Summary Information - Why Manuka Honey may help with symptoms commonly associated with Autism.

The well documented and long-standing use of honey for medicinal purposes, anecdotal evidence, and a growing body of clinical research provide information that may explain why Manuka Honey might help relieve the symptoms often seen in autistic children with gastrointestinal problems (for example see 'Why is honey effective as medicine' - part 1, part 2, links, and articles provided here).  It is possible that Manuka Honey not only has the potential to help clear the stomach of overgrowth of some 'bad' (or opportunistic) bacteria, but also promote probiotics, reduce inflammation, assist in healing the lining of the gut, and stimulate of the body's immune response.  It follows that a healthier gut, improved digestive and immune function, and the absence of pain would result in a myriad of improvements in overall health and behaviour (see Case Study).  An additional consideration is that regardless of the probiotic treatments and dietary interventions for sensitivities and allergies that are often recommended to improve digestive health in autistic children, the abundance of 'bad' bacteria may not allow the 'good' to get a foothold.  Like sowing grass seed in a lawn full of weeds - the grass cannot become well established until the weeds are dealt with - for want of a better analogy!  The obvious pluses are that honey is a natural product, and is relatively easy to administer to most children.  Please note that some people are allergic to honey and that honey of any sort should not be given to children under 12 months of age - more information on precautions here.   Also note that Manuka honey treatment should be discussed with your medical practitioner prior to commencement.

 

Summary of literature

The following information is drawn from research and information that was reviewed when trying to determine the reasons why Manuka Honey may be of benefit in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD's), particularly where gut issues are present.  There is no doubt that the reasons for ASD's are complex and likely caused by a variety of factors.  Given the diabolical amount of research and information available, and in the interests of brevity only summary information is provided.

Many children with Autism Spectrum Disorder suffer from gastrointestinal problems that may be attributed to all or a combination of the following factors:

  1. An absence of healthy gut flora which may be the result of and/or exaccerbated by: Failure to acquire gut flora at birth (eg. c-section); or poor quality gut bacteria passed on by the mother.  Poor quality gut flora in the mother may be the result and/or a combination of: Antibiotic use by grandparents & parents; parents having been bottle fed; the contraceptive pill; unhealthy lifestyle; poor diet (including GMO foods); chlorinated or polluted water; general exposure to pollution and chemicals found in common household products.  Note that the fathers gut flora influences the mothers gut flora, and in turn that of the child.
  2. Damage to the childs gut and/or gut flora as a result or combination of:  Antibiotic use in the child; bottle feeding; poor diet - processed and GMO foods and insufficient quantities of fresh (raw) fruit and vegetables; chlorinated or polluted water; general exposure to pollution and chemicals including chemicals found in common household products.
  3. An 'unhealthy' gut and an overabundance of 'bad' bacteria which can result in: Abdominal pain; constipation; diarrhoea; irritable and inflammatory bowel; bloating and Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD);  reduced capacity to obtain adequate nutrition from food; toxicity which damages the gut lining and allows toxins to enter the bloodstream and reach the brain.  The child's immune system is also impaired and compromised further if the child is bottle fed and does not receive the benefits of antibodies via breast milk.
  4. The inability to deal with an accumulation of, and exposure to toxins, chemicals, bacteria, and viruses that an individual with a healthy digestive and immune system would be more able to cope with.  

 

The dramatic increase in autism rates appears to coincide with:

- An increase in antibiotic use - not only in humans but also in livestock.

- An increase in medical interventions during pregnancy and childbirth (eg c-section), and a reduction in breast feeding.

- An increase in the use of chemicals, pesticides and genetically modified materials in the production of food and animal products, and an increase in the consumption of heavily processed foods.  

- An increase in exposure to toxic chemicals in the environment, including commonly used products such as cosmetics and flea powder.

 

Please note:

The child in the case study was delivered by c-section (with forceps), and bottle fed.  Both parents were also bottle fed and took a number of courses of antibiotics when they were  children and young adults.  The mother also took the contaceptive pill.  Oliver was also thought to be developing normally until his 18 month vaccinations. Tests following Oliver's Austim diagnosis revealed high levels of Clostridium (a bacteria found to be at high levels in autistic children, and that Manuka Honey is effective against - though particular spp. not identified) and antimony (a flame retardant commonly applied to clothing, and household furnishings.  Flame retardants are listed as being linked to autism- see 10 below). 

 

Articles and recent research that may support these conclusions find or suggest that: 

- Children with autism are six to eight times more likely to have gastrointestinal problems than typically developing children and it's possible that treatments improving digestion may lead to an improvement in problem behaviors (1, 2a).

- Gut flora in autistic children is different to other children (including some bacteria that is non-existent in the latter). (1, 2, 2a)

- Children that are not breastfed are more likely to develop autism. (3, 4, 6)

- C-section babies are four times more likely to develop autism. (4, 5)

- Babies delivered by c-section may not acquire gut flora from the mother during birth. (4, 5)

- The increase in autism and other developmental disorders could be linked to the increase in antibiotic use. Antibiotic use hinders beneficial gut microbes and allows the proliferation of pathogenic microbes. (5, 11)

- GMO foods, toxins and chemicals may be linked to increasing rates of Austism Spectrum Disorders. (3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12)

(1) Autism Linked to Digestive Problems - "The findings showed that children with autism were six to eight times more likely to have food sensitivities, bloating, constipation and diarrhea than typically developing children. It was also found that children with developmental delays suffered five times as much constipation and were much more likely to have problems with swallowing.  The researchers also point out that hyperactivity and repetitive behavior may be coping mechanisms for physical discomfort.  They believe that autistic children may benefit from a full GI evaluation, especially if they lack verbal skills. It is possible that treatments that improve digestion may lead to an improvement in problem behaviors." November 9, 2013 By Traci Pedersen Associate News Editor,  Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D.  Copyright 2014 Psych Central.com. All rights reserved. Reprinted here with permission.

(2) Bacteria in the gut of autistic children different from non-autistic children  The underlying reason autism is often associated with gastrointestinal problems is an unknown, but new results reveal that the guts of autistic children differ from other children in at least one important way: many children with autism harbor a type of bacteria in their guts that non-autistic children do not.In children with autism, digestive problems can be quite serious and can contribute to behavioral problems, making it difficult for doctors and therapists to help their patients. Autism, itself, is poorly understood, but the frequent linkage between this set of developmental disorders and problems in the gut is even less so. American Society for Microbiology. "Bacteria in the gut of autistic children different from non-autistic children." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 January 2012.

(2a) Low levels of healthy gut bacteria could be the cause of mental health issues  "A study published in Nutritional Neuroscience has shown that HPHPA levels - the chemical byproduct of the clostridia bacteria - are much higher in the urine of autistic children. Those treated with antibiotics effective against clostridia show a decrease in symptoms of autism. Dr James Greenblatt, a Boston-area psychiatrist, treated a teenager with severe obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), as well as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and an array of digestive problems. Greenblatt first did a simple urine test for the metabolite HPHPA and found that it was elevated.  He put the patient, Mary, on a course of high-powered probiotics to boost her good bacteria, followed by antibiotics, and her levels began to ‘dramatically’ go down.   Babies are born with a sterile digestive tract and first acquire their bacteria while traveling through the birth canal and get more in breast milk and in the world outside the womb through contact with other people...  Scientists are so far unable to identify every strain of bacteria, but they can test for the chemical byproducts that they produce, according to Dr Greenblatt.  He said he checks every patient for HPHPA with a simple organic acid urine test before moving ahead with medications to treat symptoms.  'Eight out of 10 people are fine,' he said. 'But in the two patients where it's elevated, it can have profound effects on the nervous system.' HPHPA causes deactivation of an enzyme so that dopamine cannot be converted to the neurotransmitter neuroepinephrine, Greenblatt said, and that causes a build-up of dopamine. 'We know elevated levels in the dopamine gene cause agitation'. This article Daily Mail Published: 07:29 AEST, 13 September 2013

(3) Autism and Breastfeeding  "..Adjusting for age, children who were not breastfed at all were two and half times more likely to have developed Autism or an ASD. This research came after years of no one following up on other research that found that compared to matched controls, children diagnosed with Autism were three times more likely to have been weaned within a week of birth.  ..It seems that for some types of ASDs, not breastfeeding may be a factor that serves as but one component of a perfect storm for individuals with a predisposition.  I do not think this is the only factor that can serve to protect an infant from developing a disorder for which they have a predisposition. ..I believe we have much greater toxins in our environment that I would be shocked to discover did not affect myriad health and developmental issues". January 23, 2013 Tracy Cassels, Evolutionary Parenting

(4) Common Obstetrical Procedures and Their Link to Autism - "The current rise in C-sections is alarming...  A baby born by C-section is 3 to 4 times more likely to have autism. One hospital in Britain scheduled all mothers for elective C-sections 1 week prior to their due dates resulting in a 21 times higher rate of autism then neighboring hospitals.  A(nother) deficit that C-section babies experience is in their level of “friendly bacteria” in their gut. Because they do not pass through the vaginal canal, they are not exposed to these helpful bacteria at birth and their immune system development suffers from this deficit". Jeanne Ohm, DC This article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #21.

Mothers are being erroneously convinced that cesareans could actually be better than a natural process! Unfortunately, they are not aware of the dangers and resulting injuries associated with them. During this surgical procedure, most women experience a great tugging sensation as the doctor is pulling on the baby. The struggle and pulling used to extract a baby out from the mother’s small incision is often not seen by the parents. Trauma to the baby’s spine and the resulting respiratory impairment is escalated. Is this the reason for the high correlation between C-sections and autism?

Another deficit that C-section babies experience is in their level of “friendly bacteria” in their gut. Because they do not pass through the vaginal canal, they are not exposed to these helpful bacteria at birth and their immune system development suffers from this deficit. With many indications that autism and immune system function are related, it is imperative we choose providers who will support our inherent ability to give birth naturally.

Finally, C-sections usually have immediate cord clamping.George Malcolm Morley, MB, ChB, FACOG, author of numerous papers on the dangers of immediate cord clamping reports, “C-section babies are four times more likely to be autistic than vaginal deliveries.”

- See more at: http://pathwaystofamilywellness.org/Pregnancy-Birth/common-obstetrical-p...

As seen above, C-sections are frequently caused by the cascading effect of the numerous interventions and procedures of modern obstetrics. The current rise in C-sections is alarming. The World Health organization says our C-section rate should be about 12%, and yet we see the nation’s average C-section rate as high as 33%. A baby born by C-section is 3 to 4 times more likely to have autism says George Malcom Morley, a frequently published OB/Gyn. One hospital in Britain scheduled all mothers for elective C-sections 1 week prior to their due dates resulting in a 21 times higher rate of autism then neighboring hospitals.

Mothers are being erroneously convinced that cesareans could actually be better than a natural process! Unfortunately, they are not aware of the dangers and resulting injuries associated with them. During this surgical procedure, most women experience a great tugging sensation as the doctor is pulling on the baby. The struggle and pulling used to extract a baby out from the mother’s small incision is often not seen by the parents. Trauma to the baby’s spine and the resulting respiratory impairment is escalated. Is this the reason for the high correlation between C-sections and autism?

Another deficit that C-section babies experience is in their level of “friendly bacteria” in their gut. Because they do not pass through the vaginal canal, they are not exposed to these helpful bacteria at birth and their immune system development suffers from this deficit. With many indications that autism and immune system function are related, it is imperative we choose providers who will support our inherent ability to give birth naturally.

Finally, C-sections usually have immediate cord clamping.George Malcolm Morley, MB, ChB, FACOG, author of numerous papers on the dangers of immediate cord clamping reports, “C-section babies are four times more likely to be autistic than vaginal deliveries.”

- See more at: http://pathwaystofamilywellness.org/Pregnancy-Birth/common-obstetrical-p...

(5) Abnormal Gut Flora Fosters Abnormal Brain Development "There is a close connection between abnormal gut flora and abnormal brain development—a condition Dr. Campbell-McBride calls Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS). GAPS is the result of poorly developed or imbalanced gut flora and may manifest as a conglomerate of symptoms that can fit the diagnosis of autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), attention deficit disorder (ADD) without hyperactivity, dyslexia, dyspraxia, or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Gut flora is a hugely important part of our human physiology. Recently research in Scandinavia has demonstrated that 90 percent of all cells and all genetic material in a human body is our own gut flora... "As far as science knows, the baby inside the mother's womb during nine months of gestation is sterile. The baby acquires its gut flora at the time of birth, when the baby goes through the birth canal of the mother. So whatever lives in mom's birth canal,becomes the baby's gut flora. If the mother has abnormal gut flora, she will have abnormal flora in her birth canal."  May 03, 2012 Probiotics: The Hidden Key to Optimal Brain Function Articles.Mercola.com

(6) GAPS Nutritional Program: How a Physician Cured Her Son's Autism... "What happens in these children [is that] they do not develop normal gut flora from birth…" she says. As a result, their digestive system — instead of being a source of nourishment for these children — becomes a major source of toxicity. These pathogenic microbes inside their digestive tract damage the integrity of the gut wall. So all sort of toxins and microbes flood into the bloodstream of the child, and get into the brain of the child. That usually happens in the second year of life in children who were breast fed because breastfeeding provides a protection against this abnormal gut flora. In children who were not breastfed, I see the symptoms of autism developing in the first year of life.So breastfeeding is crucial to protect these children."  July 31, 2011 Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride on GAPS Nutritional Program Articles.Mercola.com

(7) Research linking autism symptoms to gut microbes called 'groundbreaking'  "A new study showing that feeding mice a beneficial type of bacteria can ameliorate autism-like symptoms is "groundbreaking," according to a commentary piece about the research. The autism study, published today in the same issue of Cell, strengthens the recent scientific understanding that the microbes that live in your gut may affect what goes on in your brain. It is also the first to show that a specific probiotic may be capable of reversing autism-like behaviors in mice". University of Colorado at Boulder. "Research linking autism symptoms to gut microbes called 'groundbreaking'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 December 2013

(8) Do GMO Foods Cause Autism? Read About the GMO Crops Autism Connection It appears there is a direct correlation between GMOs and autism.” Autism prevalence is not nearly at such alarming rates in Europe as it is in the U.S. ..The European Union (EU) has possibly the most stringent GMO regulations in the world. What are autism rates in the U.S.? The latest study published by Reuters has autism rates at a new high for U.S. children. It is now 1 in 88! This gives credence to the theory that GMO foods cause autism rates to rise in certain populations.  Similar Digestive Disorders are found in both GMO Fed Livestock and Autistic Children.  About 70% of children diagnosed with autism are found to have digestive disorders. Symptoms include inflammation, intestinal permeability, and imbalances in the intestinal flora (bacterial makeup). These same symptoms also appear in animals fed GMO feed. If GMO foods cause an imbalance in gut flora and this leads to neurological problems, then it is likely GMO foods cause autism, too."  Do GMO Foods Cause Autism? October 27, 2013  By Caryn Talty, B.S.Ed., M.A. The Liberty Beacon

(9) Antiflea Pet Shampoos with Pyrethrin May Play a Role in Autism "Compared with mothers of typically developing children, mothers of children with autism spectrum disorders were twice as likely to report that they had shampooed their pets with pyrethrin-containing antiflea/antitick shampoos around the time of their pregnancy, in a Californian case-control study that looked at household pesticide use.Marlene Busko. Antiflea Pet Shampoos with Pyrethrin May Play a Role in Autism. Medscape. May 20, 2008.

(10) Top ten toxic chemicals suspected to cause autism and learning disabilities  The Children's Environmental Health Center (CEHC) developed the list of ten chemicals found in consumer products that are suspected to contribute to autism and learning disabilities to guide a research strategy to discover potentially preventable environmental causes. The top ten chemicals are: 1. Lead 2. Methylmercury 3. PCBs 4. Organophosphate pesticides 5. Organochlorine pesticides 6. Endocrine disruptors 7. Automotive exhaust 8. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons 9. Brominated flame retardants 10. Perfluorinated compounds Mount Sinai Medical Center. "Top ten toxic chemicals suspected to cause autism and learning disabilities." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 April 2012.

(11) Short-term benefit from oral vancomycin treatment of regressive-onset autism  "In most cases symptoms of autism begin in early infancy. However, a subset of children appears to develop normally until a clear deterioration is observed. Many parents of children with "regressive"-onset autism have noted antecedent antibiotic exposure followed by chronic diarrhea. We speculated that, in a subgroup of children, disruption of indigenous gut flora might promote colonization by one or more neurotoxin-producing bacteria, contributing, at least in part, to their autistic symptomatology. To help test this hypothesis, 11 children with regressive-onset autism were recruited for an intervention trial using a minimally absorbed oral antibiotic. Entry criteria included antecedent broad-spectrum antimicrobial exposure followed by chronic persistent diarrhea, deterioration of previously acquired skills, and then autistic features. Short-term improvement was noted using multiple pre- and post-therapy evaluations. These noted improvement in 8 of 10 children studied. Unfortunately, these gains had largely waned at follow-up. Although the protocol used is not suggested as useful therapy, these results indicate that a possible gut flora-brain connection warrants further investigation, as it might lead to greater pathophysiologic insight and meaningful prevention or treatment in a subset of children with autism". Sandler RH et al  J Child Neurol. 2000 Jul;15(7):429-35.

(12)  Autism Linked to Environment  "Research links soaring incidence of the mysterious neurological disorder to fetal and infant exposure to pesticides, viruses, household chemicals.  The scientists who authored the new study advocate a nationwide shift in autism research to focus on potential factors in the environment that babies and fetuses are exposed to, including pesticides, viruses and chemicals in household products.  Dozens of chemicals in the environment are neurodevelopmental toxins, which means they alter how the brain grows. Mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls, lead, brominated flame retardants and pesticides are examples. While exposure to some--such as PCBs--has declined in recent decades, others--including flame retardants used in furniture and electronics, and pyrethroid insecticides--have increased.  Mothers of autistic children were twice as likely to use pet flea shampoos, which contain organophosphates or pyrethroids, according to one study that has not yet been published. Another new study has found a link between autism and phthalates, which are compounds used in vinyl and cosmetics. Other household products such as antibacterial soaps also could have ingredients that harm the brain by changing immune systems, Hertz-Picciotto said".  Scientifc American - Jan 9, 2009  By Marla Cone

The articles and summaries provided here are for general interest and information only and are not intended to constitute medical advice or to make medical claims. You should consult your doctor or health practitioner before using Manuka honey for any medical condition.

 

Share: