Sunday, September 5, 2010

A major change

How many believe in the gluten free, casein free (GFCF) diet?  It did not work for David.  He was on it for about a year without any change.  For me, the GFCF diet is the right idea with the wrong approach.  It works for a small percent of the autistic population, though I have to say that if you have an autistic child who is one of that percentage, it can be a big thing.  My brother's son is an Aspie.  Both he and his wife have told me that the GFCF diet is a real pain to keep up with.  At the same time, it is not nearly as bad as what happens to their son when he gets off the GFCF diet.

I have several problems with the GFCF diet.  It is based on leakage of gluten and casein peptides into the blood stream through the blood gut barrier.  There is evidence for this in the urine samples.  It makes sense to try it because as medical interventions go, a) It does not hurt, b) It is not that expensive, c) It is hard to think of any way it would have side effects, d) With those for whom it does work, the effects can be profound.  On the other hand, are gluten and casein peptides the only peptides that leak into the gut?  And, if the blood-gut barrier is permeable, then what about the blood-brain barrier?  The GFCF diet begs both of those questions.  Yet these two questions could explain why the GFCF diet is effective on some and not on others.  It could also explain why the GFCF diet helps but it does not change the fundamental fact that the child is autistic.

When David was in the seventh grade, I came across a paper that talked about glutathione being in the bile which is secreted by the liver.  Anyone who has read my previous posts knows that I am interested in glutathione and the sulfur amino acid chemistry.  So the question was why does the liver put glutathione in the bile?  It is very seldom that you find the body doing something like this without a reason.  The paper speculated that glutathione is in the bile to preserve the blood-gut barrier.  Put this with the low levels of autistic glutathione and gut leakage it is a reasonable, though unproven hypothesis that low levels of glutathione mean gut leakage which in turn means behavior problems for autistic children.  I don't claim that this is all that autism is.  But being able to take care of one aspect of what autism is can be a positive development.  For this reason, I decided to try having David take glutathione with cod liver oil and fish oil.  The amounts were as follows:

250 mg glutathione
1000 mg fish oil
500 mg cod liver oil

I typically spent 2 hours a night dragging David through his homework.  I had to get David to focus on each problem long enough to recognize what the problem was.  David would read the problem and realize that he did not know the answer.  Then I would turn the page to where the answer was.  Then I would get him to focus on it long enough to read the answer.  More effort would be required to get him to write the answer in a sentence form.  An answer that required three sentences would bring howls of protest.

That was David before the glutathione and fish oil.  After two weeks of being given this each day, David was doing homework by himself.  I can't prove that it was the glutathione and the fish oil that made the change.  At the same time, the change was too dramatic to ignore. 

I don't claim that it will work for others.  But if you should try it, post your results if you will.