Treatment of Autism, ADHD and Other Neurological/Physical Disorders with Specific Nutrient-dense Foods

All health and healing is dependent in large part on an unusual and rare diet. It is not the Standard American Diet (SAD). It is sometimes called a traditional diet– I like to call it a natural diet from naturally grown foods– the way foods were before modern, industrial foods were made, and of course, convenient and fast food.

The proper diet includes many of the foods that we have been taught causes health problems. (That is another story itself). If you cannot get this right and make substantial improvements in your diet, there will be continued degeneration and a lack of regeneration of the cells, and even DNA, within your body. This would be true for physical health and, from logical extension and clinical studies, mental health. (In the movie Super-size Me, the man got progressively sicker during the three months from eating everything at McDonald’s– the hamburgers and fries that do not decompose after a year.)

My interests are in autism and other neurological disorders– prevention, causation and healing with natural foods and other protocols. This is because my son has autism and several other mental disorders. It is interesting to note that this finding correlates with the progressive deterioration of American diets through generations and the increase of vaccinations to the extent that one in six children have learning disabilities and asthma and allergies are escalating. One could only think the rates of increase will climb as these factors are not changing.

So in the past year, I came upon Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride’s highly esteemed work that gives remarkable results for a high percentage of her patients. I will have the chance to meet her and take my second class on the subject next month.

Also, I had read two papers about the intestines being the second brain. Some of them are surely listed here. (more later on this) The gut produces many of the vital brain chemicals necessary for good mental health. These papers examine in some detail the miracle of digestion. So, there is no question that serious healing must be accompanied by nutrient-dense diets– and in some cases rather extreme changes, at least for a while.

Kathryne Pirtle and I spoke by telephone this week and encouraged me to look at her review of the book by Natasha on natural treatment for autism and other neurological disorders. It is the best review I have read yet.

Before I introduce, Kathryne’s review, Annie and I opened our iShop featuring eBooks. Kathryne’s book is called on curing Acid-Reflux Disease with food is in the iShop which you can have right now by clicking the image. This is to give back to many of the contributors of the Journal and other fine writers–and of course Annie and I and to help with our other projects, including our autism treatment project. Just click the image and peruse it.

The iShop is NOW OPEN!

PLEASE TAKE OUR ONE-MINUTE SURVEY and get a free subscription to our Journal and a sample of Living Food.–Augie


Understand How Poor Digestion Affects Mental Health in the Book “Gut and Psychology Syndrome”


Gut and Psychology Syndrome:
Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, A.D.D., A.D.H.D., Dyslexia, Depression and Schizophrenia
By Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD, MMed(nuerology), MmedSci(nutrition)
(Published by Medinform, 2004)

Just as Dr. Weston A. Price was baffled by the amount of chronic illness in his patients and sought to identify the parameters that could foster such a trend, so too does Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride advance our understanding of the underlying factors present in a growing percentage of people who are suffering from brain disorders and mental illness. The latest estimates are that 1 in 150 children is diagnosed for autism alone and 1 in 94 boys is on the autistic spectrum. She states that although genetics is often given as an explanation for brain disorders such as autism and ADD/ADHD and psychiatric illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, genetics could never cause an exponential increase in health or developmental problems—because genetics work much more slowly. As a parent of a child diagnosed with learning disabilities, Dr. Campbell-McBride has boldly sought to identify elements common to people with brain disorders and mental illness and craft an effective approach to improving their condition. When genetics is no longer used as a “scapegoat” for health problems, then and only then will accurate knowledge and solutions be found.

Through studying the health of hundreds of patients with autism, learning disabilities, psychiatric illness and other problems, Dr. Campbell-McBride discovered that in all cases these children and adults had digestive problems, often of a severe nature. Through her research, she has determined that there is a distinct correlation between unhealthy intestinal flora, poor digestion and toxicity from chemicals created by undigested foods that can severely affect brain chemistry. She coins this as “Gut and Psychology Syndrome,” or GAPS.

But if a child develops problems such as autism or ADD/ADHD at an early age, how can that child have already developed poor digestion? This is where Dr. Campbell-McBride so brilliantly defines that the probable source is familial and generational, which moves past genetic theory. Just as Dr. Price ascertained that without adequate nutrition, each generation would produce less healthy children—so Dr. Campbell-McBride postulates that poor intestinal flora and digestion is being passed down from one generation to the next. When a child is born it acquires the flora of the mother during the passage through the birth canal. If the mother has a history of antibiotic or contraceptive use and poor digestive health, her flora will likely be far less than healthy. If she does not breast-feed her baby, the gut flora of the child will be further compromised. The infant will often develop digestive problems such as colic, bloating, flatulence, diarrhea, constipation, feeding difficulties, intestinal damage and malnourishment very early in life and is typically afflicted by a host of allergies. The child usually has frequent ear infections that are treated with many rounds of antibiotics, which only make the situation worse.

Poor bacterial flora and digestion are at the heart of serious health problems. When children are born with intestinal bacterial imbalances or “gut dysbiosis” they tend to have a compromised immune system and are prone to illness. Dr. Campbell-McBride states that often the intestinal tract of children who have autism is caked with hard fecal material. This terrible condition of course would lead to enormous and serious health consequences. She brings to light the profound statements of Hippocrates (460-370 BC) that, ”All diseases begin in the gut,” and of the father of modern psychiatry, French psychiatrist Phillipe Pinel (1745-1828), that “The primary seat of insanity is the region of the stomach and intestines.”

But what exactly happens in the gut that can upset brain chemistry? Dr. Campbell-McBride provides us with a magnificent explanation of the cascade of events that can occur when digestion is not supported by a healthy gut flora. A child or adult who eats a diet that is high in difficult-to-digest carbohydrates such as grains and processed foods, will continue to encourage the underlying condition of gut dysbiosis. Dr. Campbell-McBride states that people with damaged flora will even crave the very foods that support the survival of the unhealthy bacteria often to the exclusion and refusal of others.

Where most research on poor digestion focuses on unhealthy intestinal flora, Dr. Campbell-McBride’s work uniquely points to many problems with gut flora actually beginning with an unnatural growth of the fungus, Candida Albicans, in the stomach when it is not producing enough acid. She discusses that this overgrowth interferes with the first step of digestion by causing the stomach to produce inadequate amounts of the hydrochloric acid necessary to break proteins into “peptides” before entering the small intestine. For instance, under normal circumstances, the gluteomorphine and casomorphine proteins in wheat and milk are broken down in the stomach in the presence of proper amounts of stomach acid. However, with less stomach acid, these foods in fact begin to ferment in the stomach and are not broken down into peptides before passing into the small intestine. Besides causing an inadequate digestion of foods, the pressure of the gas created from this fermentation can lead to acid reflux, esophageal problems and even hiatal hernias, which are some of the most common digestive problems that people experience.

When insufficiently digested food enters the small intestines without adequate stomach acid, the pancreas in turn does not get the signal to release adequate pancreatic juices. Because people with GAPS lack healthy bacterial flora, they also lack production of enzymes called “peptidases.” These enzymes normally are produced by the enterocytes on the microvilli of the small intestine and will further break down proteins and carbohydrates into usable nutrients. With poor flora, the mucosal lining of the intestinal tract also becomes damaged and “leaky gut syndrome” develops. Therefore, the undigested casomorphine and gluteomorphine proteins, which resemble the chemical structure of opiates like heroin and morphine, are absorbed into the bloodstream unchanged and can cause severe interference with brain and immune system function. Dr. Campbell-McBride states that “There has been a considerable amount of research in this area in patients with autism, schizophrenia, ADHD, psychosis, depression and autoimmunity, who show high levels of casomorphines and gluteomorphines in their bodies, which means that their gut wall is in no fit state to complete appropriate digestion of these substances.”

Continue reading at Kathryne Pirtle’s blog, Performance Without Pain:

Understand How Poor Digestion Affects Mental Health in the Book “Gut and Psychology Syndrome”

The GAPS diet website, for the book and lots of resources.

23 responses to “Treatment of Autism, ADHD and Other Neurological/Physical Disorders with Specific Nutrient-dense Foods

  1. Excellent information in this article.
    Thank you…

  2. Augie and Kathryn – thank you for sharing this subject and book review. I am so glad there is a person out there like Dr. Natasha, her work is revolutionary and it is my hope that many people will read this review and the book. It’s on my list of reading material as well. Great post!

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  4. Great review! I have seen first hand the struggles these children go through and the awful diets they consume. I wonder about children born by c-section who have no opportunity to acquire gut flora from their mother?

    • Cathy, with your 30 years plus in special education, I am glad you have taken notice and will comment on this autism plus series. I am not familiar with the birth canal exposure, but gut dysfunction is also genetic in that the diet/vaccine-induced DNA-damaged gut cells of the mother is likely to be passed on to the baby–this would also contribute to the proliferation of the bad flora– at least that is my opinion at this point.

  5. Food folate (not synthetic folic acid) is a huge aspect of proper detoxification of the environmental chemicals and undigested chemical byproducts of our food.

    However, 40% of North Americans have impaired detoxification due to the MTHFR gene polymorphism and do not excrete toxins well. Those with effective detoxification systems probably are fine with the small daily exposures of toxins as the body naturally detoxifies all the time.

    Since we supplement folic acid in our food and during pregnancy, I believe this gene has been reproduced more during our generation and is associated with increased incidence of autism.

    Current research is following these theories:


    • Pat also said on my FB thread: The MTHFR/food folate info relates to many diseases. Here is a more comprehensive one.

      More MTHFR, food as healer info is all over Heal Thyself! and, but mostly collected in my head. The research is just catching up with our observations.

      I need to write up a big autism article related to MTHFR…

      • So the fake folic acid pregnant women take is helping to cause the birth defects they say it prevents? What a con! Someone told me that organic synthetics (vitamins) are the mirror image of the natural molecule (isomer–proven by polarized light microscopy) and do not behave the same in the body. BUT I have not been able to find the documentation on that–but would like it.

  6. Pat Robinson October 28 at 9:11am Reply • Report

    I posted related to the MTHFR gene and food folate as variables in the incidence of autism. I totally agree that our food affects the presentation of autistic behaviors and our ability to detoxify properly.

    Kathryne Pirtle October 28 at 9:14am Reply • Report
    Yes–without a properly functioning digestive system–all other treatments will not be as effective. A friend said they spent $150,000 on treatments for their autistic son–only a nutrient-dense diet was effective in his recovery from this disorder. The food is what healed him–nothing else worked!!!!

  7. Thank you for sharing this information. I urge you to look further into the c-section question. I was recently told by a man, C. Scott Wyatt, who has autism himself and has recently received a PhD. in autism studies from the Univ. of Minnesota, that there is a correlation between c-section babies and autism.

    My own son, age 13, was born by c-section. I had a terrible diet as a child and for the first trimester of this pregnancy, which was my first. My own husband has Asperger tendencies though he had a much better childhood diet. It seems our son certainly had the genetic influences, but modern medicine including the vacuum extraction, c-section, antibiotics for newborn fever, more courses of antibiotics in infancy, and vaccines as a “tipping point”, has done him few favors in this regard.

    We have worked on diet quite a bit. The hardest thing to eliminate is wheat but we try to limit it. The one thing I have found extremely beneficial to both myself and my son is green smoothies on a daily basis–fruit blended with leafy greens such as kale, collards, spinach, weeds from the yard, etc. He is much more alert and talkative, his skin is less puffy, dark eye circles disappear, and he feels so much better. I believe this is not only due to the superior nutrition of the greens, but also the cleansing of the body that greens are known to do. Autistic folks do not have great elimination of toxins, it seems, and this is helpful. And it’s an easy way to get lots and lots of leafy greens into the diet. I know the GAPS diet doesn’t include much fruit, but this blended fruit doesn’t seem to cause problems for us at all.

    I will note the one thing that conventional medicine has done well for my son. When he was three years old, we convinced a G.I. doc to look for celiac disease with an endoscopy. She found no evidence of celiac but did find terrible esophagitis–likely the reason our poor boy hadn’t slept much at all since infancy. She prescribed Zantac for 3 months for the acid reflux. Within one week of the Zantac, he was making eye contact and speaking in sentences for the first time in his life. It was all in there–he just needed the pain to be gone so he could express himself. I’ve never found another story like that in any autism readings, but it’s evident to me that this points to a gastrointestinal link to the signs and symptoms of autism. Since then, our son goes back and forth on his eye contact and speech. Proper diet, herbal medicine and chiropractic care help him more than anything else.

    • Can you tell us more about chiropractic therapies– or neuro-muscular-skeletal. There is a special cranial technique that is also suppose to do a lot.

    • Hi Lisa,

      I read the above comments with interest. Glad you are getting good results for your son.

      It might pay to revisit the gluten issue more in depth. See for info on the wider view of this issue beyond villi damaged “celiac” disease. Cutting edge research indicates that villi damage is only one possibility among scores of tissues in the body that gluten syndrome can damage, in particular the nerves which reside in all our organs and tissues. Unfortunately testing is geared specifically to look only for villi damage for diagnosis. This leaves everyone who has damage elsewhere without a dx, and usually no treatment or at best an INCONSISTENT gf diet, which itself can also be damaging.

      Check out and if you need some explanation feel free to call me at 630-628-9126. This is what I do, no charge. We’ve been there on this one.

  8. Posting again so I can check the notification box…forgot when I made the comment above. I will follow this discussion with great interest.

  9. I should get the comments via email now that I’ve subscribed to them.

    As far as cranio-sacral therapy, our chiropractor does some of that. Our chiropractor is an amazing healer who really has his own style that can’t easily be described. I think he calls it “torque” therapy, or something to do with “torque”. The way the body lines up, I think–I don’t know much, just see that it works. Our son almost always needs to be adjusted in the gut area, which is interesting in light of this article. He subconsciously protects his gut and holds it tight all the time. Also, he hunches as part of his “hiding” so chiropractor usually has to straighten out those shoulders. DS13 talks to us a whole lot more for a while after his chiropractic adjustment. It’s worth way more than the talk therapy we tried with a psychologist, at which DS13 wouldn’t talk at all. Decided to save our money there and see the chiro. monthly instead. Not saying psychological therapy can’t work, but it didn’t in our case.

    Also, we have seen an herbalist in the past and have decided to do that again on a regular basis. Puberty has hit DS13 hard and we’re really needing to step up the treatments so his behavior and health are better. It’s all helping a lot. The herbalist prescribes herbs particularly suited to each client, and it is quite a difference from just taking whatever herbs I might find for various ailments.

    And no, we don’t have a lot of money and all these expenses are hard, but needed. We now have a medical savings account which helps a lot.

    • I would think that also would help with the funny eye movements some autistics have. What you refer to is balancing that natural neuro symmetry I would guess.

      • There is an email subscribe button? I always look at my blog through Admin View. Perhaps I should sign off and actually see what my posts

          look like


  10. Lisa, this is a long thread about “C-section Syndrome” and the consequences to our child’s health.

    Augie, synthetic folic acid supplementation does help for neural tube defect incidence, which is the theoretical goal. It has unexpected consequences also.


  11. I also am posting again so I can get the comments.

  12. I have a question.

    Is there any research being done wright now for natural nutritional for folks like myself with Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD)?

    OCPD is, so to speak, a “cousin” of OCD. And from what little I’ve been able to research on the Web, it is genetic and incurable according to so-called “mainstream” medicine.

    Many thanks in advance for whatever help you can provide.

  13. Roy, food folate, magnesium and zinc are apt to help. These are all available in food sources and are most bio-available. OCD people are often undermethylated, low-serotonin persons. Food folate and methyl-B12 could help.

    Also, check here for other natural alternatives.

    Or search “nutrients OCD” and you can find many possible considerations.


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