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!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Essential Oils

I'm not going to give much background on this topic, since so many people understand it so much better than I do.  I am going to say that from what I understand, quality (and purity) vary a lot between brands so it's worth doing some research into the different brands available to you (and avoiding MLM/pyramid scheme brands including Young Living and DoTERRA.  See this article for links to testing which show fraud on the part of both companies).  The advice that I've gotten from "people in the know" is that with essential oils (EOs) you generally get what you pay for so it may be worth paying a bit more than you otherwise would.  Also, while much of the information available calls for internal use but again the higher quality information sources say to avoid internal use except in certain situations (in which case you should be working with a trained professional), and to always dilute the EO with a carrier oil when using directly on the skin.  Many people trained to use EOs tend to favor using the oils as aromatherapy (inhaled from a diffuser) rather than directly on the body.

Contrary to popular opinion, there actually is some research showing the effectiveness of many EOs as well as how or why they work.  The smell receptors in our noses are the only sensory input organ that sends signals directly into the brain rather than filtering them first, and this is thought to be at least part of why they work.   Essential Oils can be very problematic for people with mast cell disease or other allergic diseases (probably eosinophilic diseases as well), so if you have or suspect you have MCAS please be careful.  Because EOs tend to be very high in salicylates people who do not tolerate them should probably also be cautious.  The following is research that may help us to choose the appropriate oils.


What are the benefits of aromatherapy?
This page from The Mayo Clinic provides a basic introduction to essential oils.
"Essential oils used in aromatherapy are typically extracted from various parts of plants and then distilled. The highly concentrated oils may be inhaled directly or indirectly or applied to the skin through massage, lotions or bath salts.  Aromatherapy is thought to work by stimulating smell receptors in the nose, which then send messages through the nervous system to the limbic system — the part of the brain that controls emotions."

Adverse effects of aromatherapy: a systematic review of case reports and case series
Many fans of essential oils claim that one of their benefits is that they do not and can not cause side effects.  I have never seen anyone try to support this argument, it just seems self-evident to some people.  I don't know how many of the adverse events in this paper were actually caused by essential oils, but I do know that people with MCAS can be very sensitive/allergic to them and that they can bring on many symptoms including life-threatening anaphylactic episodes in some people.  

3 Reasons to Avoid Ingesting Essential Oils
This post challenges the common advice that essential oils are safe to use internally, in particular it points out that just not enough is known about the effects of EOs on the microbiome in the gut.

Why essential oils are not water flavoring agents
This is another post that urges caution about the internal use of EOs, while also discussing some times in which it is appropriate to do so.

Some EOs have been shown to cause or worsen seizures in some people, and should be avoided by people at risk for seizures. This post lists out which oils these are, and explains why they can be problematic. If you scroll to the bottom of the post, it also has information about which EOs might help with seizures.

ANTIMICROBIAL EFFECTS (emphasis added in quotes below)

Essential oils from aromatic herbs as antimicrobial agents.
"Bacterial resistance to multiple antibiotics is a health problem. Essential oils (EOs) possess antibacterial properties and have been screened as potential sources of novel antimicrobial compounds. Terpenes and terpenoids are components derived from EOs. Some of these EOs show inhibitory activity against Staphylococcus aureus. Carvacrol has specific effects on S. aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis. Perilla oil suppresses expression of α-toxin, Staphylococcus enterotoxin A and B and toxic shock syndrome toxin. Geraniol shows good activity in modulating drug resistance in several gram-negative species. EOs could act as biopreservatives, reducing or eliminating pathogenic bacteria and increasing the overall quality of animal and vegetable food products. Although clinical studies are scarce, the uses of EOs for topical administration and as penetration enhancers for antiseptics are promising. Little information exists for oral administration."
Antibacterial and antifungal properties of essential oils.
"Factors influencing the in vitro antimicrobial activity of essential oils and the mechanisms of essential oils action on microorganisms are reported. This paper gives an overview on the susceptibility of human and food-borne bacteria and fungi towards different essential oils and their constituents. Essential oils of spices and herbs (thyme, origanum, mint, cinnamon, salvia and clove) were found to possess the strongest antimicrobial properties among many tested."

Some Essential Oils Inhibit MRSA, Influenza, and Strep - Scientific Studies
This is a very helpful post on another person's blog that includes a long list of studies and summaries of what the research found.

The inhibition of Candida albicans by selected essential oils and their major components.
"The essential oils of Origanum vulgare, Satureja montana, Mentha piperita, Cinnamomum verum, Cymbopogon flexuosus showed maximum inhibitory activity (MIC = 500 ppm) after 7 days. According to the results of the examination of pure constituents, beta-phellandrene proved to be the most interesting component among cyclic monoterpenic hydrocarbons as it showed a strong activity (MIC = 50 ppm). The most active of phenols was carvacrol (MIC 100 ppm). The open-chain alcohol 1-decanol was the most active of alcohols at 50 ppm. Finally, among aldehydes, a strong activity was shown by trans-cynnamaldehyde (MIC 50 ppm)."

Vapor-phase activities of cinnamon, thyme, and oregano essential oils and key constituents against foodborne microorganisms.
"The aim of the study presented here was to gain knowledge about the vapor-phase antimicrobial activity of selected essential oils and their major putatively active constituents against a range of foodborne bacterial and fungal strains. In a first step, the vapor-phase antimicrobial activities of three commercially available essential oils (EOs)-cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum), thyme (Thymus vulgaris), and oregano (Origanum vulgare)-were evaluated against a wide range of microorganisms, including Gram-negative bacteria (Escherichia coli, Yersinia enterocolitica, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Salmonella choleraesuis), Gram-positive bacteria (Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus cereus, and Enterococcus faecalis), molds (Penicillium islandicum and Aspergillus flavus), and a yeast (Candida albicans)".  The results of the study are complex and hard to summarize so please follow the link for more information.

Antifungal activities of essential oils and their constituents from indigenous cinnamon (Cinnamomum osmophloeum) leaves against wood decay fungi.
"The antifungal indices of these two leaf oils at 100 ppm against five strains of white rot fungi and four strains of brown rot fungi were all 100%. Cinnamaldehyde, the major compound in C. osmophloeum leaf essential oils, possessed the strongest antifungal activities compared with the other components. Its antifungal indices against both Coriolus versicolor and Laetiporus sulphureus were 100%. The MIC (minimum inhibitory concentration) of cinnamaldehyde against C. versicolor and L. sulphureus was 50 and 75 ppm, respectively. In addition, comparisons of the antifungal indices of cinnamaldehyde's congeners proved that cinnamaldehyde exhibited the strongest antifungal activities."

Effects of oregano, carvacrol and thymol on Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis biofilms.
"The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of oregano essential oil, carvacrol and thymol on biofilm-grown Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis strains, as well as the effects of the oils on biofilm formation. For most of the S. aureus (n=6) and S. epidermidis (n=6) strains tested, the biofilm inhibitory concentration (0.125-0.500 %, v/v, for oregano, and 0.031-0.125 %, v/v, for carvacrol and thymol) and biofilm eradication concentration (0.25-1.0 %, v/v, for oregano and 0.125-0.500 %, v/v, for carvacrol and thymol) values were twofold or fourfold greater than the concentration required to inhibit planktonic growth. Subinhibitory concentrations of the oils attenuated biofilm formation of S. aureus and S. epidermidis strains on polystyrene microtitre plates."

Biological and Pharmacological Activities of Carvacrol and Carvacrol Bearing Essential Oils
"Oregano essential oils obtained from the genera Origanum, Thymus, Coridothymus, Thymbra, Satureja and Lippia are rich in carvacrol, a monoterpenic phenol isomeric with thymol... Carvacrol is responsible for the biological activities of oregano. Many diverse activities of carvacrol such as antimicrobial, antitumor, antimutagenic, antigenotoxic, analgesic, antispasmodic, antiinflammatory, angiogenic, antiparasitic, antiplatelet, ACE inhibitory, antielastase, insecticidal, antihepatotoxic and hepatoprotective activities and uses such as feed additive, in honeybee breeding and in gastrointestinal ailments have been shown. This paper highlights these activities and attempts to explain the possible in vivo mechanism of action of carvacrol."


Smelling lavender and rosemary increases free radical scavenging activity and decreases cortisol level in saliva.
"both lavender and rosemary stimulations decreased cortisol levels. A significant inverse correlation was observed between the FRSA values and the cortisol levels with each concentration of rosemary stimulation. No significant changes were noted in sIgA or alpha-amylase. These findings clarify that lavender and rosemary enhance FRSA and decrease the stress hormone, cortisol, which protects the body from oxidative stress."
"The lemongrass essential oil (LEO) possessed various pharmacological activities, especially the anti-oxidative stress and cancer prevention... However, these effects were suppressed when the cells were also treated with LEO, leading to enhanced levels of SOD and CAT activities (2.9- and 2-fold, respectively, compared with BaP treatment only) and reduced the level of MDA in the cells (43% reduction in malondialdehyde level). At the same time, LEO also reduced the level of DNA damage, as shown by a reduced level of 8-hydroxy-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG). Taken together, the results showed that LEO offered protection against BaP-induced OS and DNA damage, suggesting that LEO could be a promising agent for lung cancer chemoprevention."

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Homeopathic Remedies

Homeopathy is used along with biomedical treatments quite often.  In my personal experience, and in watching and hearing about the experiences of others, it seems to be quite successful for some people and not helpful at all for others.  Also, despite claims that homeopathy can never have side effects or do harm, I do know of at least 2 cases in which homeopathic treatment to clear viruses caused a significant and long term worsening of mitochondrial disease and possibly other conditions.  My own family gave it a good try early on in Roo's medical journey and while we had some successes the gains were not reliable enough to justify the ongoing cost and effort at the time (we were paying some of his travel expenses in addition to the fees for the appointments).  We have recently been trying again with certain remedies and are getting very good results for some things and reasonable gains with others.  The homeopath that we were seeing when Roo was younger was John Melnychuk who is amazing and one of the more knowledgeable homeopaths in treating autism and the many other symptoms and conditions which commonly occur in people with ASD and their families.  I do highly recommend him.  Although we are once again dabbling in homeopathy I am not very knowledgeable about it so am only posting some basic information.

For some more general info about homeopathy I have this post.

Dosing- which potency should I use?

General Sources of Information


National Center for Homeopathy

Homeopathic Research Institute



Some of the most common and useful remedies for the types of symptoms and health challenges faced by people like me and my family:

Aconite Napellus - sudden onset anxiety and panic, fear, croup, ear infections.

Apis Mellifica (bee sting) - allergy symptoms including anaphylaxis (not to be substituted for epinephrine in anaphylactic shock, but may help while waiting for ambulance), such as redness, swelling, burning, stinging.  Restless, clumsy, light sensitivity.  General inflammation.

Argentum Nitricum - anxiety, OCD (compulsions and "harming thoughts"), gassiness and distended belly, conjunctivitis, hoarseness, and exhaustion.

Arnica Montana - pain and soft tissue injury, concussion, healing from surgery or dental work.

Belladonna - sudden onset fever, migraine, sensitivity to light, motion, or pressure; dizziness, sunstroke, insomnia (even though sleepy), swollen glands, high blood pressure.

Chamomilla - oversensitivity to pain, irritability and anger, teething pain or toothache, colic in infants.

Coffea Cruda (coffee) - insomnia, PTSD, feeling jittery and restless.

Gelsemium- anxiety, weakness and trembling, fatigue and exhaustion, headache, dizziness.

Histaminem (histamine) - allergy symptoms from hay fever, food allergies, insect stings/bites, etc.

Ignatia - PTSD (with frustration and hopelessness), depression with recent onset.

Magnesium Phoshphorica - menstrual pain and cramps

Nux Vomica (poison nut tree, contains strychnine) - symptoms from over-indulgence (food, alcohol, coffee, etc.), digestive and emotional symptoms, hernia, migraine, asthma, nausea, fatigue/exhaustion, influenza, urinary tract infections (with frequent need to pee), constipation, kidney stones, gallbladder inflammation, hepatitis, hay fever, and sensitive to light, sound, and odors.

Phosphorous - asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, tightness in chest, dry lingering coughs, deep coughs, general fatigue, weakness, irritability. Helps clotting post-surgery and with nosebleeds, bleeding gums, heavy menstrual flow

Rhus Tox - back pain (esp. with stiffness), arthritis, joint pain, Cervical Spondylosis (degeneration of vertebra in the neck), hernia (from weight lifting), hives (from exposure to cold)

Sepia Succus (ink from cuttlefish) - menstrual pain and symptoms, sensitivity to cold, hives (triggered by cold exposure), miscarriage, endometriosis, long term depression with indifference

Sol - sunburn

Sulfur - hives (triggered by heat),


So far these notes are all in regard to classical homeopathy.  There are several other forms of homeopathic treatment, one of which is the use of homeopathic nosodes.  Nosodes are remedies made from diseased tissue itself or from the pathogen directly and are used when the symptoms being treated began during or following a specific illness such as influenza or Epstein-Barr Virus.


Homeopathic remedies for asthma (Antimonium Tartaricum, Arsenicum Album, Grindelia, Kali Bichromicum, Nux Vomica, Phosphorous, Pulsatilla Pratensis)

Homeopathics for anxiety (list includes Aconite Napellus, Argentum Nitricum, Arsenicum Album, Calcarea Carbonica, Gelsemium Sempervirens, Kali Arsenicosum, Kali Phosphoricum, Lycopodium Clavatum, Phosphorous)

Remedies for Panic Attacks and High Anxiety from WAPF
Also- Natrum carbonicum (insecurity with social situations; fear/panic in unfamiliar surroundings),

Top 5 remedies for depression (includes Ignatia, Natrum Mur, Aurum Met, Sepia, Kali phos)

Remedies for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (Gelsemium, Kali phosphoricum, Mercurius solubilis, Phosphoric acid and other “acid” remedies, Scutellaria, Zincum metallicum)

Remedies for fatigue, exhaustion, sleepiness (Kali phos, arsenicum album, nux vomica, phosphoricum acidum, picricum acidum, silicea, and zincum metallicum)

Homeopathy for menstrual pain and other symptoms (list includes Lachesis, Belladonna, Cactus grandifolia, Chamomilla, Cimicifuga, Colocynthis, Magnesia phosphorica, Nux Vomica)

Also - Phosphorous (heavy menstrual flow), Sepia (menstrual problems, irregular cycles, dysmenorrhea, morning sickness, uterus prolapsed, not well since menopause)

Allergy symptoms - Apis, Euphrasia Officialis (itchy, watery eyes), Histaminem, Kreosotum (itchy skin, eczema, psoriasis, edema), Natrum Muriaticum, Phosphorous (asthma), Rhus Tox, Sepia, Sulfur

Migraine - Cyclamen (beginning with visual disturbances/aura), Glonoinum (with head congestion), Iris Versicolor (with intense vomiting, nausea, or heartburn), Kali Phosphoricum (from stress), Natrum Carbonicum (from sun exposure), Natrum Muriaticum (occuring during menstruation), Bryonia (pain begins over left eye, constipation), Belladonna (pain worsens with movement, light, and pressure, rapid onset),

Digestive problems - Lycopodium (liver problems, indigestion with burping, dyspepsia, biliousness, flatulence, bloated abdomen, baby's colic), Phosphorous (nausea, empty cold feeling, heartburn, flatulent colic, ulcers)

Osteoporosis and broken bones - Silicea, Symphytum, Arnica, Bryonia Alba (back pain), Calcarea carbonica, Calcarea phosphorica (promotes bone growth), Hypericum Perforatum (back pain),

Pain - Hypericum perforatum (shooting nerve pain, or from puncture or crushing wounds), Magnesium Phosphorica (cramping, muscle spasms), Oreodaphne Californicum (neuralgic headache. cervical-occipital pain, cerebrospinal meningitis), Rhus Tox (arthritis, joint pain, lower back pain)

PTSD - Opium, Kali Phosphoricum (with night terrors), Aconite Napellus (after sudden event or shock), Coffea Cruda (with trouble sleeping due to active mind)

Radiation exposure (from medical testing for example) - Cadmium Sulphuricum, Homeopathic X-ray

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Food Substitutions for Allergies and Special DIets

The following is a list of products and recipes for substitute foods to replace foods that need to be avoided due to allergies, intolerances, etc.  There has been a significant increase in the availability of such substitutes as allergies, food intolerances, and special diets have become much more common in the US in recent years, but many of these products don't taste good or don't work well for a variety of reasons.  So although there are a lot more options now it is still very helpful to have suggestions for which products are best.  The products and recipes listed below are ones that I have either tried myself and liked or have been liked and recommended by people I know.  Of course tastes are very individual so this is no guarantee that others will like them.  They are listed according to the food or ingredient that needs to be avoided.

NOTE- many of these foods contain ingredients that are problematic for many people, so it should go without saying to read the labels very carefully.  Inclusion on this list is not an endorsement of the food or ingredient, it is included so that people can decide for themselves what they want to avoid or not.


D'Vash Date Nectar
Organic Coconut Nectar
Organic Cassava Syrup (fructose-free sweetener)


Enjoy Life Products (mostly snacks and some baking ingredients including chocolate chips)
Bob's Red Mill (many varieties of flour, grains, and other baking ingredients)
Coconut Secret (organic snacks, flour, sweetener, sauces, etc.)
Go Raw (Raw, organic, non-GMO, vegan, GF, dairy-free, soy free snacks)
Amanda's Own Confections (mostly chocolate and other candy, all top 8 allergen free)
Pascha Chocolate (Organic and no cross contamination)
Heavenly Organics (chocolate patties, organic cane sugar, honey)
Eating Evolved (Organic, vegan, GF, dairy free chocolate products)
Unreal candies (Organic, non-GMO, GF, dairy-free, some are peanut free)
Sun Cups (Sunflower butter cups that are nut-free and gluten-free, some flavors are free of other allergens as well)
Star Anise Foods (Vietnamese foods that are free of GMOs, gluten, soy, dairy, MSG, and more)
Yai's Thai (Thai sauces and condiments that are non-GMO, no MSG, GF, dairy-free, and many are nut free)


So Delicious dairy-free alternatives (Dairy-free milks, ice cream, yogurt, cheese, and more.  Many products are organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, soy-free, and free of other allergens)
Laird Superfoods (dairy-free creamer, coffee, and coconut water hydrating drinks)
Teese vegan cheese 
Daiya Foods (dairy substitutes including cheese, cream cheese, yogurt, sauces, dressings, and frozen pizza and cheesecake)
Rebel Kitchen (organic coffee and tea drinks made with coconut milk)
Cocomels (organic and non-GMO caramels made from coconut milk)
Ollois homeopathic medicine (made without lactose)
Make your own vegan "butter" (aka margarine)  Ingredients that you need to avoid can be replaced.


Siete Foods (tortillas and tortilla chips)
The Real Coconut (tortillas and tortilla chips made from coconut flour)
Luke's Organic Brown Rice Chips
Forager (Organic, non-GMO, GF, dairy-free, corn-free, vegan vegetable chips)
Thrive Market organic coconut flakes cereal
Dr. Bronner's soaps (The Baby Unscented Pure Castile Soap is the mildest.  This company uses citric acid from beets rather than corn)
Pamela's baking powder


Dastony nut and seed butters (organic, many options of seed butters and unusual nut butters)
Sunbutter cups
Pumpkin seed butter
Almond cashew coconut butter recipe
Free2b (top 12 allergen-free chocolate and snacks, including peanut-free sunflower butter cups)


Coconut Secret (Organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, soy-free replacements for soy sauce and teriyaki sauce.  They also make baking and cooking ingredients such as flour, vinegar, sugar, and candy)
Sir Kensington's condiments (Non-GMO, GF, soy-free mayo in several varieties, one is also egg-free)
South River Miso Company (soy-free miso)
Garbanzo tofu recipe
Make your own miso from chickpea




Tinkyada rice pasta
Ancient Harvest and POW! (Organic, non-GMO, GF pasta and hot cereal)
Chebe mixes (bread, breadsticks, focaccia, pizza crust, cinnamon rolls) Chebe recipe page
Watusee Foods (GF chickpea substitute for bread crumbs)

Yehuda Gluten-Free Matzo-Style Squares (and onion flavor)
I Heart Keenwah (snacks and hot cereal made from quinoa)
Otto's Cassava Flour (excellent gluten-free flour)
Authentic Foods Bette’s Gourmet Featherlight Rice Flour Blend

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Medicinal Herbs, Plants, and Other Foods

The medicinal uses of plants, whether taken as herbs or foods, is something that has fascinated me and has made a significant difference in my family's health.  When doing a lot of dietary management to address certain health issues it can be easy to focus on removing foods from the diet, but adding healing herbs/foods into the diet can be just as powerful.  I've also seen others have amazing progress and healing from incorporating healing plant compounds in their diets.  Herbalism is not something I understand very well so I'll leave the explanations of the "hows" and "whys" to others.  Below are my notes for the plant compounds that we use (or have used) that have been helpful for us.


The Herarium- fee-based database of herbal medicine

Vitamin and Herb University

11 plants native Americans used for medicine

10 culinary herbs and their healing abilities

Tea Brewing Guide for Beginners

How to make herbal infused butter


Anti-fungal- Garlic, thyme, grapefruit seed extract (GSE), pau d'arco, caprylic acid (found in coconut), coconut oil, and camel's milk..

Anti-inflammatory- Omega-3 oils, ginger, camel's milk, curcumin
21 Anti-histamine Foods That Fight Inflammation And Stabilize Mast-Cells

Anti-microbial- Manuka honey, oil of oregano (OOO), grapefruit seed extract (GSE), camel's milk, garlic, and berberine (Oregon grape extract is a common source).

Anti-oxidants- Ellagic Acid (found in pomegranates, cranberries, red raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, walnuts, and pecans), sour cherry juice, pau d’arco, dried oregano, wild blueberry
Improved antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potential in mice consuming sour cherry juice (Prunus Cerasus cv. Maraska).

Anti-parasitic- Diatomaceous Earth (DE), garlic, wormwood, and black walnut shells.

Anti-proliferative (anti-cancer) - Ellagic Acid (especially for prostate cancer), ojibwa tea, and curcumin.

Anti-viral- Lauric Acid (from coconut), camel's milk, green tea, olive leaf extract (OLE), and wakame (a type of seaweed).

Connective tissue support- Aloe Vera juice, gelatinous broth, and diatomaceous earth.

Mast Cell Stabilizers- Black seed (Nigella Sativa, aka black cumin seed), quercetin, green tea, mangosteen, lutein, rutin (found in buckwheat), fresh dill, raw red onion, and capers.


Aloe Vera- stimulates the production of collagen.

Arnica- helps heal sprains, bruises, and other soft-tissue injuries.  The flowers can be infused into oil, or combined with other ingredients to make a salve or lotion.  With the exception of homeopathic arnica, it should not be used internally or on open wounds.

Astragulus- Immune system support
Astragalus polysaccharides can regulate cytokine and P-glycoprotein expression in H22 tumor-bearing mice.

Berberine- Anti-microbial 

Black Seed (Nigella Sativa)- Mast cell stabilizer
The Remedy For Everything But Death

Burdock Root- contains butyric acid and lauric acid.

Chaga Mushroom- Immune support (Chaga mushrooms grow on birch trees so people with a birch tree allergy and/or Oral Allergy Syndrome associated with birch trees may want to be cautious with this one).

Chamomile- Calming and soothing to the nervous system.

Chanca Piedra- Supposedly breaks up oxalate stones.

Chili powder- Reduces pain.  The sensation of pain depletes a chemical called substance P, and when substance P is used up, the ongoing tissue damage of arthritis, shingles, cluster headaches, fibromyalgia, or lower back injury does not result in pain.

Chrysanthemum- Supports eye health. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) teaches that the herb corrects imbalances in liver and kidney function that cause blurred vision, dizziness, dry red eyes, excessive tearing, or spots in front of the eyes. Chrysanthemum also treats headaches accompanying infection, carbuncles, furuncles, and vertigo.

Cod Liver Oil (CLO)- Source of healthy oils as well as vitamin A and vitamin D.

Curcumin- Anti-inflammatory.
Curcumin, Compound In Turmeric, Found To Impair Fear Memories And Ease PTSD Symptoms
Epigenetic changes induced by curcumin and other natural compounds. 
Anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effect of curcumin in connective tissue type mast cell

Echinacea- Basic immune system support.

Elderberries- Immune Support.  Extensive research show that elderberries stop the production of hormone-like cytokines that direct a class of white blood cells called neutrophils to cause inflammation, and they increase the production of non-inflammatory infection-fighting cytokines as much as 10 fold.

Ginger- Anti-inflammatory, aids in digestion, and can reduce nausea.

Green Tea (extract)- Immune support, anti-viral, mast cell support
Mast cell stabilizing and anti-anaphylactic activity of aqueous extract of green tea (Camellia sinensis)

Gymnemma- Helps control blood sugar levels
Research treats the fungus among us with nontoxic medicinal compound

Lactuca Virosa (wild lettuce)- Pain reduction.
Pain relief, said to be as powerful as morphine

Manuka Honey- Anti-microbial
Manuka honey can help treat drug-resistant bacteria

Milk Thistle- Supports detoxification in the liver
Randomized controlled trial of silymarin treatment inpatients with cirrhosis of the liver.

Mint - Calming to the nervous system and supports digestion.

Olive Leaf Extract (OLE) - anti-microbial
Olive leaf extract protects against lead-induced brain damage

Pau D’Arco- Immune system support that helps keep the gastrointestinal system healthy, making it less hospitable to yeast, parasitic, bacterial, fungal and viral infections. Studies have shown it to have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties as well.

Quercetin- Mast cell stabilizer
Quercetin attenuates neuronal death against aluminum-induced neurodegeneration in the rat hippocampus.

Bioavailability of Quercetin for certain foods

Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum)- Reduces insulin resistance, supports immune system.
Ganoderma lucidum reduces obesity in mice by modulating the composition of the gut microbiota

Low dose resveratrol ameliorates mitochondrial respiratory dysfunction and enhances cellular reprogramming

Rhodiola- Adrenal support.  Rhodiola compounds stimulate the release of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin into ascending pathways that activate the cerebral cortex, stimulating analyzing, evaluating, calculating, and planning functions. The stimulant effect then moves to the prefrontal cortex, where it contributes to memory functions including encoding, sorting, storage, and retrieval.

Red Tea - Contains anti-oxidants, vitamin C, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, sodium, copper, and manganese.

Rosehips - Excellent source of vitamin C.

Sauerkraut - One of the best dietary sources of vitamin C, and also provides healthy microbes and support for the gut flora.

St John's Wort- Boosts serotonin levels so can help some people with depression and anxiety.
Medical Attributes of St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)


Stinging Nettle- helps to clear excess histamine from the body, good for reducing allergic symptoms.

Sulforaphane (Extract from broccoli sprouts)-
Chemical Derived from Broccoli Sprouts Shows Promise in Treating Autism
"Sulforaphane, which showed negligible toxicity, was selected because it upregulates genes that protect aerobic cells against oxidative stress, inflammation, and DNA-damage, all of which are prominent and possibly mechanistic characteristics of ASD."


Wakame- The fucoidan sugars in wakame are antiviral against herpes viruses; a study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine reported that taking an extract of wakame prevented and reduced the severity of recurrent herpes outbreaks.

Wild Blueberry- high content of the amino acid tyrosine, which is the precursor to dopamine.  Blueberries are also high in anti-oxidants. 


NeuroProtek- Mast cell support, especially in the brain.
A case series of a luteolin formulation (NeuroProtek®) in children with autism spectrum disorders
This article discusses how these two flavonoids protect the brain from the effects of inflammation, especially that caused by mast cell reactions. "Luteolin is found in parsley, thyme, peppermint, basil, celery and artichoke. Quercetin is commonly found in capers, whortleberries, apples and red onions. Both also are sold as supplements in health food stores nationwide."

Ojibwa Tea- Immune system support
Speak - This is a supplement that is a combination of oils that supports brain function, especially in regards to speech.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Recipe- Warm Arugula Artichoke Dip

This recipe is modified from this one on the blog 40 Aprons

Warm Arugula Artichoke Dip


1 T cooking fat (bacon fat works well)
2 cloves of garlic, minced (smoked or roasted garlic is especially good)
I large box or two bags of arugula, wilted and with the water squeezed out
1 14 oz. can of artichoke hearts, chopped into chunks
3 green onions, sliced
1 c. yogurt, non-dairy yogurt, or coconut milk (full fat or coconut cream)
½ c. mayonnaise
¼ c. tahini
¼ c. milk substitute (hemp works well)
1 T fresh lemon juice
Several pinches each of turmeric and cayenne
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
Salt and Pepper to taste
Smoked paprika to sprinkle on top just before serving
2 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)


Heat oil in skillet and sauté the garlic for about 30 seconds until it begins to soften and smell good.

Add the arugula and artichoke hearts, stir and continue to sauté until well warmed and the excess liquid has evaporated.

Add in remaining ingredients and continue stirring over moderate heat until very well combined and nicely warmed.  Sprinkle top with smoked paprika and optional crumbled bacon.

The dip can served as is, or some or all of it can be pureed to make it creamier.  If you can have cheese melt a layer of cheese on the top under the broiler.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Enteral and Parenteral Nutrition (Feeding by tube or IV)

For a number of reasons, there are some people who are not able to eat food at all or who have very limited numbers of safe foods (often fewer than 10), which are not enough to provide adequate nutrition or calories.  Food can be replaced by either a formula (which is either consumed orally or delivered through a feeding tube) or TPN, which is when nutrition and calories are delivered intravenously through a Central Venous Catheter (also know as a central line) which bypasses the GI tract altogether.  Formula is usually tried first while TPN is usually a treatment of last resort.  This is because while there can be complications of having a feeding tube, TPN is associated with serious risks and is hard to maintain.  It is used when there just aren't other options.  A patient may need TPN for just a short time, or it may be a lifelong need.

Some people need these options due to conditions they are born with, while for many others the need arises as a disease progresses or after some types of surgeries and treatments (such as surgical removal of part of the intestines).  When this occurs due to "mechanical" problems with the GI tract (such as Short Bowel Syndrome) there are many options for formula and some people are able to still use food as long as it is blenderized into a liquid and given through a feeding tube.  Loss of tolerance to all (or nearly all) food is not uncommon in people with allergy-related diseases such as EGIDs (Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Diseases) or Mast Cell Diseases.  These people need to use a special kind of formula known as Elemental formula (also called "the elemental diet") which is a medical food substitute composed entirely of pre-digested, broken down nutrients so that the GI system does not need to process the formula.  These formulas contain only amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein, but contain no actual protein.  There is some confusion, even among specialists, that peptide-based formulas either are elemental or are appropriate substitutes for elemental formula which is generally NOT true.  Peptides are strings of amino acids rather than individual amino acids and can still be allergenic. This is done because it is believed in conventional medicine that all allergens are proteins, so it makes sense to remove all protein from the diet of someone who has a severe allergic disease (in these cases the protein is replaced with the amino acids themselves, which are the building blocks of protein, so the patient still receives adequate nutrition).  In reality many people with this level of food intolerance also react to oils and other triggers that are not proteins so may not even tolerate elemental formula.

Some resources to help you get started:

Help! G-tubes, J-tubes, TPN - Where do we begin?  From MitoAction
FAQs about TPN from The Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh
Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN) From G-Pact (Gastroparesis Patient Association)
Intravenous Feeding From the Merck Manual
Artificial Nutrition Support in Intestinal Failure: Principles and Practice of Parenteral Feeding
The Oley Foundation YouTube channel

The Oley Foundation is the primary support and advocacy group for people who use Enteral or Parenteral nutrition (tube feeding or TPN).  They have recently discontinued their toll-free numbers. Here are the new numbers to contact them:

To reach the Oley office:
Call (518) 262-5079

The office recently moved to a new location:

Oley Foundation Offices
Albany Medical Center, MC 28
99 Delaware Avenue
Delmar, NY 12054

To access the Equipment Supply Exchange Program:
Call (518) 262-2230   (Messages are typically responded to within two business days).
or visit

Options for formula:

The most commonly used elemental formulas for patients of all ages are Neocate, Jr and EleCare, Jr.  Both are relatively low in protein/amino acids and contain corn so other options may be necessary for some patients.  (EleCare also contains soy oil as does Neocate Infant).
Complete Amino Acid Mix (NOT a complete formula, but an important option for some)
Physicians' Elemental Diet (new corn-free option for elemental formula)
Organic formulas for tube feeding from Kate Farms (NOT elemental)
Complete product information sheets for Nutricia products
KetoCal is a ketogenic formula that can be used for patients needing a ketogenic diet for the management of epilepsy or other disorders.  There are also specialized formulas for patients with PKU, Maple Syrup Urine Disease (yes that's a real thing), and other inborn errors of metabolism.

Accessing and paying for specialized formulas:

Medical foods and insurance coverage (great place to start, lots of information and examples)
State insurance mandates for covering the cost of elemental formula
Nutricia Navigator is a free service from Nutricia to assist patients in getting insurance coverage
Insurance guidance from Abbott Nutrition (makers of EleCare) including their support program for help getting formula covered by insurance.
Site that sells reduced-price formulas for tube feeding
Formula can often be purchased on eBay or Amazon for a reduced price as well.

TPN information and resources:

Oley Foundation list of topics regarding TPN
Smoflipid® Launched in the United States (an alternative source of fats for TPN)

Risks and side effects associated with central lines and feeding tubes:

Infection and sepsis is a common complication for patients with in-dwelling lines (feeding tubes and TPN) and can be hard to treat (normal treatment is IV antibiotics).  A relatively new option is a protocol developed by an ICU doctor out of desperation at seeing dying patients.

Doctor Turns Up Possible Treatment For Deadly Sepsis
A cure for sepsis?

Nutritional deficiencies, especially fatty acid deficiency.
Nutritional deficiencies can occur and should be watched for (especially iron).  
The lipid (fat) used in most TPN in the US is made from soy and many patients do not tolerate it.  This can easily result in serious deficiencies, particularly EFAs.  There are several lipid products readily available in other countries that are becoming increasingly available in the US as well.

Cutaneous application of safflower oil in preventing EFA deficiency in patients on TPN
Smoflipid® Launched in the United States

Swimming with a central line:

"These results suggest that swimming does not increase the risk of catheter-related infections in children with tunneled catheters."

Additional questions and considerations regarding enteral feeding and TPN:

Traveling with IV Nutrition or Tube Feeding Webinar

Products designed for use with central lines and feeding tubes (and how to make some of them yourself):

Tubie Resources, Backpacks, Tubie Pads, and How My Feeding Tube Helps Me

Friday, September 1, 2017

ASIA (Autoimmune Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants)

An adjuvant is a substance that has the effect of stimulating a heightened immune response to a product that contains it.  In some cases adjuvants are added intentionally, such as the case with vaccines (not all vaccines contain adjuvants) with the intent of causing a stronger and more robust immune response to the antigen (the organism that the vaccine is meant to protect against).  In other cases, such as with silicone in breast implants, the adjuvant properties of a substance (in this case silicone) is not the reason that the substance is used but rather an unintended consequence.

"ASIA" Autoimmune/Inflammatory Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants
J Autoimmun. 2011 Feb;36(1):4-8. Epub 2010 Aug 13.
(adjuvants are vaccine ingredients meant to provoke an immune response)
"In recent years, four conditions: siliconosis, the Gulf war syndrome (GWS), the macrophagic myofasciitis syndrome (MMF) and post-vaccination phenomena were linked with previous exposure to an adjuvant. Furthermore, these four diseases share a similar complex of signs and symptoms which further support a common denominator.Thus, we review herein the current data regarding the role of adjuvants in the pathogenesis of immune mediated diseases as well as the amassed data regarding each of these four conditions. Relating to the current knowledge we would like to suggest to include these comparable conditions under a common syndrome entitled ASIA, “Autoimmune (Auto-inflammatory) Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants”.

The spectrum of ASIA: ‘Autoimmune (Auto-inflammatory) Syndrome induced by Adjuvants’
Lupus February 2012 vol. 21 no. 2 118-120
"A Saudi Sheikh, who suffered at the age of 27 from joints pains, rash and serological evidence of anti-Ro antibodies, was diagnosed with probable systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) at that time. He was treated with Plaquenil for a year, but as no signs of SLE were apparent, treatment was stopped and he remained disease free for the next 12 years. At the age of 39 years, 2 weeks after immunization with the flu vaccine, his disease reemerged. This time he presented with severe arthritis and pericarditis.

This patient’s story illustrates the acceleration of an autoimmune or immune-mediated condition following exposure to external stimuli. During the past year a new syndrome was introduced and termed ASIA, ‘Autoimmune (Auto-inflammatory) Syndrome induced by Adjuvants’. The use of medical adjuvants has become common practice and substances such as aluminum adjuvant are added to most human and animal vaccines. The adjuvant effect has been recognized for years, and is broadly utilized to enhance desired antigen-specific immune responses. This effect is accomplished via mechanisms that impinge on both the innate and adaptive immune systems. Formerly, adjuvants were thought to pose little or no independent threat. Alas, studies of animal models and humans demonstrated the ability of some of them to inflict autoimmunity and immune-mediated diseases by themselves."

ASIA: A New Way to Put the Puzzle Together
The Rheumatologist, June 2011
"The worldwide prevalence of autoimmune and auto-inflammatory diseases is determined by the interplay of genetic and environmental factors. The latter factors include infections, toxins, drugs, and others agents that can be linked by the occurrence of immune-mediated diseases as well as the nature of the clinical manifestations and their severity. The mechanisms by which these environmental factors trigger autoimmunity are diverse but, as a group, they may incorporate an adjuvant effect. An adjuvant is a substance that enhances the activation of the immune system, both the innate and the adoptive ones.  For years, adjuvants have been used by physicians and scientists to boost a desirable immune response, either in experimental models or during medical interventions, most classically, immunization.. 

 Despite their ability to boost immune responses, in the past, adjuvants were generally considered to be inert materials that posed little or no independent threat to the host. Alas, animal studies as well as reports of human diseases have clearly demonstrated the ability of adjuvants to inflict diseases by themselves.."

On vaccine's adjuvants and autoimmunity: Current evidence and future perspectives.
Autoimmun Rev. 2015 Oct;14(10):880-8
"In 2011 a new syndrome termed 'ASIA Autoimmune/Inflammatory Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants' was defined pointing to summarize for the first time the spectrum of immune-mediated diseases triggered by an adjuvant stimulus such as chronic exposure to silicone, tetramethylpentadecane, pristane, aluminum and other adjuvants, as well as infectious components, that also may have an adjuvant effect. All these environmental factors have been found to induce autoimmunity by themselves both in animal models and in humans: for instance, silicone was associated with siliconosis, aluminum hydroxide with post-vaccination phenomena and macrophagic myofasciitis syndrome. Several mechanisms have been hypothesized to be involved in the onset of adjuvant-induced autoimmunity; a genetic favorable background plays a key role in the appearance on such vaccine-related diseases and also justifies the rarity of these phenomena. This paper will focus on protean facets which are part of ASIA, focusing on the roles and mechanisms of action of different adjuvants which lead to the autoimmune/inflammatory response. The data herein illustrate the critical role of environmental factors in the induction of autoimmunity."

Autoimmunity following hepatitis B vaccine as part of the spectrum of 'Autoimmune (Auto-inflammatory) Syndrome induced by Adjuvants' (ASIA): analysis of 93 cases.
Lupus. 2012 Feb;21(2):146-52
"Common clinical characteristics were observed among 93 patients diagnosed with immune-mediated conditions post-HBVv, suggesting a common denominator in these diseases. In addition, risk factors such as history of autoimmune diseases and the appearance of adverse event(s) during immunization may serve to predict the risk of post-immunization diseases. The ASIA criteria were found to be very useful among adults with post-vaccination events. The application of the ASIA criteria to pediatric populations requires further study."

Mechanisms of Aluminum Adjuvant Toxicity And Autoimmunity in Pediatric Populations
Lupus February 2012 vol. 21 no. 2 223-230
"Immune challenges during early development, including those vaccine-induced, can lead to permanent detrimental alterations of the brain and immune function. Experimental evidence also shows that simultaneous administration of as little as two to three immune adjuvants can overcome genetic resistance to autoimmunity. In some developed countries, by the time children are 4 to 6 years old, they will have received a total of 126 antigenic compounds along with high amounts of aluminum (Al) adjuvants through routine vaccinations. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, safety assessments for vaccines have often not included appropriate toxicity studies because vaccines have not been viewed as inherently toxic. Taken together, these observations raise plausible concerns about the overall safety of current childhood vaccination programs. When assessing adjuvant toxicity in children, several key points ought to be considered: (i) infants and children should not be viewed as “small adults” with regard to toxicological risk as their unique physiology makes them much more vulnerable to toxic insults; (ii) in adult humans Al vaccine adjuvants have been linked to a variety of serious autoimmune and inflammatory conditions (i.e., “ASIA”), yet children are regularly exposed to much higher amounts of Al from vaccines than adults; (iii) it is often assumed that peripheral immune responses do not affect brain function. However, it is now clearly established that there is a bidirectional neuro-immune cross-talk that plays crucial roles in immunoregulation as well as brain function. In turn, perturbations of the neuro-immune axis have been demonstrated in many autoimmune diseases encompassed in “ASIA” and are thought to be driven by a hyperactive immune response; and (iv) the same components of the neuro-immune axis that play key roles in brain development and immune function are heavily targeted by Al adjuvants. In summary, research evidence shows that increasing concerns about current vaccination practices may indeed be warranted. Because children may be most at risk of vaccine-induced complications, a rigorous evaluation of the vaccine-related adverse health impacts in the pediatric population is urgently needed."

The common immunogenic etiology of chronic fatigue syndrome: from infections to vaccines via adjuvants to the ASIA syndrome.
Infect Dis Clin North Am. 2011 Dec;25(4):851-63
"Studies have examined and hypothesized about the possible biomedical and epidemiologic characteristics of the disease, including genetic predisposition, infections, endocrine abnormalities, and immune dysfunction and psychological and psychosocial factors. Recently, the ASIA (autoimmune/inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants) syndrome was recognized, indicating the possible contribution of adjuvants and vaccines to the development of autoimmunity."

Immunol Res. 2014 Dec;60(2-3):376-83
"This study suggests that in some cases CFS and FM can be temporally related to immunization, as part of ASIA syndrome. The appearance of adverse event during immunization, the presence of autoimmune susceptibility and higher titers of autoantibodies all can be suggested as risk factors. ASIA criteria were fulfilled in all patients eluding the plausible link between ASIA and CFS/FM."

Chronic fatigue syndrome with autoantibodies--the result of an augmented adjuvant effect of hepatitis-B vaccine and silicone implant.
Autoimmun Rev. 2008 Oct;8(1):52-5
"Our patient illness started following hepatitis-B vaccine, suggesting that it was caused or accelerated by vaccination. In parallel to vaccination our patient suffered from breast injury, which might represent the time of silicone leak. The exposure to the adjuvant, silicone, might have augmented her immune response to the vaccine. To the best of our knowledge this is the first case of combined adverse effect to vaccine and silicone. Vaccine safety in individuals with silicone implants requires further studies."

Autoimmunity induced by adjuvant hydrocarbon oil components of vaccine
Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy, Volume 58, Issue 5, June 2004, Pages 325–337
"We have reported that a single intraperitoneal injection of the adjuvant oils pristane, IFA or squalene induces lupus-related autoantibodies to nRNP/Sm and -Su in non-autoimmune BALB/c mice. Induction of these autoantibodies appeared to be associated with the hydrocarbon’s ability to induce IL-12, IL-6, and TNF-α, suggesting a relationship with hydrocarbon’s adjuvanticity. Whether this is relevant in human vaccination is a difficult issue due to the complex effects of vaccines and the fact that immunotoxicological effects vary depending on species, route, dose, and duration of administration. Nevertheless, the potential of adjuvant hydrocarbon oils to induce autoimmunity has implications in the use of oil adjuvants in human and veterinary vaccines as well as basic research."

Rupture of silicone gel breast implants and symptoms of pain and fatigue.
J Rheumatol. 2003 Oct;30(10):2263-7.
"Women with silicone breast implants often report severe pain and chronic fatigue. Rupture of the implant is associated with an increase in symptoms of pain and chronic fatigue."

When APS (Hughes syndrome) met the autoimmune/inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants (ASIA)
Lupus June 2012 vol.21 no. 7 711-714
(I highly recommend reading this article in it's entirety.  It's not long and it discusses many of the mechanisms involved how vaccination affects the immune system)
"Autoimmune diseases have been reported to associate or to follow a diverse list of vaccinations.  This is not surprising since autoimmune diseases are known to be caused by infections. –  On the one hand, one can assume that vaccine may lead to autoimmunity via the infection agent ingredient being recombinant, weakened, or synthetic. Such mechanisms as molecular mimicry and polyclonal activation may be involved. Yet, recently a new syndrome was defined: ASIA (autoimmune syndrome induced by adjuvants), eluding to the important role of the adjuvant ingredients in the vaccine. This syndrome encompasses all the auto-reactive conditions associated with vaccines, but also those emerging following silicone implants which ruptured and invaded neighboring tissues. In addition, the syndrome may include clinical conditions such as the Gulf syndrome chronic fatigue syndrome and the sick building syndrome. The common denominator to all of the above clinical circumstances is the existence of an adjuvant which chronically stimulates the immune system."

"Several case reports showed the possibility of triggering antiphospholipid syndrome following tetanus vaccination"

"Tarjan et al found that repeated influenza vaccination in clinically stable SLE patients with low disease activity may result in increased production of anti-β2GPI antibodies, and therefore may increase the risk of thrombotic manifestations."

"Although there are rare cases of elevated levels of circulating anti-β2GPI Abs upon post-vaccination, one has to keep in mind that the memory cells are waiting for a second hit. This may come in time, by molecular mimicry or non-specifically by bystander activation or by adjuvant triggering, the common denominator of most vaccines during lifetime, and induce the development of the clinical picture of APS in genetically susceptible individuals. Therefore, these all strengthen the importance of ASIA and should be kept in mind during clinical work and research."