Curcumin: Cancer Fighter, Autism Healer

There are many benefits attributed to the use of curcumin. The two most impressive for our family are its cancer fighting abilities and the healing benefits for autism.

Curcumin is the main active ingredient of turmeric, which is used as a seasoning and the key ingredient of curry.  Curcumin has been used in the Indian and Chinese cultures for medicinal purposes for thousand of years.  Studies have shown it to possess the following properties: anti-tumor, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-platelet, cholesterol lowering, antibacterial and anti-fungal effects. It contains a mixture of powerful antioxidant phytonutrients called curcuminoids.

Due to its powerful anti-inflammatory properties it can also help to keep the neural pathways clear, helping with dementia, like Alzheimer’s and neurological disorders, like autism.

Cancer Fighter

Curcumin can significantly slow the growth of skin, lung, breast and prostate cancers. The anti-tumor effect stem from its ability to induce apoptosis in cancer cells without cytotoxic effects on healthy cells. (Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are forms of cytotoxic therapy).  In other words, it induces the abnormal cells to kill themselves before they become cancerous, while leaving the healthy ones alone. Before apoptosis is induced, curcumin stops cancer cells from multiplying. In cancer research, this is known as “interrupting the cell cycle”.  Therefore, curcumin is useful for cancer prevention and therapy.

Curcumin can block chemicals from getting inside cells.  It can interfere with pesticides that mimic estrogen. These include DDT and dioxin, two extremely toxic chemicals that contaminate America’s food and water. Some studies have even suggested that curcumin can inhibit cancer metastasis.

On a personal note, when my sister decided to stop chemotherapy treatments for her cancer, we asked her oncologist what natural supplements she could use instead. He immediately suggested curcumin. This took me by surprise because at the time I had only known its’ benefit for treating my son with autism and his health issues.

Detoxification

Curcumin has a detoxifying effect on the body by improving liver function and helping the body eliminate at a greater and more efficient rate.

It also helps with detoxification by increasing cellular glutathione levels.  Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect cells from reactive oxygen species (ROS) such as free radicals. Glutathione is produced by the body and found in every cell. It’s the body’s most important antioxidant because it’s within the cell.  Because glutathione exists within the cells, it is in a prime position to neutralize free radicals. It also has potentially widespread health benefits because it can be found in all types of cells, including the cells of the immune system, whose job is to fight disease.

In autism and ADHD, glutathione reserves are commonly low.  This leads to many biochemical problems for children with autism, one being an inability to detoxify toxins such as mercury and lead.  These toxins adversely affect chemicals in the brain that support attention, focusing, and general awareness. By increasing glutathione levels, curcumin can provide numerous benefits for these kids.

My son with autism had low glutathione levels, heavy metal toxicity and gut dysbiosis (stemming from too much bad bacteria in the gut). We have significantly increased his detoxification abilities through transdermal glutathione, IV glutathione and glutathione precursors like methyl-B12 and TMG. Our latest endeavor is curcumin. We are using Lee Silsby’s brand, called Enhansa.

Lee Silby's Enhansa

The benefits we are seeking from Enhansa (curcumin) are increased cellular glutathione, anti-inflammatory effects for his gut and brain, improve his liver detoxification and to chelate lead and cadmium. It will also protect his body and brain from the damaging effects of mercury.

Curcumin is very phenolic and my son with autism reacts to phenols. So we are trying curcumin in conjunction with the digestive enzyme No-Phenol. This enzyme will help his body process the phenol load from the curcumin. We will also be providing him with Epsom salt baths seven days a week to support detox. As with all new supplements we give him, will be starting out with a very low dose and increase it slowly, so to minimize any die-off reactions. If needed, we’ll give him activated charcoal to help mop up the toxins.

I believe so strongly in the benefits of curcumin, that I have also started taking it. Cancer is in my family history and I believe curcumin will help me not become another cancer statistic.  Once again, I can thank autism for entering our lives and being the impetus to learn more about the importance of maintaining our overall health.

GABA: The Natural “Chill Pill”

Oh, if we all could just “chill out” as easily as my dog!  How many times have you thought that an individual you’ve encountered needed to just take a “chill pill”?  That old saying came up a lot in our house before I discovered the supplement GABA.  Both of my sons had anxiety and were impulsive, which are common in children with autism and ADHD.

That is, until we introduced GABA as a supplement.

GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid) is an amino acid that acts as the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in our brain. It also keeps all the other neurotransmitters in check.  The GABA system acts as something of an information filter to prevent the nerves from becoming overstimulated.  It has long been suspected that this filtering process is compromised in many autistic children. Impairment of the GABA system could overwhelm the brain with sensory information, leading to many of the behavior traits associated with autism. GABA is also believed to play a key role in the early development of the brain.

Excitement in our brain needs a balance with inhibition. An unstable balance, or too much excitation will lead to restlessness, insomnia and irritability. GABA will balance this out, naturally. It is also involved with the production of endorphins in our brain, which provide us with that feeling of “all is good”, or what is often referred to as the “runner’s high”. GABA will reduce stress, relieve anxiety and increase alertness.

A deficiency of GABA can contribute to the poor inhibition that allows the brain to become over stimulated, which results in a constant state of anxiety. People with a GABA deficiency may experience:

  • anxiety/nervousness/jumpy or on edge
  • headaches
  • irritability
  • heart palpitations
  • seizures
  • hypertension

Factors that may reduce GABA levels:

  • B1, B6, zinc, manganese and iron deficiency
  • Chronic stress
  • Chronic pain
  • Mercury or lead exposure
  • Inadequate sleep

This can be helped with the GABA supplement.  Whenever you introduce a new supplement, always take it slow and go low on dose. We started with a 250 mg capsule (they can be opened up and mixed in drink/food) and worked our way up over several weeks until we found the dose needed for our children. My son with autism uses between 1,000-1,250 mg/day.  The effects wear off, so we dose throughout the day. I end the day with 500 mg at bedtime to induce relaxation for sleep.

My son with ADHD use to need 1,500 mg/day, but since we treated his ADHD with neuro-feedback, he now only needs 500 mg/day. GABA is a little known, but very effective supplement for symptoms resulting from autism and ADHD. It’s my family’s natural little “chill pill”.

What Autism Means To Me

April is autism awareness month. I think it’s wonderful that we have the ability to create more awareness since early diagnosis is important for the child and family. But the simple fact that we have a dedicated month of awareness means that it’s reached a level that demands attention, and it certainly has caught mine.

Today, it is estimated that one in every 110 children is diagnosed with autism, making it more common than childhood cancer, juvenile diabetes and pediatric AIDS combined.  This statistic keeps increasing.  When my son was diagnosed (in 2007), it was 1 in every 150 children. Before 1980, it was 1 in every 10,000. The Autism Society has statistics that break this down even further:

  • Autism has a 10 – 17% annual growth
  • $60 billion annual cost
  • In ten years, the cost will be $200 – $400 billion

What causes autism?

That’s the $64,000 question.  No known cause has been scientifically proven. Heredity points to it, but no “autism gene” has been found. Many children with autism or those who are at risk of developing autism have a metabolic impairment that reduces their ability to rid their bodies of heavy metals and other toxins. Build-up of these toxins in the body can lead to brain and nervous system damage and developmental delays. That pretty much sums it up for my viewpoint. Yes, I also believe there are true, Kanner autism cases. Genetic. And yes, I believe this metabolic impairment can also be genetic. Which leads me to my point. If I, my husband, or parents have this metabolic impairment, but don’t have autism, then why did this generation of children get it, and not us? Well, there’s a popular saying in the autism community that “genetics loads the gun, and environment pulls the trigger.”

I believe it’s the increase of toxins in our environment such as pesticides, PCB’s, mercury, lead, aluminum, arsenic, and antimony. Just to name a few. Our oceans are polluted which makes the fish our children eat polluted. Farming in 2010 is not the farming of 1980. We have genetically modified organisms (GMO) in our food supply, pesticide laden soil, antibiotics and hormones in our beef and dairy, and a strong prevalence of corn and wheat in the American diet.  The processed food industry has provided America with an unhealthy dose of harmful artificial ingredients (colors, flavors, preservatives and MSG). Profits are huge, but at what cost?

I don’t know if my son was born with a metabolic impairment or if the toxins triggered it. Thimerosal which is 49.9% ethyl mercury, is the preservative in the vaccines and Rhogam shots me and my son received. Add to that, I had over eight dental amalgams (50% mercury) and had one removed (unsafely) when he was 2 months old and still breastfeeding. Rhogam shots with thimerosal were given to me while pregnant and right after birth. Mercury is passed through breast milk, and neurotoxic to the fetus and newborn.

Studies have shown that ethyl mercury from thimerosal have important effects on metabolic pathways. Laboratory tests confirmed my son’s methylation pathway is impaired. This pathway is involved in the body’s ability to excrete toxins. His lab tests also indicated increased levels of mercury, lead, arsenic, antimony and PCBs. His body was not excreting heavy metals.  He was a typically developing infant and toddler. But by age three or four, he was diagnosed with autism.

How we treated our son’s autism:

For the past two and a half years, we have treated my son’s autism with behavioral therapy and biomedical treatments. He has had chelation therapy to remove the heavy metals, B12 shots and numerous supplements to boost his methylation. We’ve healed his damaged gut with probiotics, zinc and  herbal antimicrobial supplements.

His progress has been incredible. He no longer has meltdowns, tantrums, obsessions, diarrhea, sound sensitivity to everything, night waking, anxiety of new things or change, and doesn’t “stim” anymore. His eye contact has improved significantly, he has a lot of friends including a very best friend at school. In preschool he needed an aide in class. He has been in a mainstream classroom without an aide for the past two years; and is such an intelligent little boy. His expressive and receptive speech deficits are almost gone and his cognition has soared. I credit his recovery to working with a DAN! doctor on biomedical treatments and his behavioral therapy.

What does autism mean to me? That it is treatable. Our children need our help to heal and awareness is the first step. Research, read, educate yourself on how to help your child. Don’t wait for our government or others to do this for you. Take action. Now!

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