I’m going to share a little diagnostic story about my son. He’s not autistic but in seeking treatment for left field symptoms, I turned to the Mindd Foundation for an Integrative Treatment approach – a foundation who champions raising awareness for autism and many other illnesses manifesting themselves in droves today, all around us. So while it’s Global Autism awareness day, I thought I’d share my reasoning for choosing an integrative practitioner for my son’s recent issue, and then highlight the work of Mindd with a wonderful passage from Leslie the founder of Mindd afterwards, which you can even cut to now if you fancy, down the bottom – I won’t be offended!
Last year my little guy had loose poop in Autumn. And more loose poop. Not diarrhoea but just kind of loose, and then his first tummy bugs, 3 in 6 months never having vomited or had diarrhoea until he was nearly 4. One particular incident, was 3 days, and I remember his concentration going awol and his vocal volume getting really loud, making lots of big noises, rather that speaking. Really unlike him. Then, eczema appeared, mildly, all over his chest. The gut and the brain were doing a dance, it was obvious – a very uncoordinated one! Knowing what I know, the gut was deteriorating, and it was taking the brain with it and starting to manifest on his skin! To be clear, this wasn’t a huge change, like “who is my child” all of a sudden. It was reasonably subtle, and I’d say other than comments like ‘wow, he’s having a loud day today’ I and my hubby were the only ones who suspected anything deeper going on. I salute parents with greater challenges with their kids health and almost feel silly writing this post, but can assure you it isn’t to insult anyone nor attract a ‘oh diddums’ reaction from people with bigger challenges. It’s more to illustrate the power of asking ‘WHY?’ and the importance of doing that early, for the future health of our children. It’s also to emphasise that if you believe something’s not quite right, don’t let others tell you otherwise. Do whatever YOU feel you want to or need to do.
Having kept in touch with Mindd since meeting Leslie at my friend Lee’s Supercharged Food launch, I’ve since become an advocate for their work. I knew I wanted one of their practitioners for this detective task. I called to book an appointment with our nearest accredited practitioner – 2 month’s wait. Sheesh! Given the problem wasn’t major, we waited, and I took dairy out and introduced a fish oil. His eczema cleared after about 2 -3 weeks. It makes me sad to think of people going down the road of dermatologists, crazy specialist fees that ensue, topical creams with quite a few nasties in them to treat it, and still not treating the underlying cause – I’m not referring to holistic practitioners who despite their specialisation, DO look deeper, just referring to the normal process I’ve seen so many friends go through.
So his eczema clears after cutting mostly all dairy. Dairy allergy / intolerance all of a sudden? Not so simple. You see, this is where the root cause is so, so very important. A parasite taking hold in a gut can create sensitivities that weren’t manifesting before. Go even deeper than that, and the parasite is more likely to take hold in a gut that has excess mucous, caused by gut reaction to foods. Go further than that, and the gut has sensitivity to foods because the wall of the gut is damaged and the body is getting confused, thus the autoimmune triggers. Go further than that, and a gut can be damaged in the first place, because over generations of refined foods, and more recently increase cesarians and increased additives in foods, mothers have passed on worse and worse gut flora to their children, giving each generation a greater and greater chance of having gut issues – That, it seems to me in the simplest of terms, is why it’s all blowing up now. A wholefoods approach may not be enough, indeed a gluten free / dairy free / everything bloody free approach may not be enough, if what you’re dealing with is this scenario. We need to fix the bad guts, and pass on better flora to the next generation. This could require us to think the biggest picture yet, in term of the future health of generations to come, based on what we’re eating in this life time.
THE GUT ACCOUNTS FOR ABOUT 80% OF YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
THE GUT IS YOUR SECOND BRAIN
So it stands to ever amounting reason that for behavioral issues, immune issues or both, the first place to look is the gut!
So back to the little man, in consulting with the wonderful Dr Annabel Stuckey, a Mindd trained doctor, we spent a full hour and were asked many many questions. She examined skin on the back of the arms, eyes, tummy protrusion, under the eyes, asked a whole host of behavioral questions (one which was very interesting “does he get touchy about clothing tags / textures of various materials, things having to be a certain way… alarm bells for being low in zinc. Bingo. Amazing), she asked about how many ear infections, whether I’d had a cesarian birth, antibiotics during labour… and she ordered a poop sampling to commence. Oh joy! 2 months later (as it was over Christmas / New Year and we were away) we got the results that there was indeed a parasite hanging out and he was the kind that manifests in a tummy that isn’t happy. So, we get onto treating the parasite with herbal drops and taking artichoke drops for increased bile production to help his assimilation and digestion. She said to look for the poo darkening, as a sign the artichoke drops were working. 1 week in, they were already working!
She also suggested going to our naturopath for a live blood analysis and further holistic digestive system strengthening advice (LOVE a doctor that works with practitioners across the spectrum, happily… unthreatened by a view through a different lens).
There we could confirm he was dangerously low in zinc, and while his absorption of food was high at 90%, his fat digestion was terrible, which was not good for brain development at all. His liver was congested. We had to get those fats ‘sinking in’ so to speak and that liver clear.
And so, we’re well on the way. We’re keeping supplements to a minimum but given the need for rebalancing there are a few for now, and we’re nurturing his digestive system while we treat the parasite, with lots of broth, well braised meats, zero gluten / dairy, very low starch, lots of veggies and low sugar fruit for fibre…
You’ve never seen me as excited as seeing a solid poo and a clean bum without need to wipe a month into the regime. Air punch!
So we’re getting there and retesting for the parasite next month to check progress. His pot belly is going down. His poop literally doesn’t stink. It used to pain me to go anywhere near the loo to wipe his bum it was SO stinky! So there you have one little tale of minor symptoms being nipped in the bud before serious potential trouble began.
We are in a time where we need to not be so busy that we pick up on these issues before they escalate further. We need to realise that WE have the power to change things for our next generation and generations to come. Also do not feel like a failure if you feed your kid a healthy diet and stuff still comes up / goes wrong. Go deeper and deeper until you find the cause beneath any issues. Noth everything can be ‘fixed’ but there are more and more incredible therapies to help people. Always ask: WHY? And of course, always find a practitioner that is able to help you and work with you as a team, with up to the minute knowledge on treatments, investigative questions and underlying causes for symptoms.
Lastly, I want to leave you with a passage from Leslie Embersits, Mindd Foundation Director. While Mindd focuses much on Autism given the current alarming statistics, there are many other struggles they focus on and explore treatment of symptoms for some children where it’s possible. Take a read. Share it with a friend or two who you know might benefit from knowing that Mindd exists.
It’s regular people like you and I spreading the word on issues like this and letting people know there is support out there, that is going to turn around today’s current health crisis.
I’m a big believer and I know you guys are too that just because concentional roads might not work for us all, there’s much we can still explore for our little people.
Take a Minute to Understand Autism
Rates of Autism continue to rise and now stand at 1 in 68 in the U.S. according to the Medical Observer who last week published 2012 figures released by the U.S. Centre for Disease Control. This is a 30% increase versus 2010 figures of 1 in 88. While the “better diagnosis” debate rages on, the fact remains that there is an alarming Autism epidemic world wide and those of us who take time to understand why will be helping ourselves and our loved ones.
Over the past 10 years I have frequently been asked why Mindd Foundation is so focused on Autism when none of my offspring or relatives are autistic. In pitching to donors, patrons and sponsors I sometimes find myself distancing Mindd from Autism in an effort to engage them with a pitch that speaks to them more personally. Here I launch into the laundry list of medical conditions that many Autistic individuals struggle with on a daily basis including ADHD, asthma, allergies, digestive disorder, metabolic dysfuction or immune disregulation. Most of my relatives have one or the other of these.
My experience is that most people do not want to know about Autism, though many I speak to note that their niece, nephew or neighbour struggles with it. Depending on the audience, I may have a moment or 2 to learn that their child or partner has allergies, anxiety or eczema. This is my chance to explain that the Integrative practitioners that Mindd trains and promotes, who are getting good results with their autism patients, are the ones their loved ones should be seeing for any myriad of conditions. They are the medical detectives taking thorough histories and tests as they look to treat the core cause of a condition in each individual.
If they are still looking skeptical at this point, I quote one of our Mindd Medical Advisory Board members, Dr Martha Herbert, a Paediatric Neurologist at Harvard and author of The Autism Revolution – Whole Body Strategies for Making Life All it Can Be. Dr Herbert explains that “autism may be the result of too much bad and not enough good, in simple terms. On the bad side are environmental toxins, viruses, infections and stress. There is mounting evidence that the risk of autism and/or autistic behaviours increases with exposure to pollution, pesticides, heavy metals and phthalates. Good things include nutrients and rest. A modern diet of processed food lacks the nutrients our brains need to function.”
By treating the underlying medical conditions that contribute to the behavioural diagnosis we call ‘autism’, Dr Herbert and her Biomedical colleagues are seeing rapid and significant recovery of skills and capacities in autistic children.
Autism is the tip of the iceberg in a vast and toxic sea dubbed the “childhood epidemics”. Globally our children are struggling with a range of digestive, neurological and immune disorders. Perfectly vibrant and healthy teenagers are stricken over-night by rare auto-immune conditions. Young adults lapse into schizophrenia. Infants are losing their collapsed colons to surgery. Inattentive children are being calmed with medication. Diseases that once affected the elderly are now harming our children at alarming levels including cancer, diabetes, obesity and even arthritis.
The Mindd community is a significant and growing group of practitioners, parents, educators, bloggers and concerned citizens who understand that the families struggling with Autism need a lot of support in terms of education, healthcare and social services. They understand that two generations of children and now many young adults are delivering an important message about the environment and human health. And most of all they understand that understanding Autism is fundamental to our own health and happiness.
Leslie Embersits, Founding Director, Mindd Foundation
p.s from Alexx… Here’s an article by Dr Mercola re Autism and the environmental toxins link.
Source of technical, medical statements made in this post: Dr Natascha Campbell McBride, author of the Gut and Psychology Syndrome book. Well worth a read if you’re not getting anywhere with conventional treatments to support your child and wanted to explore gut health.