Monday, December 28, 2009

Autism and its treatment in Homoeopathy

Autism and its treatment in Homoeopathy

Autism is now acquiring an epidemic status around the world, rising by enormous proportions in some areas. Considering that it is a lifelong developmental disability, it leads to a kind of despair and feelings of hopelessness in the parents.

Autism, a neurological disorder, begins in early childhood (typically during the first three years of life) and affects three crucial areas of development: verbal and nonverbal communication, social interaction, and creative or imaginative play. Other characteristics may include repetitive and ritualistic behavior, hand-flapping, spinning or running in circles, excessive self-stimulation, self-injury, aggression, reduced sensitivity to pain, temper tantrums, and sleeping and eating disturbances. To put it simply, autism is a term used to describe children who are socially withdrawn and preoccupied with routine; who struggle to acquire spoken language yet often possess intellectual gifts that rule out the diagnosis of mental retardation.

The world appears to be a mass of people, places and events for people with autism and this causes a considerable anxiety in them. It can be hard to create awareness of autism as people with the condition do not ‘look’ disabled; parents of children with autism often say that other people simply think their child is naughty.

The exact cause of autism is unknown. However, research suggests that a combination of factors - genetic and environmental may account for changes in brain development like vaccines, heavy metal toxicity, nutritional deficiencies/imbalances, food allergies, viruses, immune dysfunction and problems in the birthing process. “Vaccine induced autism” is under scrutiny with the hypothesis that immune response generated by MMR vaccine damages the nerve sheaths leading to this neurological disorder.

The phenomenon of early infantile autism was first observed in early 1940s, a few years after the pertussis vaccine became more widely used in United States.

Some researchers say that children have shown mild to dramatic improvements in speech and/or behavior after a gluten-free, casein-free (GFCF) diet.

Gluten and gluten-like proteins are found in wheat and other grains, including oats, rye, barley and foods made from those grains. They are also found in food starches, semolina, malt, some vinegars, soy sauce, flavorings and artificial colors and hydrolyzed vegetable proteins.

Casein is a protein found in milk and products containing milk, such as cheese, butter, yogurt, ice cream, whey and even some brands of margarine.

Foods that can be eaten on a gluten-free, casein-free diet include rice, potato, buckwheat flour, soy, corn, fruits, vegetables, beans, tapioca, meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, nuts, eggs, and sorghum.

Homoeopathic perspective

Homoeopathy and other natural treatments have recently come into focus as effective treatments for autistic spectrum disorders.

The reasons as to why homoeopathic medicines are preferred for this disorder are -

  1. Homoeopathic medicines are safe natural non-toxic substances without side effects.
  2. Homoeopathy is a safe effective alternative to Drugs like Ritalin etc. which have lasting side effects.
  3. The positive effects seen with homoeopathic treatment are lasting.
  4. With Homoeopathic treatment healing takes place at Physical, mental and emotional levels.
  5. Homoeopathy results in growth spurts in children and does not alter or suppress normal development of the child.

Before starting homoeopathic treatment the evaluation of the child on an autism rating scale is a must. Improvements by the treatment are to be interpreted by periodical assessments.

As most of the cases are already under the allopathic treatment, the following strategy can be charted out for them -

If the allopathic medication has not shown any improvement in the child or severe side effects have resulted from them, then it is best to stop them before starting homoeopathic treatment.

In cases where there is some benefit to child with the allopathic treatment and the parents are looking for a safer and more effective treatment, homoeopathy is the best alternative. In these cases Homoeopathic treatment can be started concurrently and the allopathic medicine can be weaned off as the homoeopathic medicine begins to show positive effects. In this way, more safe and effective treatment can be provided.

Homoeopathy medicine is also compatible with other therapies such as Speech therapy, Occupational Therapy. The beneficial effects of Homoeopathy on the child will be more to the delight of his therapists and care givers who will find the child more compliant to learning.

In a study on effects of homoeopathic medicines on autism triad carried over for four years at Bangalore, the results were encouraging with improvement in behavioral issues such as hyperactivity, temper tantrums, attention span, concentration and focus. Improvement was also noted in speech, language and communication skills. The social skills /eye contact and the fine motor skills also improved substantiating the claims of homoeopathy in autistic spectrum disorders.

Prompted by the miraculous cure of her son’s autism with homoeopathy Amy lansky has written a book “Impossible Cure: The promise of homoeopathy”. In this book, she illustrates that true cure of the root causes of illness is possible with careful homeopathic treatment over months or even years. Ms Lansky effectively presents cases and arguments of how homeopathic medicines effectively stimulate a person's innate healing mechanisms to allow chronic or acute disease to be eventually resolved.

The focus of homeopathy is not to treat the isolated symptoms of Autism but to treat the child as a whole. In addition to the symptoms of Autism, the general physical and mental constitution of the patient, past medical history, medical history of parents, information about pregnancy and vaccination - are used to find the probable cause in a given case and based on the final analysis a remedy is chosen for a patient.

Dr Dushyant Kamal Dhari

M.D. (Hom)

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