David A Steenblock, M.S., D.O.
New Theory Proposed on Autism Treatment Dallas, Texas: March 21, 1999. A new theory on the cause of and therapy to help cure children suffering from autism was revealed at the 10th annual meeting of the International Oxidative Medicine Association. David A. Steenblock, M.S., D.O. Medical Director of The Brain Therapeutics Medical Clinic (formerly the Health Restoration Center) in Mission Viejo, California described autism as a disease involving a malfunction of the development of the speech-involved portions of the brain, which he believes may be able to be corrected to a large degree by understanding the causes. Learning disabilities in children are somewhat related to autism. Thus this new theory may help in the treatment of these children as well. The theory revolves around a combination of mineral deficiencies (calcium, iron and zinc) that occur in a large percentage of pregnant women in their last trimester. These mineral deficiencies can result from a number of oxidative stresses that occur before, during, or after birth. In this theory, the child is born with a deficiency of these minerals secondary to the mother’s deficiencies which predisposes the child to stress induced injuries. When any number of different stresses occur either singularly or in combination with each other, a series of synergistic events occur, resulting in damage to those parts of the brain that involve the brain’s speech center and memory pathways. These injuries could include such things as high fevers, birth trauma, infections, vaccines, lack of oxygen and even psychological stresses.
As an example, fever is a result of inflammation and immune system activation. Fever and inflammation oxidize certain zinc binding proteins that are involved with detoxification processes throughout the body. As these proteins are oxidized and even destroyed, zinc is released into various tissues.
A special zinc binding protein found in the brain called metallothionin-3 is oxidized by the inflammatory processes initiated by the fever. As this zinc binding protein is oxidized, zinc is released from its binding sites in high quantities and this damages the nearby brain cells. Due to the release of zinc into the brain from the damaged metallothionin-3 during an infectious process, certain brain cell receptors (NMDA receptors) are injured by the zinc. This injury allows calcium to enter the neurons. An increase in intracellular calcium damages and cripples the nerve cell’s energy producing mitochondria. These crippled neurons then no longer function well and become over excitable whenever they are asked to perform tasks. These changes may well be the reason for the hyperactive or even bizarre behavior seen in these autistic children.
Large amounts of zinc are also damaging as they are excreted through the pancreas. The pancreas is involved with proper digestion and assimilation of your food and when it malfunctions, the excretion of bicarbonate and digestive enzymes in the digestive tract becomes subnormal. This zinc induced pancreatic damage and subsequent decline in the amount of secretions results in a permanent disturbance in digestion. These induced changes in digestion are mild and easily misdiagnosed by physicians but have far reaching consequences. With the acute oxidative stress incident, much zinc is lost from the body and an overall zinc deficiency gets worse. Since zinc is necessary for normal membrane function and stability, a zinc deficiency decreases the strength and integrity of the different epithelial barriers of the body. The epithelium is the covering of internal and external surfaces of the body, including the lining of your lungs, intestine and blood vessels as well as your outer skin.
Bicarbonate is an anti-acid and is normally used to decrease the acidity of the stomach juices as they enter the intestines. With the pancreas being damaged, bicarbonate is not released, the stomach acids are not neutralized. The acids are then carried through the intestine injuring its delicate inner linings. This acid induced injury makes the intestines more porous and inflamed. These children often suffer excruciating abdominal cramps due to the acids and inflammatory processes going on.
The decreased secretion of pancreatic enzymes results in incomplete digestion of foods and these contribute to further intestinal wall injury and the promotion of food allergies. Food allergies develop when food particles are absorbed through porous intestinal walls and are then acted on by the immune system. A healthy digestive system usually prevents the development of food allergies since foods are normally broken down into the basic building blocks of fats, carbohydrates and amino acids before absorption, These simple substances do not usually cause allergies.
The combination of the initial oxidative stress event and the subsequent malabsorption and inflammation of the inner intestinal lining damages the intestine’s immune defenses.
As part of the original inflammatory injury, certain white blood cells called T-cells are stimulated to produce antibodies against the offending agents. Due to the mineral deficiencies that are present, T-cells malfunction and produce antibodies to a number of different substances such as foods and even to components of the person’s own body (autoimmunity), Elimination of food allergies especially wheat is often necessary. Correction of the autoimmune disorder is more difficult but usually improves with certain fats, antioxidants, zinc and if all other factors are corrected.
Even after the initial oxidative stress and the acute disease (fever/infection) seems to be over and the child has recovered, the intestine continues to be irritated from the lack of pancreatic secretions, malnutrition, zinc deficiencies, food allergies and autoimmunity. Bacteria and yeast cell walls called endotoxins are absorbed into the body through the "leaky bowel." The intestine continues to absorb the endotoxin poison in excess of normal because of these different factors continuing to operate and the child continues to suffer from the influx of poisons into the body. This combination of abnormalities is further aggravated by excess sugars and sweets in the diet such as apple juice used in nursing bottles. All of these factors work together to result in an overgrowth of intestinal yeast especially when antibiotics for common allergy induced ear, throat and sinus infections are given.
As long as these poisons are allowed to continue coming into the body they continue to irritate and damage the pancreas, intestine and brain which makes these synergistic processes perpetual. Treatment needed to stop these continuous self propagating disease processes revolves around identification of the offending bacteria and yeast, food allergies and other poisonous substances such as lead, mercury, and organic pollutants and their elimination from the diet and body.
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