Autism (Holistic)Skip to the navigation
About This Condition
Get some extra C
Reduce the severity of symptoms with vitamin C; take 1 gram for every 20 pounds (9 kg) of body weight per day
Add B6 to the mix
With a doctor’s supervision, give your child 30 mg of vitamin B6 per 2.2 pounds (1 kg) of body weight every day to help reduce symptoms
Try massage therapy
Visit a qualified therapist for 15 minutes of massage twice a week to improve behaviors and other symptoms of autism
Uncover food sensitivities
Work with a qualified healthcare practitioner to find out if foods containing gluten and/or casein may be contributing to the problems associated with autism
About This Condition
Autism is a developmental disorder of the brain that appears in early childhood. The condition causes impairment of social interaction and communication, as well as unusual behaviors.
Symptoms vary but are characterized by a difficulty in relating to people, objects, and events. Communication problems may be present, such as a lack of eye contact or response when their name is called; fixation on specific subjects or toys; difficulty with changes to routine or surroundings; and repetitive body movements, such as head banging or hand flapping.
The right diet is the key to managing many diseases and to improving general quality of life. For this condition, scientific research has found benefit in the following healthy eating tips.
|Try a hypoallergenic diet||
Some autistic children may be allergic or sensitive to certain foods, and removing the offending foods may improve some behaviors.
Preliminary research suggests that some autistic children may be allergic or sensitive to certain foods and that removal of these foods from the diet has appeared to improve some behaviors.1 As a result, one prominent doctor has recommended a trial hypoallergenic diet.2 Such a trial requires supervision by a doctor.
Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by some in the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.
For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.
3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
30 mg daily per 2.2 lbs (1 kg) of body weight; doctor's supervision recommended
Research shows that vitamin B6 can be helpful for autistic children.
Uncontrolled and double-blind research shows that vitamin B6 can be helpful for autistic children.3 , 4 , 5 In these trials, children typically took between 3.5 mg and almost 100 mg of B6 for every 2.2 pounds of body weight, with some researchers recommending 30 mg per 2.2 pounds of body weight. Although toxicity was not reported, such amounts are widely considered to have potential toxicity that can damage the nervous system; these amounts should only be administered by a doctor. One prominent researcher has suggested that vitamin B6 is better supported by research than is drug treatment in dealing with autism.6
250 mg with morning and evening meals
Some autistic children suffer from chronic diarrhea. In one study, supplementing with glucosamine eliminated the diarrhea in five of six children with autism, possibly by blocking the effect of certain dietary components on the intestinal tract.
Some autistic children suffer from chronic diarrhea. In a study of children with autistic spectrum disorders and persistent diarrhea for many years, supplementing with 500 mg of glucosamine per day (spread over the morning and evening meal) for 30 days eliminated the diarrhea in five of six cases.7 The authors hypothesized that glucosamine worked by blocking the effect of certain dietary components on the intestinal tract.
50 mg per kilogram of body weight per day (half in the morning, half in the evening)
In a double-blind trial, supplementing with L-carnitine resulted in a modest improvement in disease severity in children with autism spectrum disorders.
In a double-blind trial, supplementing with L-carnitine resulted in a modest improvement in disease severity in children with autism spectrum disorders. The amount of L-carnitine used was 50 mg per kilogram of body weight per day (half in the morning and half in the evening) for three months.8
Use with a doctor’s supervision
A double-blind study found that supplementing with NAC for 12 weeks improved symptoms of irritability in children with autism.
In a double-blind trial, supplementation with N-acetylcysteine (NAC) for 12 weeks improved symptoms of irritability in children with autism.9 The amount of NAC used in the study was 900 mg per day for four weeks, then 900 mg twice a day for four weeks, then 900 mg three times per day for four weeks. Another double-blind study found an improvement in irritability using smaller amounts of NAC: 600 mg per day for children weighing less than 44 pounds and 900 mg per day for children weighing 44 pounds or more.10 However, in a third double-blind trial, NAC in an average amount of 56 mg per 2.2 pounds of body weight per day for 12 weeks was of no benefit in autistic children.11 Because the amounts of NAC used in these studies are relatively large and the long-term safety of this treatment has not been examined, NAC treatment of autistic children should be monitored by a doctor.
1 gram per 20 lbs (9 kg) body weight per day
In one trial, autistic children given vitamin C had less severe symptoms than those taking placebo, possibly because vitamin C affects a hormone pathway typically disturbed in children with autism.
In one double-blind trial lasting ten weeks, autistic children given 1 gram vitamin C per day for each 20 pounds of body weight showed a reduction in symptom severity compared with placebo.12 The authors speculate that vitamin C may play a positive role because of its known effects on a hormone pathway typically disturbed in children with autism.
Refer to label instructions
Some researchers have added magnesium to vitamin B6, reporting that taking both nutrients may have better effects than B6 alone. Doctors will often try this combination for at least three months to see whether these nutrients help autistic children.
Some researchers have added magnesium to vitamin B6, reporting that taking both nutrients may have better effects than taking B6 alone.13 The amount of magnesium—10 to 15 mg per 2.2 pounds of body weight—is high enough to cause diarrhea in some people and should be administered by a doctor. Doctors will often try vitamin B6 or the combination of B6 and magnesium for at least three months to see whether these nutrients help autistic children. In a preliminary trial, one group of researchers found that relatively small daily amounts of magnesium (6 mg per 2.2 pounds of body weight) and vitamin B6 (0.6 mg per 2.2 pounds of body weight) improved symptoms by about 50% in children with autism or a related condition (pervasive developmental disorder).14
1. Reichelt K-L, Ekrem J, Scott H. Gluten, milk proteins and autism: dietary intervention effects on behavior and peptide section. J Appl Nutr 1990;42:1-11.
2. Werbach M. Autism. Int J Alternative Complementary Med 1996;Oct:8.
3. Lelord G, Muh JP, Barthelemy C, et al. Effects of pyridoxine and magnesium on autistic symptoms: Initial observations. J Autism Developmental Disorders 1981;11:219-29.
4. Martineau J, Garreau B, Barthelemy C, et al. Effects of vitamin B6 on averaged evoked potentials in infantile autism. Biol Psychiatr 1981;16:627-39.
5. Rimland B, Callaway E, Dreyfus P. The effect of high doses of vitamin B6 on autistic children: a double-blind crossover study. Am J Psychiatr 1978;135:472-5.
6. Rimland B. Vitamin B6 versus Fenfluramine: a case-study in medical bias. J Nutr Med 1991;2:321-2.
7. Danczak E. Glucosamine and plant lectins in autistic spectrum disorders: an initial report on 6 children with uncontrolled diarrhoea. J Nutr Environ Med2004;14:327-330.
8. Geier DA, Kern JK, Davis G, et al. A prospective double-blind, randomized clinical trial of levocarnitine to treat autism spectrum disorders. Med Sci Monit 2011;17:PI15-23.
9. Hardan AY, Fung LK, Libove RA, et al. A randomized controlled pilot trial of oral N-acetylcysteine in children with autism. Biol Psychiatry 2012;71:956-61.
10. Nikoo M, Radnia H, Farokhnia M, et al. N-acetylcysteine as an adjunctive therapy to risperidone for treatment of irritability in autism: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of efficacy and safety. Clin Neuropharmacol 2015;38:11–17.
11. Wink LK, Adams R, Wang Z, et al. A randomized placebo-controlled pilot study of N-acetylcysteine in youth with autism spectrum disorder. Mol Autism 2016;7:26.
12. Dolske MC, Spollen J, McKay S, et al. A preliminary trial of ascorbic acid as supplemental therapy for autism. Prog Neuropsycholpharmacol Biol Psychiatry 1993;17:765-74.
13. Martineau J, Barthelemy C, Garreau B, Lelord G. Vitamin B6, magnesium, and combined B6-Mg: therapeutic effects in childhood autism. Biol Psychiatr 1985;20:467-78.
14. Mousain-Bosc M, Roche M, Polge A, et al. Improvement of neurobehavioral disorders in children supplemented with magnesium-vitamin B6. II. Pervasive developmental disorder-autism. Magnes Res 2006;19:53-62.
Last Review: 06-08-2015
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