Tag Archives: Epsom salt bath

Good news: Baths can be less exhausting than showers

Yes, autoimmune disease can be exhausting and it can be confusing for other people to understand because autoimmune disease may not have obvious symptoms. A person with an autoimmune disorder may suffer from severe pain or other symptoms throughout their body but not have lab tests that show obvious problems to a physician. Autoimmune antibodies are known for a few types of disorders and those can be screened for if the lab test is ordered but not all autoimmune antigens have been identified.

Magnesium deficiency may be an underlying issue though for many/most autoimmune disorders, so taking an Epsom salt bath can provide improved magnesium absorption through the skin and allow a person to sit down to wash their hair and shave their legs (if desired). No promises though, that a nap might not still be desired after the exertion of bathing while sitting, or before the exertion of blow-drying long hair.

Fibromyalgia and chronic pain problems may have autoimmune origins [3] and/or may have to do with our cell’s energy workhouses, the mitochondria, running out of their preferred energy source — magnesium. They use calcium but it can overwork them to the point of cell death. In normal physiology membrane transport systems, also called ion channels, carefully control how much calcium is allowed into the interior of mitochondria. Something called ruthenium-red (RuRed) and magnesium ions are involved in controlling the entry of calcium ions through the transport channels. [1, 2]

A deficiency of magnesium may allow excess calcium to enter the mitochondria and cause overexcitation and even lead to death of the mitochondria.

Mitochondria are actually similar to bacteria and have their own DNA that in nature always matches the mother’s mitochondria’s DNA but that is a different story.

(RuRed) – not a nutrient I didn’t know about – it’s a dye used in labs that selectively binds with some things but not others so it is used for identification purposes with unknown samples — roughly.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

  1. http://ajpcell.physiology.org/content/287/4/C817
  2. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/20680823_Ruthenium_red_and_magnesium_ion_partially_inhibit_silver_ion-induced_release_of_calcium_from_sarcoplasmic_reticulum_of_frog_skeletal_muscles
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24435355

Note to self: Epsom salt bath first, keyboard second; Irritability, Schizophrenia, T. gondii, and hormone D

My back was so sore after writing my last post that I took an Epsom salt bath when I was done and my back felt much better and I was less cranky. The research on Epsom salt baths had suggested three to four times per week so I hadn’t taken a bath that morning but I was fairly irritated while writing and my back got more and more cramped while I worked. My take home lesson: take an Epsom salt bath first thing in the morning and the job of editing or other tasks may be more pleasant.

Summary points that I’ve learned the hard way –

  • elevated hormone D can cause severe irritability.
  • elevated Thyroid hormone can cause severe irritability.
  • elevated Parathyroid hormone can cause severe irritability.
  • magnesium deficiency can cause severe irritability.
  • Psychiatric drugs and talk therapy can not correct symptoms that are actually caused by elevated hormone levels or nutrient deficiencies.
  • Even if you arrest the person or commit them to a psychiatric unit and force them to take the psychiatric drugs, they wouldn’t help an underlying physical problem.
  • “US prisons home to 10 times as many mentally ill as in state hospitals,”
    http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/4/8/mental-illness-prison.html

I’ve just been reading a new book about mental illness and infection. There is strong evidence that schizophrenia and bipolar disorder may be caused by an intracellular parasite such as Toxoplasma gondii or a retrovirus HERV-W. A boy named Edwin F. Torrey made the study of schizophrenia his life’s work after his sister became ill with the disease. At the time his sister was diagnosed the current theory was that the condition was due to the child having a psychologically ambivalent mother. [3, pages 38-75]

The boy wondered why he didn’t get schizophrenia too, if that could really be the cause. To him it seemed like his sister had gotten a sickness and he went to medical school and kept working on the question of what might have happened to his sister because he didn’t think his mother could possibly have caused it in his sister without affecting him too. He found that the disease does have seasonal patterns which generally suggests an infectious cause. He also found it in historical references surfacing suddenly in the medical literature as a ‘new’ disease around the same time that keeping house cats became popular. [3, pages 38-75]

Toxoplasma gondii is an intracellular parasite that can be spread through cat feces. Pregnant women are advised to avoid cat litter boxes because the parasite can pass to the fetus and can be deadly to the expected infant. It may also be a good idea to advise children under age thirteen to also avoid catboxes because that age group seems to be more associated with getting schizophrenia later in life if they had also had a pet cat during that part of their early childhood. [3, pages 38-75]

Why some people get sick from T. gondii while others don’t may have to do with underlying imbalances or deficiencies in vitamin D or hormone D. The active hormone D has been found helpful in animal studies for fighting the Toxoplasma gondii infection but only when given within an effective range, not at excessive doses. [1, 2]

HERV-W is a retrovirus that we all have within our genetic code but which only becomes active in some people – and levels of the retrovirus activity has been associated with level of schizophrenia symptoms. The research team theorize that an infection with T. gondii might be triggering an activation of the HERV-W retrovirus which then may cause an increase in cytokines and brain inflammation. [3, page 70]

Acceptance of people who have schizophrenia may vary between countries or regions around the world according to studies by the World Health Organization conducted over nearly twenty years. The results “revealed that people with schizophrenia in developing countries were far more likely than those in the United States to marry, hold a job, and maintain their social status. Americans with schizophrenia are far more likely than schizophrenics in the Global South (Africa, Central and Latin America, and most of Asia) to commit suicide, while the latter are more likely to recover.” The difference is believed to be due more to cultural differences between the regions than due to a possible difference in biology. Some psychiatrists consider the WHO studies to be flawed and deny the results. [3, page 42]

— Another summary point – Telling people that their symptoms are psychosomatic, or that they are due to delusions or malingering or lying, when the person is actually reporting physical symptoms, might be psychologically damaging to the person as well as missing an opportunity to use the list of symptoms to do a differential diagnosis and identify and treat the underlying problem.

  1. The Effect of Vitamin D3 Alone & Mixed With IFN-γ on Tachyzoites of Toxoplasma gondii… /mice-excess D3 not helpful

  2.  1,25(OH)2D3 inhibits in vitro & in vivo intracellular growth of apicomplexan parasite T gondii./D3 at < a max dose/

  3. Harriet A. Washington, “Infectious Madness: the Surprising Science of How We “Catch” Mental Illness,” (Little, Brown & Co., 2015, New York)  [Amazon]

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

 

Magnesium deficiency can cause irritability, anxiety, and chronic degeneration

Inspirational quote: “Whenever I have a problem I sing, then I realize that my voice is a lot worse than my problem.” (and I feel better about my problem).

And then I take an Epsom salt bath to help treat irritability and the muscle cramps that can result from a magnesium deficiency. Some people may be more at risk for chronic magnesium deficiency due to intestinal malabsorption of the nutrient. Calcium may be preferentially absorbed within the intestines instead of magnesium.

Magnesium deficiency may affect levels of the brain neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, which may cause mood changes if it is not in balance with other more calming neurotransmitters. [Neurotransmitters and mood] The supplement choline is a precursor for acetylcholine and some users have noticed depressive affects with use of a high dose. [Acetylcholine and mood]

Taking the calcium supplements seemed to help reduce the elevated parathyroid hormone level but more recently they have seemed to cause a very rapid increase in muscle cramps and severe irritability. A magnesium bath every morning helped my mood change from rage to feeling like singing. It was kind of incredible to have my mood change so rapidly for reasons that were actually physical events — first I felt extremely angry shortly after swallowing a 100 mg calcium supplement and then I felt joyful after soaking in a bathtub for twenty minutes (soaking forty minutes or more can actually be dangerous because too elevated magnesium blood levels can cause an extreme slowing of the heart rate — don’t try that at home).

I haven’t had a psychiatrist tell me about the risks of magnesium deficiency to the mood or the benefits of an Epsom salt bath for the mood but I can hope, I can share information, and I can enjoy the benefits of Epsom salt baths while I wait. Eventually maybe psychiatry will recognize that the brain is connected to the body and that it is built out of nutrients, not out of pharmaceuticals.

Not surprising: People Reward Angry Men But Punish Angry Women, Study Suggests. Magnesium is effective and inexpensive and proton pump inhibitors are dangerous but patent protected. Get angry because the advice being sold as healthcare at an expensive profit may be causing harm over time. [PPIs and fracture risk, C difficile risk, FDA warning]

There may also be a gender bias regarding creativity, and provision of pain medication. There is also gender inequality in autoimmune disease — the majority of sufferers are female and the length of time between first onset of symptoms and diagnosis can be many years or even decades. Fifty million Americans are estimated to be suffering from some type of autoimmune disease (AD) and 75% of them are estimated to be female for reasons that are not clear at this time. [AARDA, Autoimmune disease in women]

“AARDA-conducted studies reveal a lack of trust in prescribing physicians, very likely fostered by the fact that the average AD patient may see more than four doctors in as many years before receiving a correct diagnosis. Also, more than 40 percent of AD patient report they have been told they were “too concerned about their health” or that they were hypochondriacs.”   –AARDA Launches “3-Second Adherence” Public Service Campaign.

I have been told that my physical symptoms are all psychosomatic so often that I really have no desire to go back  to anyone claiming to provide evidence based medicine. The evidence suggests to me that fifty million people are at risk from a system that doesn’t know what causes their condition or how to help them but who at the same time are willing to make random expensive guesses because after all they are just gambling with the patient’s time, money and long term health not their own.

Maybe eventually more health professionals will succumb to autoimmune illness themselves and then they will be more motivated to find more effective treatments that actually work on the underlying problems of nutrient deficiencies and metabolic imbalances. The body needs to be well nourished in order to make sialic acid for white blood cells to be able to properly identify damaged or improperly labeled cells such as the improperly labeled autoimmune antibodies and then to destroy the defective cells with a magnesium fueled enzymatic death (apoptosis).

I can hope, and I can share, and I can continue to try to take care of my own health.

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

 

Magnesium deficiency is bad for a good mood, and can be dangerous in combination with THC

     A modern day cannibal such as the homeless man in a recent news story may not be infected with anything contagious but could be overreacting to acute magnesium deficiency. The homeless man may have been under the influence of a synthetic street drug commonly referred to as “bath salts,” a chemical substance based on the structure of the euphoric cannabinoid THC contained in medical marijuana. A study on cannabinoid effects found that research animals would kill other smaller animals when deficient in magnesium but not otherwise. Typically a mellow couch potato is the stereotype rather than raging maniac yet even mild magnesium deficiency made small doses of the THC turn the nutrient deficient animals into killers.
Education on the risks of magnesium deficiency would make a starving rage less likely to occur no matter what other chemical effects might be going on. Magnesium deficiency rage is part of the problem with alcohol abuse. Other pharmaceuticals also can deplete magnesium stores and coffee, carbonated beverages and the act of smoking also cause magnesium stores to be used for buffering the removal of waste.
The following excerpt from an endogenous cannabinoid textbook does make regulation of bath salts seem like a good idea. I am not familiar with the chemistry of the drug being sold as “bath salts” or the current news stories but I felt it necessary to mention magnesium deficiency in relation. Preventing magnesium deficiency would help prevent rage. Promoting safe access to medical marijuana products which contain a good balance of the euphoric THC and the more calming non-euphoric cannbinoids for those with documented chronic medical needs would help make a black market less profitable and reduce the risk of there even being a black market for the higher risk synthetic THC/bath salts (legal because it isn’t marijuana and is sold as “bath salts” or by some other name).
Education about stress coping skills and plenty of community support centers would help reduce demand for and support of a black market in artificial enhancements to life of whatever type – gambling, incessant video game playing or other escapes from reality.
In the excerpt below it mentions that magnesium deficiency alone could cause rodents to kill and eat other rodents. A large dose of THC given to hungry isolated rodents led to them killing other rodents when. Smaller doses of THC did not cause rodent killing unless the rodents had also been on a magnesium deficient diet for six weeks prior to the smaller dose of THC.

65. Marie-Hélène Thiébot, Frédérique Chaperon, Ester Fride, and Emmanuel S. Onaivi, Endocannabinoids : The Brain and Body’s Marijuana and Beyond, Chapter 13, Behavioral Effects of Endocannabinoids, (2006 by Taylor and Francis Group, LLC)  (p 310)

 “In isolated rats, food deprived for 22 h and then fed ad libitum for a 3-h period, a single injection of D9-THC (11 mg/kg) induced mousekilling (muricidal) behavior with enhanced aggressiveness, as indicated by the dramatic increase in the number of attacks on the dead mouse until it was completely torn in pieces (Bac et al., 1998). These authors also showed that D9-THC, at doses (2, 4, and 8 mg/kg) inactive to induce muricidal behavior in control rats, became efficient in rats suffering a magnesium (Mg2+) deprivation for 6 weeks. A severe Mg2+ deficiency (50-ppm diet) induced killing behavior by itself, and D9-THC exacerbated further attacks on the dead mouse. A moderate Mg2+-deficient diet (150-ppm) alone did not produce muricidal behavior, but all the rats became mouse killers when given D9-THC, whatever the dose. These results suggest a potentiation between both treatments to elicit aggressiveness. D9-THC would act as a trigger to induce aggression in Mg2+-deficient rats and reciprocally Mg2+ deficiency would reveal the potential neurotoxicity of a low dose of D9-THC (Bac et al., 2002).” (p310)

  • A recent study found no difference in crime statistics around medical marijuana dispensaries in the year 2009, “Report: Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Not Linked To Neighborhood Crime,” by Jason Koebler, (June 6 2012), US News: [usnews.com/news/articles/2012/06/06/report-medical-marijuana-dispensaries-not-linked-to-neighborhood-crime]
  • 2016 update – states that have legalized marijuana have not had increased crime rates due to marijuana, http://www.attn.com/stories/6042/legal-marijuana-and-crime, but there may have been an increase in traffic accidents related to marijuana use – or an increase in testing for it, more research is needed because cannabis affects the body differently between individuals and is very different than the effects of alcohol.
  • Driving under the influence of marijuana is less associated with weaving between lanes than with alcohol use and is more likely to promote driving slower than average http://www.livescience.com/54693-high-drivers-double-after-marijuana-legalization.html (which can also be dangerous if significantly slower than the flow of traffic, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2016721/Slow-drivers-dangerous-roads-cause-crashes.html).
  • There have been an increase in emergency room visits due to marijuana products which suggests to me that strains and products are being produced that have too much THC and not enough of the non-euphoric cannabinoids that promote more of a calming and relaxing effect on the brain. This report from 2015 states a problem with increased teen use but I’ve seen other articles that suggest there hasn’t been a significant increase in use by teenagers.  http://denver.cbslocal.com/2015/09/15/feds-release-marijuana-stats-to-show-negative-effects-of-legalization/
  • THCV is one of the non-euphoric cannabinoids that help balance the stimulating effects of the euphoria producing THC. Some strains of sativa type cannabis plants contain THCV while indica strains do not. https://www.whaxy.com/learn/thcv-buffers-psychoactivity-of-thc-study.
  • Cannabinoids are made up of phospholipids and arachidonic acid or another fatty acid. The combination forms a flexible building block for cell membranes that can be released from storage when needed as an active messenger chemical. Many types of cannabinoids exist besides THC and they all have roles throughout the body’s organ systems and in every cell of the body. Some people are born with genes that don’t function normally and the inability to produce cannabinoids has been associated with eating disorders, cigarette smoking, alcohol abuse, and to a lesser extent with cocaine use and other drug use.
  • Some tips from pros in the field of weed (pun intended) for people who have over imbibed sativa and are paranoid is to first not panic, it will pass. Knowing that the symptoms are due to too much THC may help with the feelings of anxiety. Other tips include eating a little black pepper or lemon juice/lemon peel. Both substances contain terpenes that may help balance the anxiety producing aspects of some sativa strains. Eating may also help with sativa anxiety but time may be necessary for the mood to pass. Too much of an Indica strain is likely to just cause munchies, coach lock (sleepy mellowness with no interest in moving) until sleep occurs.  https://www.whaxy.com/learn/what-to-do-if-you-get-too-high.

The act of smoking in itself can lead to reduced levels of magnesium and vitamin C whether tobacco cigarettes or other herbs are being smoked. The craving for food a few hours after smoking marijuana commonly known as “the munchies” is related to a drop in magnesium levels. It is better for the brain and body to eat rather than to try to resist the messages of hunger – the body is hungry for magnesium though so choose foods that contain some such as whole grains, popcorn or corn chips, beans, nuts, seeds, potatoes or sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables, bananas, figs, yogurt, chocolate,  and many other foods contain small amounts. https://draxe.com/magnesium-deficient-top-10-magnesium-rich-foods-must-eating/

Having a good balanced meal before consuming marijuana may also help reduce the risk of having the munchies later. And different strains of marijuana may contain more or less of certain types of cannabinoids or terpenes which may also increase appetite for other reasons than the drop in magnesium in which case, snacking on carrots and celery sticks would contain fewer calories and have less risk of leading to excess weight gain.

Another way to improve the mood if magnesium deficiency is a problem is to take a hot bath with real Epsom salt, details here: http://transcendingsquare.com/2016/07/12/nerd-does-not-stand-for-nearest-emergency-room-department/.

/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

Autistic kids wash up happier in an Epsom salt bath

***What should autistic kids eat? For some of them weight gain is a problem and the short term answer is anything they are willing to swallow. With time and patience more variety may be accepted but the children may be avoiding some foods because they make them feel worse. forcing a “balanced diet” from all food groups may not be in their best interests. Food sensitivity testing can identify more types of sensitivities that traditional allergy tests miss.The following article provides physiologic guidance towards why some foods may be preferred or despised. Allergens can have an addictive effect due to an opioid like reaction. We can crave what is good for us but we can also crave what is bad for us – it can be exciting physiologically speaking. Some of the chemicals that build up can have neurotransmitter activity in the brain – literally over stimulating the brain cells. Can bananas and tomatoes kill brain cells? Not in everybody but maybe in autistic bodies overloaded with toxins.

Excerpts from: Autism, an extreme challenge to integrative medicine. Part II: medical management. 
by Parris M. Kidd

Magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts) can benefit the autistic child through a novel route of delivery. A parent reported her child’s oppositional behavior disappeared overnight after a bath in Epsom salts. (67) Other parents who used the treatment soon reported improvements in speech, mood, cooperation, and motor development.
_____________________________________________________________________________
*** Over soaking in an Epsom salt/magnesium sulfate salt bath can lead to too much absorption of magnesium and produce temporary side effects of a fluttery/weak heart and possibly diarrhea. A soak for 20 minutes to 40 minutes at the very most seems an effective time for me. I use about 1-2 cups of the Epsom salt to a full bath.

I have also been adding a little vitamin C powder or spoon of cooking vinegar to balance the pH. The Epsom salt gives about an 8 pH and a 7 is more skin and hair friendly. I use pH strips to check the acidity after adding a little vitamin C powder or cooking vinegar (apple cider vinegar leaves me smelling like apple pickles). Kids and all of us love a hot bath, however warmish is better for the body than too hot. Pruney, wrinkly finger tips can be a easy sign for children to see for themselves – the body absorbed as much extra fluid as it can hold and now the skin is all ripply – cool and cold, water and cool, wrinkly fingers means its past time to get out of the tub.    [17,18: links about Epsom salt baths]
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Vitamin B6 and Magnesium (excerpt con’t, by Parris M. Kidd)
Vitamin B6, in its active form of pyridoxal-5-phosphate (P5P), is an essential cofactor for a majority of metabolic pathways of neurotransmitters, including serotonin, gamma-amino-butyric acid (GABA), dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. Magnesium is an essential macronfineral required for a wide range of enzyme-catalyzed metabolic pathways. Rimland recently reviewed 18 autism studies conducted with vitamin B6, especially in combination with magnesium, (22) and concluded that all provided positive results with no significant adverse effects. While no cures of autism by vitamin B6 are known, many cases of remarkable improvement have been documented.

A 1988 paper by Rimland provided an in-depth review of the history of vitamin B6 for autism. (29) In 1966, Heeley and Roberts reported vitamin B6 corrected abnormal tryptophan metabolism in 11 of 19 autistic children. (30) In 1968, Bonisch (cited in Rimland, 1988 (29)) reported vitamin B6 (100-600 mg per day) improved behavior in 12 of 16 autistic children. According to Rimland, three of Bonisch’s subjects spoke for the first time while participating in this open trial.

After conducting an exploratory, non-controlled study in the early 1970s, (31) in 1978 Rimland published the findings from a small double-blind trial that involved 15 children with autistic symptoms. (32) In this trial only half the children involved qualified as ASD by current criteria. (32) In this crossover trial, each child received vitamin B6 at a dose of 2.5-25.1 mg/kg body weight/day (75-800 mg per day) or a placebo. Following a complex, five-phase protocol, each child continued taking whatever vitamins, minerals, or drugs they had been receiving prior to the study and the duration of B6 dosing was individualized. Rimland stated they also received “several hundred” mg per day of magnesium and a B-complex vitamin to guard against overdosing with B6. (22) Statistically significant benefits emerged from this trial, including better eye contact, less self-stimulatory behavior, more interest in surroundings, fewer tantrums, and better speech. (32) Rimland began to suspect for many children autistic symptomatology might be a type of vitamin B6 dependency syndrome. (29)

Taken together, the studies seem to establish that vitamin B6 can benefit as much as half of children and adults with autism, and that its efficacy and safety are improved when combined with magnesium. None of these studies reported any significant adverse effects, even though the vitamin B6 doses ranged as high as 1,000 mg per day. Rimland emphasized that thousands of autistic people have been taking large daily doses of vitamin B6 (as much as 1,000 mg) for decades without experiencing problems. One publication reported on seven cases of peripheral neuropathy from daily intakes of more than 2,000 mg vitamin B6. (37) These patients were not taking magnesium or other B vitamins, as usually recommended when taking large vitamin B6 doses; nor were they taking the active form–P5P–that has not been associated with toxicity. In a later study, doses of 30 mg/day of B6 as pyridoxine hydrochloride (equivalent to as much as 2,100 mg for a 70 kg adult) were administered with 10 mg/kg/day of magnesium lactate to 11 autistic children for eight weeks; behavior significantly improved and no adverse effects were evident. (38) The latest ARI parent ratings in 2002 (24) reported a B:W ratio for vitamin B6 used alone of 4.1:1, for magnesium alone 5.2:1, and for the combination of vitamin B6 plus magnesium, 11:1.

Cases of hereditary impairment of pyridoxine metabolism have been described, sometimes manifesting as seizure disorder and autism symptomatology. (39) Conversion of vitamin B6 to its active form P5P by the liver can be compromised in some autistic children. For these cases P5P supplementation may work more effectively, although hyperactivity is a possible adverse effect. (40) An intake threshold for achieving benefit may be approximately 200 mg vitamin B6 (as pyridoxine) and 100 mg magnesium per day for the 70 kg individual. (41) In any case, the cumulative results from the double-blind trials and numerous other studies and case history reports are consistent with impressive efficacy of the combination of vitamin B6 and magnesium for autism, superior to either nutrient alone. (38,42-44)

Vitamin C
Vitamin C has a reputation for its involvement in a plethora of metabolic, antioxidant, and bio-synthetic pathways, and as a cofactor for certain enzymes necessary for neurotransmitter synthesis. In a double-blind trial for 30 weeks, vitamin C (8 g/70 kg body weight/day) improved total symptom severity and sensory motor scores. (50) Its current parent B:W ratio is an excellent 16:1, from 1,306 questionnaires.

(***That is an awful lot of vitamin C but it is water soluble and is not stored. We need it daily. The B vitamins are also water soluble and non-toxic. “Expensive pee” is the joke but if it is helping the body on the way through than it isn’t that expensive compared to ill health.)

Zinc
Among its many functions, zinc is needed for the development and maintenance of the brain, adrenal glands, GI tract, and immune system. Serotonin synthesis relies on zinc-activated enzymes; and zinc is also essential for antioxidant enzyme activity and other proteins important for growth and homeostasis. Breeding experiments with rodents indicate a zinc deficiency in the mother can be passed on to the offspring and negatively influence immunity and brain development. (51) Zinc currently has a very favorable B:W ratio, 17:1 from 835 questionnaires.

Zinc operates in a relationship with copper, i.e., when zinc levels go down, copper levels often go up. Bradstreet and Kartzinel assert zinc is deficient in 90 percent of ASD cases and copper in excess in 90 percent of cases. (14) Walsh analyzed copper and zinc in the blood of 318 ASD subjects and reported finding abnormally elevated copper:zinc ratios in 85 percent. (52) A smaller sampling of 22 subjects had 100-percent incidence of abnormally high, unbuffered copper (unbound to ceruloplasmin proteins)–about four times normal. Walsh’s findings corroborate recommendations by Adams (25) and others that autistics should exclude copper from their multiple vitamins.

(***Minerals can be dangerous at chronically high doses and the balance can be crucial. Wilson’s Disease is a copper overloading disease caused by a genetic defect. Pumpkin seeds, the green shelled part, are an excellant source of zinc and can be crisped by lightly toasting them in a skillet. Pepitos are another name for the Mexican snack version. Pre-toasted and salted pepitos can be quite salty unless you find raw pumpkin seeds at a health food store.)

Essential Fatty Acids Studies on EFA deficiency in autism are few, but with consistent results. Bradstreet and Kartzinel found omega-3 fatty acids are deficient in nearly 100 percent of ASD cases. (14) Vancassel and collaborators reported DHA 23-percent reduced, total omega-3s 20-percent reduced, and omega-6s unchanged in plasma phospholipids. (57) Hardy and Hardy studied 50 children with the more inclusive diagnosis Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), and reported almost 90 percent omega-3 deficient via red cell analysis. (58)

Amino Acid Abnormalities
At least two-thirds of autistics have abnormal amino acid levels, as measured in 24-hour urine or lasting blood plasma. High phenylalanine is rarely seen (one per several thousand autistics) but can occur without overt phenylketonuria (PKU), which may be observed in children from countries that do not test for PKU at birth. High histidine (histidinuria and usually concurrent histidinemia) is seen in one per 250-500 autistics, and also can mimic autism. High urine levels of several amino acids (generalized hyperaminoaciduria) almost always indicate toxic chemical exposure and consequent liver damage. Such is also attributable to heavy metal contamination and Wilson’s disease, Fanconi syndrome, cystinosis, fructose intolerance, galactosemia, and several other hereditary disorders. (6)

Low urine threonine suggests malabsorption. In maldigestion, anserine and carnosine are high, while the essential amino acids are low. Anserine and carnosine may also be high due to zinc insufficiency. When citrulline, methionine, ethanolamine, and phosphoethanolamine are elevated, functional magnesium deficiency is likely. Elevated sarcosine indicates toxic exposures and/or folate deficiency. And, when detoxification capacity is limited, the cysteine/cystine ratio, and methionine, taurine, and glycine levels tend to be abnormal.

Amino Acid Abnormalities
Autistic subjects who poorly metabolize tryptophan can carry its potentially toxic metabolite indoylacrylic acid (IAA) in their blood. IAA would normally be detoxified by combining it with glycine to make indoylacryloylglycine (IAG). Organophosphate pesticide contamination may shunt tryptophan down the IAG pathway. (6) Tryptamine, found in tomatoes and all types of bananas, may also raise IAG levels. Certain citrus fruits also may contain tryptamine-like substances. Assays for IAG are not routinely available and are easily contaminated.

(***Tryptamine may act as a neurotransmitter and is part of tryptophan, melatonin, serotonin and the psychoactive chemical in Psilocybin mushrooms and LSD. Tomatoes and bananas may not be good for some autistic people due to an enzyme defect and removing dairy protein and wheat protein improved symptoms for up to 80% of ASD subjects.)

Removing Casein and Gluten Foods from the Diet
There is a great deal of evidence that foods containing casein or gluten contribute significantly to ASD and should be eliminated from the diet. In well-conducted studies, as many as 80 percent of ASD subjects improved following strict dietary exclusion of these proteins. (13,14) Implementation of a strict casein- and gluten-free (CFGF) diet almost always leads to symptomatic improvement, and lays the foundation for a diet that can markedly benefit the condition.

It has been suggested that the adverse brain effects associated with dietary casein and gluten are likely due to opioid-acting peptides (small amino acid polymers, also called exorphins) metabolically generated from these proteins. (15) In their Sunderland Protocol for autism, Shattock and Whiteley note that clinical improvement often occurs on the CFGF diet even when laboratory tests fail to detect such peptides in the urine. (14) They suggest autistic subjects could be biochemically processing casein and/or gluten into other bioactive derivatives not being detected; or, while urinary levels measure normal, the quantities reaching the CNS could be high, perhaps due to abnormal permeability of the blood-brain barrier. Yet another possibility they suggest is children subjected to oxygen deprivation or other perinatal brain insults may have heightened vulnerability to even “normal” levels of the offending peptides.

Reichelt et al studied 15 ASD subjects (5 girls and 10 boys, age 3-17 years) for one year after implementing casein and gluten restriction. (16) They reported that 13 of 15 showed some degree of behavioral improvement and none got worse, as judged from parent-teacher consensus. Seizure activity was decreased in 3 of 4 subjects; gross motor behavior improved in 13 of 15; social contact increased in 10 of 15; eye contact improved in 9 of 15; ritualistic behavior decreased in 8 of 11; language improved in 10 of 13; and sleep patterns normalized in 9 of 11. These investigators concluded that incomplete digestion of casein or gluten-gliadin by digestive peptidase enzymes could be a biochemical cause of autistic syndromes.

Since abrupt simultaneous removal of casein and gluten from the diet can cause withdrawal symptoms, a two-step phased withdrawal is appropriate. The first phase is removal of casein via removal of milk and other dairy products. From a 1995 trial, Lucarelli et al reported 66 percent of subjects showed benefits from this intervention. (17) Benefits can manifest quickly–usually within 2-3 days in young children or 10-14 days in adults. However, a much longer period is required for casein to be fully cleared from the body.

Shattock and Whiteley documented the known metabolic dangers to children from consuming cow’s milk. (14) Milk consumption is linked to increased autism incidence among the immigrant population in Sweden as compared to the indigenous population. (18) Some children are clearly addicted to cow’s milk and will drink large quantities. Symptoms linked to casein intake include projectile vomiting; eczema, particularly behind the knees and in the crook of the elbow; white bumps under the skin; ear discharges and infections; constipation, cramps, and/or diarrhea; and respiratory disorders resembling asthma. Shattock and Whiteley report that casein withdrawal symptoms can be severe, especially in young children. (14)

Some higher-functioning ASD children voluntarily cease casein intake, apparently sensing it is not good for them. Gluten products, on the other hand, stir strong cravings and children are less likely to refuse them. (19) Gluten exclusion requires the removal of several common cereals from the diet, wheat, barley, rye, and oats, in particular; but many other foods contain hidden gluten. (19-21) The elimination process usually takes a minimum of 3-4 weeks, and a trial period of three months is appropriate. The urinary gluten profile persists for much longer than does the casein profile, and correspondingly the withdrawal effects are usually milder in severity than casein’s, but typically more prolonged.

Full clearance of dietary casein-gluten symptoms is a long-term process. Withdrawal can be evident for three months or longer. (16) Whiteley’s group (19) found a mere 26-percent reduction in urinary levels of gluten after a five-month exclusion diet. In some cases dramatic improvement emerged a full 7-9 months after initiating the diet, but maximal improvement can require up to two years of rigid dietary exclusion. Shattock and Whiteley advise against adding these foods back into the diet, since severe opioid symptoms could result. (14)

Sensitivities to Other Foods
Whereas children with neurodevelopmental disorders frequently have sensitivities to common foods, ASD children seemingly have extreme sensitivity to a wide range of foods. These sensitivities may contribute to the perceptual and processing difficulties that typify autism, yet are difficult to objectify. The classic allergy symptoms such as stuffiness, eczema, wheezing, and itching may be absent, yet cognition and behavior remain affected. (2)

Once the main sources of food intolerance–casein, gluten, and gliadin–are removed from the diet, other foods may emerge as sources of symptoms. Parents, particularly those who keep food diaries, can often associate the child’s consumption of a particular food with deterioration in behavior, sleep patterns, or performance. Beef, pork, rice, and potatoes are only occasionally implicated; whereas, foods that consistently cause problems are eggs. tomatoes, eggplant, avocados, red peppers, soy, and corn. Seroussi (21) described how corn was revealed as a problem food only after strict removal of gluten and casein from the diet. If a particular food is suspected, it should be removed from the diet for a trial period of at least three weeks and any improvements noted. On being reintroduced into the diet, it will likely trigger an exacerbation of symptoms.

1. Kidd, Parris M.. “Autism, an extreme challenge to integrative medicine. Part II: medical management. (Autism).(Brief Article).” Alternative Medicine Review. Thorne Research Inc. 2002. HighBeam Research. 14 Mar. 2011 <http://www.highbeam.com>.

*** Chocolate is the main food eaten by one little girl with autism spectrum disorder in a later link. As a dietitian in a public health program I have worked with several autistic children and “crisp” was a popular food group. I personally love Lundberg rice cakes because they are more dense and crispy than regular store brand rice cakes. A varied diet has benefits but excluding allergens and enzymatically indigestible foods has benefit as well. The chocolate itself is a healthy start but continuing to offer variety and to enjoy variety as a role model of healthy eating generally will help a child find more foods that help more than hurt.

The tomato and banana news surprised me – I don’t eat either after my migraine history. Both were early “avoids” and since becoming less sensitive I just haven’t enjoyed them much. Dairy is a big congesting no-no for me and I still avoid gluten in general. Rice feels better, and seems to help me think and move better.

Chocolate is an excellent source of minerals and B vitamins. A hundred grams of pure dark chocolate (no sugar or cream) contains 556 calories, 136 mg magnesium, 56 mg calcium, 559 mg potassium, 8 mg iron, 2 mg zinc, 1 mg copper, 1.4 mg manganese and 3 mcg selenium. It is also a good source of B vitamins and is one of the few known sources of cannabinoids. See the page Bbliography on iodine and autism for a little more info.

2. “SWEET RACHEL LIVES ON CHOCOLATE DIET; Autism feeds plight.(News).” Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland). Media Wales Ltd. 2004. HighBeam Research. 14 Mar. 2011 <http://www.highbeam.com>.
3. “The little girl who can only eat chocolate; AUTISM GIRL’S FOOD FAD.(News).” The Mirror (London, England). Media Wales Ltd. 2004. HighBeam Research. 14 Mar. 2011 <http://www.highbeam.com>.
5. Garston, Helen. “Sad chocolate drop kid eats only 15 bags of buttons a day.(News).” The People (London, England). Media Wales Ltd. 1998. HighBeam Research. 14 Mar. 2011 <http://www.highbeam.com>.  (***This is a second chocolate eating autistic spectrum child. I’m not recommending a milk and chocolate diet. It is more an example of a craving that might have some physiologic basis.)

6. “It’s hard to cry for Kieran …we know it’s not what he would have wanted; Tribute to 10-year-old meningitis tragedy boy.(News).” Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England). Media Wales Ltd. 2011. HighBeam Research. 14 Mar. 2011 <http://www.highbeam.com>. **This is a different boy, autistic, loved chocolate, unfortunately died of meningitis.)

7. Javier Fernández-Ruiz, Rosario de Miguel, Mariluz, Hernández, Maribel Cebeira, and José A. Ramos,  Endocannabinoids : The Brain and Body’s Marijuana and Beyond, Chapter 11, Endocannabinoids and Dopamine-Related Functions in the CNS, (2006 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC) ,  

“Previously, the existence of anandamide analogs in chocolate had been demonstrated (di Tomaso et al., 1996). It is thought that chocolate and cocoa contain N-acylethanolamines, which are chemically and pharmacologically related to anandamide. These lipids could mimic cannabinoid ligands either directly by activating CBRs or indirectly by increasing anandamide levels (Bruinsma and Taren, 1999).”

8.  http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/cgi-bin/list_nut_edit.pl   Nutrient Data Base # 19902:  Chocolate, dark, 45- 59% cacao solids
9. http://www.health.gov/DIETARYGUIDELINES/dga2005/document/html/chapter2.html

10. “Great Culinary News for Individuals with Autism.PRWeb Newswire. Vocus PRW Holdings LLC. 2010. HighBeam Research. 14 Mar. 2011 <http://www.highbeam.com>.

11. “Easy Steps to Convert Favorite Recipes to be Gluten (and Dairy) Free.PRWeb Newswire. Vocus PRW Holdings LLC. 2010. HighBeam Research. 14 Mar. 2011 <http://www.highbeam.com>.

12. Jessica Werb. “Sick to the stomach.” The Scotsman. ECM Publishers, Inc. 2000. HighBeam Research.14 Mar. 2011 <http://www.highbeam.com>.

13. Cormier, Eileen; Jennifer Harrison Elder. “Diet and child behavior problems: fact or fiction?(Primary Care Approaches)(Clinical report).” Pediatric Nursing. American Nephrology Nurses’ Association. 2007. HighBeam Research. 14 Mar. 2011 <http://www.highbeam.com>.

14. http://www.thecrystaltarot.com/articles/nutrition-articles/autism-treatment  Treating Autism with Stem Cells, Immune Support, Nutrition and Anti-fungals., David A Steenblock, M.S., D.O.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tryptamine

15. http://www.med.umich.edu/umim/food-pyramid/dark_chocolate.html 
© copyright 2010 Regents of the University of Michigan – University of Michigan Integrative Medicine
Monica Myklebust, M.D. and Jenna Wunder, M.P.H., R.D. For questions and licensing information please call 734-998-7874 or email umim-hfp@umich.edu.
Excerpt:
The Healing Foods Pyramid™, created in 2005 and updated in 2009, is an illustration of a balanced way of eating in which food is regarded as a source of healing and nurturing rather than simply a way to gain energy.

Healing Foods Pyramid™

Dark Chocolate ImageDark Chocolate is included in the Healing Foods Pyramid™ as part of a balanced, whole foods, plant-based diet. This Food Pyramid emphasizes foods that nourish the body, sustain energy over time, contain healing qualities and essential nutrients, and support a sustainable environment.

What are the recommended servings per week?
Up to 7 ounces per week, average 1 ounce per day

16. http://magnesiumforlife.com/medical-application/magnesium-iodine-and-autism/ Magnesium, Iodine and Autism  Magnesium deficiency measured in 95% of 116 Polish children with ADHD: 78% low hair, 59% low RBC’s, 34% low serum.[7]”

17. http://magnesiumforlife.com/product-information/magnesium-chloride-vs-magnesium-sulfate/ Magnesium Chloride Vs Magnesium Sulfate  According to Daniel Reid, author of The Tao of Detox, magnesium sulfate, commonly known as Epsom salts, is rapidly excreted through the kidneys and therefore difficult to assimilate. This would explain in part why the effects from Epsom salt baths do not last long and why you need more magnesium sulfate in a bath than magnesium chloride to get similar results. Magnesium chloride is easily assimilated and metabolized in the human body.[1] However, Epsom salts are used specifically by parents of children with autism because of the sulfate, which they are usually deficient in , sulfate is also crucial to the body and is wasted in the urine of autistic children.”

/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./