Autism, ADHD and Functional Medicine
The cases of Autism and ADHD are on the rise globally. Research suggests that incidence of Autism in children has jumped from 1 in 100 to 1 in 40 currently, and at the current rate could increase to 1 in 10 over the next 25 years. It is estimated that 5% of the population currently suffers from ADHD and related issues.
Autism, also known as autistic spectrum disorder or ASD, is often associated with problems in social interaction and communication, repetitive and obsessive behaviour and lack of concentration. Signs of autism are evident from childhood with a lack of eye contact and schools reporting lack of concentration at school.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD is characterised by difficulty concentrating, impulsive behaviour, frustration and restlessness.
A number of research studies have shown that today’s lifestyle of poor diet, nutritional imbalance, toxin overload and oxidative stress contribute to or exacerbate autism and ADHD symptoms. Most autistic patients show
Poor gut microbiome and/or damaged gut lining
- Deficiency of key vitamins and minerals
- High oxidative stress levels
- Toxin overload (toxic metals, plastic or pollutants)
- Damaged or poor detoxification process
The Functional Medicine Approach
Functional Medicine aims to go to the root cause of the problem. This involves extensive questionnaire and medical history (toxin overload during pregnancy, exposure to toxic metals), advanced functional testing (oxidative stress, detoxification process, vitamin and mineral deficiency) and gut health issues.
Each patient is unique, but the broad approach of functional medicine is to address the following key areas
Gut health: We follow a three pronged approach for gut health 1) reduce allergens in diet which could be damaging the gut lining and allow toxins to go into the bloodstream 2) Modify the gut microbiome through nutrition and pre/probiotics and 3) repair gut lining and digestive cycle so that key nutrients can be absorbed in the body.
Reduce toxin overload: Through advanced functional testing, we identify the toxin overload in the body and aim to reduce exposure to these toxins through lifestyle and environmental changes
Repair detoxification process: Most patients with Autism/ADHD have a poor detoxification process. We identify the broken parts of the detoxification cycle and repair it through supplements.
Reduce oxidative stress: Autism patients show an elevation of oxidized molecules and mitochondrial impairment which damages the healthy tissues of the body, including the brain. Glutathione restoration therapies are recommended to reduce oxidative stress
Vitamin and Mineral deficiencies: We identify the vitamin and mineral deficiency and customise the supplement program for each patient. In many patients the body may be unable to absorb the key nutrients through normal food and a tailor made supplement program is essential.
What improvements are possible through a functional medicine approach?
Each patient is unique, but a functional medicine approach has shown promising results for patients with Autism and ADHD
Improved concentration, less fidgeting and lower hyperactivity
- Overall improvement in mood state with more smiles and fewer frustrations
- Better initiation of communication with family members and better socialisation; more normal social interactions and social play.
- Improved vocabulary and sentence structure and improved cognitive function; improved higher order reasoning.
- Improvements in immune function, resulting in much healthier children and adults
- Improvements in digestive / bowel function with a more normal stool frequency and consistency in many of the children that are prone to constipation; reduction or elimination of loose stools or diarrhoea;
- Improved appetite and a wider variety of foods tried and consumed. While this can take time, we see this frequently.