Archive for October, 2010
We all know that dogs are man’s best friend, but it turns out they might be our best medicine as well. A new study conducted by researchers at the Universite de Montreal showed evidence that trained dogs could be used as an autism therapy to lessen anxiety in social situations and foster socialization skills. These results are attributed to a lowering of cortisol, which is the hormone produced in response to stress. The researchers tested cortisol levels before, during and after introducing the dog to the children’s homes.
In addition to this quantifiable evidence, parents of the autistic children reported a marked improvement in their child’s behavior. On average, parents counted 33 problematic behaviors before living with the dog and just 25 after.
In recent years, chelation therapy products have steadily been gaining popularity on the internet. Chelation uses special agents to remove toxins and heavy metals from the body. Advocates say it can be used to treat everything from autism to Parkinson’s. Traditionally, trained physicians have been the ones performing chelation therapy, but at-home options are now popping up online. The FDA recently issued a warning to eight of these online manufacturers, however, informing the companies that the products weren’t approved drug and devices.
The manufacturers are accused of making false claims about the products as well, marketing them as miracle cure-alls. As of now, there aren’t any FDA-approved over-the-counter chelating products. One of the reasons the FDA took action is the safety issues involved. One child has died while receiving an IV treatment, and dehydration, kidney failure and other medical issues have also been reported.
Over time, our bodies amass an array of toxins, heavy metals and other contaminants which, when allowed to build up, can wreak havoc on our health. Small doses of mercury and other such metals are not typically a concern for adults, but since we are unable to rid them from our bodies by ourselves, they simply accrue over time. Certain diets and lifestyles, such as those heavy in seafood, put certain people at a higher risk for unhealthy levels of these contaminants.
Up until recently, one of the only options to rid your body of these metals and other toxins was chelation therapy, but many new medications provide the same heavy metal detox effects. PCA-Rx, for example, uses probiotics to enhance the immune system and facilitate the removal of toxins. Probiotics are living bacterial organisms which become part of your body in work in conjunction with it.
A new, large-scale study out of Denmark has found that children who had jaundice at birth were more likely to experience autism. Although the researchers found a correlation between the two conditions, they have yet to discover have are related and to what degree. It is not uncommon for babies to experience mild cases of jaundice at birth, but it generally clears up quickly and it generally harmless.
More severe cases of jaundice can lead to brain damages, but they are quite rare. It’s not clear whether there is some for of causation between jaundice and autism, or if there is a common genetic predisposition for the conditions. This story highlights how the curriculum for autism education is constantly changing, so it’s important to stay current with the latest news and research.
No matter what you hear, the truth is that there still is no definitive answer. Although evidence indicates certain factors that are likely to contribute to the disorder, there is no consensus amongst medical professionals. Because people develop the disease at different times in their lives and the symptoms are so varied, it’s likely that autism can be caused by myriad factors. Here are a few of the believed causes of autism:
~Genetics: recent studies have isolated specific genes which are believed to be directly correlated to many cases of autism. There is also strong evidence that suggests the disorder is passed from generation to generation.
~Unusual Brain Development: in some cases, autistic individuals have bigger brains and appear to process information differently.
~Vaccines?: it was long believed that vaccines with thimerosal caused autism, but the leading proponent of the theory, Dr. Wakefield, was recently discredited as was much of the research supporting the claims.
Although mercury has now been removed from most products, people around the country still suffer from mercury poisoning each year. High concentrations of mercury can be found in certain fish and sea creatures, as well in some pharmaceutical and dental products. Young children and fetuses are the most susceptible to mercury poisoning, but it can affect anyone. Here are some of the common mercury poisoning symptoms you can use to detect the condition:
~Central Nervous System: depression, restlessness, irritability, loss of coordination
~Cardiovascular System: abnormal heart rhythm and/or blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and triglycerides
~ Immune System: chronic infections and autoimmune disorders, including arthritis, multiple sclerosis and lupus
~General: allergies, anti-social tendencies, headaches, fatigue