Enzyme Therapy for Autism
By Karen Defelice, Natural Solutions magazine
The pounding went on all day and all night. My son was a chronic head-banger from early on. Our efforts to help him resolve this and other debilitating problems, such as extreme sensory sensitivities and socialization difficulties, led us down many roads. Enzymes provided one of the key paths.
In the past five years, enzyme therapy has emerged as one of the most successful treatments for autism-related conditions, based on a new understanding about how closely the digestive, nervous, and immune systems function together and on how to use specific enzymes. Since taking them, my older son, who was diagnosed with an autism spectrum condition (ASC), no longer bangs his head on the floor 10 to 14 hours a day. He now interacts with others around him and communicates well. His sleep and sensory problems have also improved. The rest of us took enzymes as well, and my younger son’s reflux and bowel problems faded away and my chronic migraines disappeared.
My family isn’t the only one to experience these outcomes. After tracking results for more than five years, I’ve found that 90 to 93 percent of people with ASC see improvements after trying a good-quality enzyme product. Benefits appear in a wide range of behavior, language, cognitive, and physical issues, and older children and adults experience these benefits as much as younger kids.
Food Intolerances and Allergies
Autistic children often suffer from numerous kinds of food intolerances and digestive problems. My son was so sensitive to dairy, he would begin banging his head hard on the floor about three hours after eating it. While this reaction occurred with other foods and stimuli, we knew that dairy was a specific trigger. To resolve it we found a product containing several proteases including one known as DPP IV, which breaks down dairy and gluten proteins.
Unlike many drug therapies, enzymes are a quick and relatively inexpensive option to try, with a high probability for success. You will usually see results within the first four weeks, and often with just one bottle. While we found success by focusing on specific enzymes, some ACS children respond equally well to a broad-spectrum enzyme product that focuses on the digestion of carbohydrates and fats in addition to proteins. As you plan out a course of enzyme therapy, think in terms of categories: Children who have trouble digesting proteins need proteases; amylases break down carbohydrates; problems with candida yeast respond well to fiber digesting enzymes; and those with dairy intolerance benefit from lactase and DPP IV enzymes. Ascertain which category applies best to your child’s particular problem and then choose among the enzyme products within this category. Most families with children who have developmental delays tend to get best results using one of the broad-spectrum products at all meals along with one of the strong protease products.
The Bug Connection
Many children with autism related conditions also suffer from candida yeast or bacterial overgrowth in the gut. To resolve the problem try yeast-targeting products with high levels of fiber-digesting enzymes (like cellulases) to break down the outer walls of yeast cells. The product should also contain a high level of proteases to help clear out pathogenic yeast and reduce any die-off reactions. Consider combining a yeast-controlling herbal supplement such as grapefruit seed extract or oregano with the enzymes for a synergistic effect.
Underlying persistent viral infections also seem prevalent in autistic children, and when these are addressed, the children show some permanent improvements in language, socialization, behavior, and cognitive ability. Several autism specialists are turning to Valtrex, a prescription antiviral medication that provides good results. Another alternative, ViraStop, is a specialty blend of enzymes used between meals at high therapeutic doses (12 to 15 capsules per day). Two preliminary investigations using ViraStop resulted in a program that has delivered excellent results. Combining this with other supplements that have antiviral properties, such as olive leaf extract, vitamin C, or monolaurin, increases its effectiveness against viruses.
While the exact mechanisms of enzyme therapy remain obscure in the case of autism, it clearly works on underlying causes, not just symptoms. Even though not all my son’s sensory problems have disappeared, he has became much more social, his grades have improved, and his general anxiety has gone away. Now when people ask me how my son is, I’m thankful I’m able to say, truthfully, “He’s fine!”