October is Canadian Autism Awareness Month. Of equal importance to increasing awareness of this medical condition, is increasing awareness of treatment options that are available to patients who are on the Autism Spectrum.
Many patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder have a myriad of complex health issues they are facing including:
- GI issues such as reflux, constipation, Candida and Bacterial Overgrowth
- Immune dysregulation and frequent viral infections
- Impaired detoxification
- Neurotransmitter imbalances
- Thyroid disorder and hormone imbalances
- Mitochondrial dysfunction
- Sleep disorders
- Focus and attention problems
Naturopathic and biomedical therapies excel at treating the above issues while focusing on natural, holistic therapies when available. One complex issue is detoxification. Chelation therapy is a treatment that is recommended for some children with Autism due to their decreased ability to detoxify heavy metals effectively for many reasons including impaired glutathione production. Parents consistently report chelation therapy as the top treatment for improving behaviour, according to surveys done by the Autism Research Institute.
Chelation is the removal of heavy metals by use of substances with a strong affinity for metals such as lead, arsenic and mercury. One chelator commonly used in children is oral DMSA. It is of the utmost importance to ensure that a child’s detoxification pathways, vitamin and mineral levels and gastrointestinal health are optimized prior to beginning any form of chelation, to make sure the child can tolerate treatment. Dr. Meghan Haggarty, Naturopath works with children to prepare them to undergo chelation therapy safely. Kidney and liver function should also be assessed before treatment and monitored during treatment.
It is also important to test a child before beginning a chelation protocol to determine if they have elevated stored levels of metal and require treatment. Blood levels will only detect toxicity in EXTREMELY high recent and ongoing exposures. Hair and unprovoked urine are also inaccurate at assessing stored levels. The most accurate way to assess overall body burden (how many metals are stored within the body) is a urine provocation test, which involves the administration of a chelator such as DMSA, and comparing a random urine sample with a urine sample after taking the chelator.
If heavy metals are determined to be elevated our naturopathic doctors will work with you to determine the proper chelation protocol for your child. It should be noted that although substances such as chlorella can support detoxification, a study done by the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine showed chlorella had no effect on fecal or urinary excretion of mercury.
Please contact the clinic to discuss if chelation is an appropriate treatment for your child with Dr. Meghan Haggarty, Naturopath as part of a comprehensive naturopathic and biomedical approach to treating Autism.