Here is a wonderful source evaluating different alternative autism treatments.

In summary: just as non-autistic children can benefit from a good diet (by which I mean something dramatically different from the S.A.D., or Standard American Diet), studies indicate that diet plays a profound role in the brain development of autistic children.

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2002 Apr;16(4):663-74. Related Articles, Links

Review article: the concept of entero-colonic encephalopathy, autism and opioid receptor ligands.

Wakefield AJ, Puleston JM, Montgomery SM, Anthony A, O'Leary JJ, Murch SH.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Study Group, Centre for Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, Royal Free and University College Medical School, London, UK.

There is growing awareness that primary gastrointestinal pathology may play an important role in the inception and clinical expression of some childhood developmental disorders, including autism. In addition to frequent gastrointestinal symptoms, children with autism often manifest complex biochemical and immunological abnormalities. The gut-brain axis is central to certain encephalopathies of extra-cranial origin, hepatic encephalopathy being the best characterized. Commonalities in the clinical characteristics of hepatic encephalopathy and a form of autism associated with developmental regression in an apparently previously normal child, accompanied by immune-mediated gastrointestinal pathology, have led to the proposal that there may be analogous mechanisms of toxic encephalopathy in patients with liver failure and some children with autism. Aberrations in opioid biochemistry are common to these two conditions, and there is evidence that opioid peptides may mediate certain aspects of the respective syndromes. The generation of plausible and testable hypotheses in this area may help to identify new treatment options in encephalopathies of extra-cranial origin. Therapeutic targets for this autistic phenotype may include: modification of diet and entero-colonic microbial milieu in order to reduce toxin substrates, improve nutritional status and modify mucosal immunity; anti-inflammatory/immunomodulatory therapy; and specific treatment of dysmotility, focusing, for example, on the pharmacology of local opioid activity in the gut.

Publication Types:


Review, Tutorial

PMID: 11929383 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Neuropsychopharmacology 2003 Jan;28(1):193-8 Related Articles, Links

Oxytocin Infusion Reduces Repetitive Behaviors in Adults with Autistic and Asperger's Disorders.

Hollander E, Novotny S, Hanratty M, Yaffe R, DeCaria CM, Aronowitz BR, Mosovich S.

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by dysfunction in three core behavioral domains: repetitive behaviors, social deficits, and language abnormalities. There is evidence that abnormalities exist in peptide systems, particularly the oxytocin system, in autism spectrum patients. Furthermore, oxytocin and the closely related peptide vasopressin are known to play a role in social and repetitive behaviors. This study examined the impact of oxytocin on repetitive behaviors in 15 adults with autism or Asperger's disorder via randomized double-blind oxytocin and placebo challenges. The primary outcome measure was an instrument rating six repetitive behaviors: need to know, repeating, ordering, need to tell/ask, self-injury, and touching. Patients with autism spectrum disorders showed a significant reduction in repetitive behaviors following oxytocin infusion in comparison to placebo infusion. Repetitive behavior in autism spectrum disorders may be related to abnormalities in the oxytocin system, and may be partially ameliorated by synthetic oxytocin infusion.Neuropsychopharmacology (2003) 28, 193-198. doi:10.1038/sj.npp.1300021

PMID: 12496956 [PubMed - in process]

J Fam Health Care 2002;12(2):34-8 Related Articles, Links

Diet in autism and associated disorders.

Garvey J.

Royal Free Hospital, London.

A dietitian discusses the theory that peptides with opioid activity may cause or trigger autism. The use of an exclusion diet to treat autism is explained, weighing the potential benefits against some of the practical difficulties of keeping to a strict exclusion diet. The use of nutritional supplements is described. An abnormal gut flora has also been implicated in autism and the use of probiotics and prebiotics in improving the integrity of the gut mucosa is also discussed.

Publication Types:

• Review

• Review, Tutorial

PMID: 12415751 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Neuropsychobiology 2002;46(2):76-84 Related Articles, Links

Innate immunity associated with inflammatory responses and cytokine production against common dietary proteins in patients with autism spectrum disorder.

Jyonouchi H, Sun S, Itokazu N.

Department of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn, USA.

OBJECTIVES: Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) frequently reveal various gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms that may resolve with an elimination diet along with apparent improvement of some of the behavioral symptoms. Evidence suggests that ASD may be accompanied by aberrant (inflammatory) innate immune responses. This may predispose ASD children to sensitization to common dietary proteins (DP), leading to GI inflammation and aggravation of some behavioral symptoms. METHODS: We measured IFN-gamma, IL-5, and TNF-alpha production against representative DPs [gliadin, cow's milk protein (CMP), and soy] by peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from ASD and control children [those with DP intolerance (DPI), ASD siblings, and healthy unrelated children]. We evaluated the results in association with proinflammatory and counter-regulatory cytokine production with endotoxin (LPS), a microbial product of intestinal flora and a surrogate stimulant for innate immune responses. RESULTS: ASD PBMCs produced elevated IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha, but not IL-5 with common DPs at high frequency as observed in DPI PBMCs. ASD PBMCs revealed increased proinflammatory cytokine responses with LPS at high frequency with positive correlation between proinflammatory cytokine production with LPS and IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha production against DPs. Such correlation was less evident in DPI PBMCs. CONCLUSION: Immune reactivity to DPs may be associated with apparent DPI and GI inflammation in ASD children that may be partly associated with aberrant innate immune response against endotoxin, a product of the gut bacteria. Copyright 2002 S. Karger AG, Basel

Publication Types:

• Clinical Trial

PMID: 12378124 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Nutr Neurosci 2002 Sep;5(4):251-61 Related Articles, Links

A randomised, controlled study of dietary intervention in autistic syndromes.

Knivsberg AM, Reichelt KL, Hoien T, Nodland M.

Center for Reading Research, Stavanger University College, Norway.

Impaired social interaction, communication and imaginative skills characterize autistic syndromes. In these syndromes urinary peptide abnormalities, derived from gluten, gliadin, and casein, are reported. They reflect processes with opioid effect. The aim of this single blind study was to evaluate effect of gluten and casein-free diet for children with autistic syndromes and urinary peptide abnormalities. A randomly selected diet and control group with 10 children in each group participated. Observations and tests were done before and after a period of 1 year. The development for the group of children on diet was significantly better than for the controls.

Publication Types:

• Clinical Trial

• Randomized Controlled Trial

PMID: 12168688 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Nutr Neurosci 2001;4(1):25-37 Related Articles, Links

Reports on dietary intervention in autistic disorders.

Knivsber AM, Reichelt KL, Nodland M.

Center for Reading Research, Stavanger College, Norway.

Autism is a developmental disorder for which no cure currently exists. Gluten and/or casein free diet has been implemented to reduce autistic behaviour, in addition to special education, since early in the eighties. Over the last twelve years various studies on this dietary intervention have been published in addition to anecdotal, parental reports. The scientific studies include both groups of participants as well as single cases, and beneficial results are reported in all, but one study. While some studies are based on urinary peptide abnormalities, others are not. The reported results are, however, more or less identical; reduction of autistic behaviour, increased social and communicative skills, and reappearance of autistic traits after the diet has been broken.

Publication Types:

• Review

• Review, Tutorial

PMID: 11842874 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

J Autism Dev Disord 2000 Oct;30(5):463-9 Related Articles, Links

Comment in:

• J Autism Dev Disord. 2000 Oct;30(5):471-3.

Metabolic approaches to the treatment of autism spectrum disorders.

Page T.

Department of Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego, USA.

Although the exact prevalence of metabolic abnormalities in autism spectrum disorders is unknown, several metabolic defects have been associated with autistic symptoms. These include phenylketonuria, histidinemia, adenylosuccinate lyase deficiency, dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase deficiency, 5'-nucleotidase superactivity, and phosphoribosylpyrophosphate synthetase deficiency. When the metabolic consequences of an enzyme defect are well defined (e.g., phenylketonuria, 5'-nucleotidase superactivity), treatment with diet, drugs, or nutritional supplements may bring about a dramatic reduction in autistic symptoms. This review evaluates evidence for metabolic etiologies in autism spectrum disorders, as well as for the efficacy of dietary and vitamin treatments. The relationship between gastrointestinal abnormalities and autism spectrum disorders is also considered.

PMID: 11098885 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Am J Psychiatry 1978 Apr;135(4):472-5 Related Articles, Links

The effect of high doses of vitamin B6 on autistic children: a double-blind crossover study.

Rimland B, Callaway E, Dreyfus P.

The authors used data from an earlier nonblind study to identify 16 autistic-type child outpatients who had apparently improved when given vitamin B6 (pyridoxine). In a double-blind study each child's B6 supplement was replaced during two separate experimental trial periods with either a B6 supplement or a matched placebo. Behavior was rated as deteriorating significantly during the B6 withdrawal.

Publication Types:

• Clinical Trial

• Controlled Clinical Trial

PMID: 345827 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]