Autism (ASD) and GI Problems – Part 2

Restoring the balance and diversity of the digestive tract microflora are the keys to restoring proper GI function, thereby influencing autism-related GI symptoms. From my blog post last week, I referenced studies that show that autistic kids have increased levels of Clostridium within the GI microflora.  The treatment focus should not necessarily be to eradicate the Clostridium, but to bring its levels into balance with the multiple other microflora species.

How Clostridium is Detected

When I analyze the condition of a child with autism, I often order an advanced stool test called the Metametrix GI Effects Stool Analysis.   Metametrix Laboratory uses an advanced technique in which the feces sample is checked for levels of predominant bacteria, pathogenic bacteria, yeasts, parasites, and other protozoa, using DNA probes.  The use of DNA probes significantly increases the sensitivity and accuracy of picking up pathogens.

The Treatment of GI Problems

The data provided by the test allows me to not only diagnose Clostridium overgrowth, but also to evaluate the balance of predominant bacteria and other microbes within the child’s GI tract.  It also tells me if the child has gluten intolerance, fat, protein, or carbohydrate malabsorption and bowel inflammation.  This allows me to evaluate whether the GI tract has an imbalance of microflora and how the GI function is affecting the child’s entire health.  By knowing all this, I then use therapeutic doses of specific probiotic strains customized to the child’s needs to restore the balance of microflora, as a component of significantly improving the autistic symptoms.  I also use dietary modifications appropriate for the child’s age to promote GI healing and proper growth and development.   Essential fatty acids in the form of either therapeutic doses of fish oil or flax seed oil are often used to help decrease inflammation and provide fatty acid support.  I may use herbal combinations of okra, deglycerrhizinated licorice or marshmallow root extract to assist with healing of the gut lining.  In some instances, depending on the child’s age, herbal anti-inflammatories such as curcumin, resveratrol, or boswellia may be used.  By utilizing these comprehensive protocols, improvement is accomplished in the child’s condition.

After the treatment plan has been implemented between 2-3 months, the same test is ordered to determine progress of rebalancing of the GI microflora, and repair of the GI tract.  In many instances, it takes months to fully repair a damaged GI tract lining, depending on whether the child was born via C-section or not, whether the child was/is being breast fed or not, or whether antibiotics have been used and how severely they have disrupted the GI microflora.

The most important aspect is to restore balance of function to the GI tract so that the child has a balanced immune system development, preventing many major diseases such as asthma, allergies of many types, and recurrent infections of the throat, ears and upper respiratory tract.  These are the side benefits of using this Functional Medicine approach towards resolving autism.

Dr Husbands is a Chiropractor, a Certified Clinical Nutritionist, an Anti-Aging Healthcare Practitioner and a Functional Medicine Doctor.