Autism is a neurological disorder that affects how a person communicates, interacts with others, learns and behaves. Those with autism can have problems with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and language difficulties.

There is a broad range of severity of autism spectrum disorders in the areas of learning, thinking, and problem-solving ranging from highly skilled to severely challenged. 

Having a child with autism can put a great deal of stress on the family and caregivers. 

How is Autism typically treated? 

Common autism treatments include behavior therapy, speech-language therapy, play-based therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and nutritional therapy.

There is also a new treatment modality know as TMS therapy being used for autism spectrum disorders. This therapy works through a process of electromagnetic induction.

This rapid pulse of electrical current induces a rapidly fluctuating magnetic field, which in turn induces an electrical current in the underlying brain tissue stimulating that tissue5.

Medical conditions commonly associated with autism

Aggression – some children with autism express their emotions in an aggressive way through hitting and yelling. 

Anxiety – many children with autism have anxiety. This can be from environmental factors as well as a dysfunctional immune system (keep reading for more on this!)

Sleep disorders – many children and adults with autism struggle with restlessness and inadequate sleep. This can be due to breathing difficulties brought on by asthma, allergies, and environmental toxins.

Attention deficit disordersADD is a common occurrence in those with autism which is compounded by underlying inflammation. 

Gastrointestinal (GI) disorders – the majority of children and adults have some sort of GI complaint such as diarrhea, constipation, bloating, reflux, etc. This can be brought on by parasites, fungi, bacterial imbalance, poor diet, and toxin overload. 

So, what causes autism

There is no clear cut answer to this. The full spectrum of autism disorders are multi-factoral. Potential underlying factors are:

  • Genetics – genetic disorders or mutations. 
  • Immune system dysfunction – environmental exposures without proper detoxification and gut dysfunction (2/3 of our immune systems reside in our gastrointestinal (GI) tract!)
  • Dysfunction of the GI tract with imbalances in the microbiome – parasites, fungi, and bacterial imbalance. 

Let’s dive a little deeper into immune system dysfunction….

What causes immune system dysfunction? As mentioned about 2/3 of our immune system resides in our GI tract. That’s a big chunk! Having proper gut function is vital to detoxification of toxins that dysregulate our immune systems. There are varying factors that will disrupt normal GI function…

  • #parasites
  • #fungus
  • #bacterial imbalance
  • #poor diet
  • #stress
  • #toxins

Let’s talk toxins and MOLD and MYCOTOXINS

Oh my mold! Mold is everywhere around us and exists naturally in our environment so it is hard to believe it can cause our bodies such distress and disease. Molds, and the mycotoxins they produce, only affect around 25% of the population to promote chronic disease and symptoms from the exposure.

Mold is a potent immune dysregulator which makes it hard for our bodies to get rid of toxins and triggers that we come into contact with on a daily basis allowing for these elements to build in the body. Getting rid of the mold allows the immune system to get back on track!

What are Mycotoxins?

Mycotoxins are naturally occurring toxins produced by certain moulds (fungi) and can be found in food, water damaged buildings and homes and in the outdoor environment. Mycotoxins can cause a variety of adverse health effects8. Mycotoxins can enter the body through inhalation (breathing), ingestion (eating), and through physical contact (touching). 

How does mold contribute the development of autism like symptoms? 

GENE EXPRESSION: Mycotoxins in susceptible individuals have the ability to affect internal gene expression turning on and off genes and promoting the expression of autism related genes2

INFLAMMATION: mold colonization is a potent immune dysregulator promoting inflammation and mast cell activity in the body. For those of us that cannot properly detox from mold/myctoxins we can develop mast cell activation. Mast cells are pro-inflammatory causing a release a of inflammatory cytokines, immune cells and histamine.

This stimulation has been implicated in neuropsychiatric disorders, especially “brain fog,” and increases the permeability of the gut–blood and blood–brain barriers allowing the toxins to pass into the brain, trigger microglia proliferation, and disrupt neuronal connectivity6

GUT HEALTH: Mold has the ability to decrease the diversity of the gut microbiome1,4,7, increase intestinal permeabilty3, and weaken the gut-immune response. This can lead to overgrowth of pathogens in the GI tract, intestinal inflammation and subsequent decrease in digestion and absorption of nutrients, mitochondrial dysfunction and brain inflammation.

The connection between the gut and the brain is so fascinating! 

There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that indeed mold is indicated in the development of autism. This article Effects of Mycotoxins on Neuropsychiatric Symptoms and Immune Processes is a great short article to read.

Is gut health and detoxification the cure to autism?

Not necessarily. While fixing these issues can definitely improve overall functioning and quality of life, some of the symptoms may remain. A combined approach with varying therapies is the best treatment approach! Remember the body is one system working together – mind, body, spirit.

Interested in learning more? Schedule a FREE consult today

References:

  1. Broom L. Animal Nutrition. 2015, 1(4), 262-65
  2. De Santis B, Brera C, Mezzelani A, Soricelli S, Ciceri F, Moretti G, Debegnach F, Bonaglia MC, Villa L, Molteni M, Raggi ME. Role of mycotoxins in the pathobiology of autism: A first evidence. Nutr Neurosci. 2019 Feb;22(2):132-144. doi: 10.1080/1028415X.2017.1357793. Epub 2017 Aug 10. PMID: 28795659.
  3. Grenier B, Applegate TJ. Toxins. 2013, 5, 396-430
  4. Liew W, Mohd-Redzwan S. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2018, 8, 60
  5. Oberman LM, Rotenberg A, Pascual-Leone A. Use of transcranial magnetic stimulation in autism spectrum disorders. J Autism Dev Disord. 2015 Feb;45(2):524-36. doi: 10.1007/s10803-013-1960-2. PMID: 24127165; PMCID: PMC4519010.
  6. Ratnaseelan AM, Tsilioni I, Theoharides TC. Effects of Mycotoxins on Neuropsychiatric Symptoms and Immune Processes. Clin Ther. 2018 Jun;40(6):903-917. doi: 10.1016/j.clinthera.2018.05.004. Epub 2018 Jun 5. PMID: 29880330.
  7. Sondergaard TE, et al. Toxins (Basel). 2016, 8(12), 355
  8. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mycotoxin
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