Digestive Enzymes

I didn’t try digestive enzymes in our sons’ biomedical treatment until a year into the gf/cf diet. I wish I had started earlier, because, boy oh boy, did they help!  Our kids guts are damaged and need help in the repair process. But to assist in that, digestive enzymes are needed to completely break down the foods and peptides for several reasons: to reap the all the nutrients in the food, and so the bad bacteria or yeast don’t have more food to eat and grow on.

Some Digestive Enzyme Facts:

  • Enzymes are proteins made by cells in our bodies and all living organisms.
  • Enzymes exist in all raw food.  All raw foods, including meats, have some enzyme activity.
  • The more raw food you eat, the less digestive enzymes your body needs to produce.
  • Cooking or other types of processing destroys enzyme activity.
  • Digestive enzymes, used properly, can provide a substantial benefit to most everyone, especially those consuming a great deal of cooked or processed food.

Digestive enzymes helped both of my sons. One had constipation and the other maldigestion and malaborption.  I was trying everything to treat the constipation and adding enzymes was the ticket.  Once better digestion was happening, his gut started to heal with all the other gut healing measures I talk about on my Gut page.  And the maldigestion/malaborption was corrected with enzymes. My sons started to feel better and behaviors improved.

Enzyme dosing is by the amount and type of food eaten and not based on age or weight. A good plan is to start with part of one capsule of one product per significant meal or snack. Then increase to one capsule, then start in a similar way with other enzyme products.  My sons take Houston Enzymes TriEnza with DPP4 Activity.  My son with autism doesn’t tolerate phenols well, so when a meal has a higher phenolic load (i.e. brocolli, tomatoes) is served, I give him one TriEnza and one No Phenol enzyme. Otherwise they take two TriEnza enzymes with each meal. There are a lot of good brands of digestive enzymes available (such as Houston, Kirkman, Klaire, Enzymedica) and some offer chewable tablet forms. I know that TriEnza is now available in a chewable, which makes it easier for those kids that can’t swallow capsules.

Enzymes will mix with food or beverages. Just pull the capsule open, and empty it out. If you use less than an entire capsule, you can just click the capsule back together and use the rest of the enzymes later. The taste and smell of enzyme products vary a great deal, which you may want to mask with fruit juice, ketchup, etc. Other products have no taste or smell at all. Please be careful to not inhale the enzyme powder, and to clear any residual enzyme powder from the mouth and throat area with additional food or beverage. Just make sure your child wipes their mouth after taking the enzymes.

Do I Need Enzymes While on GF/CF Diet?

One reason for enzyme use while on the gf/cf diet is to completely digest all foods (especially sugars from carbohydrate foods) to reduce or shut off the food supply for dysbiotic flora (aka: bacteria/yeast). Another reason is the dietary shift itself. When you exclude a class of foods (i.e. gluten/dairy), another class or other classes are usually increased. I found that since one son was allergic to corn, when we went gf/cf, I replaced all corn and wheat products with rice and potato. He started having immune responses to rice and potato.  And when we eliminated a source of protein with dairy/casein free, they ate more meat and poultry. That made more demands on protein digesting enzymes and provoked maldigestion. The last reason for adding digestive enzymes is to compensate for mistakes in the gf/cf diet or cross contamination issues.

If you’re not familiar with the types of enzymes and what they digest, here is a summary of the main digestive enzymes:

  • Amylase  – breaks down carbohydrates, starches, and sugars (found in fruits, vegetables, potatoes and a lot of snack foods)
  • Protease  – breaks down proteins (found in meats, eggs, cheese, and nuts)
  • Lipase  –   breaks down fats (found in most dairy products, meats, oils, and nuts)
  • Cellulase  – breaks down cellulose, plant fiber (will also breakdown time-release medications that use a form of cellulose in their outer coating)

One digestive enzyme that tends to be insufficient in a lot of ASD kids, as well as kids with ADHD, is DDP4 (dipeptidyl peptidase-IV).  This enzyme is found in the gut and is responsible for breaking a bond between amino acids in peptides formed during protein digestion. Problems occur when there is a lack of DDP4 which causes incomplete digestion of the gluten (wheat) and casein (dairy) molecules, leaving a mischievous peptide. In the case of damaged or leaky guts, these peptides called gluteomorphin (gluten) and caseomorphin (casein) can pass into the blood, where they do harm because they evoke an immune response. They can also mimic endorphins that cause changes in perception, mood, and behavior.  This is one reason why the gf/cf (gluten free/casein free) diet is so effective in reducing behaviors in kids with autism. It’s the elimination of the offending peptides from the diet.

Digestive enzymes have been one of the integral parts of my child’s biomedical treatment and instrumental in healing his gut.

A wonderful resource about digestive enzymes are Karen DeFelice’s books, “Enzymes for Autism and Other Neurological Conditions” and “Enzymes: Go With Your Gut”. Her website is a treasure trove off wonderful information and can be found at http://www.enzymestuff.com/

100 Responses

  1. Great read. Been reading a few of yours. Enzymestuff was the site I learned from AWESOME enzymes changed our lives!

  2. can I give my son these enzymes with a probiotic as well?

    • Yes. But I give the digestive enzyme before the meal and then give the probiotic during or after the meal.

      • Hello my name is Vijayakumar.I have a 16 year old autistic child.I came through a lot of trials and tribullation in my life with my son.I read accidentally to this blog and i am very impressed your kindness to share your experience.Now i am planing to do some biomedical treatment for my son.but the cost of therapy is too expensive. for mme. I have also read about the DAN protocol andI contacted a DAN doctor here in UK.But I can not afford it.He is telling it will be around 2000 pound for the test and everything/year.Can you suggest tests which is more important(i think a lot of them are unnecessary).and a treatment plan more cost effective.I can only spend only 100 pound for my son’s treatment every month as I am working as a cleaner in a hospital and my wife is not working.please reply to my email address anumonvijay@gmail.com

      • Hi. A good general diagnostic test to run is Nutreval by Genova or and Organic Acid Profile by most labs. (Metametrix, Genova, Great Plains). The OAT is a urine test. A stool test will reveal a lot of what’s going on in the gut. Those are my two recommended tests to run on your child. Best wishes, and blessings.

  3. Dear Joanne,

    We got the IgG test results back for my almost 3 year old yesterday. Well actually they are only partial, they told me what flagged high and said they would send the rest to me. Before I tell you about it, can you tell me what I should do with these results? Use them as a guide and do my level best or literally cut out everything on the high, medium & low?
    Ok, so besides the 8 dairy & gluten high flags there were eggs, peanut, soy, almonds, hazelnut & beef. All of these (except eggs) are no problem. Since we have always cooked from fresh and done our best to steer clear of processed foods, we found the gfcf an easy transition.
    There are a further 9 medium and – wait for it – 46 low! How in the world do I cut out 70 things from the diet without causing a regression because I am changing too much. When we changed her to the gfcf we lost pottying capabilities with countless accidents for over a month. I say accidents but they were definitely deliberate some of the time.

    On the positive side though, there are PLENTY of things she refuses to eat – fruit, most fish, most meat and most vegetables – so if she has to remove any of those it wouldn’t be too much of a wrench. I just don’t know how in the world to manage. On top of that our DAN! has said it’s up to us what we decide to do. Helpful. So, what did you do?

    Also, since leaky gut seems to be the issue I wanted to put to use the digestive enzymes that DAN! gave me for our trip to the UK. He gave them upon my insistence but seemed to think they would be a waste of time for contamination issues. They have been sitting on the shelf ever since. So I have been in research mode finding out as much as I can from the stacks of books I have got and talking to anyone who knows about each step I want to take.

    With the digestive enzymes he gave they are the Klaire Chewable. He told me to take one or two with each meal if I thought it would help. Super helpful advice. Are there side effects to watch for? Do I go low and slow? Do I give one with every drink and piece of food she takes down? Are there risks? Are they like probiotics insofar as once we start, we’ll always be on them. (I ask that for budgeting reasons).

    Don’t get me wrong, the DAN! has helped but I have certainly been the driving force for all the supplements we have started.

    We are now on SNT P-5-P, vit d3, taurine, PROEFA, kirkman pro bio, magnesium, zinc, mb12 shots, singulair and sacharromyces boulardii. The latter was the DAN choice and he didn’t even mention to me that it was a temporary thing. I found out on my own and then asked him. He said Amelia needed to take it until she didn’t need to take it anymore. Really?!?

    We are still waiting on the metals test we sent to Paris, OAT & amino.

    Thanks for listening to the rant!! Any advice from anyone that is still awake 😉 would always be welcome!!


    • Hi Kate,

      Well, first, I’ve been there with the numerous IgG and IgE food intolerance. I cut out the high ones, reduced the medium and ignored the low. After a year on GFCF, foods eliminated and rotation diet, my son was retested on IgG/IgE food allergies and they were now allergic to the foods I switched them to! I just about lost it. What it told me was that the gut was extremely leaky. So we had to reduce what was causing a reaction, and try to heal the gut at the same time. Gut healing measures beside probiotics were Gastro Support by Kirkman Labs, zinc, Colostrum Gold by Kirkman and finally digestive enzymes. We didn’t get the results we wanted doing the elimination diet due to the leaky gut. I didn’t get the gut on it’s way to being healed until I started digestive enzymes. That was key for my kids. They had to properly digest what they were eating so it wouldn’t cause the leaky gut to worsen, and to not give food to the pathogens in gut. You do have to go low and slow on enzymes. You give them based on the amount of food eaten. I recommend Karen De Felice’s book, Digestive Enzymes for Autism. It’s a great resource. We were on enzymes for about a year or two, went off for a year and now are back on them again to help with a flare up of bacteria. I love enzymes, but they are costly. We use Houston Enzymes, TriEnza and they have a chewable. Klaire is a good manufacturer of supps, so their enzymes should be good. Sounds like your DAN has your dd on good supps for now. Hang in there and don’t get overwhelmed by test results. You’re doing a good job!!

  4. Dear Joanne,

    Thank you so much for coming back to and letting me know all is not lost!

    I do have a couple more questions after reading your response.

    When you decided (after the 2nd set of tests) that you would reduce what was causing the reaction whilst at the same time trying to heal…did you eliminate the high, take caution with the med and ignore the low still or did you give them everything (except the gfcfsf) in moderation? I am definitely going to add the sf to the gfcf but, honestly, I am not seeing a reaction to eggs at all. She didn’t eat eggs and egg products for such a long time and now, for the last couple of months she will. It doesn’t give her tummy upset or belly aches. I feel reluctant to get rid of them. I can’t be guided by my DAN! because he has a shoulder shrug on it all.

    As far as low and slow on the enzymes, are there any reactions or side effects to watch for that you know of?

    What is the gastro support, how did you guys use it? Do you still use it and the colostrum or are those short term treatments?

    How long did it take to heal your childrens guts? How did you know they were healed?

    Thanks so much for your help and support.

    All the best


    • Hi Kate,

      I eliminated the high reactions and still tried to do rotation diet on everything else. Digestive enzymes can cause yeast/bacteria to die off and then side affects can happen. Die off reactions can vary and be anything from flu like symptoms, diarrhea, constipation, headache, stomach ache, mood/behavior changes, etc. The enzymes break down the food so the yeast/bacteria in the gut don’t have as much food to propagate and they die-off. If the body can’t handle detoxification, the reactions can occur. Digestive enzymes also break down the outer layers of yeast/bacteria (depending on which ones taken) and that makes them susceptible to die off. Kirkman Labs is Gastro Support, check out their site to learn more. We use that and Colostrum as short term treatments over several months. I’m still healing my children’s guts…it’s a long, hard road in getting there. They are 75% better than a few years ago, and bacteria flares up every now and again. You know they are healing when the bowel movements are more normal, regular and behavior improves.

  5. […] Enzyme dosing is by the amount and type of food eaten and not based on age or weight. A good plan is to start with part of one capsule of one product per significant meal or snack. Digestive Enzymes « Healing Autism & ADHD […]

  6. I stumbled upon your site when searching for digestive enzymes for children. My daughter (8 yrs old) does not have special needs, but I’m looking for some relief for her eczema. (And she used to have a chronic cough, but eliminating her high food sensitivites a year ago took care of the cough.) I know eczema is a minor health problem, but I thought you might be able to help me:) Similar to your experience, when I got her second set of IgG test results back, I about lost it! The very things that she ate more of (so we could eliminate dairy, eggs, gluten, tomatoes, etc) then became high food sensitivities! Aaaahhh!

    My holistic pediatrician suggested only focusing on the gluten and dairy (and not all the other food sensitivities) as well as taking digestive enzymes, so I am just now starting my research on this topic. I research health and nutrition constantly, but I’ve known very little about digestive enzymes until reading your page and the Enzyme Stuff Website you recommended. Thank you!

    My daughter takes Dr. Mercola probiotics, 35 billion per day along with a couple other whole food supplements. She is hardly ever sick and bowel movements are normal but the eczema is bad, which my doctor reminds me is low level chronic inflammation.

    I was encouraged to hear the breakthroughs you had when you introduced digestive enzymes. From your experience, can you tell me what regimen you would recommend that I try first in regards to enzymes?

    Thank you for reading my long comment, and I look forward to any insights you might have for me:)

    Thank you!

    • Well, when we started enzymes, I used a complete enzyme product (TriEnza by Houston) because that way I didn’t have to try to figure out which ones and how much to give based on what type of food group they were eating (i.e. protein, fats, sugars/carbs, phenols) And if you take a complete enzyme and have food that is only fat and carbs, it doesn’t hurt. Your body will use the enzyme activity not used on a food group and clean up the gut/blood. I gave my sons one enzyme with snacks and two with meals. But I started low dose and went slow. Enzymes will start cleaning up the gut and may cause a die-off reaction of some bad yeast/bacteria. After a week or so, I slowly increase the dose. Remember it’s based on the amount of food, not the age/weight of person.

      As for the low-level inflammation, EFA’s help reduce it. If you can’t get flaxseed/oil, Wild caught Alaskan salmon in her diet, then I’d supplement it. A good multi-vitamin that contains vitamins and minerals might help too. Vitamin C, D and E help reduce free-radicals and inflammation. Bioflavinoids help reduce inflammation (quercetin, grape seed extract and pycnogenol). Anti-inflammatory herbs are turmeric (curcumin) and ginger. My sons gut were helped greatly with the supplement Gastro Support by Kirkman Labs. It has quercetin, turmeric and other beneficial ingredients. They also take pycnogenol.
      Best wishes on your journey!

  7. Hi Joanne,

    I have a digestive enzyme/probiotic question for you. When did you give your probiotics? I have read that enzymes can compromise the probiotic and then I have heard the other way too. For the cost of all these supplements, I want to be sure that my daughter is getting the full benefit.

    So, as she sits down for a meal I give her the trienza but her meals are short (or, honestly non-existant really) so in most cases she hasn’t even chewed the trienza fully before she refuses her meal. Do I go ahead and give the probiotic then or before the trienza? I am using Kirkman’s Pro Bio chewable.

    Thanks for all your help and advice.

    All the best


    • My DAN doctor has recommended that I give the probiotic at the beginning of them m
      eal if not using digestive enzymes so the good bacteria gets populated and doesn’t give the bad bacteria “food” to thrive on when the meal follows. But if giving an enzyme before the meal, I always give the probiotic a good hour after the meal or at bedtime. Here is a link to Karen DeFelice’s website where she addresses this question.

  8. Hi Joanne, love your info..thank u for posting! My little girl, Addy Grace is 2 and has yeast and multiple food sensitivities. I have started her on Trienza, been on it for about a month now, and I noticed it has some of the no fenol in it, so why did u use Trienza and a no fenol?..she has red cheeks and nose, often gassy, and has dark circles under eyes…wondering if I should do the same…maybe the TriEnza is not enough?

    • I use the extra No Phenol when he’s having a lot of phenolic food just for good measure. Also, yeast will create phenols in the gut, so that will help with cleaning them up. Have you tried treating her yeast naturally yet? Does she take a probiotic?

      • Oh, did not know that about yeast & phenols…yes we have been trying to treat the yeast for a while now. She had an OAT test done by her biomed doctor and it came back with somewhat elevated levels of yeast/bacteria. So, she is on Candex, Trienza, and VSL 3 ..about 1/2 sachet per day. Dr. Had her on Nystatin to kill yeast a few mths ago, but the pharmacy gave me the liquid form that apparently hurt her more than it helped (sugars added flavorings) She got ver agitated, her eczema went from almost non-existing to full blown catastrophe..all over her body, she had horrid diarrhea diapers, and began to regress. So the dr took her off of it and said that we will try a ,ore natural agent for a while, til labs, then possibly Diflucan.
        Addy has slight mitochondrial dysfunction, epilepsy, which has been erradicated due to her diet & supplements, and has difficulty growing …failure to thrive. She is usually not a picky eater at all, in fact she loves to eat, always hungry it seems…and very gassy…and easily constipated if I don’t give magnesium….When she does have a bow movement, it very fowl. Her downfall was when she was between 9 & 12 months…she had 8 vaccines within three months, after her last set she began having seizures….then diagnosed with PDD at 18 mo. Yeast seems to be our biggest monster….

  9. Treating yeast with natural agents..capryllic acid, in capsule form, and also grapefruit seed extract…not sure how much or how often during the day I am supposed to give because she sent me an order for drops after I ordered the capsule form.

    • Watch out for regression and die-off symptoms from even the natural yeast fighters. It’s common for diarrhea, headaches, fatigue, constipation, rashes, etc to occur when killing off the yeast. Has your doctor told you about charcoal capsules to alleviate the die-off reactions? It mops up the toxins that are being excreted too quickly for the body to eliminate…relieves the body of the burden somewhat. Can only give away from food and supplements/medications because it will absorb everything in the gut. Stools then look a bit black too, but that’s normal.

  10. Thanks for the reply..yes, we are doing charcoal as well. It’s very hard to get everything in during the day…such a challenge. She usually has 3 meals a day, then bottles in between because I don’t know how else to get all of her supplements in….can anything be taken with capryllic acid and do u know when is the best time to give?

  11. Joanne, I am curious about the product you used, Colostrum Gold, can I use that for my daughter if she was showing peptides for casimorphin on her OAT test?

  12. Great..thank you…I will def check it out!

  13. Regarding your earlier comment from April:

    You mentioned bioflavonoids, and other herbs as anti-inflammatory, and also No-Fenol and/or TriEnza. I’ve been avoiding bioflavonoids for several years now, but think I’ve developed a severe vitamin C deficiency, so I’d like to start a “C” supplement, with one that contains some of the natural bioflavonoids, and am wondering..

    Did you give extra enzymes when taking the bioflavonoids or other herbal products?

    Thanks in advance,


  14. Dear Joanne

    I have been reading some of your comments on digestive enzymes and have some questions. I have a 2 year old son who has multiple food allergies and intolerance. He also has sever stomach acid that is harming his esophagus (was diagnosed with EE in August). Since he has been dairy free; however, his stomach acidity does not seem to improve at all. In fact, he seems to tolerate a whole less food than before. I am switching him to a gluten-free oatmeal for his morning breakfasts. He basically eats three main meals consisting of oatmeal in the morning, and some white rice, chicken and vegetable for lunch and dinner. He does not even want to snack on any fruits anymore. I have been trying to introduce digestive enzymes to help heal his gut and it seems like he gets a reaction from everything. I am trying the Zycarb from Houston Enzymes and I am not sure it’s helping or harming him. He does get some die-off symptoms but not sure I should continue it if he gets eczema on his abdominal!! In addition, I even think he cannot even tolerate any probiotics. I am really overwhelmed and just hoping to do something to help with the acidity of his stomach and have him actually benefit from the food that’s left for him to eat. I also have him take epsom salt baths every other night. Do you please please have any suggestions? I feel helpless at this moment.

    Thank you and hope to hear from you soon.


    • Hi Michleen,

      First off I would go low and slow on the digestive enzymes. They will cause die-off of pathogens your son harbors in his body. The probiotics should be fully on board and tolerated before you start the digestive enzymes or increase the initial dose. The eczema on his abdominal area is a symptom of detox or can be a food allergy. For digestive enzymes, maybe try the TriEnza which will help with all foods he eats and go very low and slow and ramp up the dose gradually

      I’ve learned a little about problems with HCL in the stomach and some research has shown a common misconception about acid reflux/heartburn. It isn’t that someone with recurring heartburn has too much stomach acid, but they have too little. So when you eat foods with low enzymatic activity (like high carb foods), and then have too little stomach acid, the food begins to ferment in the stomach (which causes distention, belching, and indigestion). Why it feels like there is acid burning in the esophagus is simple. The fermentation in the stomach squirts a bit of the stomach acids up into the esophagus (just like an overfilled water balloon. Gross analogy, I know). They say not to drink a lot of water when eating since it dilutes the HCL needed for digestion. Has anyone looked at this possibility as the cause of EE for your son?

      Your son probably needs gut healing measures since he may have leaky gut that causes a lot of the food allergies/reactions. Probiotics are the first step, zinc helps too. Digestive enzymes as well. Try not to tackle everything at once, it can be overwhelming if you do. One thing, one step at a time. Let me know if you have more questions.
      Best wishes,

    • Oatmeal is not gluten free even if package says so. Found out hard way.

  15. Hello Joanne.

    Thank you so much for your input. You have no idea how much I appreciate it. As for the probiotics, I have always had him on some, but the problem is that every time I try to increase the dose he gets really bad die-off symptoms and I then take him off the probiotics for a few weeks. I know its not a good idea at all. Right now I have him on it again and on a very low dose. I am hoping he can tolerate it. As for the digestive enzymes, How do you recommend switching from the Zycarb to the Trizane? I have sample’s for the Trizane as well and I can start on them slow and low anytime.
    As for the EE, His GI said that its probably caused by Dairy. I have always suspected that he had a problem with Dairy and it seems that is the case. Alot of his symptoms went away since he has been off dairy. I, however, have an allergist appointment in November and we’ll see if there are any other offending foods (I pray not).
    At last, I did try to heal his gut using slippery Elm and other natural remedies, but he could not tolerate any of it. That is why I am trying to introduce the digestive enzymes. I am hoping that we will be able to break down his food and minerals so I can heal his gut.

    Please let me know if you have any other suggestions.

    Thank you

    • When you get a die-off reaction that is not tolerable, you can back down the dose of probiotics/enzymes and then try a lower dose increase once die-off eases. But definitely don’t stop just because of a die-off…that means it’s working and keep up with the Epsom Salt baths and get charcoal capsules. Give the activated charcoal 1 hr away from food and 2 hrs away from any supplements. It will mop up the toxins his body is excreting when it can’t handle the load. Make sure your probiotics are dairy free. You can switch the digestive enzymes anytime, but go with a much lower dose than what he gets with Zycarb because TriEnza will tackle even more gut issues and he’ll get die-off. Just get the probiotics on board at a dose that helps him and very slowly introduce the digestive enzymes. Once you have those on board, you should be able to see some improvements and gut healing measures can be taken.
      Best wishes,

  16. Thank you so much Joanne. I am going lower with the probiotics. It breaks my heart to see him go through the abdominal pain that he does. I will try to go much lower and go from there. I will also get him the Charcoal capsules once we get an appropriate dose of the probiotics on board. However, should I try the Charcoal before trying to add the digestive enzymes to his diet?

    Please let me know.

    Thank you once again

    • The charcoal is to mop up toxins from any die-off reactions he gets from either the probiotics or digestive enzymes. It is not a supplement nor needed if not die-off reactions are seen. Remember to give it 1-2 hrs away from any food, supplement or meds. If he is taking probiotics and have die-off reactions, then try the activated charcoal. FYI – his stools may be darker from it.

  17. Thank you Joanne.

    I will look into the Charcoal for any die-off symptoms. However, is it safe for kids his age? He’s only 2 and I am worried he’s gonna get a reaction from it. Another question, I know you mentioned Zinc as an important supplement. What is a good source of Zinc? Where can I get him some?

    Thank you for your help

  18. Hi Joanne

    From the link you gave about ‘yeast’, why and how we rotate probiotic intake every 3 mths?

    • Some doctors believe it’s best to rotate proboitics to keep the digestive tract from getting too used to the one strain of probiotics given, others don’t feel the need. It’s a personal choice and I don’t do that.

  19. Hello Joanne,

    Thank you for your previous advice. I have done some research on stomach acidity and how it can be low for some people. I really think that might be the case for my son. He has a hard time digesting many of the food. Are there any HCL supplements that are safe for kids his age? How can I increase his stomach’s own digestive capabilities? For now my son has not been able to tolerate anything and I have not tried L-glutamine yet in fears of making his EE symptoms worse. but I do believe that many of his allergies are related to his poor digestion of food. Any advice?

    Thank you

  20. […] How enzymes helped this family with autism treatment […]

  21. We just started our 5 year old on digestive enzymes last week he is already on good probiotic and Barleans Omega Swirl for his ADHD. We had Bio feedback done last year to test for food allergies ~ it was as I suspected gluten, dairy, dyes. We started on a real food diet a year ago but have slacked due to hectic schedules and we are all suffering because of it! We are now prepping for the GAPS Diet. However my son woke up screaming with a severe headache today and a 101.8 fever. Is this a typical die off reaction?

    • Flu symptoms like headache, fever, chills, diarrhea, body aches, sinus issues are all typical die-off reactions. But this is the flu/cold season, so it’s hard to know if he just caught a bug. That’s the perplexing side of treating our children bio-medically. We never know which it is…but eventually, your experiences will build knowledge and understanding on how your son responds to various protocols and your mommy gut will know. If it is die-off, activated charcoal capsules are helpful to mop up the toxins. Give them 2 hrs away from food/supps/meds. Best wishes and I hope he feels better soon!

  22. Hi Joanne,
    This is really a great page and very helpfull. I have a question about the use of DE, since I am starting to use them for my 31/2 autistic son. I did allergy test for my son and he was negative to all food that usually cause allergy (milk, eggs. gluten, peants, strawberry, casein…). How did your son tested to all that? I am very confused on starting a GF/CF diet when he tested negative and very difficult to find alternatives. I’m thinking of using DE anyway and just try as much a GFCF diet but not avoid it all together. I live in the ME and finding a DAN doctors is very hard as well doctors specialized in Autism. Thanks

    • Your son could have an intolerance to certain foods which shows up as an IgG instead of an IeG on blood serum allergy tests. But our plan sounds good as long as you use a DE that has DPPIV which breaks down gluten & casein proteins. My son’s IeG/IgG blood test showed allergies to certain foods and we did the elimination diet then started DE. DE were very effective in healing his gut and helping him digest food completely.

  23. Hi There, I’d like to start off by saying I love reading all of your posts/articles! My son has been diagnosed with autism and sever adhd @ the age of 2 (autism) 4 (ADHD). Ever since his diagnosis I have seeked out biomedical intervention..intensively researching the net for healing autism! My son cannot function in any environment except for play grounds or any other sensory acitvities. His autism suck, really really sucks but I feel his Hyperactivity sucks even more…it’s was keeps him from attending to his therapies, activities etc. He is 7, almost eight, and I have givien up on biomedical (slap myself) and eventually turned to Focalin medication 1 yr ago. It works wonderfully, but the wear off effects breaks my heart to watch…which forces us to redose him so he can gain control of himself. I hate myself fo doing this, I feel like i gave up on him even though the medication has greatly helped his attending, but not his overall health…I was to help him, help himself,….not medicate him to cover up the issues. So I want to return to the biomedical approach, regardless of what the school, friends, doctors etc think! I am really looking into GABA, Probiotics (BlueBonnet?? I formally used this and saw great results in bowels), Digestive Enzymes, Epson Salt Baths and zinc. We all eat organically, not many raw foods in his diet. But lots of legumes rice meat and fish. He will not eat any fruits or veggies except for potatoes and oranges. He is a big meat eater and carb LOVER… But I believe he is addicted to the carbs/sugars and I have been cutting it out of the housesold altogether. I want to lessen carbs and eat more whole foods,, almost completely dairy free…gluten is also a battle to get rid but I am taking baby steps and so far, his much loved pasta is now gluten free! lol I mentioned epson salt baths but he does take a calcium/magnesium supplement daily, liquid form CONSISTING OF D3 400IU, 600MG CALCIUM CITRATE, 300MG MAGNESIUM…..I know I sound like i am all over the place, and thats because I am..lol..I am just trying to through out to you as much as I can in the small amount of time I have. Thanks to all of you!!! 🙂

    • Hello Michelle and all,
      I am not sure if any of you will see my post, since it’s so late from original posts, but one diet that you may want to look at is FODMAP’s. I know many of you do the IGG testing, which is more for food sensitivities vs the IGE which is a true food allergy (anaphlaxic, hives, throat swelling), but one thing I will mention, and I’ve read on many various sites, not just this one, is that the IGG picks up on any foods you eat, and the ones that will come back highest are the ones you eat most frequently. Then, when you switch the foods around, avoiding the ones you came back high on, the new foods you make as your more staple foods will come back high. My daughter doesn’t have ADD or ADHD that I am aware of, but she had GI issues since she was a baby. It ended up being that she has fructose malabsorption. These are groups of sugars and fructans (inulin) that are not properly digested. I would encourage you all to just look at FODMAPS. These are groups of foods that are easily fermentable in the intestines and then the bacteria in the intestines feast on them, causing the bacteria to grow. You just have to figure out which foods or food groups are causing the issues. It coincides with alot of what Elaine Gottshall talks about in her book, Breaking the Vicious Cycle, which is what the GAPS diet stems from. Wheat and Milk are in these groups of food, but it’s more from the lactose sugar and wheat fructans (inulin) standpoint. But, if a person is lactose intolerant, or intolerant to wheat, the body will have a tough time breaking down these sugars/foods also. Sometimes though, people will also have a true milk protein and/or wheat gluten enteropathy (celiac disease) going on also, along with other fodmaps being maldigested.
      Under the high fructose foods, HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), honey, and agave syrup are all high in fructose. Then there are certain fruits that are higher in fructose also. And, if a food or drink has both sorbitol and fructose in it, the 2 compete for digestion and symptoms will be even worse. Fruit juices are dried fruits have more concentrated amounts. Apple juice, plum juice, prune juice are all high. Sugar alcohols are not absorbed by the system either for everyone, especially for people who have GI issues. Sugar alcohols are sugars typically ending in “tol” – sorbitol, erythritol, xylitol, manitol, and the list goes on. Table sugar is the easiest to digest b/c it has equal amount of fructose to glucose, and this aids in digestion, but you don’t want to overdo this either. Also, if a person is going to eat a higher fructose food, it should be with another food source like protein and not on an empty stomach or by itself. Kate Scarlata, RD has a very good website on it. It’s generally for people with IBS, but also helpful for people with IBD, and celiac disease that are still having health issues who find that by just removing gluten it isn’t fully relieving their symptoms.
      They have done clinical trial on this at various universities in the US. I know this may be an adjustment , from what some of you may have been trying diet wise, but if you are already wheat and casein free, it wouldn’t be too big of a change and may give you another viewpoint to look at.
      Here’s one of Kate’s articles on fodmaps:

      Click to access media-minimize-consumption-of-carbs.pdf

      Here’s her most recent list of high fodmaps foods. She updates her list with MONASH University out of Australia who does the testing on foods in their lab.

      Important note, if a person is not able to properly digest the food, then fermentation occurs, which contributes to leaky gut and ultimately the brain/gut reactions. Hope this may help!

  24. I have kids with autism and an other with adhd can you please help me for some informations PLS

    • Please read through my blog…it is a treasure trove of information. Use the search bar for any topic you are interested in or the categories bar on the right side of blog pages.

  25. Thanks so much for the information. This has opened my eyes to what might be the missing piece for my son. I have my son on a GFCF diet for the past 6 months. He was diagnosed with Autism when we was 2 (a few months ago). He has struggled with constipation his whole life, at first the GFCF seemed to help but now we are back to where we started. He has been on probiotics for past 6 months as well. I bought enzymes after reading this however I wanted to ensure this was the best next step for him. I am hoping this could be the missing piece. I have not had allergy tests done or seen a doctor regarding this. His paediatrician wants me to keep him on laxatives which I don’t like. He is also taking a good quality multi vitamin and fish oils.

  26. HI there, My daughter is going on school camp early July, I am now filling out the forms. Normally with camps I have said no gluten, casein, also have explained the fruits and veges she can’t have..leaving her feeling different and that she is missing out. However this time I am just thinking of saying she is gluten free and then hoping the enyzmes will cover the rest. Do the enzymes cover corn like they would cover gluten, just in case there is corn in the gluten free product or am I just best letting her have the gluten WIll the digestive enzymes cover everything?. She is new to this school, so nobody really knows how extreme her diet usually has to be. Should I be giving her enzymes beforehand to get her system used to it. I am just nervous and want to get it right as I don’t want her making a fool of herself infront of her new peers.

    • I’m sorry I saw this comment so late. I hope you started your daughter on digestive enzymes well before she left for her trip so she can adjust to them. They can cause a detox reaction. Let me know how it went.

  27. Thank you for all your knowledge and helping all of us. I’m in a whirlwind of info right now and confused.

    My son is almost 8 and has ADD he has never been on meds for this but has developed some motor tics. I have put him on Omega 3 and magnesium calcium with vitamin B supplement. he has constipation problems and has been on Miralax for a year daily. I want him off of this. he has only been on supplements for two weeks now. I was thinking of digestive enzymes and probiotics but am confused as to which enzymes to give him and if probiotics is what he needs. Any advice you can give me would be appreciated. All blood work came back normal and he had Scratch allergy test and is only allergic to dust mites. What is the other allergy test everyone is talking about? I’m worried about giving him too many things and really messing him up.

    Thank you for your time!
    Theresa Kane

    • Kirkman Labs sells some good probiotics and an easy one to start with is their Pro Bio Gold. Give it to him 1x/day and with a meal or at bedtime. Only start one support at a time. Once the probiotic is tolerated (he will have gut detox…possible diarrhea or headaches, etc) you can start digestive enzymes. I’d get him off Miralax and use vitamin C and magnesium to help with constipation. http://www.tacanow.org has great resources for doctors you may find near you to help.

    • Forgot to answer your questions on enzymes and allergy tests. I love Houston enzymes. TriEnza is a good combo one that will address most enzyme deficiencies. The food allergy testing people choose is blood work to determine IgG and IgE levels to an array of foods. Alletness Labs, Genova, Great Smokies lab all offer this test. Google food allergy test IgE/IgG and you’ll find labs. Good luck!

  28. thank you so much!!!! when are you writing a book 🙂 ?

  29. I can just go through the labs for this test? I don’t need a script from a doctor? How did you ever learn all of this information?? I’m so impressed because my mind can only hold so much of this information I have been reading for the last 2 months!! I really appreciate you!

  30. Would you recommend or do you use the capsules or powder (trienza). Gonna buy some today to start my 5 and 3 year old boys on. Both are autistic.

  31. Thank you for the Information. Starting my son with digestive enzymes he’s 3yrs old and was Diagnosed with autism in april

  32. Started son on digestive enzymes and he has had a rash for over a week now took him to dr they didnt know what the rash was gave him some cream. I was talking with somebody and they told me it might be his body detoxin is this common

    • Yes. That’s how my son detoxes, through his skin. It’s our largest organ. The rash on my son are tiny red spots/bumps that do not itch or bother him. I always see these as a good sign he’s responding, but also to keep up on detox support.

  33. My son is 6. Dx ASD at eighteen months. He can’t have a bowel movement. I ve been to by his behaviors I was to give Miralax. I have done this, it keeps the stool soft but, he still won’t go. Josef is nonberal and act as thought in pain. With the potty problem. Will these enzymes help?

    • Sorry for the delay, I took a year off from blogging. I hope your son is doing better. But Miralax is not good. Probiotics, vitamin C and magnesium for constipation. Or try OxyPowder colon cleanse. It’s natural and you can control the ease of it. Sounds like his gut is damaged and needs treating…could be Candida or overgrowth of bad bacteria. Lots of water, low sugar diet, fiber from green leafy veggies. Digestive enzymes will also help digest the food and not give the bad bacteria/yeast food.

  34. I am a little confused about my autistic daughter, she has been on a GFCF diet for about months now. Prior to that she would throw up in the middle of the night, and be always constipated. Along with the diet she was taking miralax every day. It worked great for the first 3 to 4 months and then it started all over again. About 2 weeks ago i started the trienza, and a probiotic regimen. I saw great results, and then she started to decrease her for intake, and complain of her stomach hurting on day10. She woke up throwing up, and i thought it was the flu. I gave her enzymes with some breakfast,and an hour later we were throwing up, had diarrhea. But the evening we were much better I didn’t give her the enzymes until the next morning and then it started again the throwing up and diarrhea. I don’t know what to do, do I give the enzymes another shot? How much should i give her? I am still giving her the probiotics i am at a loss, going to see the doc today, but not sure if they will be helpful or not. Any advice would be great.

  35. Hi,
    I have been informed by my doctor that enzymes help but it has been reported to cause liver damage somehow and should be used VERY carefully. he is a professor as well as MD with many research. The bottom line is that it has to be well supported by research as there is no need to cause more troubles. A similar issue is that MB12 shots should be given to all autistic kids. It has been proven to help kids to speak but the many papers shows that it does not heal. In fact it may cause out of control behavior due to hyperactivity or causes seizure. I am not a doctor. Let me know your comments please.

    • Zofa, there is a lot of information out there about enzyme use and the body. But the true research doesn’t include kids on the ASD spectrum and their biomedical issues causing it. Research it yourself…don’t rely on one doctor’s statement. And you couldn’t be more wrong about MB12 shots. Read more on my blog than this page on enzymes and you’ll see my family’s experience with MB12 shots…research it on the internet with doctors that have healed kids on the spectrum with it. Research, research, research.

  36. My 9-year-old son has been diagnosed with ADHD, anxiety, & motor tic disorder (borderline Tourette’s). We’ve been dealing with all of this for the past 4-ish years. In July or August of this year (2013), I decided to put my son on a probiotic and supplement his meals with digestive enzymes and garlic. At about the same time, his psychiatrist prescribed him Strattera (for anxiety & ADHD).

    Amazingly, within 2-3 months, his tics and hyperactivity cleared up almost entirely. It was great!

    About a week ago, I ran out of digetive enzymes for him. I decided to stop giving the digestive enzymes for a bit, in order to see if their absence would affect his behavior. Wouldn’t you know, his tics gradually returned to nearly full-force in a week! Unbelievable!

    Anyway, yesterday, I started him back on the digestive enzymes (CVS brand “Digestive Aid”). Hopefully, we’ll notice a difference relatively quickly. Then, I plan to let the psychiatrist know, so maybe she will consider a diet change for her patients, as opposed to automatically prescribing pharmaceuticals.

    Just thought I’d let you all know that these digestive enzymes *can* help with tics. I’ve seen it myself. I’d love for people living with tic disorders or Tourette’s Syndrome to (at least) try this, since alot of those pharmaceuticals can cause some heavy-duty side effects, especially in children.

    A side note – I never would have known about digestive enzymes, etc. if it weren’t for your site and other sites like yours, which are spreading knowledge about good digestive health. I appreciate it very much, and I’m sure my son does, too! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

    • Great to hear your success naturally. Just remember that some time released medications use cellulose for the outer coating and it may be possible that enzyme products containing CELLULASE may break down the cellulose, causing more medication to be released.

  37. This is all really great information. Our son was just diagnosed with ADHD so we’re looking at natural ways to help him. I saw someone mention (in he same post with your website) that having a lot of antibiotics can harm the guts. My guy, who is almost 7 now, was pretty sick with sinus issues until we figured out a couple of years ago that he has serious environmental allergies. Could you talk a little more about the affects of antibiotics on the gut, and whether or not the gut healing process you write about also helps with that? Thanks so much.

    • Oh yes, antibiotics strip the gut of the bad AND good bacteria. It leaves the gut vunerable to an over production of Candida yeast or bacteria that get out of control. Gut healing definitely helps with seasonal allergies if the gut is damaged and leaky gut is happening. But if yeast is the issue, that needs to be addressed first before trying to heal the gut…or least started and in place before gut healing measures start. I’m planning on writing a blog on yeast and leaky gut since it’s an issue that reared it’s ugly head in our house lately.

  38. Hi
    Im so thankful for your information and knowledge on this blog. it has helped me tremendously .

    IMy son is 4 (autistic) suffers from sleeping disorders. wakes up in the middle of the night and cries for hours(screams). i suspect leaky gut after reading Karen DeFelice’s book about Enzymes.His IgE level 682.00 IU/ml .We live in Sri Lanka and have no DAN doctors in the country for consulting. Would Digestive Enzymes help his problem?

    He is currently on a GF/CF diet. no processed foods or artificial ones. i feed him rice and curry for all three meals cooked with spices. Vegetables, meat and a fresh salad. he dislikes fruits so cant give any. he is on Zincovits multivitamin syrup, Vegepa (Omega 3), and Zeolite.

    Please advice me on the usefulness of Digestive enzymes on the types of food mentioned above.


    • I have found digestive enzymes to be very useful in helping to heal a leaky gut. It digests the foods completely if you’re lacking any digestive enzyme and denies bad bacteria in the gut food…also decreases food particles escaping the lining.

  39. Hi,
    I enjoyed reading through your website and post. It has been very helpful for me but I have some questions that I would appreciate of you could give me some input.
    My daughter is 2 and a half and she had some allergies and digestive problems. She was allergic to milk and eggs but grew out of it which I believe was thanks to using probiotics. She still has an allergy to red coloring that causes her to become hyperactive and to get ezcema.
    I have been giving her probiotics for almost 9 months and I noticed that if I stop using them even for 3 days only, she starts misbehaving and being hyperactive. Also, her stools are not very hard and usually are soft. I believe she might have a leaky gut but I am not sure how to diagnose that and to what doctor should I go.
    Also, I am lost on how to treat her with enzymes. I think I need to learn more. Any advice will be very welcome, either to point me to the right specialist or to help me understand how is the best way to start using the enzymes together with the probiotics.
    Thank you very much in advance.;)

  40. Thanks for your website. I’m wondering if you have any feedback on how long our children should take the digestive enzymes? We’re going on a year and have seen positive effects. Just wondering if we should carry on, or if at some point, we decrease the enzymes? Thank you.

    • I used them for a year and a half, then went off. Just did another lab to learn that we all have yeast so we’re back on them for a while. I like to rotate on and off supplements to give the body a break. If I see regression in an area after stopping something, I know that it’s still needed.

  41. Enzymes are expensive. I use coconut water straight from the coconut (natural enzymes) and mix that in with my daughter’s supplements. It’s made an 80% difference, her speech has exploded into conversations… amazing.

  42. Is there any way to add in your main article that cellulase breaks down coating for time released medication? I ordered Vital Zymes from Klaire Labs, then had to cancel because my son is on Focalin XR. I see it in the comments, but it is very far down. Thank you 🙂

  43. I am in the UK and searching for a good, reliable and safe digestive enzyme. How do you know which companies are selling reliable products that are safe for children? Any recommended brands would be much appreciated. Thanks

  44. I’ve been using DE Earth & mag spray on my 20 year old daughter who is non verbal autistic & has epilepsy for 2 months to help with constipation. I took her off mirilax after being on it for 15 years. I’m seeing great things….. she’s having a regular BM every 2 days but still needs a suppository due to her low tone. Her belly bloat has lessened dramatically. Will I need to continue to use the DE Earth once I start the probiotics? Will probiotics alone help with constipation? Or wait to stop DE Earth till after I add the Enzymes???
    Now I also want to get her off of Omeprazole. I’ve tried 3x to do this & all 3x she ended up being admitted to hospital. Will probiotics alone help her GERD? Or that won’t get fixed until the Enzymes are added as well?

    • I hope you have found answers for your daughter. Probiotics and digestive enzymes help GERD and constipation. Have you tried essential oils topically for digestive health? I use doTERRA brand

  45. Hello, my son is 3, ASD, sensitive to phenol. I just started him on enzymes yesterday, today he seems less attentive to me, a little withdrawn and sleepy. Is this to be expected? He has always had severe problems with gas, acid reflux. Today, no pain from gas is huge for us 🙂

  46. My 11 y.o son has Down syndrome & has had chronic constipation for a few years now. After reading your article on trienza enzymes, I’d love for my son to try them. He has not had his thyroid tested yet, but I am also wondering after taking the enzymes, do you notice a difference? They are expensive and was hoping to sample first.
    Thank you!

    • Digestive enzymes really do help with constipation since it breaks down food into an form that is absorbed by intestines. I have used them on an empty stomach (1 capsule) before bed to help the enzyme breakdown blockages in colon. When it doesn’t have food to breakdown, it can go to work cleaning up debris in digestive tract. I have switched from Houston Enzymes to doTERRA’s Terrazyme comprehensive enzyme. Much more affordable and a good product. I notice a big difference in my digestion and gut health when I take enzymes.

  47. I am almost 40 i have developed a motor tic i was ticking almost every 30 seconds. Thanks to Bowen therapy my tics have reduced to maybe one every six hours.. its early days yet.. since the tics have slowed i have been able to see that certain foods set it off such as grapes that almost made me head butt the wall since then i have cut out all fruits and dairy.. where do u get the enzimes from.. is there ones specific for breaking sugars down

    • I am almost 40 i have developed a motor tic i was ticking almost every 30 seconds. Thanks to Bowen therapy my tics have reduced to maybe one every six hours.. its early days yet.. since the tics have slowed i have been able to see that certain foods set it off such as grapes that almost made me head butt the wall since then i have cut out all fruits and dairy.. where do u get the enzimes from.. is there ones specific for breaking sugars down.. sorry i have just found it.. anyone have any other helpful things for food related tics

      • You can purchase quality digestive enzymes that are comprehensive and will break down all foods, including sugars. In the early days I use Houston Enzymes. They have a wide variety of enzymes for specific uses. I now use Terrazyme, a digestive enzyme by doTERRA.

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