Autism support Essay

The Benefits of Phyto-Therapy For ASD

Although Autism Spectrum Disorder is irreversible, phyto-therapy can be used to

support the symptoms associated with ASD. Phyto-therapy can also be used to

support the body and its functions, specifically regarding the brain.

Vitamins & Minerals

Amino acids

Amino acids are organic compounds that act as the building blocks for proteins and

play a key role in a number of cellular processes. According to research conducted

by the University of Arizona, half of the amino acids we require are produced by our

bodies, while the rest must be obtained through a food source (University of

Arizona, 2003). Amino acids can be a helpful addition to fighting the symptoms

associated with autism, especially when it comes to digestive function. According to

the study, "Altered Amino Acid Excretion in Children with Autism", autistic children

do not break down sugars and proteins as efficiently as the general population (Evans et al., 2008). Recommended food sources of amino acids are meat, poultry, fish, eggs, some dairy products, and if sticking to a vegetarian diet, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, and whole grains to ensure they are getting complete proteins (Carter, 2004). (E",F",G)

Vitamin D

The rising rates of Vitamin D deficiency have caught the eye of many researchers

who theorize that this is somehow related to the rising rates of autism, and so far

the research has been supportive. Ever since doctors and medical practitioners have

warned of skin cancer risk due to too much sun exposure, there has been an

increase in autism rates, studied by U.S. researcher Dr. John Cannell. He also

observed that rates of autism are higher in regions where there is less chance of sun

exposure, higher rainfall, and more air pollution (Cannell, 2008). Another study

found that adults with autism or on the spectrum of, have Vitamin D deficiencies

(Humble et al., 2010). Although there is no doubt that genetics play a key role in the

development of autism, lack of Vitamin D must be taken into account as to not

exacerbate its symptoms. Consult with a doctor about Vitamin D supplements or",

simply take advantage of a sunny day outside. (H, I, J)

Omega-3 Fatty Acids (EFAs)

The importance of Omega-3 fatty acids is undeniable, as they take part in many

biochemical processes throughout the body. Because Omega-3's cannot be produced

by our body, we must obtain them through foods or supplements. However, there

tends to be an imbalance between the essential fatty acid omega-3 and omega-6

mainly because of poor food choices. This imbalance of higher levels of omega-6 and

lower levels of omega-3 can lead to behavior, mood, and cognition problems

(Genuis, 2006; Ruxton et al., 2004; Yehuda et al., 1999; Young & Conquer, 2005).

Research has found that children with autism have lower levels of Omega-3's but

not with Omega-6's and this imbalance is believed to be related to the exacerbation

of autism and related symptoms (Vancassel et al., 2001). (K",L",M",N",O)


Probiotics are a helpful addition to keep the gut functioning properly, but can they

aid with the symptoms of autism? Research continues to show a link between

autism and some type of dysfunction of the digestive tract. According to a recent

study, a type of yeast called Candida albicans causes many problems with behavior

such as hyperactivity, irritability, confusion, attention issues, and aggression, all of

which are associated with autism but can be combated with the use of probiotics

(Morris, 2008). (P)


S-Adenosylmethionine, or SAMe for short, is a compound that is found naturally in

the body that supports our immune system, plays a part in the breakdown of

important neurotransmitters such as serotonin and melatonin, and maintains the

function of cell membranes (University of Maryland Medical Center, 2011). So why

is this compound important? According to the study "Metabolic Biomarkers of

Increased Oxidative Stress and Impaired Methylation Capacity in Children with

Autism", there are lower levels of SAMe found in children with autism. The research

specifically states, "an increased vulnerability to oxidative stress and a decreased

capacity for methylation may contribute to the development and clinical

manifestation of autism" (James et al., 2004). SAMe can be increased in the body

through supplement form to combat the symptoms of autism. (Q, R)


Glutathione (GSH) is an antioxidant that if deficient, can result in disorders related

to the mind and the nervous system, such as autism. Research shows lower levels of

GSH are found in children with autistic disorders or on the spectrum of (Gutman",

2005). There is additional research that supports the link, in which doctors

observed neurological benefits among autistic people associated with GSH

supplementation (Jepson & Johnson, 2007). (S, T)


Carnitine is a compound necessary for the metabolic process of turning fat into

energy but also important when it comes to how our body handles oxidative stress.

According to the study "Relative Carnitine Deficiency in Autism", children with

autism were found to be deficient in carnitine most likely due to mitochondrial

dysfunction (Filipek et al., 2004). Although more research needs to be conducted",

there have been many other promising studies linking L-carnitine supplementation

to the treatment of disorders that are on the autistic spectrum, such as Rett

syndrome (, 2011). (U, V)


Piracetam acts similar to gamma-aminobutyric acts (GABA) which is a

neurotransmitter responsible for communication between the brain and the

nervous system by reducing the activity of neurons, which are our nerve cells

(Konkel, 2015). Although there is little research on the effects of piracetam and

autism, what has been found is promising. When presented with a combination of

piracetam and risperidone, autistic children showed a lower activity of problem

behaviors associated with autism (Akhondzadeh et al., 2008). The most important

link found between piracetam and autism is the effect that has on motor

coordination. Piracetam itself enhances blood flow and oxygen to the brain which

strengthens memory, organization, motor planning and coordination (Dorfman",

2009). (W",X",Y)


Ginkgo Biloba

As previously stated, those who suffer from autism tend to have a lower

mitochondrial function. Ginkgo Biloba helps protect the cells and mitochondrial

function during cellular stress caused by oxidation, free radicals, and stressors.

Ginkgo Biloba also helps improve brain function and memory by increasing blood

flow to the brain (Bone et al., p. 596). (Z)


Ginseng is a medicinal herb composed of ginsenosides, which have been proven to

be neuroprotective. Ginsenosides were found to increase, spread, and regenerate

neurons and the networks that connect them, in turn supporting the brain function

of those with autism or symptoms of the like (Bone et al., p. 631). (Z)


Licorice has been found to have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activity

especially relating to brain function such as memory and learning (Bone et al., p.

726). (Z)

St. John's Wort

Another supportive anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory agent for neuroprotection",

St. John's Wort altered levels of glutathione in the brain, increasing it and therefore

decreasing oxidation (Bone et al., p. 832). Because autism causes higher levels of

oxidative stress especially in the brain, adding herbs like Ginseng, Licorice, and St.

John's Wort will reduce that oxidative stress allowing the brain to function properly.


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