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Know Somebody with Autism in the Family? Here Are Eight Integrative Medicine Tactics that Can Make a Difference (Seriously)

23 Jul

On the Seabourn Wellness cruise, I heard some wonderfully rich, balanced, data-informed talks on the IM approach to autism from Dr. Sanford “Sandy” Newmark, an integrative pediatrician who’s also the head of the widely respected Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at UCSF in San Francisco.

He explained how there’s no one protocol that suits every kid with autism – each child is different and reacts to interventions differently. But the evidence is pretty clear that autism comes from some combination of genetics and environmental toxicity, and there are some things to try that can possibly make a substantial difference in symptoms and behaviors.

Finding what helps is a matter of methodical trial and error, mixing and matching different supplements and nutritional tactics with the more standard treatments, such as ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) and other interpersonal and behavioral interventions.

Sandy cautioned that parents shouldn’t experiment on their own – that the process is complicated, and needs to be overseen by an Integrative Medicine or Functional Medicine physician, who can supervise the changes and evaluate what works, then introduce the next new thing.

Again: nothing works for everyone, so it’s always trial and error; all the interventions listed below are safe; and it’s never too late to introduce them, although there is more to be gained if they’re introduced early.

So here are some of the things an IM pediatrician will likely try:

  • A gluten-free, casein-free diet, with a 2-3 month trial. Sandy says this makes a substantial difference in a third to a half of the kids he sees.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids will help some kids quite significantly, and provides mild improvement in most cases.
  • Large doses of Vitamin D.
  • Methylated B-12 (methylcobolamin) by way of subcutaneous injection every three days can show dramatic improvement in many children, but it has to be methylated and subcutaneous.
  • Folinic Acid – the metabolically active form – shows promise.
  • Probiotics also help some kids.
  • Broccoli sprout extract is a relative newcomer that is showing promise.
  • Oxytocin nasal spray is being found to improve behavior in some kids, and lately many docs are favoring Vasopressin.

So, there it is. Lots of good new discoveries and treatments. If you know somebody dealing with autism, you may want to pass this along, just to let them know that a lot is happening, and they may want to track down an IM doc and test some of these approaches.

And the next of these fabulous cruises is coming up in October and heading for the Greek Isles. How bad could that be? You can learn more here.

Take care and be well,

Belleruth

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award