This post is the second in a series about Ganesh, a 6.5 year old boy with severe autistic disorder. Please read my blog post from last week, which describes the circumstances surrounding the consultation, as well as a summary of Ganesh’s history. This post will discuss aspects of the history which predisposed Ganesh to developing autism, as well as basic treatment recommendations. Ganesh’s case shares classic features found in some children who develop an autistic disorder, and thus maybe useful in understanding factors which may predispose an individual to develop this devastating condition.
Children who develop autistic disorder frequently inherit pathogenic parental gut flora. Ganesh’s mother suffered from constipation, a condition which is caused by deficient gut flora in children and adults. In a well functioning bowel, the majority of beneficial bacteria are Bifidobacteria and friendly strains of E.coli, which manufacture enzymes and other substances that are critical to the proper production of stool. These bacteria stimulate the cells of the bowel to produce mucous. The mucous lubricates the stool, so that it can be excreted efficiently as soon as it is produced. A healthy individual has 1-2 bowel movements a day. Constipation is a pathological and debilitating condition, which allows toxic substances in the stool to diffuse back into the body, instead of being excreted quickly.
In utero, a baby’s gut is sterile. As the baby passes through the birth canal, he/she swallows mouthfuls of the mother’s vaginal flora which comes from her bowel. Her vaginal flora is a combination of her own and her partner’s bowel flora, which has been sexually transmitted to her. Thus a baby inherits the parental gut flora. The baby’s bowel also continues to be populated by the microflora in the environment in the first several weeks of life.
At one week of age Ganesh was hospitalized for 4 days with a serious urinary tract infection and given broad spectrum antibiotics. This further compromised the already deficient bowel flora he inherited from his parents. He nevertheless recovered and went on to develop normally until he was vaccinated. Very shortly after he was vaccinated he lost all language and retreated into his own world. Please see last week’s post for a discussion of vaccination and autism. The loss of language and other developmental milestones shortly following vaccination is a commonly reported phenomenon by parents of autistic children.
The combination of deficient bowel flora, antibiotic treatment, and the additional immunological stress of vaccination are common features of GAPS patients. Other common factors which may contribute to compromised parental gut flora, not related to Ganesh’s case, are hormone therapy such as birth control pills, which have a deleterious effect upon the microflora, chronic emotional and physical stress, and diets high in refined carbohydrates and processed foods. In addition, the fact that many parents of GAPS patients were themselves not breast fed, resulting in compromised immunity from their infancy, as they were deprived of the vital immune protective factors, which are naturally transmitted in breast milk from mother to child.
Given how common antibiotic treatment is, how many women take birth control pills, how the Standard American Diet is filled with processed foods and refined carbohydrates, and how common lack of breast feeding is, it is no wonder that the incidence of autism, allergies, learning disabilities and attentional problems, depression and anxiety, as well as all sorts of autoimmune conditions are skyrocketing. All of these conditions are related to the state of the microflora in the bowel, which has been severely compromised by these extremely common predisposing stressors.
I will now turn my attention briefly to treatment recommendations. Specific recommendations will be elaborated in future posts. The purpose of all the recommendations is to heal and seal the lining of the gut, thereby restoring and strengthening the patient’s immune function.
Ganesh, his 8 year old brother and his mother all suffer from constipation. I recommend that they all follow the GAPS protocol together, beginning with the Introductory GAPS Diet, (please refer to the link for a list of foods permitted at each stage) remaining at each stage for 3-5 days. If new foods which are introduced are well tolerated, Ganesh may progress to the subsequent stage. Typical indications of his condition and readiness to progress to a subsequent level are his bowels, rash, and behavior. These factors should be monitored in terms of progressing to a more advanced stage of the diet.
As they are all constipated, they should begin introducing fresh pressed vegetable and fruit juices from the beginning mixed with fermented raw cream and egg yolks. (GAPS milkshakes) The sour cream will provide much needed lubrication to the bowel. Raw egg yolks are a very nutritious healing food for the intestinal mucosa. Once they have completed Stage 6, they may progress to the Full GAPS Diet. The Full GAPS diet should be maintained for a minimum of 2 years before careful and controlled introduction of foods not included in the diet.
Another important component of the healing protocol is detoxification. Juicing is a time honored method of detoxification, as are baths with epsom salts, baking soda and seaweed powder. Sunbathing, without the use of sunscreens, is also very supportive to the immune system. Careful attention to the ingredients included in personal care products is essential. Dr. Campbell-McBride stated in the GAPS Practitioner’s training, that if we would not be comfortable putting the product in our mouth, then we should not be putting it on our skin. The skin absorbs everything. It is not a barrier, rather it is a living organ that absorbs materials directly into the bloodstream. The personal care product industry is largely unregulated, and many highly toxic substances that are very damaging to the immune system are commonly used ingredients in skin creams, shampoos, toothpastes, etc.
Only supplementation with fish oil, cod liver oil, an omega 3-6-9 oil blend, an increasing dose of probiotics as tolerated, and elderberry syrup is recommended. No other supplements are to be used at this time.
Constipation should resolve with proper diet, juicing and probiotics. If it persists, it must be treated, and enemas are the recommended method. Laxatives are not to be used. Boiled, filtered water mixed with probiotics and a small amount of natural salt should be used for the enemas.
It is recommended that Ganesh continue to receive all of the in school and at home services to support his functioning. Continued application of the ABA method is recommended. Hopefully as his brain toxicity clears, he will be able to make better use of the training.
The family will return for consultation on an as needed basis. No follow up meeting was scheduled. A report with detailed recommendations was provided. The GAPS healing protocol was conceived of as a self help program and the family need only return should they wish for further support, or if Ganesh’s condition does not improve. I will provide updates about him when they contact me with news of his progress.