels in autistic children is suggested, lower sulfate levels increases susceptibility of environmental chemicals such as pollution, uncalled for drugs, and pesticides. An inability to bind amines and phenols with sulfate is found with those suffering from autism. Amines are necessary to begin various synthetic processes. According to the National Cancer Institute phenol is a “very poisonous chemical substance made from tar and also found in some plants and essential oils (scented liquid taken from plants).  Phenol is used to make plastics, nylon, epoxy, medicines, and to kill germs. Also called carbolic acid.” Undoubtedly, there is a great need to increase sulfate levels in autistic children.  Epsom salt baths have been shown to help those with a low sulfate level.
Many children with autism suffer from sleep disorders. Most children with autism have difficulty in concentration. Motor coordination and nerve function is noted in children with autism. Most, if not all children with autism suffers from digestive problems and disorders due to lack of enzymes, or dysfunctional enzymes. Autistic children have symptoms caused by inflammatory disorders. Most importantly, high toxicity levels are a main problem due to the inability to rid them out. Epsom salt can correct or reduce all these symptoms, and an Epsom salt bath is the best way to do this due to the body being able to best absorb it through the skin by soaking in a bath. Another way to detoxify and reduce autism symptoms is through viral detoxification. Why is this needed?
Bacteria, viruses and parasites have been linked to autism. The number of these bacteria, viruses and parasites is quite scarily astonishing. According to Dr. Nicolson in the British Journal of Medicine Practitioners, “In ASD patients more than 50 different bacterial, viral and fungal infections have been found, some apparently more important than others in causing symptoms.” Symptoms of ASD patients include symptoms and signs of “fatigue, headaches, gastrointestinal, vision problems, occasional intermittent low-grade fevers and other signs and symptoms that are generally excluded in the diagnosis of ASD but are consistent with the presence of infections.” The most popular way to treat this is through viral detoxification, methyl B12  along with Valtrex has shown to significantly reduce autistic symptoms, and some have claimed that their child has recovered from autism by this type of detoxification alone.
Methyl B12 and Valtrex are used together for viral detoxification. This method was introduced by Stan Kurtz, an autism parent, who is now a highly respected Autism Research Institute colleague. However, some parents have seen improvement in their children from antibiotic use alone. Some parents have chosen to use herbal alternatives instead, for fear of risks to anti-viral medications. These herbal alternatives include "echinacea, astragalus, garlic, plant tannins, uva ursi, and berberis” which are immune system boosters. Sometimes something as simple as a change in diet can help those ailing from diseases and disorders. Likewise, a gluten and casein free diet can do this for autism.
A gluten and casein free diet can be beneficial to some individuals with autism. The reason for this is because of “urinary peptide abnormalities, in part due to gluten and casein, have been detected in some individuals with autism.” A single-blind study with 20 autistic children was conducted in a one year span and the results were a “significant reduction of autistic behavior was registered for participants in the diet group, but not for those in the control group.” Just as diet can improve autism, there is healing through craniosacral therapy.
Craniosacral therapy was tested in a study at the University of Miami, which proved to be an effective form of therapy to autism patients.  Craniosacral therapy is a type of osteopathic treatment where “the bones of the skull are adjusted along with subtle adjustments of the spine, all the way to the sacrum.” Craniosacral therapy improves cerebrospinal fluid flow in the spinal canal, and has shown to be effective in “improved concentration, socialization, and less self-stimulation behavior after a course of craniosacral therapy.
There are several forms of complementary and alternative medicine. However these are just a few examples of many that are offered to autism patients. After reviewing several articles, DMSA, melatonin, Epsom salt baths, viral detoxification, a change in diet, and craniosacral therapy have been the most popular forms of therapy used to treat autism with the most significant healing. Therefore, it is true that complementary and alternative medicine can significantly reduce or even recover those with autism. After all, 52-95% of parents with children of autism cannot be wrong, right?
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