Autism, An Extreme Challenge to Integrative Medicine. Part 2: Medical Management

Autism, An Extreme Challenge
to Integrative Medicine
Part 2: Medical Management

This section is compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
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FROM: Alternative Medicine Review 2002 (Dec);   7 (6):   472499 ~ FULL TEXT

Kidd PM

Parris Kidd, PhD (Cell Biology, University of California at Berkeley)
Contributing Editor, Alternative Medicine Review;
Health educator and biomedical consultant to the supplement industry.
847 Elm Street,
El Cerrito, CA 94530

Autism and allied autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) present myriad behavioral, clinical, and biochemical abnormalities. Parental participation, advanced testing protocols, and eclectic treatment strategies have driven progress toward cure. Behavioral modification and structured education are beneficial but insufficient. Dietary restrictions, including removal of milk and other casein dairy products, wheat and other gluten sources, sugar, chocolate, preservatives, and food coloring are beneficial and prerequisite to benefit from other interventions. Individualized IgG or IgE testing can identify other troublesome foods but not non-immune mediated food sensitivities. Gastrointestinal improvement rests on controlling Candida and other parasites, and using probiotic bacteria and nutrients to correct dysbiosis and decrease gut permeability. Detoxification of mercury and other heavy metals by DMSA/DMPS chelation can have marked benefit. Documented sulfoxidation-sulfation inadequacies call for sulfur-sulfhydryl repletion and other liver p450 support. Many nutrient supplements are beneficial and well tolerated, including dimethylglycine (DMG) and a combination of pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and magnesium, both of which benefit roughly half of ASD cases. Vitamins A, B3, C, and folic acid; the minerals calcium and zinc; cod liver oil; and digestive enzymes, all offer benefit. Secretin, a triggering factor for digestion, is presently under investigation. Immune therapies (pentoxifyllin, intravenous immunoglobulin, transfer factor, and colostrum) benefit selected cases. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids offer great promise. Current pharmaceuticals fail to benefit the primary symptoms and can have marked adverse effects. Individualized, in-depth clinical and laboratory assessments and integrative parent-physician-scientist cooperation are the keys to successful ASD management.


The first part of this two-part series documented myriad abnormalities typical of autism and autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). [1] Despite their bewildering array, most of these abnormalities are amenable to medical intervention. [2] In part II of the series the medical management of autism is reviewed.

Conventional medicine has largely failed autistic individuals and their families. Autism went through a long period during which institutions hesitated and parents struggled to find any means to help their children. Some of these parents were scientists and physicians. They carefully observed their children and built cooperative networks to share experiences. They implemented various interventions such as diet, vitamins, behavioral modification, and specialized education. As a result, autism has emerged as a model of successful integrative medicine.

Integrative autism management was first driven by the efforts of Rimland [3] and the Autism Research Institute, [4] then by its offshoot DAN! (Defeat Autism Now!), [5] a collaborative network founded in 1995 by Rimland and 29 other scientists, parents, and physicians many additionally motivated by being parents of autistic individuals. DAN! has generated an extensive collection of conference reports, practitioner referral services, assessment tools, and intervention protocols with the objective of transforming the autistic child into a productive adult. [5] DAN! supports the current research consensus that autism is primarily organic in origin, while understanding that many of its features respond to psychological interventions. [6] Brevity dictates that behavioral interventions and special education not be reviewed herein, except to state their utility for the autistic child is well established. [7] In part I of this review, [1] it was documented that every ASD child has some combination of clinical and laboratory abnormalities (Table 1). Clinical improvement is difficult to achieve without individualized assessment of these abnormalities. [1, 2, 6]

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