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Autism Spectrum Disorder

Updated: Oct 27

Natural Therapies for Autism

There are over 200 clinical trials that have been completed on natural therapies for autism and more research is released every year. At our clinic, we take a comprehensive approach and address a wide range of aspects. For example, research has found that those with autism may be deficient in certain nutrients, regardless of diet, due to various changes in metabolism. Studies have found that by addressing these deficiencies behavioral and cognitive symptoms can sometimes improve. Other goals to treatment include:

  • Treat underlying factors: Target factors that can contribute to progression or worsening of autism

  • Treat symptoms: associated behavioral and cognitive changes

  • Digestion: screen and treat common gastrointestinal symptoms, such as chronic constipation, diarrhea, reflux, bowel disease, and nausea. Some children with increased digestive complaints are also found to have increased behavioral disturbances (2022 study).[1]

  • Sleep: disturbances in sleep are common in autism, and research has found improvements in daytime behavior in those who have improved sleep duration (2011 study).[2]

  • Diet: A 2022 study found that diet can improve cognition and behavior[3] - however supervision under a health professional is important to avoid nutritional deficiencies

  • Nutrition: ensuring adequate intake of essential nutrients, testing for common deficiencies

  • Exercise: Maintaining regular exercise, adequate sleep, management of stress, and social support - A 2017 study found exercise improved functioning as well as self-regulation and awareness of behaviors.[4]

  • Environmental: Avoidance of common neurotoxins found to be associated with autism

  • Allergies: Screen for allergies that may be contributing to worsening of symptoms

Blood Testing For Autism

Dr. Baker (ND) will usually complete a set of blood work that consists of around 20 different tests that look at factors that can contribute to autism. These tests are aimed at uncovering underlying factors that are found in research to be associated with autism or its complications, as well as factors that can aggravate and worsen symptoms. This panel of blood testing checks for metabolic, nutritional, hormonal, immunological and inflammatory changes. Some examples of these tests include:

  • Magnesium testing: A 2020 study found that magnesium is lower in those with autism.[5] Low magnesium is a risk factor for increased hyperactivity in some behavioral disabilities.

  • Zinc testing: A 2014 study found that a lower level of zinc is associated with greater ASD symptoms, and those with higher zinc had improved symptoms.[6]

  • Thyroid hormone testing: hypothyroidism can affect intellect and development; A 2020 study found worsening ASD symptoms in those with hypothyroidism compared to those with normal thyroid levels.[7] A 2017 study found that those with lower levels of thyroid hormone were at increased risk of autism.[8]

  • Lead testing: A 2020 study found that those with higher blood lead were at increased risk of autism.[9]

One common question is: why look at risk factors for autism if it has already been diagnosed? This is because for many conditions, research suggests that risk factors can also increase progression of the condition and lead to further deterioration.

Symptoms of Autism

Autism is a developmental condition that manifests with two main categories of symptoms:

  1. Social: Impaired social communication and interaction (see first section below)

  2. Behavioral: Restricted and repetitive behavior, interests, and activities (see second section below)

Impaired Social Communication and Interaction

Restricted and Repetitive Behavior, Interests, and Activities

Three Levels of Autism

There are three levels of autism based on the severity of symptoms. This allows for more effective targeted treatment plans and helps caretakers better understand individuals' symptoms and needs.

Social Communication & Interaction

Level 1 - (Requiring support)

Level 2 (Requiring substantial support)

Level 3 (Requiring very substantial support)

Repetitive and Restricted Behavior

Level 1 (Requiring support)

Level 2 (Requiring substantial support)

Level 3 (Requiring very substantial support)

Concluding Remarks

The field of natural medicines has witnessed substantial growth with over 200 completed clinical trials and ongoing research efforts. At our clinic, we adopt a comprehensive approach to address various facets of autism, drawing on the insights gained from these studies. Notably, research highlights the importance of addressing nutrient deficiencies, as these deficiencies can impact behavioral and cognitive symptoms. Our treatment goals encompass managing autism-associated symptoms, optimizing digestion, improving sleep patterns, fine-tuning dietary choices with professional guidance, ensuring proper nutrition, promoting regular exercise, minimizing exposure to environmental neurotoxins, and screening for allergies that may exacerbate symptoms. These holistic strategies aim to enhance the well-being and quality of life for individuals with autism.

Dr. Baker (ND) uses a comprehensive panel of blood tests consisting of approximately 20 different assessments designed to identify factors associated with autism and its complications, as well as those that can exacerbate symptoms. These assessments help in uncovering critical insights for a more targeted and effective approach to autism management.


[1] Patel M, Atluri LM, Gonzalez NA, Sakhamuri N, Athiyaman S, Randhi B, Gutlapalli SD, Pu J, Zaidi MF, Khan S. A Systematic Review of Mixed Studies Exploring the Effects of Probiotics on Gut-Microbiome to Modulate Therapy in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder. Cureus. 2022 Dec 8;14(12):e32313. doi: 10.7759/cureus.32313. PMID: 36632246; PMCID: PMC9828007.

[2] Rossignol DA, Frye RE. Melatonin in autism spectrum disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Dev Med Child Neurol. 2011 Sep;53(9):783-792. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8749.2011.03980.x. Epub 2011 Apr 19. PMID: 21518346.

[3] Quan L, Xu X, Cui Y, Han H, Hendren RL, Zhao L, You X. A systematic review and meta-analysis of the benefits of a gluten-free diet and/or casein-free diet for children with autism spectrum disorder. Nutr Rev. 2022 Apr 8;80(5):1237-1246. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuab073. PMID: 34617108; PMCID: PMC8990762.

[4] Bowling A, Slavet J, Miller DP, Haneuse S, Beardslee W, Davison K. Cybercycling Effects on Classroom Behavior in Children With Behavioral Health Disorders: An RCT. Pediatrics. 2017 Feb;139(2):e20161985. doi: 10.1542/peds.2016-1985. Epub 2017 Jan 9. PMID: 28069663.

[5] Guo M, Li L, Zhang Q, Chen L, Dai Y, Liu L, Feng J, Cai X, Cheng Q, Chen J, Wei H, Li T. Vitamin and mineral status of children with autism spectrum disorder in Hainan Province of China: associations with symptoms. Nutr Neurosci. 2020 Oct;23(10):803-810. doi: 10.1080/1028415X.2018.1558762. Epub 2018 Dec 20. PMID: 30570388.

[6] Li SO, Wang JL, Bjørklund G, Zhao WN, Yin CH. Serum copper and zinc levels in individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Neuroreport. 2014 Oct 22;25(15):1216-20. doi: 10.1097/WNR.0000000000000251. PMID: 25162784.

[7] Ames JL, Windham GC, Lyall K, Pearl M, Kharrazi M, Yoshida CK, Van de Water J, Ashwood P, Croen LA. Neonatal Thyroid Stimulating Hormone and Subsequent Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders and Intellectual Disability. Autism Res. 2020 Mar;13(3):444-455. doi: 10.1002/aur.2247. Epub 2019 Dec 10. PMID: 31823519.

[8] Lyall K, Anderson M, Kharrazi M, Windham GC. Neonatal thyroid hormone levels in association with autism spectrum disorder. Autism Res. 2017 Apr;10(4):585-592. doi: 10.1002/aur.1708. Epub 2016 Oct 14. PMID: 27739255.

[9] Jafari Mohammadabadi H, Rahmatian A, Sayehmiri F, Rafiei M. The Relationship Between the Level of Copper, Lead, Mercury and Autism Disorders: A Meta-Analysis. Pediatric Health Med Ther. 2020 Sep 21;11:369-378. doi: 10.2147/PHMT.S210042. PMID: 33061742; PMCID: PMC7519826.

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