What causes autism? Is there a cure? Actress and autism activist Jenny McCarthy joins The Doctors to debate the controversies surrounding the disorder.
Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder, which refers to a group of illnesses involving delays in the development of basic skills. Common symptoms of the disorder include loss of skill sets, slowed language development, odd movements like hand flapping and toe walking, repetitive behavior, anxiety, a high pain threshold and a lack of eye contact and response to vocal commands.
Jenny’s 6-year-old son, Evan, was diagnosed as autistic, and Jenny explains that certain changes and a positive outlook assisted in his recovery.
“He is doing incredibly,” Jenny says. “At 2 ½, he had a seizure, and that’s what led me to the diagnosis of autism. After one year of implementing biomedical treatment, which is diet, detox, supplements, he was recovered from autism. Today he is typical, first-grade, loving, so social, you wouldn’t be able to tell at all that anything was wrong or the severity of his injury that he had.
“We look at autism as an injury,” Jenny adds. “If you get hit by a bus, you don’t get cured from getting hit by the bus, you recover from the injury. These kids, a lot of them, weren’t born with autism. Maybe it was a genetic predisposition, but something triggered it that pushed them over, like toxins, like infections. And we firmly believe that this is why these kids were injured, and why we call it a recovery.”
Removing Environmental Toxins
Dr. Jerry Kartzinel works with Jenny and Evan on their biomedical treatments. The treatment includes removing toxins from the environment, increasing certain nutrients and eliminating certain foods by moving to a gluten-free, casein-free (GFCF) diet.
“It sounds like we’re treating autism, but we’re treating the complications of autism,” Dr. Kartzinel says. “I don’t treat autism, but if you have a child, for example, who does not process dairy well – either they’re lactose intolerant or the proteins get messed up and it acts like a morphine in their system – we’re saying, ‘This food doesn’t process well in your body. Let’s remove it.’ We do that for lactose-intolerant people. We remove gluten-containing foods for our celiac disease patients; why wouldn’t we say, ‘Hey, I wonder if we can do some testing to validate this conclusion,’ and we can, and we remove the dairy from their diet, we remove the gluten from their diet, and all of a sudden the children may be able to sleep through the night! Sleepless nights, that’s a problem we can take care of.
“I look at each symptom, what the child presents with,” Dr. Kartzinel adds. “If they’re having problems with constipation, if they’re having problems with chronic diarrhea, if they have a laboratory test that tells me they’re making morphines from these particular food groups, or if I do an allergy test, and it tells me they have allergies from these particular foods, then you bet I’m going to pull them out.”
Jenny says the biomedical treatment worked for Evan, because when she removed dairy from his diet, he no longer had a blank look on his face and made eye contact with her. The change in diet does not work for every child, Dr. Kartzinel says, but he has had success with those where the dairy or gluten were the problems that trigger the symptoms. Some doctors do not believe the diet has been proven to help, however.
“The problem is these doctors are not in my clinic,” Dr. Kartzinel says. “They are not following me for a week or two in the clinic. They’re not watching. They don’t come to the clinics and see. They’re quick to make judgments about what we’re doing can’t possibly be working, and they’ll say, ‘There are just no studies,’ and yet the next family that comes in. [For] my son the diarrhea went away, [Jenny’s] son improved. Why aren’t they talking to us?”
“We talk on the show every single day about living as pure of a life as you can, eating healthy, natural foods,” Dr. Travis says. “And we talk all the time about environmental toxins on this show. Whether you have symptoms of autism or whether or not you’re a completely healthy person, removing environmental toxins is a good thing.”
In addition to removing dairy and gluten products from the diet, Jenny and Dr. Kartzinel also explain that removing toxins from your environment can help the symptoms as well. By changing to non-toxic paints, removing flame-retardant products and making the environment as organic as possible, Jenny witnessed major changes in her son. “It helped save Evan,” she says. “Hopefully people will start to hear these kids’ warnings, because it’s very real.”
Autism Q&A with Jenny McCarthy and Dr. Jerry Kartzinel
• Tyler asks how to help ease their 4-year-old son, Ashton’s, sensitivity to light and noise.
WEB EXCLUSIVE: Watch Dr. Kartzinel’s answer to Tyler’s question, right here!
• Krista’s 4-year-old son, Brian, is autistic. She says he is always sick and asks if that is due to a low immune system or something in his diet.
“My first thought, that I’ve been finding, is that when you have a child who’s sick all the time, what do we do? We do an immune-system workup,” Dr. Kartzinel says. “Another thing that can look like being sick all the time are allergies. [If] they’ve got the runny nose all the time, and they’re coughing all of the time, dark circles under the eyes. House dust-mites, things that you don’t think about [could cause it].”
• Jennifer asks about the effectiveness of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and how it can help her 5-year-old son, Alexander, and other children with autism.
“Hyperbarics have been around for a long time,” Dr. Kartzinel says. “You’re in a container with increased pressure – we call that atmospheric pressure – and you actually increase the amount of oxygen being delivered. It’s used for a whole bunch of things. Some things are approved uses like wound infections and diabetic wounds. But we’re using it for our kids with autism because they’ve actually done studies in the late ‘90s and early 2000s that clearly demonstrate that children and adults with autism have decreased blood flow to both sides of the brain.
“We were thinking that if they have decreased blood flow, I wonder if they increase the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream, if we can help these kids,” he continues. “And sure enough, studies now are showing that it can actually help the kids sleep better, they have more language, they have more presence. The parents tell me that they seem to be more with it. So it seems to be a good tool in the toolbox that’s not the fix, but it is taking care of one thing that we notice.”