Tuesday, August 21, 2012

New Data Reaffirms ADD, ADHD Natural Therapies

A favorable report covering the scientific literature on the significance of diet for children with ADHD was published by researchers at University of Copenhagen. "There is a lot to suggest that by changing their diet, it is possible to improve the condition for some ADHD children," says the lead professor of pediatric nutrition. She points to omega-3 fatty acids adn elimination diets as the most promising. They caution that there are different types of ADHD, and the disturbance is probably due to both genetic and environmental factors. Children with ADHD react very differently to both medication and dietary changes. This study hopes that, by acquiring more knowledge on the subject, it is possible to reduce the use of medication and instead develop special dietary advice for the children:


Copper, Zinc Levels
A study presented to a recent American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting investigated the incidence of metal metabolism disorders in an autistic-spectrum patient population. Of patients tested, 85% exhibited severely elevated Copper to Zinc ratios in blood compared to a population of healthy controls. 6% exhibited a pyrrole disorder associated with severe Zinc deficiency.

The absence of Cu and Zn homeostasis and severe Zn deficiency are suggestive of a metallothionein (MT) disorder. MT functions include neuronal development, detoxification of heavy metals, and immune response. Many classic symptoms of autism may be explained by a MT defect in infancy including G.I. tract problems, heightened sensitivity to toxic metals, and abnormal behaviors. These data suggest that an inborn error of MT functioning may be a fundamental cause of autism.

N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC)
The antioxidant, N-Acetylcysteine, lowered irritability in children with autism as well as reduced children's repetitive behaviors, according to results of a study appearing in Biological Psychiatry. Currently, irritability, mood swings and aggression, all of which are considered associated features of autism, are treated with second-generation antipsychotics. But these drugs cause significant side effects, including weight gain, involuntary motor movements and metabolic syndrome, which increases diabetes risk. By contrast, side effects of NAC are generally mild, with gastrointestinal problems such as constipation, nausea, diarrhea and decreased appetite being the most common. 

During the 12-week trial, NAC treatment decreased irritability scores from 13.1 to 7.2 on the Aberrant Behavior Checklist, a widely used clinical scale for assessing irritability. NAC is a precursor to Glutathione.

According to a study in Nutrition and Metabolism, Glutathione has a wide range of functions; it is an endogenous anti-oxidant and plays a key role in the maintenance of intracellular redox balance and detoxification of xenobiotics. Several studies have indicated that children with autism spectrum disorders may have altered glutathione metabolism which could play a key role in the condition. A review found evidence for the involvement of the γ-glutamyl cycle and trans-sulphuration pathway in autistic disorder is sufficiently consistent, particularly with respect to the glutathione redox ratio, to warrant further investigation to determine the significance in relation to clinical outcomes.

Bonnie: We have known about and used one or more, if not all of these therapies throughout the years in our practice. It is nice to see the data start flowing.

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