In my previous blog article, Anxiety in Autism – Part 1, I mentioned the various ways anxiety can manifest, and underlying root causes. In this article, I share ways to help your child overcome anxiety. I covered why a child may be experiencing anxiety; now I’ll give resources for each reason. My description of the ‘why’ is covered in Anxiety in Autism – Part 1. Here's the video that accompanies both this blog and the previous one.
For this, you probably already know to reduce exposures, create more calm time and a calm space. I always ask the question: why is this child over-sensitive? In my experience it comes down to a system unable to work properly due to an overload of toxins, chronic infection and parasites. The solution: drain, detox, repair (discussed in more detail below).
The brain isn’t filtering well.
As I said in the Anxiety in Autism Part 1, what is underneath your child's anxiety? Neurotransmitter imbalances, inflammation, toxins, infection, genetics, underdeveloped areas of the brain, lack of neuron connectivity – basically the neurons in the brain aren’t talking well to each other – can all contribute to the sensory issues. The solution: same as above – drain, detox, repair (discussed in more detail below).
The solution: stop putting toxins into the brain. This would include excitotoxins like food colors, additives and flavorings, like MSG (monosodium glutamate). Remember, MSG can be disguised under other names, so read food labels. And then empty toxins from the brain (see above).
GABA (gamma amino butyric acid), a calming amino acid, can help balance neurotransmitters in the short term and help with anxiety, aggression and anti-social behaviors. Other amino acids like L-theanine, glycine, 5-HTP (5 hydroxytryptophan) and tryptophan can be used. But as a caution, one amino acid may help while another may be the wrong one to use for a particular individual.
In her book, Mood Cure, Julia Ross outlines how to determine which amino acids may be the best ones for your child. You should also get guidance from a trusted practitioner who knows how to use amino acids for calming.
I give some trusted brands and suppliers below. Keep in mind to always purchase directly from the manufacturer, through a practitioner or trusted health food store. There are many sellers on Amazon, but no quality checking to see if the product is indeed what they say. It's been known for people to pose as manufacturers or sell a product with the same packaging, but very different ingredients, of a well known supplier.
Trusted suppliers of GABA:
You can create a FullScript account through me and on there find the following:
NeuroScience TravaCor (contains GABA, taurine, L-theanine, 5HTP and other calming vitamins and minerals)
Douglas GABA 500. I love Douglas because they are so careful about not having any allergens in their products.
Source Naturals GABA Calm Lozenges, low dose GABA and some other calming compounds.
Natural Factors PharmaGABA. This type of GABA is different from the regular GABA in the way in which it is produced. It’s made in a natural Lactobacillis Fermentation, which could possibly provide some cofactors to make it more effective.
Work with a practitionerAs always, get guidance from a trusted health practitioner, as some supplements work for some people, other supplements for others. If you can, find someone who can test the compatibility of the supplement with your child’s body. I am happy to help you with this when you book a session with me.
Genetics and body biochemistry
This relates to the capacity to create or break down the correct neurotransmitters. This could be addressed by the solutions already given for short term amino acid supplementation and balancing of neurotransmitters until the root cause is found.
A variety of toxins can affect the neurological system.
Radioactive elements like radium, uranium, radioactive cesium and iodine. Because so many things, not just radium, get into our city water supplies, I recommend always using a Reverse Osmosis filter to take these contaminants out.
For toxins like radioactive elements, heavy water, toxins from pathogens, (mold, yeast, parasites and other opportunistic organisms), plastics, heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, volatile organic chemicals (off-gassing products like furniture, formaldehyde in particle board, carpet and flooring glues, paints), bedding chemicals like fire retardants, follow the drainage, detox and repair logic given below. Enlist a trusted, knowledgeable practitioner to guide you in this process.
Neuroprotek , which contains luteolin, quercitin and rutin, in combination with an effective delivery system can be purchased at Algonot.
A new inflammation control product has just been introduced by Microbe Formulas, called Inflammacalm. You can work with me to figure out how it can help your child, the appropriate dosage and other adjunct products. It's not something you want to use just by itself, but it part of a full healing system. Book a session with me here.
Autoimmunity or PANS/PANDAS
We need to stop the immune system confusion, which is what PANS/PANDAS* is. NeuroModulation Technique (NMT) is what I use to help the compromised immune system correct itself. It also takes some diligent gut repair, drainage and detoxification. Inflammacalm from Microbe Formulas (as mentioned above) may help as well. But, please, get guidance on how to use it! A good product can be a dangerous thing if used inappropriately. Book a consult with me if you need guidance.
Autoimmunity in the brain can also happen because a food protein, like one from milk, looks very similar to our own human brain chemistry. It’s another cause for inflammation in the brain. So you may want to eliminate known triggers or work with a knowledgeable practitioner to test for allergies and/or use an elimination diet to find food triggers.
*PANS – Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome
PANDAS – Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcus
Uneven brain development
The best ways I’ve seen for developing the brain are NeuroModulation Technique, Brain Gym, the Brain Balance program. I will update as I find more resources.
Autonomic Nervous System Dysfunction
Calm breathing can help calm the fight or flight feeling inside.
How to: Take a deep breath in for four counts, hold lungs full of air for a count, and then breathe out six counts, hold empty for one count. Do that again. Inhale four counts. Just hold it for a count. Exhale six counts. Hold empty for a count. Do it at least one more time, perhaps several.
The counts don’t have to be four and six. It can be three and five could be five and seven. Whatever you can do, the exhale should be two counts longer than the inhale. Fast forward to time point 34:02 in the video at the top of this page.
When gentle pressure is placed at the place between the eyebrows, also known as the third eye, it’s a signal to the autonomic nervous system to calm down, to go into rest and digest mode. Your child can lay their head down on the table, have their hands on the table and place the forehead on the hands, or even go into child’s pose, a resting, calming yoga pose where this portion of the forehead rests on the floor.
If you model it for your child a few times, explaining what you’re doing, walk them through it, speak them through it, even if you think they don't understand, they can learn it. You can tell them, just lay your head down like this and just put pressure here if you feel scared or anxious. Walk them through it at a time when they are scared or anxious, but are able to follow your direction also.
Having a routine for bedtime can make a big difference. That's always comforting for any child. It's comforting for us as adults too! There’s something in the “sameness” of a routine that human bodies respond to. However, when it's so rigid, it can be really hard to always accommodate.
Oxygen – not enough
BioMolecular Oxygen from Microbe Formulas is a liquid that brings oxygen right into the body tissues. This can also be used as a sinus rinse, nasal spray, or nebulized directly into the lungs. Please do not start this on your own without any type of guidance.
If you decide to use this, I recommend you go low and slow. And have the guidance of a practitioner who knows what she is doing – because going too fast can cause problems. And there are other things you will want to do in conjunction with this.
Please contact me for a consultation if you are looking for a skilled practitioner to work with you.
Have a stress release routine for yourself too
Your own energy and anxiety can exacerbate anxiety for your kids on the spectrum. Mom and dad… If you're stressed, your kids are going to be stressed.
It could be a really good idea for you to do some calming activities on yourself.
- See the breathing above.
- Sit still and be calm.
- Look at a picture of a relaxing beach, close your eyes and act as if you are there.
- EFT, or Emotional Freedom Technique, also known as just Tapping, can help with stress and anxiety.
When you do this with your child, you are teaching him or her to learn to relax also, even if you think it isn’t getting through to them.
Drainage, Detox and Repair Process
Because I’m a scientist, nutritionist and biomedically focused, I always start with an assessment of each individual child to see …
- Are they able to let go of toxins from the body? Each cell produces toxins due to the many biochemical reactions that take place each second. The waste needs to be recycled, or leave the cells, travel through the lymph, to the liver, and out of the body as feces, urine through the kidneys, sweat through the skin, or gases through the breath. In addition to cellular toxins, there are toxic chemicals in tissues, as well as toxins from pathogens being produced constantly if chronic infections are present.
- What are the toxins and are there special compounds needed to pull them out?
- What can the child avoid to stop toxins from getting in and building up?
- Are toxins from undigested foods getting through the gut and brain barrier creating immune issues like autoimmunity, allergy, inflammation?
- Are there food sensitivities contributing to anxiety?
Once we dig for the problems, we can begin coming up with solutions.
Primary to address is Drainage
This means getting toxins to go from where they are produced or stored in cells, brain, organs or connective tissues to leave the body. The lymphatic system carries waste from cells to the organs of elimination.
There are herbal and homeopathic formulations for this which I find the most effective. These target the liver, gall bladder, lymph, kidneys.
Second is Detoxification
Once the tissues are open and toxins are able to drain, you can use compounds to help pull out the toxins. You may have heard of chelation, which is for pulling heavy metals out of the body. More invasive chelation methods use an IV in a vein in the arm to administer Vitamin C, glutathione, or compounds like EDTA, DMPS, DMSA.
Binders are compounds taken orally, intended to stay in the intestines and hold on to chemicals as they come out of the liver and through the intestines, on their way to becoming feces. Different binders have affinity for different chemicals.
Using binders is an easier, less invasive way to detox versus chelation. Commonly known ones are
- activated charcoal – binds most anything, including supplements and medications, but not great at binding metals
- chlorella – binds heavy metals and some microbial toxins
- ATRS Zeolite.- nanoparticle size zeolite that pulls heavy metals directly out of the cells. Due to its small size it can travel to tissues where it is needed.
However, I’ve recently discovered more ‘active’ binders, meaning a part of the binder stays in the gut and grabs toxins that float by. Part of the binder, tiny nanoparticles of ‘active’ carbon compounds, get into circulation and into body cells and grab the toxic metals, like mercury, cadmium, lead, and leave behind minerals the cell needs, like molybdenum, magnesium, selenium or others. The product is Bioactive Carbon Minerals from Microbe Formulas, my favorite supplement company of all time.
Why is Microbe Formulas my favorite company? Because their products WORK. They do what they say they will do, effectively, efficiently. Period.
When drainage and binders are used, you are getting to the root of problems of anxiety. Taking toxins out of tissues, like the brain, allows body processes to function much better.
To do this properly and without causing an upswing in symptoms, work with a knowledgeable practitioner who knows about drainage and detox.
Third is Repair
This begins with diet and supplements. Eating nutritional, non-processed food will help to stop putting junk into the body and start giving it necessary vitamins and minerals. But when a body is so out of balance, adding in supplements is going to help.
Supplements like fish oil, magnesium glycinate or magnesium threonate, glycine, vitamin B6 are calming. I already talked about some of these.
Magnesium is super calming and can enter the body through the skin from an Epsom salt bath.
St John's Wort is another supplement that can usually be found in calming formulations. Antioxidants like CoQ10 can also help calm, as well as help with cellular energy production.
Since there are so many different supplements and everyone is bioindividual, it’s best talk to an experienced practitioner and get some testing done and get guidance. You can do trial and error, trying new things on your child. But you may get varying results and may not like some of the results you see (like increase in anxiety and unwanted behaviors).
For finding practitioners knowledgeable in autism recovery look to the MEDMAPS organization.
Probiotics can make a huge difference in shifting the gut environment. Include in your chid’s diet fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir and yogurt, in addition to or instead of probiotics.
Some resources I love and that work well: Just Thrive probiotics and Klaire probiotics. For do-it-yourself ferments, Body Ecology fermentation starter cultures and prebiotics from the amazing Donna Gates.