Autism – what is biomedical treatment for autism? A guest FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) from Dr Sonya Doherty!

Dr. Sonya Doherty
Dr. Sonya Doherty
We are delighted to reproduce the latest in our series of guest blog posts from Dr Sonya Doherty.

Today she offers and introduction to biomedical treatments for autism. As this is a new therapy for me I’m very interested in getting feedback on biomedical treatment for autism from our readers. Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments section below.

Doherty writes:-

“1. What is biomedical treatment?

Biomedical treatment is an individualized medical treatment program to prevent and treat developmental disorders like autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, OCD, Tourette Syndrome and Speech Language Delay (Apraxia, Dyspraxia).

2. What type childhood disorders can benefit from biomedical treatment?

Biomedical treatment focuses on identifying weaknesses in a child’s body that are obstacles to development. So, any child can benefit from this program because it is the most comprehensive medical treatment plan to optimize brain development. The children who experience the most dramatic changes in language, social, cognitive and behavioural development are the children who are diagnosed with autism. They are the children who need biomedical treatment the most.

3. What is the earliest age you see?

The youngest biomedical patients are those who have siblings diagnosed with autism. Our sibling program focuses on prevention of developmental delays. Children who have a sibling on the autism spectrum are 20% more likely to be diagnosed themselves. They experience higher levels of speech delay, sensory issues, attention and focus problems and behavioural issues. Siblings are more likely to have eczema, allergies, asthma, constipation and sleep issues.

We begin more intensive biomedical treatment at the first sign of significant developmental concerns such as eye contact or visual tracking problems in infants or sensory meltdowns and self-stimulating behaviour in toddlers.

4. Can you begin treatment without a diagnosis?

It is SO UNBELIEVABLY IMPORTANT to act right away. Early intervention increases the likelihood of recovering significant and peer level language, social and cognitive function. Unfortunately, the staggering length of the waitlist means that our little ones begin treatment long before they get a diagnosis and years before they will ever receive any funded treatment. The good news is that the younger kids begin biomedical treatment, the better the outcome.

5. What type of results can parents expect to see? and how quickly?

We expect to see positive changes in 4-12 weeks. Better eye contact, decreased sensory issues, increased attempts to communicate verbally and/or non-verbally. Biomedical treatment is about repair and recovery. This process takes time and to see the best results, the treatment plans should be adjusted and changed every few months as a child moves through different stages. In the beginning, it is essential to stop further damage to the brain. The second step is to repair and then after 1-3 years our patients are on maintenance programs to continue to support their development.

6. Is the cost covered by private insurance coverage?

Many people have private insurance and biomedical treatment visits are covered by naturopathic benefits. It is important to help parents plan a monthly budget for biomedical treatments like methyl B12 injections. There are also important laboratory assessments that are done in the beginning of treatment and re-assessed throughout the process. The average yearly cost is $2000-3000. For the majority of our patients, 1-3 years of biomedical treatment creates development gains that are life changing. Biomedical works by opening doors now, doors that may remain closed because of untreated medical issues.

7. How does a family get started?

Some families like to read books or look at current medical research in this area. For those parents, we encourage them to get our biomedical handbook to get more information or to look online at

Other parents are ready to get started and can begin the process by contacting our clinic.
Sonya Doherty
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine, FMAPS (candidate)

Does my child have autism? What are the signs and symptoms of autism? Check out these useful pointers in a guest post from Dr Sonya Doherty.

Welcome to our latest guest post from Dr. Sonya Doherty. You can read the original post on her blog here. Dr. Sonya Doherty is a licensed and board certified Naturopathic Doctor who is an active member of the CAND. Sonya Doherty completed her undergraduate training at the University of Western Ontario in a Bachelor of Science Honors Kinesiology program.

Please note that guest posts on this blog do not always reflect the views of PatientTalk.Org and we repost to promote discussion among our readers.

Doherty writes “It is estimated that 1 in 6 Canadian children has a developmental delay.  The diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder has increased over 2000% in the last 10 years.  Up 30% in the last two years alone.  If this isn’t an epidemic, I don’t know what is.  1 in 68 children is now estimated to have ASD.  Parents of young children are alarmed at these rapidly escalating rates of autism.  More and more parents are worried that their toddler or preschooler has signs of autism or ADHD.  If you are worried your child has autism, you are likely torn in two directions.  One is directly into the ground, head buried, filled with terror.  The other is frantically scouring the internet for more information.  The reason I am writing this blog, is that autism is changing.  Massive piles of incredible research lead by world renowned researchers, is showing that autism is PREVENTABLE, TREATABLE AND REVERSIBLE.  This blog is for all the Moms and Dads up in the middle of the night trying to face the terrifying reality that their child may have developmental delays or a developmental disorder like autism or ADHD.


Eight years ago, I became a DAN! Doctor.  DAN! doctors are experts in biomedical treatment.  After training to become a naturopathic doctor in a four year post-graduate program, I realized that my passion was working with children who were diagnosed with autism.  In the last 8 years, I have worked with thousands of children.  Since my DAN! training many years ago, I have been completing my fellowship with the Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs.  The MAPS program trains health care providers to be the best in their field in assessing, treating and preventing autism.  The MAPS program has been developed by leading physicians, scientists, researchers and experts in the fields of environmental medicine, gastrointestinal abnormalities, pediatrics, neurological disorders, genetics, nutrition and mitochondrial issues.  It is the leading biomedical training program in the world and the only of its kind.

Our clinic has worked with parents to recover hundreds of children with autism.  The DAN! and MAPS treatment protocols have helped to prevent hundreds of children from being diagnosed in my practice.  Moms and Dads, who are up at night worrying, this blog is for you.  This message is to you.  DO NOT WAIT FOR YOUR PEDIATRICIAN TO DROP THE AUTISM BOMB.  DO NOT WAIT FOR THE TEACHERS TO RECOMMEND YOUR CHILD SEEK TREATMENT FOR ADHD SYMPTOMS.  Assess and treat developmental concerns the second you see them.  Boys don’t speak later because they are boys.  Boys often speak later because they are more at risk for being diagnosed with autism, ADHD and speech language delay.  Your child should not have chronic diarrhea or constipation.  PEG FLAKES do not heal the gut.  Healthy digestion is required for healthy development.  It is time to take action.  About half the children in the US with an autism spectrum disorder are diagnosed at five or older but many parents are suspicious much earlier.  If you suspect autism, if you are worried; take action.

So let’s take a look at signs and symptoms that could indicate your child needs support developmentally.  Remember, early intervention is the key to helping your child.  You do not need a diagnosis to get support for language, social or cognitive delay.  If your child has “autistic” behaviours or has marked hyperactivity, acting now can dramatically change the course of their development.

Autism is a spectrum of closely related disorders with a shared core of symptoms.  Autism symptoms appear in infancy and early childhood, causing delays in many basic areas of development such as learning to talk, make eye contact, play, and interact with others.  The signs and symptoms of autism vary widely and some autistic children have only mild impairments, while others are impacted more severely.  The three major areas of concerns in autism involve language, social and cognitive function.  Many children with autism also have severe sensory issues.

Language delay is often the first sign parents act on when a child is on the autism spectrum.  Language delay is very common and parents are able to take steps to support speech, language development without having to tackle the question of autism head-on.  Two-year olds should speak in 2-3 word sentences or phrases that communicate their needs.  Autism is a communication disorder, and since speech is the way to communicate, delayed speech may signal autism.  Keep in mind; children who are eventually diagnosed with ADHD are often “late talkers”. Even children with hearing issues who are speech-delayed should still use vocal utterances and gestures or formal sign language to communicate.

Behaviours or symptoms that may be red flags for autism include:

Lack of eye contact
Lack of pretend or imaginary play
Lining up toys or severe transitional tantrums
No pointing or inability to imitate
Unusual behaviours
Toe walking
Chronic diarrhea or constipation (note that PEG flakes or other laxative treatments do not HEAL the gut; a healthy gut is required for healthy development)
Feeding issues including restricted diet
Sleep disturbance (many children with autism do not make enough melatonin and do not go to sleep at an age appropriate time)
Speech delay
Delayed play skills – not wanting to play with other children, not enticing parent into play or “checking in” with parents
Sensory issues – 90% of children with autism have sensory issues
Limited responsiveness – responding to their name will increase as your child gets older but many children with autism lack responsiveness

What can you do today (right now) to support your child’s development?

Talk to your child’s pediatrician about your concerns
Visit a developmental screening clinic (in Halton these clinics are DIEPP clinics hosted by the region)
Read Healing the New Childhood Epidemics by Dr. Kenneth Bock, M.D.
Then read The Autism Revolution by Dr. Martha Herbert, pediatric neurologist and professor at Harvard University
Get your child’s medical concerns assessed and treated.  Digestive, sleep and immune issues decrease developmental potential.  Sensory issues are painful and force children to withdraw from the world.  Biomedical treatment of autism spectrum disorders and other developmental concerns, will dramatically improve language, social and cognitive development.

As a naturopathic doctor specializing in treatment and prevention of neurodevelopmental disorders; the most important thing for parents to do is to keep track of their child’s milestones.  While all children hit milestones at slightly different times, it is crucial that infants, toddlers and children are gaining language, social and cognitive skills on schedule.  As a parent, you never want to believe that your child has a developmental problem but when it comes to autism, catching it early makes an incredible difference.  The younger your child, the greater the impact of treatment on symptoms of autism, ADD/HD, OCD, speech delay and Tourette Syndrome.

As a parent, you are the person to watch for early signs of developmental delay.  It is crucial to track milestones, to take action if you are concerned and trust your instincts.  I believe strongly that the “wait and watch” approach is the worst thing to do when it comes to developmental concerns.  At the first sign of delay, seek out expert advice and get a plan in place to find out what is going on and how you can help your child gain skills more quickly.

If autism or other developmental concerns are addressed early there is a higher potential for the brain to heal because the brain has remarkable plasticity.  Take action as soon as you can.  Pull your head out of the sand, use all the information you have learned off google and get to the experts.  Pediatricians, speech language pathologists, occupational therapists and MAPS trained naturopathic doctors can help.  A lot.  Biomedical treatment has the ability to change your child’s life.

Seek medical help if your child is not hitting the following milestones:

6 months – big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions
9 months – back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles, or other facial expressions
12 months – responding to their name being called
12 months – babbling or “baby talk”
12 months – back-and-forth gestures, such as pointing, showing, reaching, or waving
16 months – meaningful words
24 months – meaningful two word phrases that don’t involve imitating or repeating”


Written by: Dr. Sonya Doherty, ND, FMAPS (Cand.), Natural Care Clinic

Sleep disorders and children diagnosed with autism. Read some amazing information in our guest post from Dr. Sonya Doherty

Dr. Sonya Doherty
Dr. Sonya Doherty

Welcome to our latest guest post from Dr. Sonya Doherty. You can read the original post on her blog here. Dr. Sonya Doherty is a licensed and board certified Naturopathic Doctor who is an active member of the CAND. Sonya Doherty completed her undergraduate training at the University of Western Ontario in a Bachelor of Science Honors Kinesiology program.

You may be also interested in a recent discussion blog we ran which looked at this very subject!

If you have a child diagnosed with autism, or who you suspect is on the spectrum, chances are your child is having trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep.  Sleep is essential to support optimal development.  Research at the Arkansas Children’s Research Institute has identified that 90% of children diagnosed with autism havemethylation impairments . Methylation impairment can change the way children produce brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, GABA, glutamate and norepinephrine.  With respect to sleep, serotonin is a much need neurotransmitter.  90% of serotonin comes from the gastrointestinal tract.  Up to 85% of children with ASD have digestive problems including constipation, diarrhea, pain and gut flora imbalance.  Serotonin is converted to melatonin with the help of vitamin D.  Vitamin D deficiency is well documented in the autism focused medical research. 

Adequate magnesium levels are required for healthy sleep onset and maintenance.  Many children with autism and ADHD have magnesium levels that are lower than normal.  Magnesium deficiency is the 4th most common nutrient deficiency in North America.  Nutrient deficiencies, digestive problems and methylation impairment combine to negatively impact healthy sleep patterns in ASD.  Children who are experiencing developmental concerns are at a substantially higher risk of experiencing sleep disorders.  The children who need sleep the most are having trouble getting to sleep, staying asleep,  having restful sleep are early waking.

Addressing sleep issues in children with autism is multi-faceted.  Many parents have altered routines to accommodate their child’s imbalanced circadian rhythm.  Putting children to sleep much later than same age peers, results in an exhaustion cycle that exacerbates behaviours and sensory overload.  Your child’s body has two ways to get to sleep. One is at their age appropriate bed time which is supported by appropriate melatonin levels.  The melatonin signal is initiated by darkness and regulates the sleep-wake cycle by causing drowsiness.  Limiting TV, iPads and other screens in the evening is important for children with sleep onset insomnia.  Blackout blinds are also crucial to help support the repair of your child’s sleep cycle.  Melatonin production must be stimulated to increase documented low levels experienced by children with an autism diagnosis.  Use of melatonin is an important “band aid” treatment during this time as children’s methylation cycle is supported and repaired.  Other helpful sleep supports include magnesium glycinate, GABA, L-theanine and botanical medicines like valerian, skullcap, lemonbalm, zizyphus and passionflower.

The importance of melatonin in the management of sleep disorders and gastrointestinal problems in children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder:

One of the most common questions that I am asked by parents is about melatonin safety.  “Is it safe to give my child melatonin?”

I think the below information will make it clear that it may be unsafe not to give your child with autism melatonin.

The International Child Development Resource Center performed a systematic review and meta-analysis on melatonin and autism.  Their findings show that most children diagnosed with autism have:

  • Abnormalities in their melatonin levels
  • Gene abnormalities that contribute to lower melatonin levels
  • Show positive changes with respect to sleep duration, onset and night time waking
  • Show improvement in autistic behaviours

Sleep problems in autism usually start at the same age as developmental regression, suggesting a higher vulnerability at this period of life. Healthy sleep patterns are essential to support neuroplasticity and development so it is important to address sleep disorders as soon as possible.  According to the Center of Pediatric Sleep Disorders, studies of melatonin use in children with ASD provide evidence for its effectiveness and safety in the long run.

Melatonin, however, has a larger role to play in development beyond its function as a synchronizer of the biological clock. Melatonin is a hormone that helps in the regulation of the gastrointestinal system.  The gut is 100% responsible for post-natal development.  In the gut, melatonin, governs intestinal reflexes, motility, the immune function, gut secretions, energy balance, pain regulation and protects against inflammation.  The gut contains at least 400 times more melatonin than the pineal gland  The GI tract produces its own melatonin which suggests it plays a large role in maintaining gut health; both in a healthy digestive tract and in gut disorders.  Children diagnosed with ASD have alterations in their gut flora in addition to higher prevalence of constipation, diarrhea, reflux and pain.  The balance of good bacteria is not the same as typically developing children.  Melatonin levels change gut flora and improve anti-microbial actions.  With the startling numbers of children experiencing both gut issues and sleep issues, this new research about melatonin’s role in gastrointestinal health could provide clues about treatment and repair of these biological systems.

Other interesting information about melatonin:

  • Melatonin is also synthesized by the bone marrow cells, white blood cells, mast cells and skin cells
  • It is a powerful antioxidant
  • Melatonin helps to protect mitochondria from oxidative stress which damages cells
  • Melatonin also helps to support glutathione production.  Glutathione is widely considered the most important antioxidant in the body.  In another study, The Arkansas Children’s Research Institute found that children diagnosed with autism have up to 80% of their glutathione depleted.  Glutathione depletion may be part of the central mechanism for developmental delay because the role it plays in protecting the brain from toxicity
  • There is research to support that melatonin helps to support healthy immune function by fighting infectious disease including viral and bacterial infections
  • Melatonin has shown some promise in modulating the immune function in autoimmune disease

Is your child’s behavior linked to sensory issues? A guest post by Dr. Sonya Doherty an Autism specialist

Dr. Sonya Doherty
Dr. Sonya Doherty
Welcome to our latest guest post from Dr. Sonya Doherty. You can read the original post on her blog here.

Dr. Sonya Doherty is a licensed and board certified Naturopathic Doctor who is an active member of the CAND. Sonya Doherty completed her undergraduate training at the University of Western Ontario in a Bachelor of Science Honors Kinesiology program.

I have been practicing naturopathic medicine for 10 years. I have three wonderful children. And they all have sensory issues. You would think with 10 years of experience as a DAN! doctor and FMAPS candidate, that I would be able to pick up sensory issues very easily. My practice is focused on prevention and treatment of autism spectrum disorders and 90% of children with autism have sensory issues. The truth is, identifying sensory issues is very hard, especially when they are the underlying cause of behavioural issues. So let me tell you my story…

I grew up with “crazy aunts”. I feel bad now referring to them that way but as a kid it seemed crazy that that chewing anything crunchy was forbidden at family parties. The sound of chewing upset my aunts, and mother so much that we avoided it or were very careful about how loud we were eating. I didn’t realize until much later that this is a sensory issue. When I was applying to CCNM, the naturopathic college in Toronto, I asked my sister to have a last look over my essay. She was already training to be a naturopath so I eagerly looked over her shoulder while eating my cereal, waiting for her input. Well, she freaked out because I was chewing in her ear. I mean, she was ANGRY! And as we argued, my uncle started laughing. “Didn’t you learn to let the cereal dissolve in your mouth before swallowing so you aren’t making any noise?” We thought he was teasing us, which he was, of course, but not entirely. He had grown up with 4 sisters. Sisters that couldn’t bear the sound of chewing.

Fast forward a few years. I am pregnant with my first child. I am married to the man of my dreams but if I have to go to another movie with him and hear the crunch of popcorn, I might lose my mind! My sensory issues got worse during pregnancy. As a kid, I had issues with clothing, tags etc. My mom’s favourite story is how her 30 staff all bought her dresses that I refused to wear because they made me so uncomfortable. I got used to my sensory issues and modified my life to accommodate. To achieve the right level of alertness so I would feel uncomfortable. So our wonderful son is born. He is fussy, colicky, doesn’t sleep long, startles easily. Sleep deprivation and stress send my sensory system into overdrive. Certain clothes and sounds now scramble my brain. You would think with a family history and my own person medical history, that I would have been able to diagnose sensory tantrums in my toddler easily. You would think that working with over a thousand children with autism would make it easy to see sensory aggravation as the trigger for extreme behaviours; but sometimes parents have difficulty seeing what is right in front of them. Guilt, fear, worry, anger, exhaustion. When children have sensory pain, they often act out. Sensory pain can be extreme. It often results in extreme behaviours.

When my son was 2 years old, he began having unreal tantrums. Loved ones and relatives said all the normal, supportive stuff. Boys will be boys. Tantrums are normal. Little kids, little problems. Wait until he is a teenager. It will pass. It is just a stage. Well, although well meaning, they could not have been more wrong. My son was experiencing sensory meltdowns. I remember sitting on the stairs, with a newborn daughter , watching him kick and scream in the foyer because I told him to put on his socks. It was a surreal moment of clarity that can come from months of stress, fatigue, worry and helplessness. I remember thinking “what could be so hard about covering his piggies with a cotton polyester blend. Then it hit me. There is something that WAS harder than putting on those socks. It was easier for him to scream and yell than to put on those socks. Because the socks hurt his brain. They hurt his brain so badly that he would do anything to avoid putting them on. Once it hit me, I saw it everywhere. I saw it in his “obsession” with wearing shorts no matter what the weather. In his refusal of all shirts except his 5 superman tees. I saw it in his bed time routine that would end in tears if all 8 blankets weren’t completely squared off and smoothed out. His hyperactivity, once assumed to be my genetics, was a sensory response to too much noise or commotion.

Once my mommy/ND brain saw the sensory issues, I stopped seeing the behaviour. I saw my son in pain. Extreme pain. Desperate to tell us. Desperate to stop it. Feeling helpless because his brain couldn’t deal with the sensory overload. It brings me to tears now to think of how much discomfort he was in. Of how many hours he spent screaming. It was then that we started biomedical treatment. Before that time, I thought biomedical treatment was for autism. It would help other issues like ADHD but it was mostly to help recover children diagnosed with autism. Now, my view is this. If your child has sensory issues, they need biomedical treatment. They have a medical issue that is treatable. If you are lucky enough to have a child who only has sensory issues, you can expect dramatic improvement with biomedical treatment. If your child has autism, peeling off the sensory layer will open a world of opportunities including language, social and cognitive gains. Today, my son still has preferences on what he will wear. We try to be really cautious about forcing him to wear anything that is upsetting him but he is able to wear most clothes and fabrics without issue. He doesn’t like snow pants but he loves playing in the snow so he can handle it. He no longer gets extremely hyper when his auditory sensory system is aggravated. Biomedical treatment has helped his extreme sensory pain and as a result, we don’t have extreme behaviours. Our house no longer revolves around his sensory dysfunction. Mild sensory issues can have a major impact on quality of life. Major sensory issues can shut a household down as the child in pain does everything in their power to deal with their overwhelmed sensory system.

How can you identify sensory issues in your kids? Below is sensory input broken down by sense with some examples of what impairment may look like if sensory processing in a certain system is impaired.

Tactile – what we touch. Examples include: issues with tags, clothing, hats, socks, not wanting hands wet or dirty, touching everyone and everything, mouthing objects
Proprioceptive – perception of movement. Examples include: not knowing where they are in space so they constantly bounce, climb, jump, run up and down ramps, step on toes, bump into other kids on the carpet during circle time, kids who are constantly moving, sits in “W” position on the floor to stabilize themselves, stomps feet excessively, bites or sucks fingers, cracks knuckles, enjoys bear hugs, excessive banging with toys or objects, loves roughhousing / tackling /wrestling, jumps off furniture.
Auditory – what we hear. Examples include: reaction to sounds, often are loud themselves, like some things loud and can’t stand other things loud, hyperactivity during music or gym class, react to sounds not noticed by others, frequently asks others to be quiet, runs away, refuses to go to movies or parades.
Oral – what we taste and perceive with our mouth. Examples include: Breastfeeding / latching issues, difficult sucking, chewing or swallowing, gagging at certain textures, food restriction or picky eater, may have had trouble transitioning to solids or away from pureed food, constantly putting things in mouth,
Olfactory – what we smell. Examples include: dislikes smells that don’t usually bother other people, refuses to eat foods based on smell, tells people or comments that they smell bad or funny, bothered by perfume or cologne.
Visual – what we perceive visually. Examples include: sensitivity to bright lights, difficulty keeping eyes focused, easily distracted by visual stimuli, avoiding eye contact, loses place while reading or doing math homework, writes on a slant upwards or downwards, bumps into objects / people, trips on curbs and stairs

How does yeast and clostridia overgrowth contribute to Autism and ADHD? – A guest post from Dr Sonya Doherty

Dr. Sonya Doherty
Dr. Sonya Doherty

Dr. Sonya Doherty has very kindly offered us this guest post for our series of autism related posts.  The original can be read here.

Dr. Sonya Doherty is a licensed and board certified Naturopathic Doctor who is an active member of the CAND. Sonya Doherty completed her undergraduate training at the University of Western Ontario in a Bachelor of Science Honors Kinesiology program.

She writes

I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. William Shaw a few weeks ago.  Dr. Shaw is the Director of Great Plains Laboratory and is the person responsible for first linking abnormal fungal metabolites from yeast overgrowth to Autism Spectrum Disorder.  With a background in chemistry and toxicology, he was able to uncover metabolic issues with children on the autism spectrum which can be comprehensively evaluated with the Urinary Organic Acid Test.  This urine assessment looks at 72 different organic acids that tell practitioners how the body is working metabolically.

Are there nutrients that are deficient?  Is there toxicity?  Is there a toxic or metal load that needs to be addressed?  Does your child need more antioxidants to protect and heal their brain?

These metabolic abnormalities contribute to language, social and cognitive delay as well as causing many behavioural and physical issues such as self-stimulating behaviour, aggression, irritability, sleeps disturbance, hyperactivity, sensory issues and digestive problems.  This test is recommended for every child diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder because it helps identify different strains of yeast as well as elevated clostridia species that have been linked directly to autism and severity of autism.  This is the most accurate way to assess intestinal overgrowth of yeast and clostridia.


So, let’s start with yeast.  How does yeast overgrowth impact a child with autism, ADHD or other neurodevelopmental disorders?

Check out this link for Symptoms of Yeast Overgrowth.

Yeast depletes B6, CoQ10, alpha lipoic acid and biotin.  Let’s look at why these vitamins, and their depletion, are important in autism and ADHD.

  • Vitamin B6 is blocked when aldehydes from yeast bind to proteins.   B6 is very important because it acts as a co-factor, or helper, in the creation of brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters.  Serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine and GABA are all synthesized using B6 dependent enzymes.
  • CoQ10 plays a key role in mitochondrial function.  Mitochondria are the tiny organelles in your cells that make energy.  It is estimated that 8-20% of autism spectrum disorder can be linked directly to mitochondrial impairment.  Recent research has also shown that women exposed to toxicity can pass on mitochondria (children only get mitochondria from their mothers) that are up to 17% damaged.   CoQ10 serves as an antioxidant (protector) to all cell membranes.
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid is also very important for mitochondrial function.  It protects the brain from toxicity and helps to create glutathione which is the body’s master antioxidant.  Children with autism were found to have as much as 80% of their glutathione depleted.  Glutathione depletion has also been implicated in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease.  One of the most beneficial effects of alpha lipoic acid is the ability to regenerate other essential antioxidants such as vitamin Cvitamin E,coenzyme Q10, and glutathione.
  • Biotin is classified as one of the B vitamins and is needed in the production of DNA.  According to Dr. Shaw, biotin is also needed by most other creatures including yeast but when exposed to biotin, they are stimulated to grow but are less likely to convert to their mycelium form, which is the form in which they invade the tissues.  Biotin supplementation is required whenever yeast overgrowth is present.



Research by Dr. Sidney Finegold compared the gut flora of children with regressive ASD to neurotypical (typically developing) children.  The results show that clostridia counts were higher in the children with autism. The number of clostridia species found in the stools of children with ASD was greater than in the stools of neurotypical children. Children with ASD had 9 species of Clostridium not found in the neurotypical group.  The neurotypical group showed only 3 species not found in children with autism. In all, there were 25 different clostridia species found. In stomach and small intestine specimens, the most striking finding was total absence of Clostridia from neurotypical children and significant numbers of such bacteria from children with autism.

These studies demonstrate significant alterations in the upper and lower intestinal flora of children with late-onset ASD and may provide insights into the nature of this disorder.

Research by Dr. Derrick McFabe, at the University of Western Ontario, has explored acquired Clostridia infection and it’s relation to autism spectrum disorder.  In his study, rodents injected with propionic acid (from Clostridial species) displayed autism like behaviours including:

  • Spinning
  • Repetitive behaviours
  • Seizures / convulsions
  • Pushing away
  • Hyperactivity
  • Altered social interaction and impairment in “play” like behaviour


Here are some ways that Clostridia could play a role in autism:

  • Too much clostridia
  • Impaired immune activity
  • Damage to digestive tract
  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Inflammation
  • Diet


Clostrida disrupts metabolic function, which can be picked up in an Organic Acid Test.  Clostridia often contributes to carnitine deficiency, increased oxidative stress, depletion of glutathione and microglial activation which increases excitability in the brain = immunoexcitotoxicity.

IMMUNO – immune cells in the brain (microglia)

EXCITO – excited

TOXICITY – too much which causes damage


IMMUNO-EXCITO-TOXICITY – this is the proposed central mechanism for autism } basically this means TOO MUCH GLUTAMATE IN THE BRAIN. Glutamate helps the brain create neurons, but too much causes problems


How does clostridia impair development?

  • Carnitine depletion – Acetyl-L-carnitine shuttles essential fatty acids (omega 3 and omega 6) into the cell.  Carnitine is essential for language, social and cognitive development.  Recent studies have shown that supplementation with carnitine improves autism symptoms, in addition to supporting healthy focus and attention in children with ADHD.  Acetyl-L-carnitine is needed to address language deficits in children who have oral motor planning issues or children diagnosed with apraxia / dyspraxia.
  • Increases oxidative – oxidative stress occurs in autism.  Oxidative stress is caused by other factors such as increase toxic load due to microbes like yeast and clostridia.  Oxidative stress can also be caused by viruses, inflammation, nutrient deficiencies or other metabolic abnormalities. Oxidative stress creates free radicals, also referred to as reactive oxygen species.  Free radicals cause damage if they are not cleaned up by antioxidants.   Oxidative stress damages cell membranes and it also impairs the carnitine shuttle that transports fats into the cell.  Stopping the cause of oxidative stress and quenching the reactive oxygen species (ROS) that are created, results in dramatic improvement in developmental skills.
  • Glutathione depletion – glutathione is the most important antioxidant in the body.  It is made by glutamate, glycine and cysteine.  N-acetyl-cysteine, which makes glutathione and also helps mop of excess glutatmate in the brain.
Sonya Doherty, N.D.
FMAPS (Cand.)