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Autism: Tornado in the Brain

Tornado2By William Walsh and Dan E. Burns

“It’s becoming quite clear to more and more of us that autism is not genetic, but epigenetic.” So says William J. Walsh, who received a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Iowa State University and is an expert in nutritional medicine. In the 1970s, he collaborated with the renowned Dr. Carl Pfeiffer, a pioneer in schizophrenia research, and went on to develop nutrient protocols to normalize brain chemistry in patients with behavioral and personality disorders, ADHD, schizophrenia, and autism. Walsh’s new book, Nutrient Power, is subtitled Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain.

I asked Bill what has happened in autism research since the late 1980s when he became associated with Dr. Rimland, founder of the Autism Research Institute. Here’s what he told me.

BILL: “When I first connected with Bernie, a wonderful inspiring man, he realized that I’d seen more autistic patients than anybody in the world, eventually six thousand five hundred. More importantly, I had the world’s biggest chemistry database for autism. I’d already organized a prison volunteer program to study the biology of prisoners and ex-offenders, researching the causes of their violent behavior. And the first thing Bernie and I realized was that autistic children – ASD spectrum kids – have far more severe chemistry, lab results farther outside the normal range, than criminals.

“Bernie asked me to come to some of his think tanks and give information. No one was surprised when I reported that ASD kids had B6 deficiency and elevated toxic metals, especially mercury, cadmium, and lead, plus high copper and low zinc. The surprise was that more than 95% of kids who had autism were undermethylated. Following that think tank, Jon Pangborn launched a study of how disruptions in the methylation cycle are consistent with ASD symptoms. Eminent methylation scientists Jill James and Richard Deth took up the challenge. We now know that undermethylation is a distinctive feature of ASD.”

Dan: Why did you develop the Epigenetic Theory?

BILL: “In the history of science, progress has often been hastened by the development of theories that attempt to explain the mechanisms of poorly understood phenomena. Then, over time, as new information comes in, the model can be honed and improved. We needed a new theory to account for the effect of environmental toxins on gene expression. That’s why I developed the epigenetic theory of autism.”

DAN: What’s the difference between genetics and epigenetics? My understanding is that genetic theories of autism have not been very helpful to date.

BILL: “That’s right. Genetic therapies – trying to change DNA that’s gone awry in kids, with Down Syndrome, for example – have been a washout. They haven’t led to much of anything. But the early research on altering epigenetic deviations has been really promising. And I think that’s the hope for the future.”

DAN: So what is epigenetics?

“Epigenetics is the natural process of gene regulation that is established in the early days of gestation in the womb. A severe environmental insult later in life can either turn off a necessary gene or turn on a damaging gene, resulting in a disorder that can persist for years.

“We know that autism runs in families but violates classical laws of genetics. We know that in identical twins, if one of them develops autism, it’s more than sixty percent likely that the other will too. However, it’s not a hundred percent; so it’s not the DNA, not the genome. That means that environmental insults must be involved.”

DAN: How can environmental insults lead to autism without altering the genome?

BILL: “A gene has only one job, and that’s to make a protein. We have identical DNA and identical genes – the same cookbook – in every cell of our body, but every tissue in our body needs a different combination of proteins. How to make that happen? Methyl groups, which are basically groups of carbon atoms with some hydrogen attached, act like bookmarks. They tell our metabolism where to start reading the cookbook and where to stop. Methyl groups attach to certain parts of DNA to regulate whether a gene is turned on or turned off. So they program the DNA and determine which proteins are expressed in each tissue.”

DAN: It reminds me of an old-fashioned player piano. The piano is your DNA, and the scroll is your epigenome. The holes in the scroll determine which string is played or “expressed,” so you can play “Johnny B. Goode” or a Bach cantata by changing the scrolls.

BILL: “Yes. You can program the tune – the cell – without changing the DNA.”

DAN: But how does this epigenetic theory explain children who appear to be normal at birth but regress in their second year? Have you seen that happen?

BILL: “I’ve seen probably five thousand children who had a normal beginning in life, and around age 18 to 24 months had the very nasty sudden regression when autism onset came. I believe that altered epigenetics in the womb causes weakened protection against oxidative stress. And it’s pretty clear that somewhere between conception and age three, there was an environmental insult that just overwhelmed their anti-oxidant protectors and shuffled the epigenetic bookmarks, resulting in deviant gene expression. The trigger may be prenatal, postnatal, or cumulative (both). Here’s my epigenetic model in a nutshell:

1.      Undermethylation in the womb causes overexpression of several genes, weakened protection against oxidative stress, and increased vulnerability to environmental insults.

2.      Environmental insults, which can include mercury, lead, cadmium, viruses, or other sources, reach a tipping point and overwhelm natural antioxidant protectors, reshuffling epigenetic bookmarks and altering gene expression.

3.      Altered gene expression results in abnormal brain development, a tendency for serious brain inflammation, and physical problems including weakened immunity, sensitivity to toxins and certain foods, tendency to seizures, and poor behavior control. The Epigenetic Model of Autism is explained in more detail on pages 110-111 of my book Nutrient Power.”

DAN: In your AutismOne presentation, you said that mercury does its damage in 30 seconds. That would make it like a tornado, sweeping in and out of Moore, Oklahoma, and leaving devastation behind. Am I remembering that right? Please explain.

BILL: “When mercury enters the brain, it quickly undergoes chemical reaction with substances in the brain. A large amount of mercury can cause great damage, especially in the developing brain of a young child. This is a leading suspect in the onset of regressive autism. However, in most humans, the half-life of mercury in the brain is about 70 days, and the reacted mercury may have become inert before departing the scene. Experimental evidence indicates that mercury levels in brains of the older autistic children we looked at, ages 5-11, were not seriously high. A mercury insult may well have triggered autism in many children, but it appears this early mercury has left the body and cannot cause continuing harm. The problem is that epigenetic changes survive cell division, so the autism conditions can persist a lifetime, even after the mercury is gone. After a tornado, there may be great destruction but the problem is no longer the tornado but the damage that it caused. The same may be true for environmental insults like mercury.”

DAN: Shouldn’t our children get better? Aren’t old, damaged brain cells replaced, eventually, by new ones, as mercury leaves the brain?

BILL: “You’re asking about the greatest mystery of autism – Why in stubborn cases doesn’t it go away after onset, despite the multitude of aggressive treatments that have been tried? The answer appears to be epigenetics - an environmental insult has altered gene regulation and set up misleading detour signs along the developmental pathways. The good news is that biochemical therapies and other interventions can either (a) adjust gene expression or (b) overcome the effect of altered gene expression. For example an epigenetic tendency for high oxidative stress can be effectively treated using antioxidant supplements.

 “Unfortunately, autism is a developmental disorder and as the child matures, the effects of altered gene expression are cast in physiology. Autism brains are structurally different from neurotypical brains. The differences includes narrowed minicolumns in the brain’s cortex, altered connectivity between different brain areas, a reduced number of synapses, and certain brain areas that have never completed the maturation process. It’s conceivable that the developmental detour signs could someday be removed. But fixing the autism brain requires a lot more than replacing damaged brain cells. Fortunately, the brain is very plastic and brain-directed therapies have great promise.”

DAN: Can epigenetic variations be passed on?

BILL: “Yes, and that was something that was a surprise. Because we’ve known that when conception begins, the epigenetic markers from the mother and the father are supposed to be erased, and you get a new start. But now there’s clear evidence that there’s something called ‘Transgenerational Epigenetic Inheritance’ or TEI transference. If a father has an exposure to mercury, and that mercury changes his gene expression, which can happen, the next two generations of children are likely to have the same problem. In other words, epigenetics can pass from father to son. I like to use a quote from Deuteronomy: ‘The sins of the father will be visited upon the son.’”

DAN: What about the mother?

BILL: “The mothers are even more important if you look at the things that can cause epigenetic errors. One of them is an insufficient level of folates or folic acid in a pregnant woman. Another would be toxic metals such as mercury, lead or cadmium. We know that they can cause epigenetic errors. Under-methylation in the womb is a major factor in brain development and epigenetic errors. And those errors are heritable.”

DAN: Since lead has been removed from gasoline and from paint, and since mercury has been mostly phased out of mandated childhood vaccines (but not flu shots) beginning in the year 2000, shouldn’t autism rates be going down, not up? Why doesn’t the incidence of autism decline?

BILL: “Starting in 2005, about the time we would expect a dramatic decrease in autism incidence because of the phase-out, my colleagues and I noticed a huge increase in patients diagnosed with autism whose biochemical profiles did not match our typical chemical profile of ASD kids. Were they misdiagnosed? By the standards we were using, yes. We had to exclude them from the research studies. Clearly something new was going on here. However, we continued to see large numbers of children with severe autism throughout the period. Like many others, I was disappointed to learn that the removal of mercury from USA childhood vaccines failed to result in a dramatic decline in autism incidence.”

DAN: So what is driving the epidemic now?

BILL: “There are three points to keep in mind.

“First, as Dan Olmsted points out, the increased uptake of mercury-containing prenatal flu shots given to pregnant women appears to layer in just as the other mercury-containing shots were phasing out. Many epigenetic deviations occur around day 20, before most women know they’re pregnant. I think that’s a very serious issue.

“Second, altered epigenetics due to undermethylation persists across generations, and most great athletes, doctors, lawyers, and CEOs are undermethylated. Put undermethylated men and women together, which is inevitable in our increasingly stratified society, and that’s probably another reason why the epidemic persists.

“Third, toxic metals and viruses are not the only risk factors. Dozens of other genotoxins could potentially trigger autism in a predisposed child. Kathy Blanco has listed at least twenty five. Many of these have not been explored in depth. We need to keep an open mind and not let what we know blind us to what we don’t know. Emotion is the enemy of science and logical thought.”

DAN: Where does your epigenetic theory of autism lead us? What is your vision of the future?

BILL: “Not too far in the future autism can be prevented. In some unknown year, at some future time, newborn babies will be tested for not just their genetics, but their epigenetics, to determine what genes are turned on and off properly or improperly. I think there will be therapies to fix that early on, based on recent advances in reversing deviant epigenetic bookmarks in cancer. Epigenetic therapies will probably be the most effective therapies in the future for children. These therapies don’t really exist yet, but they’re coming.”

Dan E. Burns, Ph.D., is the father of a 25-year-old son on the autism spectrum and the author of Saving Ben: A Father’s Story of Autism. Through his new dba, Appleseed Ventures, Dan empowers parents to organize communities where their adult ASD children and friends can live, work, play, and heal.

William J. Walsh  Ph.D., is an internationally recognized expert in the field of nutritional medicine. He is president of the non-profit Walsh Research Institute in Illinois and conducts physician training programs in advanced biochemical/nutrient therapies in Australia, Norway and other countries. His book, Nutrient Power (Skyhorse Publishing), which describes an evidence-based nutrient therapy system, was recently published. He has authored numerous peer-reviewed journal articles and scientific reports, as well as been granted five patents. He has presented his experimental research at the American Psychiatric Association, the U.S. Senate, and the National Institutes of Mental Health. After earning degrees from Notre Dame and the University of Michigan, Dr. Walsh received a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Iowa State University. While working at Argonne National Laboratory in the 1970s, Dr. Walsh organized a prison volunteer program that led to studies of prisoners and ex-offenders researching the causes of their violent behavior. A collaboration with Carl C. Pfeiffer, M.D., Ph.D., a pioneer in the field of nutritional research therapy, led Dr. Walsh to the development of individualized nutrient protocols to normalize body chemistry and brain chemistry. Over the next 30 years, Dr. Walsh developed biochemical treatments for patients with behavioral disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease that are used by doctors throughout the world. Dr. Walsh has studied more than 25,000 patients with mental disorders. His accomplishments include (a) groundbreaking studies reporting reduced violent behavior following nutrient therapy, (b) the 1999 discovery of undermethylation and copper/zinc imbalances in autism, (c) the 2000 finding of metallothionein protein depletion in autism, (d) the 2007 published study linking copper overload and post-partum depression, (e) the identification of five biochemical subtypes of clinical depression, (f) the 2011 development of the Walsh Theory of Schizophrenia, and (g) the direction of the Beethoven Research Project that revealed that the composer suffered from severe lead poisoning. Dr. Walsh has conducted chemical analysis of more than 25 serial killers and mass murderers, including Charles Manson, Richard Speck, James Oliver Huberty, Patrick Sherrill and Arthur Shawcross. He has assisted medical examiners, coroners, Scotland Yard, and the FBI in these forensics studies. He has designed nutritional programs for Olympic athletes, NBA players, major league baseball players, a heavyweight boxing champion, PGA and LPGA golfers, and others. Walsh Research Institute's current research includes studies of autism brain tissues, the role of epigenetics in mental health, oxidative stress in disease conditions, and underlying causes of bipolar disorder.

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While I attempt to find something noteworthy or respect the epigenetic theory, I subscribe to the real culprits.. the Aluminum, thimerosal, Formaldehyde, Peanut products, cells of Pigs, cows, monkeys, fetal cells, cells of dogs, caterpillars and other toxins being shot into innocent babies and children. It is a cumulative synergistic effect.

How else could you explain how Monkey babies develop the same kind of Autism from vaccines that human babies develop from vaccines? Are we to suppose that monkey babies are developing autism because of genes, because they are "Living Near Highways, Maternal Age, Because intelligent monkeys are marrying each other.. because of their supermarket habits and GMO's?http://mynaturesmedicine.com/2014/04/04/baby-monkeys-develop-autism-symptoms-after-getting-popular-childhood-vaccines/

Shell of the book,"Recovering Autism, ADHD, & Special Needs."

Kathy;
I love ya girl, I really do.
And you do know a great deal about things I find I have just scratched the surface -- I have yet to face a pace maker - although it is probably in my future for mine.

So I really hate to disagree with you but I will say it anyway - it is all the vaccines' fault.


I

Bill and I have corresponded for years on this very subject. My aim was to spell out to mothers what is causing autism in their children, or, if the large majority of moms got together and discussed what they feel caused their child's autism, we would stop this epidemic by being aware of those markers, and insults, and therefore, we would stop this nonsense. The list has expanded. Others like roundup/BT Toxins are new revelations. But, the best resource is to GOOGLE, KATHY BLANCO, THE PERFECT STORM. A hastily put together article one what I feel may have caused this epidemic. During the time I wrote it I was in the throws of a child raging with pandas (can you imagine testing a thirty year old for such by Dr Cunningham?) and soon after having emergency surgeries to save his life from SUDAP (seizures causing death). I had no time to organize my thoughts, but I probably should now. Brian Rozner put them together for me, originally I wrote the book the Lyme Autism connection, but had to withdraw during that time. So therefore, I sent him this as a starter wake up call. He still wants me to write a book on it.

Personally, I don't think it's all the vaccines fault. Yes, it insults the brain. But it also insults every child on the planet who take them to a lesser degree, therefore, what is so different about their past epigenetics (aka GHOST IN THEIR GENES), oxidative stress, birth events, which would lend that one child the PASS from Autism? Why would some family members in my family have autism, and others just immune issues or what I call the continuam of damage? Bill and I have talked about first borns, how they get the lionshare of toxins from mom, and then when I had my daughter after my son (very soon), I was sufficiently detoxed for a time (as babies are great chelators of moms), and then soon after my third daughter, still hanging on to the detox...then, my last daughter, I WAITED FOR TIME to have her, and I was loaded up once again with toxins, enough to insult her brain. During both of those pregnancies I experienced sickness and fever and reached for the damn tylenol. Yep, even that is an insult. Of course with my son I had EBV mono, ACTIVE. My daughter, I had strep....strep throat....sigh...

One must ask why a mom can be so down for the count? A new revelation for me, is the NT daughter who is a mom now, three boys, no autism luckily...just found out she has PCOS and Leacky Gut (pcos also spells out HIGH TESTOSTERONE). She has always had difficult pregnancies, lots of morning sickness, and early prematurity babies. What she found about herself helped me personally. I believe a mother with LEAKY GUT during pregnancy is going to have a child with AUTISM~ YEP....and her test results showed she was not absorbing ANY OF HER FOODS. She had practically no B vitamins in her system!~ Talk about being hungry all the time~ She is under treatment now, and has lost a ton of weight, because she is eating foods that support her gut (GAPS/whole foods). Could it be, that our current food supply is causing this> OH YEAH!~ Lack of B vitamins in mom> HIGH CONSEQUENCES. It was a miracle that her babies did not become autistic...however....she did not vaccinate....BIG SAVE! Endocrine disruptors are also to blame, BPA, etc etc etc. Dioxins much?

I have also come to the understanding that CONNECTIVE TISSUE disorders in families equals autism. This also means early deaths by cardiac problems in your family history. Connective tissue is involved in the maturation of the brain, if not the connection between gut and brain. One of my daughters has all the signs of MARFANS. She is not tall, so they didn't go farther, however, her finger lengths are incredible, she has heart problems just like my autistic son, and has signs of POTS/Dysautonomia. Another daughter with autism has COHEN SYNDROME, which is on the continuam of connective tissues. Connective tissue is involved in brain cell communication. So many of our kids have over active growth of that department. So if we insult the brain by mercury, or aluminum or neuroinflammation by viruses, bacteria fungi, what will the result be? Connective tissue diseases are ROOTED IN FAMINE blood lines, those who have IMMUNE problems due to DIET! Mother had SCURVY during the depression~! Don't you think that had SOME influence on my system? Scurvy is gaining ground in many who eat the WESTERN DIET. Lack of this vitamin alone would cause immune dysfunction and inability to handle viruses. There is an NK cell problem with Connective Tissue diseases. Bill should talk to my friend Dr Ron Torres of Utah State....he investigated for me the problems of NK cell problems in the brain of autistics, and how it's related to CONNECTIVE TISSUE diseases...scary stuff. One of my grandsons has an arm that cannot be stretched out, and permanately bent, because of this problem in utero.

I also alerted Bill of Iron Overload along with Umesh Padyhe, which, he found an extreme connection with hemachromatosis like conditions in autism and there family members. I liked to think that ANY METALS are not handled well with our kids, including iron, and even essential minerals like zinc and copper, which balance the iron. If you think about it, males with hemachromatosis have more brain problems than those who don't have it. Alzheimers patients almost always have high iron. The celtic particular histories are intriguing. Those folks don't handle metals well. Almost all of those lineages have poor immune systems....ghost in your genes much from the potato famine much? This is my family history. Mother was Australian, which is of scottish irish roots. Dad was english, wales. Celtic.

Mother with autoimmune disease, BIG BIG connection. I personally have CELIAC (how celtic of me), Hashimotos Thyroiditis, and VITILIGO, ALAS, all of those are stemmed from problems with WHEAT. But, they also spell out Bh4 problems/ tyrosine problems/melonocyte (involved in brain synapse) etc. Vitiligo skin problems are also related to this NK cell problem, OXIDATIVE STRESS problem in families with autism. Certainly, it is wrapped up in MTHFR/Methylation problems as well. Those same folks have an important part in immune system regulation, as well as autism. Immunomodulatory genes in the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) region of chromosome 6 have been implicated in autism in some studies. These genes include certain HLA extended haplotypes, the third hypervariable region of DRβ1, the complement C4B null allele, and HLA-DR4 and HLA-DR13 . Furthermore, evidence of immune system activation, including an abnormal CD4:CD8 T cell ratio , a high number of DR+ (activated) T cells , high urinary neopterin levels and high cytokine production , has been reported. Ok, layman terms. My son has C4B anulle. No xression of that gene. In terms of him handling infections, nada, zippo. It is interesting to note on Chromosome 6 that iron is handled....well...or not...sigh...methylation is also on that gene.

Cancers in families much? Blame a lot of this on the PTEN genes. Mtfhr as well. Lack of B12...etc etc...they are all related to autism, Specifically, my mother died of myeloma, her sisters lymphomas, my grandmother Perniscious Anemia. Those histories are giant ALARM BELLS going off. The progenity of those families pay the price of autism, seriously. Lack of B12 means lack of methylation, means lack of the ability to detox environmental insults, low stomach acid. Those women in my progenity endured famines, did not eat enough MEAT (paleo all the way for our kids), and so forth. The same also have inability to detox pesticides or deal with radiation well. Mother was in Southern Utah during the Nevada Test Bomb experiments, need I say more? Oh maybe I should, even my father witnessed an A bomb explosion at Anaweetauk. No chance in hades. All my babies born under a cement plant in the cupertino hills of "silicon valley". Was known for kicking out TONS of mercury over the valley. Giant autism cluster there. All my babies born there...sigh.. Doesn't help we also lived next to a prune orchard while growing up...and mr farmer sprayed malathione (a known immune destroyer containg mercury salts), was constantly sprayed in his fields smoking all the way over our home. Most all these families with cancer early death hisotires are infected with SV40, the polio vaccine. We were studied by Dr Martin...questionable man...however, not questionable science. I believe those test results. Kids with autism and my mother who had myeloma at the time, were HIGH POSITIVE. I was moderate.

As to intelligence. My lineage is full of musicians, very smart, scientific folk. The music people use one part of their brain, and the scientific the other. It seems to me, that these same people had an abundance of connections in the brain, but in that light, have the vulnerability factor to immune insults as well. Those who form the overabundance of synapse connections, are the most vulnerable to autism being expressed IF given the right combo of events at the right time and at the right dosage...

So many more things I could write, but you get my drift...there are scientist who know this, but awkwardly can't voice the message...I can....it goes something like this. Stop insulting our bodies world. Stop trusting "medical science" from the white coats, stop eating "prepped foods", and stop having your babies in hospitals (this alone would solve some of the numbers, due to overvaccinating and cord clamping too soon). Autism IS A TRUST DISEASE. We trust people way too damn much. IMHO.

And how can you avoid all the toxins in the world we are being insulted with? Vinyle floors? Outgassing, Air Pollution, Air Tight Homes, Mold? All of those things, the perfect storm, meant to confuse and obliterate the one cause to autism. There is no one cause to autism...it is multifactorial. This, coming from a mom who held her child febrilly convulsing eleven days after his DPT shot from hell...yes, I blame alot of the damage on that...but why did he succomb so hard? MMR vaccine for daughters...all unscathed until my youngest daughter...high pitch screams two weeks after, diahrreah from hell? Yes, vaccines were the giant SHOTGUN...but what loaded the shotgun?

Trust got me here, and untrust (is that a word?) will get me out of here.

Hallelujah!

We know that in identical twins, if one of them develops autism, it’s more than sixty percent likely that the other will too. However, it’s not a hundred percent; so it’s not the DNA, not the genome. That means that environmental insults must be involved.”

I've had this very "experiment" in my home for 12 years - identical twins with only one on the spectrum! Not surprising no one wants to study them since we disprove the genetic theory (ahum - Autism Speaks!)

Been saying for years its not the genetics stupid!

All this reminds me of the ongoing cancer debacle. Yes you know cancer the 200 billion a year INDUSTRY. 2.4 MILLION scientific papers have been written on cancer and virtually NO simple CURES presented.

Well cancer is so COMPLEX you say. Not really, in 1924 Doctor Otto Warburg discovered the cause of cancer.

“Just by decreasing a cell’s oxygen content by about one-third, cancer is automatically induced. Nothing more is required for cancer to develop.” Doctor Otto Warburg 1924

So all you have to do to PREVENT cancer is learn enough physiology to assure oxygen gets to all of your 100 trillion cells. The complexity of cancer comes AFTER the cell is denied oxygen. Such complexity need not concern us simple mortals who want to remain simple and most of all mortal.

http://healthyprotocols.com/2_cancer_intro.htm

I see autism the same way. We want to assure our kids do not get autism or an ASD (autism lite). We have way more than enough evidence to be able to state that if you do not "vaccinate" your kids probably will not get autism or autism lite.

Since "vaccination" is a deadly scam conferring no lasting benefits and much risk, stopping should not be too hard.

http://www.vaccinationcouncil.org/2013/07/11/dr-humphries-speaking-on-polio-in-israel/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+vaccinationcouncil+%28International+Medical+Council+on+Vaccination%29

That is good enough for me. Let the scientists fight it out to discover the gory details.

Bill this was a very interesting article;

So many things to consider and think about.


Every family in my community has been touched with drug addiction.

There is something very wrong in this community. They are not doctors, lawyers and such, but kids of school teachers, preachers, farmers, factory workers, builders, bussiness people, and repair men.

--- Although a couple of pharmacists' kids have been touched by it too.

They all do have smart kids - not autism - and in the teens these kids start having depression - indicating trouble with serotonin.

When I subbed for special ed I as surprised by how many of the kids were on antidepressants for depression.

Response to question from Alan Parker: Over the years, I've determined the methyl status of more than 25,000 patients and learned that this factor is strongly associated with low serotonin activity, along with distinctive symptoms & traits. These include OCD tendencies, competitiveness, strong will, perfectionism, high libido, addictiveness, and a family history of high accomplishment. About 20% experience clinical depression & 75% report seasonal inhalant allergies. My huge chemistry database indicates that severe undermethylation is present in more than 90% of persons diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, OCD, oppositional defiance, autism, anorexia, and antisocial personality disorder. Outcome studies consistently indicate most of these persons improve after methylation therapy. A very high percentage of doctors, scientists, great athletes, and business CEOs are undermethylated, so this factor is not necessarily a bad thing. I first reported all of this at a 1997 Neuroscience meeting and in greater detail in my recent book Nutrient Power. McGuinness, et al reported contrary findings (lower socio-economics in persons with DNA hypomethylation, but didn't have the advantage of 25,000 subjects. This study was inadvertently cited in support of my methyl findings in an Australian website.

The environmental epigenetics of autism was discussed at this week's IACC meeting: http://videocast.nih.gov/summary.asp?Live=12921 Go to about 2:38.

The presenters are Alycia Halladay, PhD, of Autism Speaks and Jill Escher of the Escher Fund for Autism, both co-sponsors of the recent Autism Epigenetics symposium at UC Davis. www.autismepigenetics.org

Alan: I'm not sure that this applies to your question, as I can't see anywhere that he says specifically most people in these areas are undermethylated, only that he's designed nutritional programs for such people.

But these do seem to be fields/positions that take a lot of physical application, and when reading around the internet it seems to be common knowledge that extreme physical stressors cause oxidative stress in the body. For instance, chronic cardio athletes need adequate recovery time in between workouts for recovery from the oxidative stress it causes the body. Another example might be the post-marathon flu. Doctors in emergency room/hospital setting might be prey to the same types of oxidative stress due to their long hours, and we all know one or 2 CEO types who travel 4 out of 5 days a weeks and the kind of grueling demand on the body and brain that takes. One always has to be "on" in that type of work/socialization/eating crap food on the fly environment. Maybe the idea is that oxidative stress and undermethylation are intricately tied to each other, stuck in a cycle, and that he sees that pattern in more than one world, not just autism?

What is the evidence that "most great athletes, doctors, lawyers, and CEOs are undermethylated"?

Brilliant!

Readers, I sent pediatric neurologist and a brain development scientist Martha Herbert an advance draft of Bill Walsh’s interview and asked for her comments. The response below grew out of our correspondence. Martha says ...

“Children are not doomed by their genes, and it’s a great relief that the purely genetic model of autism is fading. Bill Walsh moves us in the right direction. The term “epigenetics” gives people space to report observations that would have been beyond the pale only a few years ago. The biomedical communities have been using biochemical-based http://orthomolecular.org/ orthomolecular approaches for years – using nutritional compensation for vulnerabilities, even before we could measure those vulnerabilities – and often getting robust results. Bill Walsh himself has a huge track record of contributing to these kinds of improvements. Now we can talk about them in the scientific literature. And if autism is acquired and then passed across generations through modifications in gene expression, Bill’s theory would go a long way toward explaining why the epidemic persists.

“But the nutshell version presented in his interview leaves key questions unanswered. How does epigenetics interact with other aspects of biology, such as physiology and metabolism? Why do some kids recover with aggressive treatment, while so many stubborn cases, similarly treated, persist?

“In chaos theory, systems get stuck in a stubborn attractor state. After autistic regression, that state includes tissue processes and brain physiology as well as gene expression; a pile-up of dysfunctional biology disrupts the organism’s ability to regulate and self-correct. An attractor state has a lot of gravitational pull and it takes a coordinated assault from many directions to pop it out. My concern with Bill’s theory is that the seductive term “epigenetics” could deflect people from thinking about other http://www.autismwhyandhow.org/what-causes-autism/total-load/ promising avenues of treatment and research. I look at some of these avenues in my "allostatic load" or "total load" theory of autism, spelled out in http://www.autismrevolution.org/ The Autism Revolution. For a short version, see my blog on http://www.autismspeaks.org/blog/2012/04/18/risk-vs-cause Risk vs. Cause.

“As Bill suggests, one advantage of a new theory is that as information comes in, the model can be honed and improved. I think we’ll make progress by looking at how gene expression – and immune function, metabolism, brain activity, behavior and more – gets progressively better during intensive treatment, as my colleagues and I are doing in http://www.epidemicanswers.org/canary-kids/ The Epidemic Answers: Canary Kids film project. I look forward to a more fully developed version of Bill’s theory and to a brighter future for our canary kids.”

-- Martha Herbert PhD MD

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