Dr. Weyrich's Naturopathic Functional Medicine Notebook is a collection of information on topics of interest to Dr. Weyrich that may be of interest to the world wide audience. Due to limitations of time, not all information that Dr. Weyrich knows or would like to further research is published here. Dr. Weyrich welcomes financial contributions to support specific research topics, as well as copies of non-free access journal articles for him to review on a topic. Constructive criticism is also welcome.


Overview of Autism, Asperger's, and other Developmental Disorders

There is considerable evidence linking gut issues such as dysbiosis in the small intestine to Autism and other neurological complaints. Dr. Weyrich has been trained in the use of the Great Plains Labs Organic Acid Test and other related tests for treating Autism and other neurological complaints.

Complimentary and alternative treatments for autism that are considered below include:

  • Low Dose Naltrexone
  • Neuro-Gen High Performance Neuromodulation (HPN)
  • Conventional Neuro-feedback
  • Neurotransmitter Balancing

Etiology of Autism, Asperger's, and other Developmental Disorders

Autism appears to have a multifactorial origin, and the separation of various factors that are associated with the incidence of autism into cause and effect is far from clear.

For example:

  • Yeast overgrowth in the GI tract is very commonly associated with autism, and symptoms often abate when the yeast infection is cleared.
  • High body burdens of mercury are also often associated with autism, and symptoms often abate when the mercury burden is cleared.
  • But it has also been observed that yeast overgrowth increases the absorption of mercury from the environment.
  • Does that mean that yeast infection causes mercury toxicity?
  • On the other hand, it has also been observed that it is harder to clear a yeast burden without first clearing a coexisting mercury burden.
  • Does this mean that mercury toxicity causes yeast overgrowth?
  • Or do we have a positive feedback cycle in which each reinforces the other?
  • Just to muddy the water further, childhood vaccines have historically contained high levels of mercury (used as a preservative), and there are also reports suggesting that administering certain vaccines while a child has a yeast overgrowth is associated with the onset of autism.

Therefore with the caveat that association does not necessarily distinguish between cause and effect, the following factors have been associated with autism, in no particular order:

  • High incidence of otitis media (ear infections) [Kontstantareas1987]. This may be associated with hearing impairment or to yeast dysbiosis secondary to antibiotic treatment [Shaw2008].
  • Elevated urinary levels of 3-hydroxyphenyl-3-hydroxypropionic acid (HPHPA) and other markers of dysbiotic overgrowth with Clostridia spp. are common in autism [GP].
  • Elevated urinary levels of arabinose, which may be problematic for children with a defect in their metabolism of pentose sugars. High levels of arabinose are found in certain fruits (apples and pears), but also arise from dysbiotic overgrowth of yeast [Shaw2008].
  • Toxic metal exposure (mercury, lead, etc.) [Shaw2008].
  • Gastrointestinal abnormalities observed by Andrew Wakefield (Royal Free Hospital, London) and Karoly Hovarth (University of Maryland School of Medicine) after vaccination with certain types of measles vaccine [Shaw2008].
  • Genetic diseases of purine metabolism reported by Ted Page, Mary Coleman, et al [Shaw2008].
  • MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccine. The British gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield has associated lymphoid hyperplasia of the gastrointestinal tract leading to fecal impaction with the MMR vaccine [Shaw2008]. This research is controversial and was redacted by the British journal Lancet after claims were made of procedural irregularities and conflict of interest. More recently, data obtained from the CDC via the Freedom of Information Act has shown that at least one study conducted by the CDC showed a statistically significant correlation between Autism and the MMR vaccine. However, the CDC has released data from a smaller study showing no statistically significant effect.
  • DPT (Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus) vaccine [Bolte1998].
  • Hepatitis B vaccine [Shaw2008].

Diagnosis of Autism, Asperger's, and other Developmental Disorders


Differential Diagnosis of Autism, Asperger's, and other Developmental Disorders

Generally speaking, insurance companies are more likely to reimburse for treatment of underlying organic disorders than they are for autism itself. Hence it is particularly important to identify and document any underlying organic disorders that may be associated with or cause autistic behavior. Consider the following:
  • Heavy metal toxicity.
  • Gut dysbiosis.
  • Genetic defect in purine metabolism [Shaw2008].
  • Genetic defect in pentose sugar metabolism [Shaw2008].
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency [Pacholok2011].
Note however that insurance companies are reluctant to pay for the tests required to diagnose some of these underlying organic disorders, because a direct linkage between autism and these disorders has not yet been established to the satisfaction of the insurance companies.

Treatment of Autism, Asperger's, and other Developmental Disorders

Please see conventional, complimentary and alternative medical treatments for important background information regarding the different types of medical treatments discussed below.

Naturopathic, Complimentary and Alternative Treatments

  • Treat dysbiosis with appropriate antifungal or antibiotic agents, as indicated by the Organic Acid Test.
  • Reduce the risk of recurrent dysbiosis by adding probiotics and prebiotics to diet and by controlling intake of simple carbohydrates (sugars etc.) that feed yeast.
  • Diagnose and treat any underlying inborn errors of metabolism, using vitamins, minerals, and dietary protocols as appropriate.
  • Implement other dietary modifications based on food sensitivities.

Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN)

According to the Low Dose Naltrexone home page [LDN], Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurodegenerative disease that is associated with autoimmune processes. LDN has been seen to benefit Autism Spectrum Disorder. [LDN] reports that all patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder who were treated by the late Dr. Bihari [Bihari2003] using LDN "have experienced a halt in progression of their illness. In many patients there was a marked remission in signs and symptoms of the disease." [McCandless2009] reports using LDN to treat over 100 ASD children. Please see [LDN_Tina], [LDN_Sarah] for video interviews of parents of autistic children who have benefitted from LDN.

Dr. Weyrich has been trained in the use of Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN). However, Dr. Weyrich has not treated any cases of Autism Spectrum Disorder with LDN.

Please see What is Low Dose Naltrexone? for more information.

Neuro-Gen High Performance Neuromodulation (HPN)

HPN has been reported to be useful for treating autism spectrum disorders [Snook]. Dr. Weyrich has been trained in the use of Neuro-Gen High Performance Neuromodulation system by it's inventor, Corey Snook. However, Dr. Weyrich has not treated any cases of autism spectrum disorders with this technique.

Please see What is Neuro-Gen High Performance Neuromodulation? for more information.

Conventional Neuro-feedback

Neuro-feedback has proven useful for treating and preventing autism spectrum disorders. Dr. Weyrich has been certified in Neuro-feedback since 2008, and more recently completed an additional residency training program at ADD Clinic of Scottsdale, AZ. While at the ADD clinic, he treated a number of cases of autism spectrum disorders.

Please see What is Neurofeedback? for more information.

Neurotransmitter Balancing

Neuro Research [Hinz2015] reports that Autism can be benefited by balancing neurotransmitter levels in the body.

Dr. Weyrich has been trained in neurotransmitter balancing protocols, but has not treated Autism using this technique.

Please see What is Neurotransmitter Balancing? for more information.


Hypotheses regarding Autism, Asperger's, and other Developmental Disorders

Arabinose

It is not clear whether elevated urinary levels of arabinose detected in by the Organic Acid Test" are simply a marker for yeast dysbiosis, or are pathogenic in their own right.

In some cases, it appears that a metabolic defect in the processing of pentose sugars such as arabinose may be the cause, since it is reported that in some children, eating fruits rich in arabinose (apples and pears) rapidly induces an exacerbation of autistic symptoms [Shaw2008].

It has also been hypothesized that arabinose, being an aldol (reducing) sugar which contains an aldehyde functional group, may contribute to pathology by reacting with the terminal ammonia group of the amino acid lysine, which is found in many proteins of the body, to form a pentosidine, which may further react with an arginine in an adjoining protein strand to form a pentosine link [Shaw2008, pg 36]. The pentosidine link alters the structure and function of the affected proteins, which may be enzymes.

Dr. Weyrich notes that this is similar to the mechanisms underlying protein glycosylation, which is measured by the hemoglobulin-A1C test [Sell1989]. Both protein glycosylation and formation of pentosine links are associated with aging - once these links are formed, they persist until the cell they are associated with dies and is replaced. Note that neurons are not replaced when they die. The concentration of pentosidines has been reported to increase linearly with age [Sell1989].

Elevated protein-bound arabinose has been found in the serum proteins of schizophrenics and in children with conduct disorders [Varma1983], [Varma1980]. Dr. Weyrich notes that it is not clear whether this is a marker for elevated arabinose, or a cause of the neurological pathology. In any case, accelerating the aging process is not a good thing.

Elevated urine arabinose has also been found in an autistic child in whom a brain MRI showed diffuse demyelization [Shaw2008].


ICD-10 Codes related to Autism, Asperger's, and other Developmental Disorders


References for Autism, Asperger's, and other Developmental Disorders