Autism (Holistic)

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About This Condition

A child displaying odd behavior and impaired social skills may also be showing signs of autism. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.
  • 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

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

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.

Eating Right

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.

Recommendation Why
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. As a result, one prominent doctor has recommended a trial hypoallergenic diet. Such a trial requires supervision by a doctor.

Supplements

What Are Star Ratings?

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.

Supplement Why
3 Stars
Vitamin B6
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. 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.

2 Stars
Glucosamine
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. The authors hypothesized that glucosamine worked by blocking the effect of certain dietary components on the intestinal tract.

2 Stars
L-Carnitine
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.
2 Stars
N-Acetyl Cysteine
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. 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. 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. 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.
2 Stars
Vitamin C
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. 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.

2 Stars
Vitamin D
Refer to label instructions
In a preliminary study and a follow-up double-blind study of autistic children, daily supplementation with vitamin D was associated with improvements in various symptoms of autism.
In a preliminary study and a follow-up double-blind study of Egyptian autistic children, daily supplementation with vitamin D for 3 to 4 months was associated with improvements in various symptoms of autism, including irritability, hyperactivity, social withdrawal, inappropriate speech, stereotypical behavior, and communication.. The amount of vitamin D given was 136 IU per pound of body weight, with a maximum of 5,000 IU per day. Since the amount of vitamin D used in the study was relatively large and could potentially cause adverse effects, this treatment should be monitored by a doctor.
1 Star
Magnesium
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. 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).