What is Biomedical treatment?
There is a lot of hype about treating Autism Spectrum Disorders with Bio-Medical treatments. So what are Biomedical treatments and how do they help with the common traits and symptoms of an Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Nutrition to Survive
The human body is without doubt a very complex organism, it relies on certain nutrients and environmental conditions to survive. It is however quite surprisingly tolerant and adaptable. Certainly there are many factual accounts of the extremes that the human body can endure.
However for the body to perform at it’s peak there are certain nutrients and conditions that are favourable to the physical human being.
There is evidence and observations that suggest that many children who are either born with or have a late onset of an Autism Spectrum Disorder have underlying “unbalanced” physiological conditions. This is definitely not the only reason why a child may have Autism, but it is certainly one of a string of factors.
Diet is very important for Autism and other conditions.
It is well known that certain dietary regimes can assist with ASD and ADHD type behaviour and that our modern “fast lane” lifestyles with a high sugar, preservatives and food colouring intake can have a devastating effect on children’s and adolescents behaviour, yet many parents ignore this fact.
So it is no great surprise that by enhancing the physical bodies capabilities it gives a child or person within the Autism Spectrum of Disorders a better chance of overcoming the physical learning boundaries imposed by a condition such as Autism and or Pervasive Development Disorder.
Below is a list of the most common “Biomedical” treatments and how they might help.
Biomedical Treatments for Autism
- GFCF Diet. Gluten Free Cassein Free Diet. While I will agree that there are some ASD children or persons that may benefit from this diet, it does seem to be a bit of a try and see type of method. Celiac disease is a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing parts of food that are important for staying healthy. The damage is due to a reaction to eating gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats.
Casein is found in dairy products and for people who suffer from lactose intolerance can have adverse effects such as digestive and auto immune problems as well as affecting concentration and energy levels. There is also a premise that the proteins gluten (found in wheat) and casein (in milk) aggravate autistic symptoms because they in some way mimic opiate neuropeptides.
- Vitamin B6 and Magnesium. Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin and is part of the vitamin B complex group. Several forms of the vitamin are known, but pyridoxal phosphate (PLP) is the active form and is a cofactor in many reactions of amino acid metabolism, including transamination, deamination, and decarboxylation. PLP also is necessary for the enzymatic reaction governing the release of glucose from glycogen.B6 is used for assisting in the synthesis of neurotransmitters and forming myelin, which protect nerves. Magnesium is also very important; it is involved in more than 300 metabolic reactions.Some argue however that Vitamin B6 and Magnesium are only beneficial for persons with nutritional deficiencies (ie. fussy eaters) and those with vitamin B6 deficiency (related to seizures).
- DMG, Dimethylglycine is an antioxidant and derivative of the amino acid glycine, is marketed as an immune system booster. It is also said to improve oxygenation of the blood and improve alertness and concentration, however double-blind studies of DMG found it had no effect on autism symptoms.
- Gastrointestinal Supplements, such as Pro-Biotics to increase the gut flora or good gut bacteria. There certainly is evidence that a healthy gut can overcome many diseases and conditions. It can be used as an overall supplement particularly after medication such as antibiotics. It can be beneficial for persons who have a limited or no dairy diet such as GF/CF, as dairy and particularly Yoghurt has and helps nurture good gut bacteria at a healthy balance. There is no direct evidence that these supplements can help alleviate symptoms and behaviour associated with Autism however it help maintain a healthy digestive system and hence a healthy autoimmune system.
- Omega-3 fatty Acids. These are “good” fats for “any body” that are essential to our well being. They are normally found in oily fish such as Salmon and Mackarel and Sardines. Unfortunately for most of us our fish intake is relatively low and more so with Autistic children as they are usually very fussy eaters due to tactile sensitivity among other issues. Omega-3 fatty acids, are crucial for brain development and cannot be manufactured in the body. Essential fatty acid supplements such as fish oil have become popular for children with autism. Studies have found behaviour improvements in children with severe behavior problems as a result of autism.
- Secretin is a neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger) in the neuropeptide group. It is one of the hormones that controls digestion
Studies into the use of secretin to treat children with Autism had some surprising results. Within 5 weeks of the secretin infusion, a significant amelioration of the children’s gastrointestinal symptoms was observed, as was a dramatic improvement in their behavior, manifested by improved eye contact, alertness, and expansion of expressive language. (Horvath, Stefanatos, Sokolski, Wachtel, Nabors & Tildon, 1998).
- Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland that regulates sleep. Melatonin is a supplement used for treating insomnia or jet lag. A large percentage persons with autism-spectrum disorders tend to have sleeping problems, there are studies that have found children / persons with Autism had improvements in in falling asleep and staying asleep. This can have an overall affect of improving behaviour, concentration levels andf general well being.
- Vitamin C is an antioxidant, it is often part of vitamin supplements given to children with autism. One study reported less repetitive behavior in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of vitamin C in 18 children with autism. Some of the theories on how Vitamin C can help with Autism Spectrum Disorders are;
- Autistic persons lack vitamin c due to poor diet.
- Increases effects on the brain’s response to the neurotransmitter dopamine.
- Help in managing Free Radicals. Free radicals can damage the immune system, the brain and other areas of the body. As an antioxidant, vitamin C can provide protection against the effects of Free Radicals.
- Folic Acid and mB12, brain development can be affected by oxidative stress and has been attributed to atypical brain development seen in autism. Abnormal levels of antioxidants have been reported in children and persons with autism. There is a theory that giving folic acid along with mB12 to children / persons with Autism will reduce hyperactivity. However there is no clinical or scientific basis for this. Ironicaly there is suggestions that Folic Acid supplementation in expecting mothers may actually increase the risk of the child being born with Autism.
Common Sense Prevails
There is certainly much hype about biomedical treatments for Autism. Put simply it is a matter of supplementing with natural substances / elements rather than pharmaceutical medication, which is certainly a better alternative.
As always common sense prevails and it really is a matter of first finding out what supplements, if any, your child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder may be lacking or may benefit from.
Vitamin, minerals and elements are classified as supplements when there is evidence that a lack of it can cause health problems, such as vitamin C. DMG is not classified as a supplement as a lack of it does not cause health problems, however it used as an autoimmune and performance booster amongst the elderly and athletes, there are also claims that it can help alertness and concentration as well as regulating behaviour with Autistic children.
Seek Professional Advice
Always seek professional advice from a Nutrition expert, suitably qualified Medical practitioner or qualified Naturopath before administering “supplements”.
Please share your thoughts and or experience with biomedical treatments, we are always looking to expand our views and knowledge.
© 2011, EJ Banon. All rights reserved.