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Autism and Yeast
Autism and Yeast
Some children with autism have low levels of helpful bacterial and high levels of harmful bacteria and yeast. The harmful
bacteria and yeast produce toxins that can severely affect mental functioning and behavior; alcohol is just one of many toxins
that yeast can produce, and is a good example of a yeast toxin that can critically affect behavior. It seems that the best way to
treat these problems is with a combination of antifungal diet, antifungal medications (if yeast is present) and probiotics (helpful
bacteria). These can help restore normal gut function.

The human gut contains a large number of bacteria (10x more gut bacteria than cells in the entire body). Most of these gut
bacteria are beneficial, and help with food digestion, water balance, and limiting the growth of harmful bacteria and yeast.
Some clinicians believe that autistic symptoms are made worse by the overgrowth of Candida albicans, (a yeast-like fungus
present everywhere) and usually prescribe anti-fungals. For mild cases of yeast over-growth, diet along with a healthier
lifestyle may resolve the problem. However, in moderate to severe problems an anti-fungal drug or a natural product with anti-
fungal ingredients may be needed. Consult with your physician before the use of any new regimen.

Limited studies suggest the natural products seem to be as effective as many of the anti-fungal drugs. Most doctors treating
yeast overgrowth recommend that patients take the anti-fungal treatments for at least 3 months and some will have to stay on
them permanently. While using anti-fungals any number of unpleasant symptoms can arise as a result, most frequently a flu-
like feeling or intensify symptoms that are already present. The solution to this may be to take a lower dose of anti-fungal for a
while or take extra fiber to help carry the toxins out of the body before they are absorbed.

The Connection between Autism and Yeast

According to research there appears to be several pathways. One of these seems to be the direct effect of Candida toxins on
the brain.  A second way Candida may be related to autism is through the disturbance of the normal balance of
microorganisms in the intestinal tract.  When this occurs, the protective membrane lining in the intestines is damaged.
Consequently, food allergens are absorbed and this may cause adverse reactions in the nervous system.

Research does not prove that the behaviors found in children with autism are yeast-related and/or that antifungal medications
offer a miracle cure. However, based on reports received from parents and professionals, children given prescription
antifungal medication and a sugar-free diet as an essential part of their treatment program have shown dramatic improvement
in charactertics.

Children most likely to benefit from anti-fungal are the following:

•        Children whose development status was normal during the first 6 – 18 months of life.

•        Children who are treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics for ear or other infections.

•        Children whose autistic symptoms developed during the second or third year of life.

Reach studies (including a scientific report in a major psychiatric journal) also show that nutritional supplements of vitamin B6
provide significant help to many children with autism.

Types of Anti-Fungal Treatments

There are several prescription and non-prescription anti-fungal treatments, and sometimes several need to be tried before
finding an effective one for a given strain of yeast. Nystatin is the safest because it is not absorbed, but yeast is now resistant
to it. Diflucan, Sporanox, Lamisil, and Nizoral are alternatives which yeast are less likely to be resistant to, but since they are
absorbed into the body they have a very small chance of exhausting the liver, so liver enzymes should be checked every few
months if they are used long-term. Some non-prescription antifungal treatments include capryllic acid, oregano concentrate,
citrus seed extract, and undecylenic acid. An unusual treatment is saccharomyces boulardii which is harmless yeast that kills
off other yeast and promotes beneficial bacteria, but will disappear within a few weeks when you stop taking it, often leaving
behind a now healthy gut.

Die-off reaction: When yeast is killed, they can release all their toxins at once. This can cause a temporary “die-off” reaction
lasting a few days, followed by good improvement when the toxins leave the body. Activated charcoal can be taken to absorb
these toxins and reduce side-effects.

Anti-fungal Medications

Nystatin was one of the first anti-fungal drugs developed and probably the most commonly used to treat intestinal yeast
overgrowth. It is extremely safe due to the fact that hardly any of the substance is absorbed by the intestinal tract. As a result
the only side-effects that may occur are mainly restricted to the digestive system and are usually mild. In addition, in rare
cases patients may develop a rash as a result of an allergic reaction. Nystatin is available in a number of different forms
including, tablets, powder and liquid oral suspension. You can therefore choose the form that suits you best. The liquid and
powder forms are probably superior to tablets because they don't need to be digested before they start to work and
consequently will kill yeast further up the digestive tract. The only drawback to this treatment is the foul taste.

Amphotericin B is similar to nystatin as it is chemically related. As with nystatn it is not absorbed from the intestine in any
significant amount so again is very safe. You may hear stories of amphotericin being very toxic or poisonous but don't worry,
this is most likely referring to IV use of the drug in hospitalized patients suffering a fungal infection of the blood or severe
infection of body tissues. This doesn't apply to its use in the digestive tract. Amphotericin B may be effective in cases where
nystatin has failed so it is something to consider.

Diflucan belongs to a group of drugs called the 'azoles'(a class of organic compounds having ring structure made of five
atoms) and unlike the previous two drugs, Diflucan is absorbed by the intestines and is referred to as a systemic anti-fungal
drug. Diflucan is a more modern drug than nystatin and amphotericin; it was first used in Europe during the 1980's and
licensed in the US in 1990. A lot of doctors and patients have found Diflucan (and other azoles) to be effective where nystatin
and amphotericin have failed. It has been found to be very safe considering its systemic action with few side-effects reported
by patients.

Sporanox is one of the most recent azole drugs being licensed in the US in 1993. It would seem to be similar in safety and
effectiveness as Diflucan but may be a more successful treatment for certain types of Candida and other fungal infections as
Diflucan may be more effective for other species. Unless you have a stool sample tested and a particular group of
Candida/yeast can be detected and tested for sensitivity to different drugs, it is a matter of trial and error in finding the one that
works best for the individual.

Nizoral (ketoconazole) was the first of the azole drugs to be developed but its use is limited due to the possibility of serious
liver damage. As a result, patients must undergo regular liver enzyme tests during treatment to monitor the effects. In cases
that have failed to respond to any other anti-fungal agent its use may be necessary but otherwise it is best to refrain from using.

Lamisil (Terbinafine HCL) is the newest anti-fungal drug in routine use. It is a complete drug but is unrelated to the other
group of 'azole' drugs. As a result it is an effective treatment as yeast has not yet had chance to develop resistance to it.
Lamisil has become more and more commonly used since its introduction a few years ago and is set to become the systemic
drug of choice, replacing Diflucan. As with most of the collection of drugs there have been instances of adverse effects on the
liver and as with Sporanox, Lamisil has recently been linked with congestive heart failure.

Natural Anti-fungals

Saturated Fatty Acids such as undecylenic (a white crystalline substance by the distillation of castor oil) and caprylic acids
are common medium series of saturated fatty acids used to treat yeast infections. Both are found naturally in the human body
in small amounts. Common commercial sources of caprylic acid are palm and coconut oils, whereas undecylenic acid is
extracted from castor bean oil. Caprylic acid products are far more common than those of undecylenic acid this does not
means it is better, undecylenic acid has far more research information available and was the treatment of choice for fungal skin
infections for a long time before more modern drugs where discovered.

Berberine is an alkaloid found in an herb called barberry (Berberis vulgaris) and related plants as well as in goldenseal, Oregon
grape root and Chinese goldthread. This herb has long been used in Chinese medicine. Berberine has significant anti-fungal
action and is also triumphant against some kinds of bacteria. As with all previously covered anti-fungal's, berberine is reported
to ignore useful organisms such as lactobacilli (bacteria that disturb lactic acid from sugars and are the contributing agents in
the souring of milk). An added benefit for some people is its anti-diarrhea action. Research has shown that berberine can
successfully stop Candida from producing an enzyme called lipase which they use to help them take over.

Oregano is familiar to most people as the strong smelling herb commonly used as a seasoning. For cooking it usually requires
Oregano leaves rather than Oregano vulgare which is used here. Oregano vulgare contains a variety of substances that make it
an effective anti-fungal. In a study analyzing its action against Candida albicans, carvacrol, a major part of the oil, was found
to inhibit Candida to a greater extent than caprylic acid. It is also highly effective against many bacteria with studies published
in the most prominent medical journals showing it is as effective as many antibiotic drugs.

Garlic (Allium sativum) contains a large number of sulfur (a yellow with a greenish tinge) containing compounds that exhibit
potent anti-fungal properties. Some studies have found garlic to be at least as effective as nystatin at killing Candida. A point
that should not be overlooked is that because of the many different compounds with anti-fungal properties in garlic, yeast and
fungi are unlikely to become resistant to it. Garlic also has many other beneficial properties particularly for the cardiovascular
system. For treating intestinal yeast infections garlic is available in a number of different forms including, odorless capsules,
liquid extract and tablets. However, a study at the National Institutes of Health found that fresh garlic was significantly more
potent against Candida. It also found that the fresh garlic could be a suitable alternative to drugs for serious total infections in
patients with severe immune suppression. For that reason adding garlic to food (raw) or crushing and swallowing raw cloves
if it can be tolerated, is a cheap and powerful anti-fungal treatment.

Colloidal Silver is a suspension of silver particles in water (colloid is defined as a very small particles of one substance
suspended (not dissolved) in another). Silver is a well known anti-microbial (germs of biochemical properties; often considered
to be plants that causes disease), it is commonly used in items such as water filters to kill any germs that may be in the water,
including bacteria, fungi, and worms. Colloidal silver is said to be effective against up to 650 germs including, yeast and fungi
species including Candida. It was used widely to treat infection before the development of antibiotic drugs. It is now classified
as a pre-1938 drug by the FDA which means that it is available without prescription. The number of companies offering
colloidal silver as an alternative to antibiotic medications is increasing daily. The renewed interest can be explained by the
increase in chronic infections and the fact that many organisms are becoming resistant to the frequently used drug treatments.

Cellulase is a relatively new treatment approach for intestinal yeast infections. The cell wall of common intestinal yeast such
as Candida types have been found to be made mainly from cellulose. Cellulase (several enzymes, produced primarily by fungi
and bacteria) breaks down and when significant absorption comes into contact with yeast cells the cell wall is unfixable
damage and the germ dies. It's claimed that using this method, the yeast do not release a flood of toxins when they die as
occurs with most other anti-fungal agents so that the sufferer does not experience the usual die-off symptoms. The yeast
should be unable to develop resistance to cellulase products as they lack the ability to modify their cell wall. As cellulase
products have only been around for a few years reports of their effectiveness in practice is limited but they offer a promising
alternative to more established treatments.

Plant Tannins are natural substances found in a number of plants such as Black Walnut and a vast array of plants used in
traditional eastern medicine. Tannins are what give red wines such as merlots and cabernets their sharp, biting taste. They are
also found in the bark of trees that are particularly resistant to fungus such as the redwood tree. Tannins are one of a number
of natural substances tested against germs found in stool samples by functional medicine labs. Tannins are available in a
number of forms, both isolated and concentrated, to treat intestinal yeast overgrowth.

Outcomes from using anti-fungals for Autism

While there are no drugs, vitamins or special diets that can correct underlying neurological problems associated with autism,
parents and professionals have found that some drugs used for other disorders are sometimes effective in treating some
aspects of behaviors associated with autism.
Changes to diet and the addition of certain vitamins or minerals may also help with behavioral issues. For more then a decade,
there have been claims by parents and some professionals that adding essential vitamins such as B6 and B12 and removing
gluten and casein from a child's diet may improve digestion, allergies and sociability. Not all researchers and experts agree
about whether these therapies are effective or scientifically valid.

There have been numerous reports from parents stating that their child’s behaviors improved following anti-Candida therapy, a
sugar-free, and nystatin. On a comprehensive treatment program that included nystatin, a special diet and the avoidance of
chemical pollutants, the child improved significantly, although he continued to experience developmental problems. Speak with
your child’s physician before starting a new treatment.
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