The Neuroscience of Learning

I found some interesting articles on neuroscience and education written by Ken Wesson.  Also his blog is very interesting.  I wish schools took science into account when educating our children with learning differences instead of relying on outdated models.  Getting my child into a small class really helped him learn.  I listened to the audiobook The Brain That Changes Itself and have been trying to incorporate neuroplasticity principles into my child’s day.  He memorized a very long poem when he still did not have functional communication.  Everyday, I have him walk along the concrete curb in the parking lot until we get to our car, its takes no extra time out of our day.  At first he couldn’t do it.  He slowly increased his balance until he could walk along the curb independantly. It took a full year.  This is the same kid who couldn’t ride a tricycle when his peers could.  We got him a balance bike.  At first, he couldn’t make it more than a few feet without tiring out and he would ask for a break.  We had a breakthrough when I read about using grassy hills to get kids up to speed which makes them more stable, and the grass breaks a fall.  Falls are an important part of learning too.  After a few trips down the hill, he caught on to how it feels to balance.  As he developed more skill, he got faster until last week I noticed him gliding faster and lifting up his feet.  So I got him a small bike and put him on it, and he was able to ride it, no training wheels.  All I can say is, wow!  I figure that because of his brain damage, he will require much more practice that typical kids to achieve many of his skills.  So, that is my plan to help him oversome his weaknesses.  Fortunately my son’s health has improved and he has gotten a lot of help at school and he has the drive inside him to be successful.  I don’t think anything is impossible for him.

I would recommend the book Negotiating the Special Education Maze for parents of kids with special needs.  Getting a good IEP is crucial.  Trying to find a district friendly to people with special needs is also important.  I have heard horror stories about how some districts have a bad attitude about getting services to those in need, seeing them as a burden instead of being compassionate.  I did hire an advocate at one point and it was money well spent.  Networking with other local parents is important to find out what services are available.  And if you find a good teacher/district/administrators, be sure to write them thank you letters; and occasionally write to those special teachers and let them know when your child is older how much of a difference they made.  Teachers have a difficult job,  with budget cuts, bureaucracy,  so many responsibilities, and so little time.

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Allergy treatment update

So my son is in week 3 of sublingual immunotherapy drops for his allergies. So far so good. I haven’t seen any rashes around his mouth or any indication that he is having a problem with the drops. I was worried he wouldn’t be able to hold the drops in his mouth, but his oral tone seems to be improving actually from me just asking him to hold his mouth closed for 3 minutes. The doctor said there are actually more dendritic cells in the space around the teeth than in the sublingual space. Dendritic cells are antigen presenting cells and they take the antigen to the underlying lymph nodes for processing. He said as long as he swallowed the drops instead of spitting them out they should work even if he cannot hold them in his mouth for the full 3 minutes. I asked why the anti-parasite system would be active in the esophagus, because as far as I knew there were no parasites that hung out in the esophagus. He said the esophagus is derived from the respiratory tract in the development of the embryo. So that makes sense because there are parasites that enter the lungs from the bloodstream, so the lung would need defense against parasites. In only 5 more weeks my son will be at the maintenance dose. It’s been much easier than my experience with allergy shots, with giant welts on my arms, and weekly visits to the doctor, what a pain.

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No progress yet

So my son had a biopsy today.  It seems that his esophagus looks just as bad as it did before, with furrowing and granularity.  The doctor is so good at his job, that when he tells me it looks bad through the scope, the biopsies come out bad.  So the elimination diet based on skin prick results failed.  I knew it would since his blood eosinophils were high.

Today we started sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) for my son’s airborne allergies. Perhaps the airborne allergies are causing the esophagus to stay inflamed.  For my research, 1/3 of symptomatic EE patients have symptoms caused by airborne allergies, in addition to foods. My son is well on his way down the atopic march: eczema, food allergies, airborne allergies, asthma.  He doesn’t have asthma yet, so I hope the immunotherapy will prevent it.  It’s great that he can use drops instead of shots, and also sublingual is safer than shots.  It is more logical since it targets the mucosal immune system.

I am going next week to start myself on SLIT.  I did the shots for one year and they really helped my allergies and asthma, but I my arms would double in size despite using antihistamines before the shots.  And I was allergic to almost everything so I had to get multiple injections every time.  I was tired of having giant arms, and I couldn’t reach the maintenance dose.  I recently read that mothers on immunotherapy had a lower chance of having allergic offspring, and since I would like to try for another child in the future, I decided to give up on the shots and try for the drops.

Goodbye antigen-specific T cells, hello Treg cells!

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The Ketogenic / Atkins Diet

Epilepsy has a few treatments.  Drugs, surgery to remove damaged brain tissue, the ketogenic or Atkins diet, and devices like deep brain stimulation or vagus nerve implant. I’m sure there are others too that work.  Drugs are only a bandaid, unless the epilepsy spontaneously resolves, which mostly happens in kids, not adults.  Drugs work in 2/3 of cases.  After 2 drugs are tried and fail, the chances are very slim that any other drug will work.  Surgery offers the chance of a cure.  The ketogenic diet and the modified Atkins diet also have a chance of curing epilepsy.  Epilepsy is caused by damaged brain cells, whether by a lesion (tumor, scar or injury), genetic/biochemical abnormalities such as mitochondrial diseases, and autoimmune disease.  My son has no lesions on his MRI, no family history of epilepsy, and strong family history of autoimmunity.  So I think his epilepsy is either autoimmune or from brain damage due to prematurity.  Epilepsy drugs can cause sedation, liver toxicity, allergies, bone loss, etc.  I didn’t want my delayed child to be any more delayed.  The first drug we tried had terrible side effects: crying for hours and aggression The second drug, while not as sedating as other epilepsy drugs, is in a class of anti-epileptic drugs (AED’s) known to cause low immunoglobulins, allergy, eosinophilic esophagitis, and Steven Johnson syndrome.  Not a good choice for him.  After he got to a high dose and it didn’t improve his EEG, we decided to try the modified Atkins diet.   I saw miraculous results in a friend’s child with the classic ketogenic diet, who went from intractable epilepsy to no seizures in days.

The basic theory is this: brain cells can run off glucose or ketones.  The brain cells that cause the seizures are more active and use a lot more glucose and can’t use ketones very well.  If you remove glucose from the diet and provide a lot of fat, the body turns the fat into ketones and uses that for fuel.  Normal brain cells are cool with this, but not the seizure cells.  In fact, it may work as a kind of micro-surgery, killing the bad brain cells while the normal cells are fine.  Ketosis is also anti-inflammatory.  The ketogenic diet can be used in a brain cancer called glioblastoma.  The cancer cells have damaged mitochondria and can’t use ketones.  These cancer cells are known to die when they are restricted to using only ketones.

Some people are cured after a period of time on the diets.  I think that’s one of the best reason to try the diet in kids.  Epilepsy itself and the drugs have so many side effects, why not remove one of those things the kids have to deal with.  It’s hard for the parents.  But the modified Atkins diet is showing it’s almost as good as the very difficult ketogenic diet. For us the Atkins diet was pretty tough because my son was still dealing with multiple food allergies, but it was easier that attempting the ketogenic diet, which relies heavily on nuts.

So: no side effects for the kid (except a limited diet), the chance for a cure, healing with food, yeah it’s a pretty good idea in my book.   Another plus of the diet is that it is high fat, and you can use omega 3’s for added brain healing.  I think this should be used in epileptic infants as a first line treatment since a ketogenic formula is available.  Perhaps skimmed breastmilk fat could also be used, provided the mom has a good supply.  Yes it’s a lot of work for the parents, but I am so glad we have had the chance to try this.  I also think this would be a good thing to try in autism, especially the 2/3rds of autistics who have epilepsy or abnormal EEG’s.

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I believed lies about my child

My son has had a really hard time interacting with his peers in daycare and school.  We were always told he had “bad behavior” and was “agressive”.  After doing lots of research, making lots of mistakes, and hearing from other special mommies, I hired an advocate, got him a good IEP, and got him into an ASD classroom.  He was not potty trained, could talk in strange scripted pharases but not communicate.  In  matter of months he learned to communicate and potty trained for pee during the day, it was awesome.

I took my son to a developmental pediatrician.  He fit ADHD criteria very well, so that was the diagnosis he got.  I gotta hand it to the doc, she recommended speech therapy and occupational therapy and perhaps later a trial of stimulants, but it was not her first choice. How awesome to find a doc not pushing drugs.  I also got some parent training.  I learned how to communicate boundaries to my child at a developmentally appropriate level. I learned how to use a time out to allow him to calm himself down, rather that hold him down in a chair, which had failed us.  A “suppernanny naughty chair” may work in a neurotypical child, but not one with a neurological disorder.  The trainer handed me a list of stress behaviors in children.  They were all similar to ADHD symptoms:

Accident proneness, Hitting, Anger, Kicking, Anxiety, Insomnia, Appetite Loss, Stuttering, Baby Talk, Indigestion, Bed-wetting, Thumbsucking, Biting, Pounding Heart, Crying Spells, Grinding Teeth, Detachment, Fingernail Biting, Excessive Aggressiveness, Respiratory Tract Illness, Excessive Laziness, Tattling

When my child was put into a developmentally appropriate situation, the aggression disappeared.  Now I know the truth.  My child is not some aggressive monster.  He was just stressed.  He needed help and didn’t get it.  As a matter of fact, a lot of his autistic type behaviors have decreased.  This could be due to Father Time allowing him to catch up on his development.  Or his highly qualified and passionate teacher and her awesome aids.  Or the lack of stress.  Or the outdoor play that we do every day (it’s fun!).  Or the fish oil and probiotics (can’t hurt).  Who knows.  I am really enjoying spending time with him now and not feeling so guilty and frustrated.  He is still delayed and has serious food allergies and GI symptoms, but I can live with those.  A wise person told me “don’t try to change the child, change the situation around the child”.

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The Gastrointestinal Immune System

The GI immune system starts at the mouth and ends in the anus.  The system is designed to allow our bodies to receive nutrition from food and drinks, while recognizing beneficial organisms and defending from harmful organisms.  The GI system is a tube which is actually considered to be on the outside of our body.  Just like the skin (lined by durable keratinized epithelium) is the first defense against the outside, the epithelial lining of the GI system is the first line of defense against anything that goes in our mouths.  Note: much of the material here is plagiarized from a report I wrote on the GI system.

The Mouth
We chew our food which gets mixed with saliva.  Saliva is amazing stuff.  Adults make about 1 liter a day.  Saliva contains different types of mucus (another amazing substance); enzymes to break down food; peroxidases, lactoferrin, lysozymes, and IgA to protect against microorganisms.  Many of these things are also found in breastmilk, which protects infants who are born without memory in their adaptive immune system.  Tight junctions hold the epithelial cells together, and hard keratin protects surfaces which get more friction.  Nerves take information to our brain to decide if our teeth are biting something too hard, how the food tastes, to decide if we need more saliva.

Throat
No only do we have to defend against food, but also stuff we breathe in.  The tonsils use the power of the adaptive immune system to help out.  The adenoids (pharyngeal tonsils) are in the back of the nasal passage and deal with air and mucus from the nose.  The (palatine) tonsils are directly behind the mouth, and under the adenoids.  The lingual tonsils sit in the back of the tongue.  These structures are composed of lymph tissue, similar to lymph nodes.

A Node on Lymph Nodes
Lymph nodes are like military bases.  When antigen presenting cells find a prisoner (an interesting protein), they can bring it to their local lymph node, which contains T cells and B cells.  The T and B cells can interact with one another and make memory cells, and plasma cells which make antibodies.  Lymph vessels carry extra fluid from between cells to lymph nodes for processing.  It seems there is not a place in the body where you can escape from the T or B cells.

Tube System
From the esophagus to the anus, the system is more or less a tube, with modifications in each area.  The tube has 3 layers:  the inner layer (mucosa); middle layer (submucosa) which contains connective tissue, nerves, blood and lymph vessels; and an outside layer of muscles which moves the food in a process called peristalsis.

The mucosa itself has 3 layers: epithelium, lamina propria, and a thin muscle layer.  The epithelium has different cells for different jobs in each organ.  The lamina propria contains connective tissue, white blood cells, and lymph tissue.

Esophagus
The esophagus brings food to the stomach.  This is basically a tube lined with boring squamous cells like in the mouth.  These cells don’t absorb, but they are protective and replaced often, so they can handle the rough food going down.  People who have reflux can be exposed to stomach acid which changes the cells from squamous cells to stomach-lining cells, and this can eventually cause cancer.  There are glands in the esophagus that secrete enzymes and mucus.  The glands are tubes that go down through the layers of the esophagus.

Stomach
The stomach is a widening of the tube system, and it has a lot of muscle mass so it can mix the food like a blender.  The strong acids can kill many of the organisms that find their way inside.  Mucus producing cells protect the lining of the stomach from being destroyed by the acids.  Glands in the stomach produce enzymes and hormones.  The hormones can tell the muscles when to contract to push down food, and also sends signals to other organs that it needs other enzymes/ hormones.

Small Intestine
The small intestine is huge and has a massive amount of surface area, around th size of a football field.  Its cells are absorptive, so this leaves the body very vulnerable to anything that enters here.  So a really super defense is needed.  The lining of the small intestine is replaced every 5 days.  It’s villi are fingerlike projections that increase the surface area for absorbing food and water.  And its glands (Crypts of Lieberkuhn) go down into the lamina propria. The crypts are lined by absorptive cells, enzyme and hormone producing cells, and “M” cells.  Peyer’s patches are groups of lymph tissue nodules found at the end of the small intestine, which are covered by M cells.  M cells eat (phagocytose) substances in the intestine, and then pass them off to antigen presenting cells in the nodes.  Inside the lymph nodes B cells are produced, which go to the lamina propria, differentiate into plasma cells and produce IgA.  After that some B cells go on further into the lymph system and magnify the immune reaction.  Some of the IgA is attached to a chemical called “secretory component” or sIgA, which is then to the cell membrane of the surface intestinal cells.  The rest of the IgA enters the liver, turns into sIgA, and is released into the bile.  Most of the nutrients are absorbed into the blood and carried right into the liver for processing.  The liver also recycles bile from the intestines.  Bile is repackaged and goes back into the beginning part of the small intestine (via the common bile duct), along with IgA, and more enzymes/hormones from the pancreas.

Large Intestine
The large intestine is similar to the small with its crypts and lots of absorptive cells, but it doesn’t have villi.  The appendix is located near the terminal ileum, and it also has M cells and lymph nodules (interesting…).  The colon absorbs water and gas and compacts the food into feces for elimination:)

Biofilms
Could talk more about these.  We are supposed to have layers of good bacteria in our intestines.  The good bacteria do a lot of digestion for us and stimulate production of IgA and provide short chain fatty acids.  In addition, we evolved to host soil transmitted helminths, which are symbiotic and regulate our immune system.

Some thoughts…

  • The wiki on Peyer’s patches says “Although important in the immune response, excessive growth of lymphoid tissue in Peyer’s patches is pathologic, as hypertrophy of Peyer’s patches has been closely associated with idiopathic intussusception.”  Intussusception is why the original rotavirus vaccine was taken off the market.  It is known is that injected vaccines activate different cytokine cascades than mucosal exposure.  It’s possible that stimulating the immune system in an abnormal way is causing immune diseases like autism and eosinophilic esophagitis.  I hope more research will be done on these topics.
  • What is the real cause of appendicitis?
  • Radiohead’s Jigsaw Falling into Place is about the GI system.  “Before you run away from me Before you’re lost between the notes epithelial cells The beat bile goes round and round… …Come on and let it out”
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Interesting post on autism and the immune system

http://blog.autismspeaks.org/2010/04/19/dan-van-de-water/#comment-14057

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The Immune System

Here are some links that provide a good introduction to the immune system.
http://nobelprize.org/educational/medicine/immunity/immune-overview.html
http://nobelprize.org/educational/medicine/immunity/immune-detail.html

Here’s my version of an introduction.
The immune system is divided into 2 types: the innate and the adaptive.

  • Antigens are any substance that can trigger an immune response, usually proteins.
  • Cytokines are like neurotransmitters, they send chemical signals to other parts of the immune system.
  • Tissue is a group of alike cells that have a function in the body.

The Innate Immune System

Cells in the innate immune system:

  • Neutrophils: first responders, can release toxic granules to kill invaders
  • Mast cells : involved in parasite defense (AKA allergy)
  • Basophils: involved in parasite defense (allergy)
  • Eosinophils: involved in parasite defense (allergy)
  • Monocytes and macrophages: phagocytes (“cell eaters”) , a clean up crew that gulps up stuff and gives it to the adaptive immune system for processing
  • Natural killer cells: these are actually T cells, they can kill bad cells or release cytokines.

The innate includes things like skin and stomach acid that are natural barriers to infections.  Phagocytes can recognize patterns with receptors (toll-like receptors).  They also respond to cytokines, which trigger the phagocytes to devour nearby stuff.  Phagocytes are also called antigen presenting cells (APC’s), because the stuff they eat gets broken down and little chunks (antigens) go on the outside of the cells.  The chunks are held in place by receptors.  T cells from the other side of the immune system come by and check out the chunks and decide what to do about them.  If the T cells decide the stuff the APC’s eat is bad stuff, they can mobilize their own army.

The Adaptive Immune System

Cells in the adaptive immune system:

  • B cells: these make different types of antibodies (IgM, IgA, IgG, IgE)
  • T cells
    • T Helper cells (CD4+) [TH1, TH2, TH17…]: these release cytokines to stimulate other parts of the immune system.
    • Cytotoxic T cells (CD8+): these kill infected or cancer cells
    • T regulatory cells: these shut off the immune system after it is done fighting off infection.

The adaptive immune response has memory.  B cells make antibodies.  These are Y shaped proteins, similar to kitchen tongs.  Antigens fit into the groove at the top of the Y, but they have to fit perfectly like a lock and key.  Each B cell has randomly generated instruction on how to make their antibodies.  There are endless combinations from all the B cells, but each individual B cell makes only one shape of antibody.  Each B cells puts some antibodies out on it surface, ready to grab only an antigen that fits perfectly in the groove.  Some B cells never find anything that fits into the groove.  Once in a while, there is a perfect fit.  This mother B cell gets excited and starts to divide (it needs chemicals from the T cells to do this).  Some of the daughter B cells turn into plasma cells and start releasing antibodies, IgM type.  Some daughter cells hang back and form memory cells, ready to go back to work if they find any more of this particular type of antigen.  When the B cells are re-exposed to the antigen, they can switch from making IgM to making IgG, IgE, and IgA antibodies.  IgA protects mucus membranes, such as the GI tract, lungs, eyes, ears, and nose.  IgG protects the entire body and blood.  IgE protects the body from parasites.  B cells have to be stimulated every so often or they will die off, this is called anergy.  More about anergy later.  This section should help you understand vaccine titers too, they are measurements of IgM and IgG antibodies.

T cells also have receptors that are similar to B cell antibodies.  They are randomly generated.  There are a few major categories of T cells.

  • Cytotoxic (CD8+) T cells are supposed to kill humans cells, either cancer or virus infected cells.
  • Helper (CD4+) cells release chemicals (cytokines) to help the B cells, other T cells, or macrophages.  There are different types of T Helper (TH) cells: TH1 and TH2 are the most well known.  Basically, TH1 helps the macrophages and TH2 helps the B cells make antibodies.
  • Regulatory (CD4+CD25+FoxP3+) or Treg cells shut off the immune system when the fight is over, and to stop T cells that react to our own cells.  Some people with allergic and autoimmune disease don’t have enough Treg cells.

Unlike the B cells, T cell receptors cannot just grab onto antigens, they must get them from an MHC receptor.  There are 2 types of MHC, 1 and 2.  Every cell has MHC-1, and MHC-1 grabs proteins from inside the cells.  The T cells are trained in the thymus to recognize our own MHC and also not to react to our own proteins in the MHC.  This is useful because if another human’s cells are in your body, the T cells will kick them out (transplant rejection).  And while the T cells will ignore your own protein in the MHC, if the MHC have something in then that doesn’t belong, like virus chunks, the T cells will attack those cells and get rid of them.  Cytotoxic T cells read MHC-1 receptors.

MHC-2 is found on APC’s, such as macrophages.  Since the job of the APC is to eat stuff, it’s good at finding bad stuff.  The Helper cells recognize MHC-2 and will release chemicals (cytokines) when they find something bad in the MHC-2.  The cytokines will trigger the B cells and macrophages.  Some types of cytokines are interleukin (IL), interferon (IFN), tumor necrosis factor (TNF), and transforming growth factor (TGF).

If something goes wrong and the T cells react to a protein your body makes, like insulin, the insulin cells will get attacked and die.  Maybe a virus revved up the T helper cells to release cytokines to trigger the immune system.  Insulin is an innocent bystander.  Before long, you end up with type 1 diabetes.  This is where the Treg cells come in.  They are like an internal affairs bureau catching a bad cop.

Well, I didn’t put in all the details I possibly could.  If you see I left something major out or made a mistake, please let me know.  I am going by memory and fact checking with Wikipedia:)

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Oral imunotherapy

Oral immunotherapy is a new treatment for food allergy.  Actually it is not new, but new to US scientists.  Oral tolerance means foods are recognized by the immune system as not being harmful.  If they are classified as invaders, that is an allergy.  Current treatment for food allergies is almost always to stop eating the offending food.  This is ok in little kids who often outgrow their allergies.  But for people with severe reaction or many allergies, this is not a good solution.  In fact, studies have shown that avoiding a foods actually made patients more allergic to it.  Patients with anaphylaxis are in danger of dying from their allergy.

Allergy shots for inhaled allergies have been around in the US for a long time.  Usually patients have really good results, but some cannot achieve tolerance and must stop the treatment.  In Europe, sublingual immumotherapy has really taken off.  You can take drops under you tongue and slowly build up the dose, just like with the shots.  It’s faster to tolerance and easier to do.  I have heard some lame arguments from allergists on why they don’t use it in the US, from not being FDA approved (whole nother rant) to lack of research.  I think liability fears are holding allergists back.  Oral immunotherapy is just starting to be studied in the US.  Duke has been able to cure anaphylactic peanut allergy in small groups of children.  So instead of living in fear of dying, these kids can now eat all the peanuts they want.

My son had an egg allergy, but has never has anaphylaxis.  I read lots of studies and decided to try the immunotherapy. One study started with tiny doses off egg protein and increased it every 2 weeks.  If my son showed any distress I would stop.  So we started and there was no problem.  I kept logs and medication handy just in case.  He never had hives or diarrhea during those 6 months.  After while I got tired of all the measuring so I just let him eat a cookie every day, with no reaction.  At his 6 month follow up, skin prick testing showed no reaction.  Just to be cautious I did a little patch test for 48 hours (although I don’t know if I did it right), but no rash from that either.  Now all we have to do is retrain him that eggs are ok to eat, poor guy.  I asked many allergists if we could try this, but no one would say it was ok to start, although one suggested giving him occasional bites of foods with eggs cooked in them (since another oral immunotherapy study used bites of cake for oral immunotherapy).

Prenatal exposure to mom’s food proteins through the placenta and breastmilk are a child’s first oral immunotherapies. And breastmilk has anti-inflammatory proteins along with IgA to protect the GI mucosal surfaces.  My son used to get facial rashes which cleared up when I weaned him.  So something went terribly wrong with his oral tolerance.  Probably caused by the IV antibiotics in the NICU killing his gut flora, exposing him to food right after several GI surgeries, and perhaps unnecessary vaccines given when he was not even term.  There is a lot of research showing probiotic deficiency and lack of breastfeeding being implicated in food allergy development.  I’m not gonna beat myself up about it but I do blame the NICU staffs for not keeping up with the research.  Probiotics should be given to NICU babies who have had antibiotics.  Maybe even fecal transplants.  And I don’t blame parents who don’t breastfeed their children.  I blame this society for making it difficult for women to breastfeed.  This is a very costly decision.  For real healthcare reform, formula marketing should be banned and formula not given to low income women unless medically necessary.  Imagine how much money would be saved on formula (and medical complications) if WIC instead bought women a breastpump and access to a lactation consultant and milk banks.  (Ending rant because I could go on and on.)

Update February 2011 : Food avoidance alone is not going to help the eosinophilic esophagitis.  Something must be done to fix the underlying cause of the failure to achieve oral tolerance to food.

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Possible treatments

I read Jenny McCarthy’s book.  Her son went through many of the same things mine did.  I looked into some of the things she mentioned.  I started researching DAN medicine philosophy.  There was some valuable information, and other things I had no desire to try.  I always prefer prevention and natural medicine over drug therapy, although I am not opposed to using medications.  I use them for my own autoimmune disease and allergies.  The most promising treatments were:

  • Fish oil
  • Vitamin D3
  • Curcumin
  • B vitamins
  • Probiotics
  • Getting seizures under control
  • Magnesium and Epsom salt baths
  • Blood tests for PANDAS and gluten antibodies
  • Behavior and sensory therapy
  • Possibly gluten free/ casein free diet

Other ideas I wanted to explore were neuroimmunology, helminth therapy, gut flora, mitochondrial disease, oral tolerance, IVIG, and mucosal vaccines.

It was frustrating to me that some of the DAN practitioners embraced very unscientific ideas and felt they should always go all out to help the patients (mostly children) at the expense of the families.  Also, the claims that treatments could really help or even cure autism put blame on the parents if they couldn’t do all the treatments for their kids, and insinuates that having autism is a really bad thing.  When the autistic person who is not suffering physically from the disease might be perfectly happy and have great gifts to contribute to society.  I even consider myself to be an Aspie.  I was unable to communicate effectively with others as a child.  I still have a difficult time using appropriate body language and making eye contact.  It’s much better now that I am an adult.  I hope to pass my coping and communication skills on to my son so he doesn’t have to have the same problems I did.  And my preoccupation with science is now paying off.  I love my job and am good at it.

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