Can Enzymes Play a Role in Supporting Autism?
Wednesday, October 16th 2013
Many neurological conditions, including autism may be improved with digestive enzymes. Is this a new special breakthrough?
Not really! Enzymes are not new and have existed since before dinosaurs. The big dinosaurs had to have enzymes to digest the little dinosaurs and the little dinosaurs needed them to digest the plants they ate. Enzymes are a natural and essential part of all living things. They are the catalysts, which mean they speed up the biological reactions without being changed or destroyed in the process.
Enzyme Therapy Research
Research suggests that there is a strong correlation that a great many individuals within the autism spectrum also have some fundamental disorders arising from issues with their digestive systems, particularly an intolerance and adverse reaction to wheat and dairy products.
A study in 2002 assessed the impact of exorphins on autism and subsequent treatment with dietary enzyme therapy. Forty-six patients with autism between the ages of 5 and 31 were selected for inclusion in this study. The participant’s diets were supplemented with an enzyme formulation for a 12-week period. Progress was tracked and charted on 13 different symptoms including eye contact, socialisation, attention, mood, hyperactivity and anxiety. An overwhelmingly positive trend was seen for each of the parameters. The two greatest improvements were seen on socialization and hyperactivity with 80% and 90% improvement respectively.
How are enzymes linked to autism?
Autism is a developmental disease usually manifesting within the first three years of life. It is estimated that autism touches the lives of about 40,000 New Zealanders or 1 in 100 people. To date, no causative agent has been found for the disorder. Similarly, treatment options have been limited. Of the treatment options available, a number of them have bee nutritionally based in an attempt to address one or more of the theories regarding the causes of the disease. An example would be enzyme therapy for the digestion of the offending proteins collectively known as exorphins.
Exorphins are small protein fragments (or peptides) that have an action like morphine and come from outside the body. Human nerve cells normally make their own compounds of a similar nature, but these are called endorphins because they come from inside the body.
Exorphins, endorphins, and morphine all work by way of opioid receptors. These are molecules found on many different types of cells throughout the body, but particularly smooth muscles in the intestines and on nerves.
Foods which have been particularly implicated with exorphin production are wheat and diary products, with the base proteins being gluten and casein respectively.
Sourced from Natural Meds October & November 2013 Newsletter
Footnote from Ideal Health:
The following products are some of our great range of Digestive Enzymes:
Digest Gold + Probiotic
Inner Health for Kids
Related health information can be found here:
Alfamax, a rich source of Vitamins and Minerals
Ensure healthy gut function with probiotic supplementation
The Good Health Diet
Related articles can be found here:
Indigestion: Could be too little stomach acid
Intestinal relief from Peppermint Gels
Soothe your stomach with Slippery Elm
We Are What We Digest
If you need help or advice, you are welcome to email our naturopathic team with your health question.
Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered. The information is not intended to be comprehensive or to provide medical advice to you. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.