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    Autism (Holistic)

    Autism (Holistic)

    About This Condition

    A child displaying odd behavior and impaired social skills may also be showing signs of autism. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.
    • Get some extra C

      Reduce the severity of symptoms with vitamin C; take 1 gram for every 20 pounds (9 kg) of body weight per day

    • Add B6 to the mix

      With a doctor's supervision, give your child 30 mg of vitamin B6 per 2.2 pounds (1 kg) of body weight every day to help reduce symptoms

    • Try massage therapy

      Visit a qualified therapist for 15 minutes of massage twice a week to improve behaviors and other symptoms of autism

    • Uncover food sensitivities

      Work with a qualified healthcare practitioner to find out if foods containing gluten and/or casein may be contributing to the problems associated with autism


    About This Condition

    Autism is a developmental disorder of the brain that appears in early childhood. The condition causes impairment of social interaction and communication, as well as unusual behaviors.


    Symptoms vary but are characterized by a difficulty in relating to people, objects, and events. Communication problems may be present, such as a lack of eye contact or response when their name is called; fixation on specific subjects or toys; difficulty with changes to routine or surroundings; and repetitive body movements, such as head banging or hand flapping.

    Eating Right

    The right diet is the key to managing many diseases and to improving general quality of life. For this condition, scientific research has found benefit in the following healthy eating tips.

    Recommendation Why
    Try a hypoallergenic diet
    Some autistic children may be allergic or sensitive to certain foods, and removing the offending foods may improve some behaviors.

    Preliminary research suggests that some autistic children may be allergic or sensitive to certain foods and that removal of these foods from the diet has appeared to improve some behaviors.1 As a result, one prominent doctor has recommended a trial hypoallergenic diet.2 Such a trial requires supervision by a doctor.


    What Are Star Ratings?

    Our proprietary "Star-Rating" system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by some in the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

    For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

    3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.

    2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.

    1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

    Supplement Why
    3 Stars
    Vitamin B6
    30 mg daily per 2.2 lbs (1 kg) of body weight; doctor's supervision recommended 
    Learn More

    Uncontrolled and double-blind research shows that vitamin B6 can be helpful for autistic children.3 , 4 , 5 In these trials, children typically took between 3.5 mg and almost 100 mg of B6 for every 2.2 pounds of body weight, with some researchers recommending 30 mg per 2.2 pounds of body weight. Although toxicity was not reported, such amounts are widely considered to have potential toxicity that can damage the nervous system; these amounts should only be administered by a doctor. One prominent researcher has suggested that vitamin B6 is better supported by research than is drug treatment in dealing with autism.6

    2 Stars
    250 mg with morning and evening meals
    Learn More

    Some autistic children suffer from chronic diarrhea . In a study of children with autistic spectrum disorders and persistent diarrhea for many years, supplementing with 500 mg of glucosamine per day (spread over the morning and evening meal) for 30 days eliminated the diarrhea in five of six cases.7 The authors hypothesized that glucosamine worked by blocking the effect of certain dietary components on the intestinal tract.

    2 Stars
    50 mg per kilogram of body weight per day (half in the morning, half in the evening)
    Learn More
    In a double-blind trial, supplementing with L-carnitine resulted in a modest improvement in disease severity in children with autism spectrum disorders. The amount of L-carnitine used was 50 mg per kilogram of body weight per day (half in the morning and half in the evening) for three months.8
    2 Stars
    N-Acetyl Cysteine
    Use with a doctor's supervision
    Learn More
    In a double-blind trial, supplementation with N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) for 12 weeks improved symptoms of irritability in children with autism.9 The amount of NAC used in the study was 900 mg per day for four weeks, then 900 mg twice a day for four weeks, then 900 mg three times per day for four weeks. Because those amounts are relatively large and the long-term safety of this treatment has not been examined, NAC treatment of autistic children should be monitored by a doctor.
    2 Stars
    Vitamin C
    1 gram per 20 lbs (9 kg) body weight per day
    Learn More

    In one double-blind trial lasting ten weeks, autistic children given 1 gram vitamin C per day for each 20 pounds of body weight showed a reduction in symptom severity compared with placebo.10 The authors speculate that vitamin C may play a positive role because of its known effects on a hormone pathway typically disturbed in children with autism.

    1 Star
    Refer to label instructions
    Learn More

    Some researchers have added magnesium to vitamin B6, reporting that taking both nutrients may have better effects than taking B6 alone.11 The amount of magnesium-10 to 15 mg per 2.2 pounds of body weight-is high enough to cause diarrhea in some people and should be administered by a doctor. Doctors will often try vitamin B6 or the combination of B6 and magnesium for at least three months to see whether these nutrients help autistic children. In a preliminary trial, one group of researchers found that relatively small daily amounts of magnesium (6 mg per 2.2 pounds of body weight) and vitamin B6 (0.6 mg per 2.2 pounds of body weight) improved symptoms by about 50% in children with autism or a related condition (pervasive developmental disorder).12


    1. Reichelt K-L, Ekrem J, Scott H. Gluten, milk proteins and autism: dietary intervention effects on behavior and peptide section. J Appl Nutr 1990;42:1-11.

    2. Werbach M. Autism. Int J Alternative Complementary Med 1996;Oct:8.

    3. Lelord G, Muh JP, Barthelemy C, et al. Effects of pyridoxine and magnesium on autistic symptoms: Initial observations. J Autism Developmental Disorders 1981;11:219-29.

    4. Martineau J, Garreau B, Barthelemy C, et al. Effects of vitamin B6 on averaged evoked potentials in infantile autism. Biol Psychiatr 1981;16:627-39.

    5. Rimland B, Callaway E, Dreyfus P. The effect of high doses of vitamin B6 on autistic children: a double-blind crossover study. Am J Psychiatr 1978;135:472-5.

    6. Rimland B. Vitamin B6 versus Fenfluramine: a case-study in medical bias. J Nutr Med 1991;2:321-2.

    7. Danczak E. Glucosamine and plant lectins in autistic spectrum disorders: an initial report on 6 children with uncontrolled diarrhoea. J Nutr Environ Med2004;14:327-330.

    8. Geier DA, Kern JK, Davis G, et al. A prospective double-blind, randomized clinical trial of levocarnitine to treat autism spectrum disorders. Med Sci Monit 2011;17:PI15-23.

    9. Hardan AY, Fung LK, Libove RA, et al. A randomized controlled pilot trial of oral N-acetylcysteine in children with autism. Biol Psychiatry 2012;71:956-61.

    10. Dolske MC, Spollen J, McKay S, et al. A preliminary trial of ascorbic acid as supplemental therapy for autism. Prog Neuropsycholpharmacol Biol Psychiatry 1993;17:765-74.

    11. Martineau J, Barthelemy C, Garreau B, Lelord G. Vitamin B6, magnesium, and combined B6-Mg: therapeutic effects in childhood autism. Biol Psychiatr 1985;20:467-78.

    12. Mousain-Bosc M, Roche M, Polge A, et al. Improvement of neurobehavioral disorders in children supplemented with magnesium-vitamin B6. II. Pervasive developmental disorder-autism. Magnes Res 2006;19:53-62.

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