Robin M. Sadler, DC
Today’s world is vastly different than world our grandparents lived in. We have different health issues to worry about, more food choices to consider, more pollution, and more technology to name just a few variances. Some of these changes have done great things for mankind and some of them have caused serious consequences. Autism wasn’t something our grandparents thought about, partially because the diagnosis didn’t exist and partially because less people were affected by it.
With 1 in 68 kids being affected by this diagnosis today, it’s not something that can be ignored. There are huge movements in place to make more people aware and to find answers about this diagnosis. To see the best results in treating autism, I believe it needs to be approached from multiple directions. Addressing the changes in normal human physiology is one of those approaches.
There are basic principles that govern the human body and the normal processes it utilizes every day. Just as an orchestra needs to work together in harmony to create beautiful music, your body needs to have all of the systems working together to function optimally as well. If the violin stops playing, the music will not sound optimal. If the violin starts playing a different song, it can even make the music sound bad and mess up the rest of the instruments. Just like in your body, if your nervous system is not functioning properly, the rest of your body will not function optimally either.
If I took a hammer and hit my thumb with it, what would happen? If would cause pain, swelling, redness and inflammation. In a day or two this normal, physiological response would subside and my thumb would go back to normal. This is true of me, you, your grandmother and every other person in the world. Now lets say I hit my thumb with a hammer every two days, for months at a time. What would happen to my thumb then? I would create a constant inflammatory response. My thumb would hurt continuously, it would be red, inflamed, and I would probably create some long-term tissue damage to that area, right? So what if I told you that 95% of the population is doing this to themselves to some degree every day? Food sensitivities are something that almost everyone deals with on a daily basis, whether they realize it or not.
As food travels through our digestive tracts, It is broken down by various enzymes and bacteria and absorbed by our body. Foods that we are reactive to can create an inflammatory reaction within our GI tract due to a specific type of immune response called an immunoglobulin G (IgG) reaction. Our immune systems has many ways of fighting off invaders by using various immune reactions, but I’m just going to focus on the IgG type of immune reaction right now. These foods can promote inflammation not only at our gut, but throughout the rest of our body as well. This inflammatory response can manifest as common symptoms associated with autism, joint pain, headache, fatigue, GI pain, bloating, gas, brain fog, behavioral issues, depression, insomnia and so on. Many people are confused by this idea and can understand how food could cause digestive issues but wonder how this could have an impact on mental and behavioral issues. Let me explain.
As mentioned earlier, every system in your body is connected. You can’t affect one system without having an impact on another. In autism spectrum disorders, we need to focus in on the “orchestra” of the neurological system (neurotransmitters), the endocrine system (hormones) and the immune system (cytokines). These systems are so intimately connected and they all need to be considered when approaching treatment. Each of these systems contain receptors for neurotransmitters, hormones and cytokines, and each system also secretes these three components.
So how do you know if your child is suffering from an improperly functioning “orchestra?” There is fantastic lab testing available that can determine the levels of neurotransmitters, cytokines, inflammatory markers, hormones and even food allergies and sensitivities. Many parents find that after addressing these imbalances, their child sees great improvements in behavior, temperament, GI function and overall wellness.
Of course, this is just one piece of the puzzle.