Biomedical intervention for Autism or Asperger's syndrome and other Autism Spectrum Disorders using vitamins and herbs


Vitamin B

The use of high doses of vitamin B6 with or without magnesium is used by some parents of children on the autism spectrum. This is based on a 1960's theory that vitamin deficiencies may have caused some psychiatric disorders. Vitamin B is necessary for several neurotransmitters in the brain which led to interest in its use for Autism.


There appears to be some significant risks associated with high doses of vitamin B6, including peripheral neuropathy, headache, depression, vomiting, and photosensitivity and caution is recommended in the use of large doses of vitamins (Howlin 1997).


Magnesium is usually taken with high doses of Vitamin B6 to reduce toxic side effects. There have been no studies in this area that met the criteria to establish Vitamin B as an evidence-based treatment (Nye & Brice, 2003) although limited studies have suggested some improvement in a small number of cases (Sikich 2001). Some people argue that vitamin B6 only helps children in the following groups:
• Those with nutritional deficiencies (ie. fussy eaters)
• Those with vitamin B6 deficiency (related to seizures).



The Ayurvedic herb bacopa has been used in several cases of Autism with positive effects according to anecdotal evidence. Bacopa is used medicinally in India for memory enhancement, epilepsy, insomnia, and as a mild sedative. This herb commonly grows in marsh areas throughout India. Some studies indicate that Bacopa has antioxidant effects specific to the cerebral tissue but there are no rigorous studies suggesting that it is an effective treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorders. Again, caution is recommended in using herbs which have not met the criteria for evidence-based treatment.


gold salts

Gold salts have recently come into focus as a potential treatment for Autism. Boyd Haley, a University of Kentucky professor and leading proponent of the mercury-autism hypothesis, has suggested that gold salts may reverse conditions attributed to mercury administration in the form of thimerosal that was used as a preservative in some vaccinations until recently. There is much debate over the thimerosal controversy with rigorous research unable to establish any link between thimerosal and Autism Spectrum Disorders.


Dan Olmsted reported a 1947 case of a 12-year-old patient, the first person ever diagnosed with Autism, who was treated for arthritis using gold salts at the Campbell Clinic in Memphis, Tennessee. According to the patient’s brother, the “extreme nervousness” and excitability that had afflicted him cleared up as well as the arthritis. However, Haley cautions “please note that I am not recommending using gold salts to treat autistics, but it would certainly be worth a project if carefully monitored by a physician in a good clinic”. There has been no research suggesting that gold salts constitute an evidence-based treatment.


Di-methyl-glycine (DMG)

DMG is similar to vitamin B6 and magnesium and anecdotal evidence suggests that is can benefit some autistic children and adults. Proponents claim that it strengthens the immune system which can be dysfunctional in some individuals with Autism or Asperger's syndrome. To date, there have been no reported long-term side effects although anecdotal evidence from some parents claims that there can be increased hyperactitivity after using DMG.


The recommended daily dose of DMG is between between two to eight 125mg tablets for adults and one to four 125 mg tablets for children. Seizures are a comorbid disorder with Autism Spectrum Disorders and there have been two published reports of lowered seizure activity after using DMG (New England Journal of Medicine, 1982, 307, 1081-1082; Epilepsia, 1989, 30, 90-93).


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Vitamin B6 with or without magnesium is used by some parents of children on the autism spectrum as a biomedical intervention