Archive for the ‘Autistic Spectrum Disorders’ Category

The Gut Brain Connection: What is it and Why Does it Matter?

“All disease begins in the gut.” –Hippocrates

“Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.”  –Hippocrates

This is the first post in a series of posts my friend, Abby, and I will be writing on the Gut Brain Connection, its affect on our own families, and specific healing dietary suggestions.  But before we begin, we must answer the question, just what is the Gut Brain Connection, and why does it matter?

What Is The GBC and Why Does It Matter?

There has been a recent flurry of activity regarding the study of what is frequently called the Gut Brain Connection (GBC). Perhaps you have seen articles posting new study results. Perhaps you have heard of people implementing radical dietary changes in hopes of curing autism, depression, anxiety, and a host of other illnesses, both mental and physical. But the more this issue is researched, especially recently in the wake of what is now becoming an epidemic of autism and other learning disabilities and disorders, the more resoundingly clear the results are: A huge part of our health is directly related to the health of our gut. And much of our mental state has to do with what we are putting in our mouths.

How is the Gut Connected to the Brain?

The gut (our intestinal tract) is the huge tube-like structure that carries our food from our mouth to our stomachs. It engages in tireless work consisting of breaking down food, absorbing nutrients, and eliminating waste. Our guts also contain neurotransmitters, some 100 million of them! that send signals to our brains. In fact, the gut has been coined the “second brain”.  Just like the brain in our heads, our “second brain” can by both functional and dysfunctional.  If our second brain is dysfunctional, it can result in a whole host of diseases and disorders, including autism, ADHD, allergies, mental illness (depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, etc), eczema, autoimmune disorders, IBS, OCD and many others.

How does this work?  This is where the GBC begins to get really interesting.

So What Goes Wrong?

Our gut is designed to be filled with all sorts of beneficial bacteria called flora.  The average adult should contain about five pounds of this bacteria! The flora provides a sort of wall of protection between the thin walls of our intestines and our bloodstream. But this “wall” can become eroded and leave our bodies susceptible to harmful toxins, chemicals, parasites, and undigested foods.  In the words of Dr. Natasha Campbell, author of Gut and Psychology Syndrome, “If the beneficial bacteria in the gut are damaged and are not functioning as they should, then the “walls of the city” are not protected very well…Without protection the gut wall is open to invasion by anything that comes along: a virus from vaccination or the environment, a ubiquitous fungus…various bacteria and parasites and toxic substances, all of which are very capable of damaging our digestive system and causing a chronic inflammation in its walls.” To make matters worse, when “gut flora is compromised, the lack of nourishment it would produce adds to the damage of the digestive wall” and further impairs the guts ability to digest and absorb nutrients.  The is a major reason why so many autistic children have digestive issues.  (This is also the reason why so many autistic, hyperactive, autoimmune people are unable to eat dairy and gluten products.  The gut does not contain the proper tools to digest these nutrients, and so they actually turn into a type of morphine and opiate in their systems. But more on that in future posts!)

Babies are born with sterile guts and acquire their beneficial bacteria through passing through the birth canal and through breastfeeding. Our guts are then continuously populated through diet and environmental factors.

Why Does All This Matter?

“On the whole it is hard to overestimate how important the state of our gut flora is in the appropriate functioning of our immune system.  It has been estimated that around 80-85% of our immunity is located in the gut wall.”  We can begin to clearly see how the health of our gut affects our overall health.  People with damaged guts also have compromised immunity to disease and infection.  This explains why these people catch every illness within ten miles of them.  They lack the protection they are meant to have to fend off pathogens.

But most importantly, when our “walls of defense” are compromised, they are easily breached.  So the food that we eat is not digested properly, resulting not only in malnutrition, but in toxins being released into the bloodstream and brain. Our diets can be full of nutrients, but if the gut is damaged, our body is unable to use them properly. And if our gut is damaged, toxins cannot be properly disposed of, resulting in a buildup of toxicity in a person’s system.

What Harms the Gut Flora?

Our flora is most put at risk when we are taking a prescription antibiotic of some form.  Antibiotics are designed to wipe out all bacteria, good and bad, from the gut.  This then leaves the gut unprotected from flora and open to a host of problems. This “bad flora” can then establish colonies that breed disease and infection because there was not enough beneficial flora to crowd them out.  This, in turn, releases toxins directly into the bloodstream, which affects the brain.  Antibiotics change bacteria, viruses, and fungi present in our guts from benign to pathogenic, giving them the ability to invade tissues and cause diseases.  When antibiotics first came on the market, doctors routinely recommended or prescribed a probiotic along with the antibiotic, recognizing the need to replenish the beneficial bacteria.  But as the years have passed, probiotics have fallen by the wayside, and antibiotics have become the “cure-all” and are even routinely given preventatively to humans and animals alike.  Antibiotics should always be a last resort, but are especially harmful to those who already has compromised gut flora.

Our gut flora is also damaged by other drugs, such as contraceptives, pain killers, and analgesics.  “The Pill” has a particularly devastating effect, since a baby inherits its gut flora from its mother.  If mom has been taking a contraceptive, her gut flora has already been damaged, so she then passes on her abnormal gut flora to her baby.  This can result in eczema, allergies, and other severe learning disabilities.

More recently, a connection has been made between laxatives, specifically Miralax, and damaged gut flora,  leading to severe disabilities such as autism, ADHD, allergies, etc.  If a woman habitually takes a laxative during pregnancy, her unborn baby’s gut is being compromised (this, we have recently learned, is one of the major reasons for our son’s gut damage, which I will detail in later posts).  Autistic children are now routinely prescribed laxatives on a long-term basis, due to their digestive issues.  Many doctors do not yet realize the catastrophic effect this is having on their already compromised patient.

Diet also plays a huge role in healthy gut flora.  “Too many sugary foods and processed carbs increase numbers of different fungi…Processed and sugary carbs also promote population of the gut with worms and other parasites. A diet high in fiber from grains has a profound negative effect on the gut flora.”  Breastfeeding populates the gut with balanced, healthy flora. A diet lacking in probiotic rich foods (as the modern western diet is) is one of the chief culprits of a damaged gut.

What Heals the Gut Flora?

Now we come to the fun part! A damaged gut can be healed! Many people suffering from the diseases and disorders mentioned above have seen dramatic decrease, if not complete reversal of symptoms as they begin to heal their gut.   By implementing a careful diet of nutrient dense foods that are easily digestible (bone broths, eggs, certain vegetables and meats), soothes the damaged gut and prepares it for healing.  Adding a host of probiotics (such as lacto-fermented foods) repopulates the gut with healthy flora.  And most importantly, avoiding the foods that cause more damage to the already damaged gut (sugar, starches, gluten, specifically).  These steps can heal and seal the gut, allowing symptoms to reverse and possibly heal altogether.

There are many forms of dietary suggestions to heal the gut.  In our research on this issue, Abby and I have become convinced that Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s approach to healing the gut is the most beneficial.  She has written extensively on the subject in her book Gut and Psychology Syndrome, which I highly recommend. Be on the lookout for the next post in this series, where we will talk more specifically about Dr. Campbell-McBride’s GAPS diet and how it heals and seals the gut.

For more reading, here is the GAPS website and some recently published articles on the GBC:

GAPS
The Gut Brain Connection-Harvard Health
Think Twice: How the Gut’s “Second Brain” Influences Mood and Well-Being
Your Gut Bacteria Affects Your Brain, Study Confirms
Eat More Yogurt!

Follow Up to my Last Post

I hope to write in more detail later, but for now, I simply wanted to quickly share the latest on Jeshuah as a follow up on my last post. We spoke with Dr. Newhouse about the recurrence of some of the autistic spectrum disorder symptoms, particularly the sensory issues. He reminded me that, while Jeshuah’s initial adjustment to align his atlas completely and totally removed all symptoms immediately, his body will never function completely “normally” like other people’s. He will always have a “weakness,” much like a sprained ankle. While a sprain will heal, there will always be a weakness there. It will never be able to bear as much weight and vigor as an ankle that has not been previously injured.

This is how Jeshuah is. His system has sustained damage that, while it can be “healed” and we can see troublesome symptoms regress or even fully disappear, his system will always be prone to falling back into symptoms without proper care and maintenance. This is why it is so very important for him that we watch carefully what we put into his body. This is why eating purposefully and avoiding harmful chemicals, synthetic ingredients, and processed foods, is especially important for him. The severe constipation he has experienced for months is a result of his intestines not working properly. (Hence, why the GAPS diet would be so much more beneficial for him! Oh, Lord, maybe some day…). I have been really lenient on his foods lately, partially because we are not in a place financially to be able to be very “picky” about what he eats, and partially because I hate being the mom who is always saying, “Oh, no, he can’t have that!”

Anyway, this was supposed to be long story short…Suffice it to say, we have put him on some specific supplements to help his system function better, and we have seen a marked difference in his symptoms in the last week. It is so marked, that when I forget to give him his de-hist three times a day, his symptoms are so strong again, he can barely even play with his toys. The days that I give him all of his supplements, we see little to no autistic symptoms.

It honestly seems like nothing short of miraculous. How can such a severe problem be fixed so simply? And how can the world at large still deny the possible causes and cures when the effects are so obvious?

More later…:-)

PS-Just to clarify, though, I do understand that what has helped Jeshuah does not necessarily help everyone with ASD.  Each person is different and responds differently to treatments.  I also believe that the causes of ASD are wide-ranging and there is not a cure-all.  That being said, though, I believe chiropractic care could drastically help a large number of people.

Getting Back Up on My Feet–or Trying To

It has been pretty quiet on the blog front lately.  All I have managed to keep up with are Eliana’s monthly updates, and that is only eeked out because I desperately want her to have those to look back on. I wish I had been able to do it with Jeshuah when he was that age, so I try very hard to at least publish those.  I have not kept up well on the Monthly Chemical Elimination. Sometimes I simply can’t find good natural alternatives.  Sometimes we just can’t afford them.  Sometimes I just don’t have the time or energy to sit down and blog about it.  While we began the GAPS diet, we were unable to maintain it.   It is very, very hard.  And very expensive.  Maybe someday…

We have had a lot going on that was either not blog-worthy, or too deep to process in cyberspace.  Some of my absence is due to the fact that, while two kids is even more fun than one, it is definitely more time-consuming!  Part of my absence is from attempting to be more present with my children and have less of on on-line presence.  That I do not regret at all:-) Some of my laxity has been two months of basement renovation stretching into an agonizing six months of boxes, piles, and drywall dust scattered across every corner of the house.  Or perhaps it is the fact I have picked up some extra hours doing bookkeeping during the kids naps a couple of days a week.  (Those naps are usually when my creative juices begin to flow a bit more freely in the quiet and solitude.)  Another issue that has been weighing heavier and heavier on my heart is the fact that, as much improvement as we have seen in Jeshuah over the last year on the autistic scale, there are some markers creeping back up that whisper that he may still have some residual issues that cannot be repaired by chiropractic care.  We continue to be concerned about a possible sensory disorder, as well as some mild cognitive and developmental delays.  And some days just are so exhausting I feel that I can barely put one foot in front of the other.  Some days it is simply the stress and anxiety of the questions of what is wrong and how we can help him that wear on me.

I have been in a season of chaos and disorder.  While my house has been in upheaval, so has everything else it seems.  I have let slide the routines that have helped maintain my sanity in the past, feeling simply incapable of keeping up, and that perhaps a reprieve from so much order and structure would do me good.

It hasn’t.

It has not done any of us any good. Especially when we cannot find any clean clothes to wear:-)

I am now trying to re-instigate order, structure and routine into our home to bring it back into some semblance of peace.  One of the biggest struggles for Jehsuah is a lack of predictability and order.  Watching him these last few months, it is apparent how beneficial boundaries and structure are for him, and how much he struggles when it is absent.  So for his sake, as well as the rest of the family, I am trying to be more disciplined.

Most of all, I am begging for grace to accomplish all of the above, and to remember it is not about trying harder.  It is not about being stronger, for when I am weak, then HE is strong! It is not about me doing my best. It is about surrendering my life into Christ’s hands and asking Him to do the work through me.  He has always been faithful in the past. I know He will be faithful still.

Forgive me for the weighty tone of this post.  I am just recently coming to grips with the fact that Jeshuah may still need additional help, and I am exhausted by the mere thought.  I am finally admitting to myself and others that we may not be out of the woods.  And while I know of so many others out there who have so much more painful, difficult situations that they are facing, this is what we are facing.  And it is hard enough. But so thankful that God is good enough. So much more than good enough!

Beginning Our Journey Through GAPS

Last year, when we were growing concerned about Jeshuah’s autistic symptoms, I began doing research on the explosion of autism in the recent years.  One of the books I found extremely helpful and compelling is Dr. Natasha Campbell’s “Gut and Psychology Syndrome.”  In it, she draws the correlation between our “gut” (intestinal) health and our overall health, particularly our mental health.

You see, our brain’s function is dependent on our body receiving the proper nutrients.  Over time, our bodies can become overloaded with toxins from the air that we breathe and the food that we eat.  In the last few decades, our diets have changed drastically.  Where people once used to live off of the natural, real food of the land, industrialization has now afforded us the ability to now eat primarily processed, packaged, manufactured “foods,” most of which contain chemicals or have been sprayed with pesticides or preservatives which are extremely toxic. (Obviously. They are meant to kill pests!).  All of these chemicals and processed foods are harmful to our bodies, and over time can cause excessive damage.

But the purpose of this post is not to provide proof that the American diet is harmful, or that the introduction of so many chemicals has done more damage than good.  There is ample proof for that elsewhere. My desire is to share how our family has (finally) decided to take these threats seriously and dramatically change the way we eat.

I have been convicted about doing this for some time now, but I have been so intimidated by the magnitude of the task, that I have put it off.  When Jeshuah’s autistic symptoms disappeared with chiropractic treatment, the urgency to change our diet was not there any more.  However, he still has allergies, skin irritations, pain in his arms and legs, etc. that leads us to believe there is more going on with him.

Eliana and I have also been battling thrush for weeks now and Stephen has had recurring digestive issues.  All of this can probably be treated by going on Dr. Campbell’s GAPS diet.  Her research has shown her that the reason for many of these issues is that the protective lining of the gut becomes worn down and then the toxins from our food go directly into our blood stream and affect our immune and brain function, causing a wide range of issues, including autism, ADHD, allergies, depression, chronic yeast infections, etc.

But the gut lining can be healed, and these issues can be greatly diminished or disappear completely.  The healing process typically takes at least two years on the diet, depending on the severity of the issues.  Once healing has taken place, you can usually begin eating many foods that were not allowed on the diet before–foods such as gluten and ones that have a high starch content like potatoes.  These things are not bad, they simply do not aid the process of healing once the gut has been damaged.  But while you are able to return to eating most foods, all foods should still remain whole and real in order to avoid re-injuring the gut.

And so this is the process our family is beginning.  That GAPS diet looks extremely overwhelming and intimidating at first, but the more I research, the more I find out my options, and the more comfortable I become.

We plan to start the diet in April, and commit to being on it for at least two years.  It means daily detox baths.  It means ridding our home of harmful chemicals.  It means all of our meat needs to be organic/grass-fed/hormone/antibiotic-free, etc.  It means all dairy products are organic and raw and preferably fermented (yogurts, kefirs, etc.). It means all produce must be organic and fresh–nothing canned. It means nearly everything we eat is made from scratch.  Obviously, this means no eating out. It means we will have to bring our own food with us when we visit other people. It means a lot of hard work and sacrifice.  But we trust it will all be worth it in the end.

For a full list of foods allowed and not recommended, visit here.

Making an Informed Decision Concerning Vaccines

CDC-AAP-Immunization-Schedule-2011

Since posting our story on Hope for Healing Autism, I have been asked a lot of questions regarding my opinion on vaccines and whether or not we would choose to vaccinate in the future.   When our son was born and the question of vaccines came up, all I knew was that it was a widely debated issue. I myself had been fully vaccinated and had no reason to question the validity of this practice.  But, with my awareness that this was a controversial topic and my “question everything” personality, I knew I needed to study this issue myself and come to my own conclusions on the matter.

At first I was overwhelmed by the mixed reviews and conflicting reports. I became so frustrated with the fact that everything I read seemed to come to a different conclusion on which vaccines were safe, if any. My doctors urged me to vaccinate for the wellbeing of my child and the world at large.  Parenting magazines stated that there is no validity to the claims that autism is linked with vaccines. Friends urged me that this was not true and that vaccinations were dangerous. Other friends argued the exact opposite.

In the end, it was largely my research into the autoimmune disorder epidemic that heightened my awareness that there is more to all of this than meets the eye. After much reading and studying, we have come to the conclusion that we feel it is safest not to vaccinate.  I know that statement will turn some people off instantly, but I have compiled a list of facts I wish I had known when I began researching this issue in the first place.  It is my desire that these facts will help you better understand the debate, become more accurately informed, and most of all, will help you to be comfortable with whatever choice you make in this area for your own family. Feel free to disagree with or disregard any or all of this information.  To the best of my knowledge, it is accurate, but as with anything, it may have its flaws.

I do not want to convince anyone of anything.  I do not want to cause arguments or debates. I simply want parents to be able to make more accurately informed decisions concerning vaccines.

Interesting Facts Regarding Vaccines and Disease[1]

  • A two month old baby can receive as many as 8 vaccines on a single day. At age 15 to 18 months, a child can receive as many as 12 vaccines on a single day. 
  • During the past quarter century, the number of children with learning disabilities, ADHD, asthma and diabetes has more than tripled.
  • An epidemic of chronic disease and disability is plaguing America. Our children are the most highly vaccinated children in the world and they are among the most chronically ill and disabled.
  • More than twice as many children have chronic brain and immune system dysfunction today than did in the 1970’s when half as many vaccines were given to children.

Factors that Weighed into our Decision on Vaccinations:

  • It is a common misnomer that when children aren’t vaccinated, they are at risk for life threatening diseases.  It is widely believed that vaccines have saved our world from all sorts of diseases.  However, health statistics show that there was a steady decline of infectious diseases in developing countries whether they had vaccines or not.   There was also a decline in infectious disease for which there were no vaccineIt is believed that this decline is due to improved sanitation, hygiene and better nutrition.[2]
  • By 1850-1940, instances of infectious diseases were down by 90%.  This was long before we began introducing most vaccines.  In a study done by John and Sonja McKinlay in St. Martin’s Press, New York, it was stated that “it is estimated that at most, 3.5% of the total decline in mortality since 1900 could be ascribed to medical measures introduced for the diseases considered.  Furthermore, medical measures were introduced several decades after marked decline had already set in and having no detectable influences in most instances.”[3] Only 10% of the world got the smallpox vaccine.  Yet we hear that this vaccine eradicated smallpox.  According to Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, “Smallpox would have died out anyway regardless of the vaccine.”[4]  This is also the case with Polio.  The disease was already dying out before the vaccine was introduced.[5]
  • But if you don’t vaccinate, your kids could get meningitis, etc.!”  Statistics actually show that the majority of people who report getting these infectious diseases are, by far, the ones who were vaccinated. 80% of people who get the flu have been vaccinated against it.[6] Multiple studies show that more children who have been fully vaccinated get measles than those who are unvaccinated.
  • The amount of required vaccinations has more than doubled in the last twenty years, bringing the grand total recommended vaccinations to 49 within the first 6 years of a child’s life.[7]
  • The FDA wants to add even more vaccines into these tiny baby’s bodies almost as soon as they are born, including a flu shot twice a year for the first two years followed by an annual flu shot for life.
  • Most of these vaccines are given before the age of five.  Yet the majority of the brain’s development is in the first five years of life.  The toxins in the vaccines inhibit the brain’s ability to develop properly.
  • It is a common misnomer that a student is required to be vaccinated in order to attend school. However, each state has exemptions.  Find out how you can be exempt in your state.
  • The things that fill vaccines are known neurotoxins (e.g. formaldehyde, thimerosol (mercury), aluminum, ammonium sulfate, aborted fetal tissue, antibiotics, MSG)[8], meaning they are literally poison to the brain. Our bodies cannot detoxify these substances, and therefore, they hide away in our brains and bodies creating new diseases.[9]
  • Each vaccine has been tested individually.  However, they have not been tested together.[10]  And now that so many vaccines are required, they developed “cocktails” so that our little ones only have to receive one or two pricks instead of five or six.  This sounds appealing to the mother concerned about the pain involved in getting shots, but can these little bodies handle this many toxins at once?  Once again, studies have not been done to show the safety of these vaccines given in numerous doses, nor have there been long term studies on the affects of all of these new vaccines being given to our little ones at a younger and younger age.
  • Vaccines artificially expose the body with these viruses in a way the body was not meant to defend against. God made our bodies with the amazing ability to heal and protect itself. Babies are exposed to germs in the air, and their bodies are constantly learning to detoxify them and strengthen them. But only when they are introduced in this natural way, by breathing them in etc. are their immune systems able to build up a defense against them.  When they are injected directly into the bloodstream, the body’s natural defense mechanisms are not triggered properly.[11] As one researcher said, our bodies never grow stronger by taking the easy way out. It is only through the difficult way, that is, being exposed to and fighting the germs the way God intended that our bodies can build up that lifelong immunity to the much scarier adult forms of the diseases (shingles from chicken pox for example). Vaccines do not trigger the lifelong immunity that actually catching the disease does. This is why you have to be re-vaccinated every 5-7 years.
  • Many of these vaccines, like the Hep B vaccine, were never tested on newborns for safety–only 5-6 years olds.[12] Yet new moms are told to give their babies this vaccine moments after it enters the world!
  • Most of the vaccines–like the one for pertussis–are not even given until after two months of age, and yet an infant’s greatest risk is before they are two months old.[13]
  • Statistically, infectious diseases such as influenza and pertussis are rarely fatal.   When these diseases prove fatal, it is in those who are autoimmune compromised, such as the very young, the autoimmune disordered, and the elderly.  However, because of the nature of vaccines introducing disease into the body, autoimmune disordered children are recommended not to receive any further vaccinations.  And yet they are the ones with the highest risk for fatality if they catch the disease.
  • We are not taking into account the cost at which we are attempting to “save” our children from illness. We will vaccinate in hopes of preventing them getting polio and tuberculosis, but at what point do we say, “Which is worse? The threat of an illness that has all but been eradicated? or the new childhood epidemics autism, asthma, ADHD and allergies that are paralyzing people and are called “living death” that are strongly linked with receiving vaccines?”
  • Much of what drives the vaccine issue is fear. We are so afraid we will harm our children we will do anything to help them! And most people think this IS helping them. Fear is the big motivator. We are running to get these vaccines because we are afraid.  But the more we inform ourselves, the less we realize we need to fear.

Understanding the Immune Response to Infectious Disease vs. the Immune Response to Immunization[14]

What is the difference between normal immune system response to illness and vaccination?  If we do not inform ourselves, we live in fear.  When our babies are born, everything in their body is underdeveloped except their brain stem.  This is a time when they need to be protected from toxins, not assaulted with them.  What is the process?  When the body is exposed to an infectious illness, the body identifies it and begins detoxifying to fight against it.  It initiates white blood cells and T cells which attack the invader directly.  When the THi cell gets involved, your  body develops lifelong immunity.  A fever (up to a certain point) plays a critical role in fighting off the infection in the body.  There is no system in the human body which is strenghtened by avoiding challenges, but only through overcoming them. The medical model does the opposite of what the body is doing.  If you challenge the immune system and it overcomes, it is healthier.  If children are not well, there are so many things you can do to proactively help their bodies respond better.

Let us look at the way our body responds to food poisoning for instance. When we eat bad food, we vomit.  Is this unpleasant? Yes.  But it is actually our body ridding itself of the poisons.  The body goes through a similar process when it is exposed to infectious illnesses.  However, there are some major differences in the body’s response to an encountered illness and an injected illness. First, when an unvaccinated child is walking around the world, they are being exposed to infectious diseases slowly.  A child is not going to be exposed to eight different diseases all at once.  When we are injected with a vaccine, we are not only changing the timing of exposure, but the method. When we vaccinate, we bypass the normal method and inject it straight into the muscle (also all the toxins).  If it goes into the blood, that disease can go into all the vital organs of the body and wreak havoc. TH2 cells are stimulated, and they do not have lifelong immunity, which is why you have to be continuously re-vacccinated for the rest of their lives to maintain “immunity.”

Hep B vaccine was designed for the prostitutes and drug users.   Hep B is passed by having multiple sexual partners or by dirty needles. Now they are giving it to babies within the first few hours of their birth.

Being informed on the facts of how rarely anyone actually dies from these illnesses, we realize we do not have to live in fear to do whatever it takes to prevent it—even exposing ourselves and our children to even more harmful toxins to avoid them getting the actual disease.

A bit about mercury content in vaccines[15]

The FDA has stated “lead, cadmium, and mercury are examples of toxic elements that are toxic even when present at relatively low levels…”  Mercury is the most poisonous neurotoxin on this earth.

When women become pregnant, one of the first things they are warned not to eat is any type of fish. Why is this? Because of the mercury contained in fish.  Even a nursing mother is told to avoid fish due to the mercury content.

Thimerosol is a form of inorganic mercury.  It has long been associated with serious neurological disorders.

While thimerosol has been largely removed from vaccines, there are many concerns about the legitimacy of this claim.  First, if it is not an active ingredient, manufacturers do not have to list it in the ingredients. So you may ask for thimerosol free and think you are getting it, but it may still be in there. Also, they have been gradually weeding out the thimerosol over the past few years, and when tested, trace amounts still exist within the vaccines. It is kind of like a food that has been manufactured on equipment that had previously been used to produce peanuts.  They list that fact on the side because even trace amounts of peanuts can be fatal to those with an allergy.  And remember what the FDA said about even trace amounts of mercury—it is toxic. And then there is the question of what they replaced the thimerosol with—are there studies on their safety?

In the 1950’s, the amount of thimerosol that five year old children were exposed to via vaccines was 50 micrograms.  By the year 2003, children were receiving 212.5 mcg of thimerosol by the age of 5.  According to the EPA Safety recommendation, infants should receive no more than .01mcg-4 mcg a day.  However, in one round of vaccines, an infant will receive 41-60 times the amount of recommended thimerosol (FDACenterfor Biologics Evaluation and Research).  These neurotoxins do not get eliminated.  They are absorbed into the brain like water in a sponge, causing long term damage.

Rhogam still contains full level of mercury-25 mcg.  It is possible, though very difficult, to find Rhogam shots that do not have thimerosol in them. If you are pregnant and have the Rh factor, ask for a specific list of ingredients and ensure you are receiving the vaccine without rhogam.

_________________________________________________________________

I have done my best to gather reliable information in my research on vaccines.  I would have liked to footnote more thoroughly, but it was rather overwhelming since a lot of the information was gleaned from multiple sources and can be found at numerous locations.  I have listed below many of my sources so you can seek out further information for yourself. Please do not fault my improper citation below. I did not list every publishing detail, etc. I mostly just linked to websites or articles. It is not my mom’s fault. She taught me better. Really.

Healing the New Childhood Epidemics, Dr. Kenneth Bock

Gut and Psychology Syndrome, Dr. Natasha Campbell

The Vaccine Book, Dr. Bob Sears

Thinktwice.com


Hope for Healing Autism: Our Story

Any of our friends who have known and interacted with Jeshuah over the past few months will notice a drastic difference in his personality and behavior from that which we had been so concerned about for the better part of a year. That is, the very real possibility of him developing an autistic spectrum disorder. Indeed, every day I continue to marvel at the changes in him, hardly able to believe it myself. And yet it has all happened so fast, I realize I have not had the chance to tell many of you yet.  I find many friends whom we do not see regularly are completely unaware of how our household has changed in these last few months.  Allow me to fill you in on what has happened.

While Jeshuah, currently eighteen months old, has never been officially diagnosed with the label of autism, by twelve months of age, there were many symptoms which caused our pediatrician and therapists to be concerned.  He had some precursors, some “red flags” or warning that he may be developing it.  You see Autism as we define it nowadays is a kind of regressive autism, in that these 1 in 110 kids who have it now are not born with it. They develop it by the age of three. For more detailed information, see my post on Autism here or check out the resources at the bottom of this post.

Since this form of autism doesn’t typically show up fully until between two and three years of age, when he was evaluated by his doctor and therapists, they all said he has some concerning symptoms, but we would just have to wait and see.

When it comes to the health and wellbeing of our son, Stephen and I are not “wait and see” type of people. I remembered remarking to Stephen after watching Temple Grandin last year, “If someone was going to have a kid with autism, it would be me.  I would be Temple’s mom. I would be beating down doctor’s doors to find the answers to help my child and not just label and give up.”

A couple of months later I began noticing things about Jeshuah that were developmentally and socially disconcerting.  It began with his obsessive spinning of round objects around 9 months of age. At first it was amusing, adorable, amazing, and entertaining.  But after a few months, when I realized that was all he ever, ever, ever did and he was growing further and further behind all his friends developmentally, I began to grow concerned.

And then he got his 12 month immunizations (at 14 months since we were behind).  I had been hesitant to get him immunized in the first place, as my research on the issue was inconclusive and left me just plain uncomfortable.  However, well-meaning people and doctors pressured me that it was vital to his health and well-being and the health and well-being of all children, and I felt compelled to do it.  Although I noticed a distinct disturbance in his habits and sleep every set of shots he got, I tried to brush it off as inconsequential as everyone sites these concerns and thinks nothing of them. (Now that I have had a chance to research this issue further, I have blogged some of my findings here.)

Because I had delayed and denied some, the doctors were catching him up to date, and I was distracted by that visit by our doctor’s concern over Jeshuah’s obsessive spinning. I didn’t notice how many immunizations they were giving him, nor that they were giving him immunizations that I had previously been denying. When I left the office and gathered the papers of info for the shots he had just received, my heart was sickened at the amount of vaccines he had been given in a single day and that he had received vaccines that I didn’t want him having in the first place. But it was too late now. I would watch much more carefully next time I was in the office.

But that night Jeshuah woke up screaming.  A couple of hours later, he was awake again.  And then again.  While he had been sleeping through the night beautifully long before that, for the next month, Jeshuah awoke in the night multiple times, screaming and distraught. When he awoke in the morning, I wept as I watched him crawl around the house, sobbing inconsolably, banging his head on the hard wood floors, writhing, flailing and screaming. Nothing I could do calmed him.  At first I chalked it up to teething.  But now that he has grown multiple more teeth without so much as a fuss, I realize that correlation was most likely inaccurate.

It was around that time that we noticed spinning things both consoled and distressed him.  He would spin by the hour, his body stiffening, his face contorting, eyes squinting, making choking/gasping noises, and then he would look at us and begin to cry. And spin again. The whole cycle would repeat itself continuously. (This video shows only a very mild stiffening/seizing compared to what it later became.)

That was when we took away everything he could spin.  That proved difficult as he tried to spin everything so we were pared down to a few simple toys that didn’t have pieces or any rounded edges.  But now we had a difficult time any time we left the house. He would see wheels on cars or rounded light bulb posts and go into fits and frenzies, signing that he wanted to spin them. He began withdrawing socially, cowering into me as soon as we walked into church or anywhere there was a crowd of people. Clinging to me, he would burrow his head, cry, and refuse to be put down. (I am aware of separation anxiety. This was very different. In general, he has never minded new people or been clingy to either Stephen or me only.  This terror in large crowds was a reaction to sensory overload, and if I took him in a dark room by himself, he would calm right down).

As I researched further, speaking with friends whose children had begun to develop similar issues, many seemingly unconnected symptoms began to connect like pieces in a puzzle.  Jeshuah has always had allergic reactions to things, breaking out in hives, turning red with hot skin, watery eyes, etc.  Since he was eight months old, he has been sick nearly constantly. Almost every time we end up at the urgent care with an antibiotic prescription. He catches every germ that passes and his body simply cannot fight off any infection by itself.

Doctors are beginning to find that this regressive autism is actually caused by an autoimmune disorder.  Short version: their little bodies’ immune system has backfired and turned on itself.  Because it is constantly attacking itself, it cannot ward off any infection it is exposed to.  This would explain why such a large number of families report drastic behavioral changes directly after their child is immunized.  While vaccines may be considered “safe” for the general population, they are not recommended for anyone whose immune system is already compromised. Why? Because a vaccine is actually a tiny bit of that virus (or, in our day and age multiple viruses in the same vaccine) that, when injected, is designed to build an immunity within your body to the real virus.  However, if your system is already overwhelmed by attacking itself, it cannot adequately defend itself against this new virus. Instead, it buries itself away in the body and wreaks havoc. Many children develop immediate and severe behavioral changes following vaccination, but this goes largely unreported, and when it is reported, doctors brush it off as a coincidence. Which is exactly what our pediatrician did, with a disgusted shake of his head at my concern. When I cited concern that his behavior had dramatically regressed immediately following each vaccine, he denied the possibility that they were connected and informed me that I would need to find a new pediatrician if I intended to discontinue vaccinations.

Around this time, I had been conducting extensive research into the area of upper cervical chiropractic and its treatment of autistic kids.  Through a family friend, we heard about a practitioner in the area who was working with autistic spectrum disordered children and seeing dramatic improvement.  Stephen and I are both very skeptical and wary of chiropractors in general, but we know there are both legitimate and illegitimate ones out there.  I have to admit, it took many weeks of thinking, praying, and researching for us to even begin to think a chiropractor could in any way help our son.

However, when we finally took the time to watch the documentary on upper cervical chiropractic, the lightbulb went on in both our heads. This particular school of chiropractic focuses on the atlas, the first bone in your neck.  It is through this bone which all your nerves run, sending messages to the rest of your body.  The following quotes were taken from upper-cervical.com:

“The brain, like a powerful computer system controls and monitors all bodily functions. Brain messages; signals from the brain to the body are the medium used to communicate instructions from the brain to the different body parts. These brain messages move in a vast network of connections, our nervous system, which allows the brain to communicate with even the most remote part of the body.”

When the atlas becomes misaligned (which can happen for any number of reasons, from birth trauma to a bad fall, car accident, etc), the nerves running through the neck become pinched, inflamed, or irritated and can begin to send the wrong signals.  These incorrect signals include anything from mimicking multiple sclerosis, to blindness, to autism.  But when this bone is set back in place, the symptoms disappear within hours, days, or weeks (depending on severity and length of misalignment).

“As soon as the correction is made, muscles begin to relax, blood and oxygen circulation increases, the immune system gains strength and vitality and the body’s natural, self-healing process begins.”

Does this mean that everyone who has cancer, is deaf, and has allergies should go to an upper cervical doctor and will be healed? Unfortunately, no.  These, and many other issues, are very real problems which may be completely unrelated to the atlas, and therefore, this procedure would not help.  However, the fact of the matter is that many, many issues are merely masquerading as other problems, when in reality, the brain simply has its wires crossed. Rather literally.

Now that I am done with that rather technical explanation (sorry! I probably find this way more fascinating than most people), I want to tell you about our own experience with this chiropractic care.  Once we understood the premise, we figured it was worth a try.  After all, the doctors don’t have any answers for us, and other people are finding help this way–we might as well try!

We scheduled the appointment with Newhouse Health Solutions and took him in the next day.  Sure enough, his little atlas was off, and with a couple of gentle nudges (most of which made Jeshuah giggle because he thought he was being tickled), Dr. Newhouse set him to rights and informed us that we should expect a very large poo and a very lengthy sleep that night.

As Stephen and I drove away, we both had a sick feeling in the pit of our stomach that we had just wasted our money on quackery.  We spoke about how neither one of us could even imagine our son seeing a round object and not spinning it.  We could not fathom taking him to a parking lot and not seeing him seize up at the sight of wheels.  It was all too good to be true. A fairy tale dream that didn’t exist.  I began settling in my heart what my next steps would be when this treatment proved to fail.

That night Jeshuah slept like a log and, true to prediction, had one very. large. poo.  I still held out little hope that I would actually see any improvement in my son’s obsessive, abnormal behavior.  However, the next day I brought Jeshuah home from a round of errands, set him down on the floor, and relayed to Stephen, “I just took Jeshuah to multiple stores, and I just realized…he never even seized up at the sight of all the cars.”  Later that day, I took him for a walk, and he merely walked past the cars parked on the street, hardly noticing their rounded wheels.  Two days prior, we would be permanently waylaid at the sight of any wheel, and then there would be tantrums and fits when he wasn’t able to spin them. I locked these observences away in my mind, still too afraid to hope.

Earlier that week Jeshuah had taken some of his first real steps, and by the end of the week, he was practically unstopable.

And then came Sunday.

Because Jeshuah had had strep throat earlier in the week, I didn’t want to put him in the nursery. So I stayed with him in the library, where there were speakers to listen and a window in the door to see the pastor.  I had brought a can of Puffs in case he got hungry and pulled them out towards the end of the sermon.  As soon as I whipped them out of the bag, my heart sank as I realized I had not only let him see the lid, but I had placed it on the floor as a plate for the Puffs.  If I ever let him see the round lid, he wanted nothing to do with eating the Puffs, but only wanted to obsessively spin the lid. I reached to retract it quickly, but he was faster.  He had eaten the Puffs off it, lifted up the lid, and the beckoned for me to hand him the can. I blinked in confusion, but handed it down to him.  He took the lid in both hands and placed it on top of the can. He then removed it, looked at it, then put it back on.

Even as I write this, I know it is impossible to convey to you how significant that event was.  Never, ever, ever, had Jeshuah even attempted to place a lid on its container. When the therapist worked and worked with him, all he would do was spin it.  I could not let him see any of the tupperware when I would pull his leftovers out of the fridge. There would be a frenzied panic to spin them–even the square ones.  But the first time, I watched as Jeshuah not only didn’t react to seeing the round lid, but he used it as it was intended to be used, to seal a container.

As soon as church was over, I rushed into the auditorium to relay the news to Stephen.  Jeshuah was on my hip, and I realized, as we headed into the crowd of people eager to go eat lunch, he was not cowering into me.  In fact, he was reaching for me to put him down! In shock, I let him down, and he took off down the aisles, chasing the older kids back and forth, laughing at his accomplishment.  I turned to Stephen, eyes wide.  How many times had we tried to put him down on this same floor to show off his tricks to the people there? Every time, he clung and cowered and whimpered. But not today.  Today it was like we were watching someone else’s child laugh and play with other kids, unfazed by the lights or crowds of people.

When we took him to lunch that day, we sat near the windows, where I only later realized he could see straight to the cars on the street. Halfway through the meal I marveled to Stephen, Daniel and DeAnna to look at Jeshuah and take note of the fact that he didn’t even care about the cars driving past, even though he had seen them.  Not two weeks before, while out to lunch with a friend, I couldn’t even get him to eat because he was transfixed by the window, stiff, shaking and seizing the entire meal as he watched the parking lot.

After that, we began to notice more and more little things.  Suddenly Jeshuah was “into everything!” like so many moms complain about. He was pulling things off shelves, dumping out baskets of toys, and driving objects around the house, making motor noises as he followed behind.  He was curious about everything, finding new ways to use toys, opening and closing cupboards and drawers, hiding little toys to find later. His constant runny nose cleared up, his cheeks and ears stopped flushing red-hot.  He settled into a restful pattern of waking and sleeping. He began jabbering constantly, making dozens of new sounds and responding to questions like “what does the monkey say?”

Last month, I called his therapists and withdrew him from the early intervention program.  He has no need of it anymore. He is as normal as normal can be.  I thought I would never know what that felt like. I don’t think we will ever take “normal” for granted again, though. As difficult as this road has been, I am so thankful we have walked it. I am thankful to have stood in the shoes of parents who wrestle through the possibility or reality of their children having disorders, syndromes, and other “abnormalities.” I am thankful for all the research I did and all the knowledge and resources I have tucked away to hopefully be able to encourage others now.

I want others to know our story.  I want other people to find the same help.  It is not for everyone–a misaligned atlas is not everyone’s problem.  But I guarantee you it is some people’s problem. It was our problem, and now it is gone! We continue to see progress as Jeshuah’s immune system regains its full function.  Two weeks ago he had strep again, and he has had some seizing recently.  Dr. Newhouse explained that it is like a sprained ankle.  You can regain the use, but there may still be some scar tissue there that flares up occasionally.  Perhaps the seizing is residual from the infection and a weakened immune system.  Perhaps it is because I have been extremely lenient with what he has been eating over the last month.  Perhaps it is because I reintroduced dairy.  His diet may play a part in all of this, too.  Over the next few weeks I will experiment with his diet and see if that helps.  But even the mild seizing that we have seen is so mild, and so different from what it used to be. It is more of an excitement than anything, and it doesn’t cause my heart to plummet the way it used to.

So that’s where we are right now. As far as we are concerned, Jeshuah is “healed.”  We do not consider him on the autistic spectrum or in danger of ever being on it. We have wrestled with a lot of difficult things and asked a lot of questions over the last many months.  But we seem to be on the other side of that now. Could we see ourselves back there again? Of course–anything is possible! And yet at the moment, we do not suspect that will happen.

One thing we do know for sure and certain. That is, no matter what the outcome in all of this, our God is faithful to keep us, and we give him glory for all of this!

I shot this video this afternoon.  This was the first time he had even seen his donuts since we put them away six months ago.  Even after everything I have detailed, I was virtually shaking as I showed them to him, anxious that he would do what he had always done and spin, spin, spin. But I had to try and see what would happen!

While I understand this post is far from exhaustive in its scope, I have tried to be as accurate in my information as possible.  Information in this post has been gleaned from many sources, many of which have been friends, relatives, and physicians.  Some websites and books I have read and recommend include the following:

Gut and Psychology Syndrome

Healing the New Childhood Epidemics: Autism, ADHD, Asthma, and Allergies

Newhouse Health Solutions

ACN Forums

What is the deal with Autism, anyway??

April is Autism Awareness month.

1 in 110 children are diagnosed with autism today.  

It is an epidemic, and the search continues to find its causes and cures.

And yet the general populous remains largely unaware and sadly misinformed about what autism is exactly, and the unique and painful journey which faces the families who deal with it.  A complicating factor in this whole issue is the “gifted” nature of many autistic kids.  Many times you will find that, while socially awkward and emotionally unavailable, these children are brilliant in one or two areas if someone can figure out how to teach them the way they learn. Take Temple Grandin for example. She is a high functioning autistic who revolutionized cattle ranching and processing in this country with her genius for knowing how animals think and how to be more efficient and humane at the same time. So it can be easy to think, “Hey! Autism is a gift! Just tap into their genius and leave them alone.”

But if you have ever known an autistic child or seen Temple Grandin’s movie, I hope you have an understanding that these gifts come with a high price tag.  When we began to learn how to teach and get into the minds of these amazing kids, we began to learn just how terrifying and painful their world is.  What is a normal noise to us is deafening and horrifying for them. What is an average conversation for us sends them into a panic attack.  What seems a routine change of plans for us spins their entire world out of control and they do not have the resources to deal with it and function and think clearly in the ways that we do. We take that for granted.  These wonderful, misunderstood people are living in a world of physical and emotional pain, and most of them are still completely unreached.

For the last few months, we have been engaged in much research, consulting, questioning and, yes, at times, debating, which direction to take with caring for Jeshuah in light of the possible autistic spectrum disorder.  The heartbreaking thing about ASD is that the medical field is baffled by the outbreak.  They don’t know what to do with it, and they don’t know how to help the families and children dealing with it.  The most they can do is treat the symptoms, but they have no hope regarding the disease.

In my research, though, I have found a different perspective: there is much hope for ASD! New studies are shedding light on its possible causes and, yes, even cures! A major complication in getting to the bottom of ASD is the wide ranging symptoms.  It is literally different for every single case. How do you even begin to deal with the from a medical perspective? That is why there is the broad spectrum of autistic disorders, ranging from mild to severe.

But I take heart when I hear of people like Dr. Kenneth Bock, Dr. Kerry, and Dr. Newhouse making major strides toward getting to the bottom of this myserious and debilitiating epidemic.  Dr. Bock’s research is showing that the root cause of ASD (and you can also lump into that asthma, allergies, and ADHD! Same cause, different manifestations) is an autoimmune disorder. To make it really simple, the immune system, which is supposed to keep the body functioning and healthy, has gone into attack mode–on itself.  The body is so overwhelmed it cannot function properly, and the brain responds by sending out any number of hundreds of distress signals.

Because each of our bodies are unique, just as our fingerprints are, no two bodies react and respond in the same manner.  The result is such a varying degree of seemingly unrelated symptoms that it is baffling to parents and doctors alike.

Praise the Lord for Dr. Bock and others like him, who are determined to look past the symptoms and discover the cause of it all.  Now that he has pinpointed the auto-immune connection, as well as causal factors of toxins in the body and brain, he is isolating effective treatment for people suffering from ASD.

Unfortunately, this is all still so new, it is largely unknown. The general population and, sadly, much of the medical community is still greatly unaware of the strides being made toward healing in this area.  Most parents and children dealing with ASD are met with a sad head shake by their physician and a referral for therapy.  No hope for healing, only resources to cope with it.

While I am grateful for those resources, and we love our occupational and developmental therapists, I am more concerned with seeing my little buddy be set free from his struggles altogether. I do not to learn merely how to function with autism, I want to know if and how we can get rid of it altogether.

This isn’t fun. Watching my little boy turn bright red, face and ears flaming hot for no apparent reason.  Uncovering hives, rashes, and bruises on his little body from mere touches. Burying his head in my shoulder and crying uncontrollably in a room full of people that is overwhelming to him, but not the other kids. Crawling around the house, banging his head repeatedly on the floor and moaning pitifully. Playing with toys compulsively, putting it in and out, in and out, then bursting into frustrated tears because he can’t seem to stop. Stiffening, shaking, ceasing to breathe, then gasping for breath when he sees wheels or circles. Preferring being alone in a dark room to being in the light with people because it is sensory overload for his poor, weary body and mind. Yes, my sweet baby is such a joy in so many ways and seems so very normal in others, but in this list and many others, my heart clenches in fear and sadness for his silent struggles.  Something is not right in my little boy and it causes such suffering that we remain largely unaware of, but he faces every day.

This is why I want to help him. I don’t want to just learn how to cope with it, I want to help his body to heal from whatever is causing such mental and physical distress.  And if there are doctors out there pioneering how we can do that, I praise God for them and will seek them out.

But once again, we walk forward in this reminding ourselves that our hope is not in doctors, treatments, therapy, or ultimate health for Jeshuah.  It is in Christ and him alone. It is in his sovereignty and his goodness. Whether the Lord gives us the resources to see Jeshuah set free of this disorder or not, he is good. Our hope is in the gospel, and that never changes. Praise God for the salvation of our souls, and we pray every day for the salvation of Jeshuah’s. God is good.