This blog is a way of sharing the information and resources that have helped me to recover my son Roo from an Autism Spectrum Disorder. What I have learned is to view our symptoms as the results of underlying biological cause, which can be identified and healed. I say "our symptoms" because I also have a neuro-immune disorder called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.

And, of course, I am not a doctor (although I have been known to impersonate one while doing imaginative play with my son)- this is just our story and information that has been helpful or interesting to us. I hope it is helpful and interesting to you!

Sunday, August 16, 2020

How Do Ayahuasca and Other Psychadelics Affect the Brain?

How Ayahuasca (DMT) Affects the Inner Workings of the Brain Explained

 Ayahuasca hyper activates the Neo-cortex, the brain region where we perceive, reason, and make decisions.  It also activates the amygdala which stores our early emotional memories, in particular the very significant ones such as a death in the family.  It also activates the Insula which forms a bridge between our emotional urges and our ability to make decisions.  The Insula is where "feeling states" are created.  Our brains try to understand new experiences in terms of previous ones that are stored, especially those that are very strong or traumatic.  This creates imprints in the brain which are essentially pathways of repeated responses.  The more often the input is met and the pathway is activated, the stronger the pathway becomes.  They are built up like scar tissue.  Ayahuasca hyper activates the entire part of the brain that stores and processes emotional memories, and it may uncover memories that had been forgotten.  When hyper activated the brain is able to consciously over ride these entrenched pathways and create new responses to stimulii.  This often results in people who have used Ayahuasca gaining new perspectives on past experiences and being freed from earlier entrenched responses that where not serving them.

Mystical experiences occasioned by the hallucinogen psilocybin lead to increases in the personality domain of openness 

 "A large body of evidence, including longitudinal analyses of personality change, suggests that core personality traits are predominantly stable after age 30. To our knowledge, no study has demonstrated changes in personality in healthy adults after an experimentally manipulated discrete event. Intriguingly, double-blind controlled studies have shown that the classic hallucinogen psilocybin occasions personally and spiritually significant mystical experiences that predict long-term changes in behaviors, attitudes and values. In the present report we assessed the effect of psilocybin on changes in the five broad domains of personality – Neuroticism, Extroversion, Openness, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness. Consistent with participant claims of hallucinogen-occasioned increases in aesthetic appreciation, imagination, and creativity, we found significant increases in Openness following a high-dose psilocybin session. In participants who had mystical experiences during their psilocybin session, Openness remained significantly higher than baseline more than 1 year after the session. The findings suggest a specific role for psilocybin and mystical-type experiences in adult personality change."

Monday, July 27, 2020

Simple Grain and Starch Sides

Garlic Bread

Make a paste of a combo of oil or melted butter and shortening or softened butter, add garlic that has been grated on a fine microplane, and garlic powder (and/or garlic granules) that has been "bloomed" in a small amount of water.  Onion powder and a small amount of cayenne are optional.  Toast bread in foil in a 450 oven. 

Fall Rice Pilaf

Cook 1 cup of a mix of brown and wild rice in broth (turkey or chicken works well).  Saute 1 sliced large leek, several diced ribs of celery, about 1/3 cup of diced parsnip, about a 1/4 cup of dried cranberries, a generous amount of rubbed sage, and chopped chestnuts if you can eat them.  Let cook for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.

Greek Lemon Rice

2 cups rice (basmati or jasmine work well)
4 cups stock
Juice of 1 lemon
2 large sprigs fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring ingredients to a boil, then simmer 15 to 20 minutes.

Simple Savory Snacks

Crispy Chickpeas

Add 1 T of oil to equivalent of 1 can of chickpeas (that are drained and very dry), then add 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper plus any other spices (curry powder, chipotle, smoked paprika, etc). Bake at 450 on a preheated cookie sheet for 20 to 25 minutes (stirring them around at least once during cooking time).

Olive Tapenade

2 cups pitted green olives
2 cloves of garlic
2 anchovy fillets
1 T capers
Juice of 1 lemon
Fresh Thyme
½ cup olive oil

-Pulse everything in a blender, than slowly add olive oil with blender running.

Friday, July 24, 2020

COVID 19 notes

COVID-19 most contagious in first 5 days of illness, study finds
This article reports on a study published in The Lancet medical journal that found that people with COVID 19 infections were most contagious during the first 5 days after developing symptoms. The study also looked at viral load and viral shedding.

How coronavirus spreads outdoors vs. indoors

What the Coronavirus looks like up close:

Community and Close Contact Exposures Associated with COVID-19 Among Symptomatic Adults ≥18 Years in 11 Outpatient Health Care Facilities — United States, July 2020 
 "Findings from a case-control investigation of symptomatic outpatients from 11 U.S. health care facilities found that close contact with persons with known COVID-19 or going to locations that offer on-site eating and drinking options were associated with COVID-19 positivity. Adults with positive SARS-CoV-2 test results were approximately twice as likely to have reported dining at a restaurant than were those with negative SARS-CoV-2 test results."

Convalescent plasma and COVID   8/24/20
Today the FDA granted emergency use authorization for convalescent plasma as a treatment for COVID 19.  Plasma is a part of the blood that includes antibodies to diseases that the donor has immunity to or has at least fought off recently.  This treatment has been use for over 100 years, so it is not a new technology.  It has been tried as a treatment in many diseases during that time and has been shown to be only moderately effective, and in many cases completely ineffective.  It is not considered standard of care for any specific inspection.

The problem here is that the FDA granted this authorization on minimal evidence and evidence that does not meet even the lowest requirements for setting medical policy.  The FDA based their decision on one open-label study of 35,000 patients which was evaluating the outcomes of the patients based on how soon in the disease process they received the treatment and how high or low the level of antibodies was in the plasma that they received.  The study was not blinded or randomized, there was no control group and no placebo, no peer review, many patients who were given the plasma were also enrolled in other similar studies looking at Remdesivir, Hydroxychloraquine, and other treatments that differed from each other and may not have even been known by the studies authors.  It has been given to about 100,000 Americans so far.

It looks like the reason for this FDA announcement was more motivated politically than it was from a scientific perspective and was made due to pressure from The White House.  There is a disclaimer on the study itself saying that it should not be used to determine clinical practice (at 7:45).  A properly done trial may not be possible anymore because the treatment is available now and people have been told that it is effective, so why would a patient agree to be part of a study in which they may receive placebo instead of the actual treatment?  The last concern is that the study results were presented in terms of the relative risk reduction NOT the absolute risk reduction which makes the treatment appear more effective than it actually was.  Some of the officials involved, including the FDA commissioner himself, do not show an understanding of this difference, which is a pretty basic concept in medicine (at 9:38).  The data does NOT show a 35% success rate as claimed.  Dr Strong is concerned that this decision by the FDA shows such a lack of integrity that it will compromise public faith in a vaccine if one is approved quickly.

First documented case of COVID reinfection in the US
A 25-year-old man was first infected with COVID in March.  Since then tested negative twice.  His symptoms returned 48 days after the initial infection and was found to have a different strain of the virus.  It is also mentioned in this news brief that in as many as 40% of COVID cases the virus was caught from an asymptomatic carrier.

A New COVID 19 Variant is Spreading in Europe
As many European countries are fighting a second wave of COVID cases, a new variant of the SARS Cov 2 virus has been found to be active in some (but not all) of these new rising numbers.  It seems to have originated in Spain and traveled quickly throughout Europe.  It seems to spread very effectively (possibly moreso than the original variant) and is now the dominant variant in some countries.  We are being told that this won't change the effectiveness of a vaccine if/when one is introduced, or that the illness caused by this variant is any different. 

In several cases glutathione has been used to improve respiratory symptoms. Viral infections can cause so much inflammation that the body doesn't have enough glutathione to protect the lungs, which leads to the difficulty breathing. Glutathione is safe and relatively inexpensive and can be tried at home.

Life After COVID-19 | Institute of Human Anatomy Update
This is a thorough explanation of why a negative COVID test is not required to return to work or school for people who have tested positive for COVID 19 in the past and who had symptoms.  This is the official stance of the CDC as well (the exception to this is if a person needs to travel, a negative test may be required in that case).  This seems counterintuitive to many people because people are assuming that a negative test will indicate when a person's infection is over and they are no longer contagious.  The reason is basically because the testing is done as PCR testing, which detects viral RNA particles regardless of whether the infection is current or past, meaning it does not differentiate who is contagious and who is not.  Anyone who has had COVID 19 could test positive regardless of whether they are still sick or over the infection.  Instead of a testing-based strategy to determine who is safe to return to school, work, or daily life, a symptom-based strategy is what is being used.  The guidelines for this are that a person is required to quarantine for at least 10 days after onset of symptoms, have no fever (without fever-reducing meds such as Tylenol or ibuprofen), and have improvement in symptoms.  For patients with severe cases or who are immune-compromised 20 days of quarantine is required instead of 10.  A symptom-based strategy also uses fewer tests so that those tests will be there if needed for a spike in cases, etc.

Long-term neurological manifestations are being seen in people who have recovered from COVID 19, including in children.  These can include acute encephalitis but may also appear as more general symptoms such as headache, fatigue, confusion, and more serious problems such as memory problems, problems with speech, psychotic symptoms, even seizures.  In some cases this seems to be part of the Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children that can be one presentation of COVID 19.  References and relevant studies:

Neurologic and Radiographic Findings Associated With COVID-19 Infection in Children
" In a case series of 4 children with COVID-19 and neurological symptoms, all 4 patients had signal changes in the splenium of the corpus callosum on neuroimaging and required intensive care admission for the treatment of COVID-19 pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome."

The emerging spectrum of COVID-19 neurology: clinical, radiological and laboratory findings
"SARS-CoV-2 infection is associated with a wide spectrum of neurological syndromes affecting the whole neuraxis, including the cerebral vasculature and, in some cases, responding to immunotherapies. The high incidence of acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, particularly with haemorrhagic change, is striking. This complication was not related to the severity of the respiratory COVID-19 disease."

SARS-CoV-2 May Have Another Door Into Cells | SciShow News
Evidence suggests that the virus SARS Cov 2 can enter cells through the receptor ACE2, which has been known for awhile, but may also be able to enter through another protein called CD 147 (Cluster of Differentiation 147.  It is also called Emmprin, M6, or Basigin).  Many other viruses, including measles, HIV, and the original SARS COv virus can also use this protein to enter and infect cells.  This receptor is involved in cellular communication and coordination so it is found on many kinds of cells in many body systems.  Production of CD147 increases when blood sugar is high which might explain why people with diabetes have a higher risk from COVID.  Research so far shows that CD147 is also more commonly expressed in people with asthma, obesity, COPD, and hypertension.  This may also explain some skin rashes and blood clotting that seem to be symptoms of some COVID infections.  Antibodies, including those for COVID, can stick to red blood cells and make them "sticky" and prone to clotting.  Red blood cells don't have ACE2 receptors but they do have CD147 receptors (this is the same receptor that malaria parasites use to get into them).  Endothelial cells also express CD147 and this might explain how the virus causes high blood pressure.  A medication called Meplazumab binds to CD147 so that viruses can't use it and preliminary research sows that this drug helps reduce the severity of COVID infection.  The antibiotic Azithromycin also seems to block the CD147 receptor and is also used to treat malaria, so maybe it will be an effective option?

How the Coronavirus Hijacks Your Cells
The SARS Cov 2 virus has been found to enter human cells via the ACE2 receptor, which stands for Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2.  This receptor is found primarily throughout the respiratory tract and the GI tract.  Once inside the cell, the virus releases its RNA which then directs the cell to make proteins for it including ones which keep the immune system at bay and others needed to replicate the virus.  Each cell can produce as many as 600,000 new viral particles.  The SARS Cov2 virus appears to not kill the infected cells as quickly as many other viruses do which could lead to a longer period of being contagious before showing symptoms and realizing that you are sick.  Alcohols and bleach kill the virus by altering the pH or disrupting the cell membrane, making the cell unable to replicate.  Higher temperatures make the virus less stable and not able to survive as long.

Invasive Aspergillosis as an Under-recognized Superinfection in COVID-19 
"Taken together, these early findings suggest that invasive aspergillosis may be an important, yet under-recognized, complication of SARS-CoV-2 infection. The frequency of post-COVID-19 aspergillosis is likely to differ significantly between hospitals and geographic sites, as has been observed with postinfluenza aspergillosis"

"We are living in an unprecedented era of fungal infections, characterized by the emergence of previously unrecognized human pathogens and well-recognized pathogens causing new manifestations of disease. The spectrum of “at-risk” populations for invasive Aspergillus infections is expanding, with increased appreciation of diseases such as chronic pulmonary infection and postinfluenza aspergillosis. Fungal superinfections are difficult to distinguish from severe COVID-19 based on clinical or imaging findings, and a high index of suspicion is necessary to diagnose aspergillosis. If aspergillosis is a complication of COVID-19 in a significant minority of critically ill hospitalized patients, failure to recognize or diagnose the disease will likely lead to excess mortality. For this reason, it is imperative to establish the incidence, clinical characteristics, and outcomes of COVID-19-associated aspergillosis as quickly as possible." 

MMR Vaccine May Confer Non-Specific Immune Protection Against COVID 19

The people with hidden immunity against Covid-19
 It has been noticed that many people who have recovered from COVID do not show antibodies to the virus, and that many of those who do have antibodies that last nor more than 3 months.  This implies that long-term immunity to COVID may not be based on antibody titers but other mech-
anisms may be necessary or significant.

"When researchers tested blood samples taken years before the pandemic started, they found T cells which were specifically tailored to detect proteins on the surface of Covid-19".
"T cells are a kind of immune cell, whose main purpose is to identify and kill invading pathogens or infected cells. It does this using proteins on its surface, which can bind to proteins on the surface of these imposters. Each T cell is highly specific – there are trillions of possible versions of these surface proteins, which can each recognize a different target. Because T cells can hang around in the blood for years after an infection, they also contribute to the immune system’s “long-term memory” and allow it to mount a faster and more effective response when it’s exposed to an old foe. "

Some people test negative to the antibodies but positive for t-cells that recognize COVID virus. This could mean that there is twice as much natural immunity to the virus than previously thought. About 40 to 60% of unexposed people have these t-cells. This is causing some researchers to refocus their attention onto t-cell based immunity as a more promising road to meaningful treatment. To understand the importance of t-cells (also called t-lymphocytes) look at patients in late-stage AIDS- the unusual cancers, the fevers, fatigue, weight-loss. sores, etc. The Oxford vaccine induces both an antibody and a t-cell response. However in severely affected patients many of these cells seem to be disappearing out of the blood stream. It has been suggested that the cells may be moving to affected parts of the body. However there also appears to be a pattern of necrosis happening at areas such as the spleen where many t-cells are found. Necrosis of the spleen is generally a sign of t-cell disease, such as AIDS. If t-cells are being destroyed this could explain why the elderly are so much more effected.

Neutralizing antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 in a COVID-19 recovered patient cohort and their implications Longitudinal evaluation and decline of antibody responses in SARS-CoV-2 infection 

Longitudinal evaluation and decline of antibody responses in SARS-CoV-2 infection 

Monday, July 20, 2020

Sound Healing

The Note from Heaven - a film on Githa Ben-David by Lars Muhl

 Githa Ben-David learned to sing in a spiritual way while studying in India and later developed this practice as a healing modality.  Her method of singing involves overtones and elongated sounds.  This video demonstrates how to pronounce the different sounds for those people who are reading her book and/or studying her method. 

Using sound waves to destroy cancer | Christine Gibbons | TEDxDetroit

A new treatment for cancer is presented here, called Histotripsy, which uses sound energy delivered by ultrasound to destroy cancerous tumors.  Using sound to create heat to kill tumors has been tried, but this is a new approach that actually uses the sound to create mechanical forces.  These mechanical forces are more precise than heat and lead to less pain and faster recovery.  This concept is illustrated at 3:38 

Music Medicine: Sound At A Cellular Level | Dr. Lee Bartel | TEDxCollingwood

Some sounds have a rhythmic structure that allow them to impact cells in the body.  This offers a potential new modality for treating brain disorders.  Many functions of our brains, such as controlling movement and memory, are controlled by circuits in the brain comprised of sections of the rbain that work in coordination.  This coordination is maintained with brain waves that have a specific frequency (in the brain this is generally 40 Hz).  This speaker presents evidence that treatment with 40 Hz is able to improve brain function patients with Alzheimer's.  The speaker mentions a consumer product that seems capable of providing this therapy outside of a treatment center called the Sound Oasis Vibro Acoustic Therapy System (VTS1000)...worth checking into?  He refers to a study done at MIT (at 10:14) that found that exposing a person to lights that flicker at 40 hz for 7 hours can reduce the amount of beta-amyloid plaque in the brain by more than 50%.  Additional related publications are listed at 10:40  He discusses a pilot study done with fibromyalgia patients (12:30 includes citation) as well as more rigorous studies, all showing a lot of promise.  Potential new targets for treatment include Major Depression, Parkinson's, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, bone density, and blood flow (may reduce risks from stroke and heart attack).  

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Recipes for Medicinal Foods

Fermented Garlic Honey

Sage and Honey Cough Syrup 

How to Make Elderberry Syrup for Immune System Support

Elderberry Winter Tonic

Elder-Rosehip Oxywell (from Mountain Rose Herbs)

1/4 c elder berries
1/4 c rose hips
1/2 c apple cider vinegar
1/2 c raw honey

Combine ingredients in a jar and let sit for 2-4 weeks, shaking once a day.  Strain and store in fridge or cool, dark place. 

Sunday, May 24, 2020


Migraine headaches are a neurological condition with significant vascular involvement.  They occur as a series of phases, usually four, which are the Premonitory Phase, the Aura Phase, the headache itself, and the Postdrome Phase.

The premonitory phase includes symptoms such as light sensitivity, sound sensitivity, fatigue, irritability, depression, muscle stiffness, and can begin as much as 3 days before the actual headache starts.  It is believed that the hypothalamus is involved in causing migraines, it is a part of the brain that is responsible for regulating the autonomic nervous system, which is the part of the nervous system that controls body functions involved in survival which are not under conscious awareness or control.  These include things like hormone regulation, temperature control, thirst and hunger, and respiration.  There seem to be many potential environmental triggers which vary from person to person and which can include hormonal changes, weather changes (particularly changes in barometric pressure, so can be triggered by impending rain storms), emotional stress, changes in sleep patterns (although these may also be symptoms of the migraine itself), neck pain, not eating, and things that are common mast cell triggers such as certain smells, foods, alcohol, smoke, exercise, bright lights, and sometimes sex. 

About a third of people who get migraines have an aural phase next.  There are four different kinds of auras associated with migraines- visual, sensory, language, and motor.  Visual auras include things like seeing spots, wavy lines, are a ring around lights.  Sensory aura can include neuralgia, which is tingling and/or numbness.  Language aura refers to problems speaking and finding the right words, and motor aura refers to weakness.  Many of these symptoms such as tingling/numbness and weakness often occur on only one side of the body.  It is believed that the aura phase is caused by something called Cortical Spreading Depression, which means that the neurons on the outside of the cerebrum (the main part of the brain) begin to fire less frequently in a pattern that spreads through the cortex the same way that ripples spread on the surface of water.  People who do not experience aura symptoms may be experiencing this spreading in areas of the brain that they are not consciously aware of. 

The headache phase involves pain (obviously) but also tends to involve additional symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, light and sound sensitivity, balance problems, visual disturbances, sensitivity to certain smells, and a pain symptom called Cutaneous Allodynia which is when even light touch on areas of the skin causes intense pain.  It is currently thought that the Cortical Spreading Depression that occurs earlier in the process activates the Trigeminal Vascular System, which includes activation of the trigeminal nerve.  All sensations on the skin of the face are transferred to the brain via the Trigeminal Nerve.  The Trigeminal Nerve also carries pain signals into the brain from the Dura Mater, which is a thick membrane of connective tissue surrounding the brain and inside the skull.  While the pain signals may be coming from the Dura Mater the pain may be perceived on the face due to referred pain.  Referred pain is when pain signals from different areas of the body activate areas in the brain that are close together and the brain confuses which area is the origin of the signal.
The Postdrome Phase is the final phase in which some of the symptoms, especially the pain, lingers.  This can feel as if your brain is bruised or has been through some sort of accident. 

What Are Migraines?