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Hormones From the Microbiome: Implications in Autism

MicrobiomeBy Teresa Conrick

The issue of HORMONES comes up often in Autism.  For my daughter with an Autism diagnosis, it came up with catamenial seizures and aggression.  This developed in tandem to an estrogen level 3x higher than the norm. Now, seven years later, I want to connect that horrific time in our lives with more current research on the MICROBIOME.  Why? There is research showing important connections. It´s very possible that this is an area of AUTISM research that has not been explored enough.  Here is the typical Autism research:

Estrogen, Mistakenly Believed A Female-Only Hormone, May Be Key To Why Autism Rates Are Higher In Boys 

Foetal testosterone and autistic traits in 18 to 24-month-old children 

Testosterone levels linked to higher autistic traits

Testosterone and explosive aggression in autism spectrum disorders.

Role of Endocrine Factors in Autistic Spectrum Disorders  

Oxytocin: The "Love Hormone" Might Also Help in Autism  

That´s all very interesting but......WHY is it happening? Not enough researchers are asking that question.


Let's look at connecting the dots to some other research that gives compelling data and shows connections to Autism.

Let's start with that last one, about Oxytocin -- "the Love Hormone":

Believe it or not, the whole issue of this nasal hormone infusion came up over 10 years ago, yet it is re-circulated in the news almost yearly as if it is -- brand new!  That merry-go-round type of research needs to end.

Oxytocin increases retention of social cognition in autism.  2007 

These results are consistent with studies linking oxytocin to social recognition in rodents as well as studies linking oxytocin to prosocial behavior in humans and suggest that oxytocin might facilitate social information processing in those with autism. These findings also provide preliminary support for the use of oxytocin in the treatment of autism.

BUT, last year, this study made the rounds and I believe it to be an IMPORTANT piece as to WHY Oxytocin has ANYTHING to do with AUTISM:

A single species of gut bacteria can reverse autism-related social behavior in mice  2016  

Other research groups are trying to use drugs or electrical brain stimulation as a way to reverse some of the behavioral symptoms associated with neurodevelopmental disorders -- but here we have, perhaps, a new approach," says senior author Mauro Costa-Mattioli, a neuroscientist at Baylor College of Medicine. "Whether it would be effective in humans, we don't know yet, but it is an extremely exciting way of affecting the brain from the gut."...The researchers believe that their work, which uses a human bacteria species [Lactobacillus (L.) reuteri ] to promote oxytocin levels and improve social behavioral deficits in deficient mice, could be explored as a probiotic intervention for the treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders in humans.

I´d like to point out that the mice who were low in Oxytocin had deficient amounts of Lactobacillus reuteri, ie... "reduced more than nine-fold" in that study.  So there you have it.  Chemicals from the gut bacteria are affecting the brain , ie...can explain SOCIAL deficits in Autism.

Here´s more on that BACTERIA - OXYTOCIN connection:

Microbes and Oxytocin: Benefits for Host Physiology and Behavior.

It is now understood that gut bacteria exert effects beyond the local boundaries of the gastrointestinal tract to include distant tissues and overall health. Prototype probiotic bacterium Lactobacillus reuteri has been found to upregulate hormone oxytocin and systemic immune responses to achieve a wide array of health benefits involving wound healing, mental health, metabolism, and myoskeletal maintenance. Together these display that the gut microbiome and host animal interact via immune-endocrine-brain signaling networks.

A key concept there related to Autism - A bacteria can upregulate a hormone that increases socialization and it also helps the IMMUNE SYSTEM -- meaning they are most likely connected.


More dots to this microbe - hormone connection for Autism Spectrum Disorder:

Gut bacteria may be a source of male steroid hormones  

Microbial endocrinology: the interplay between the microbiota and the endocrine system

....specific changes in hormone levels correlate with the presence of the gut microbiota. The microbiota produces and secretes hormones, responds to host hormones and regulates expression levels of host hormones......Estradiol and progesterone enhance bacterial growth.  

....Changes in expression of the estrogen receptor, ER-β, also affect the intestinal microbiota composition (Menon et al., 2013). This interaction goes both ways, as several types of bacteria have also been implicated in steroid secretion or modification (Ridlon et al.,2013). For example, Clostridium scindens converts glucocorticoids to androgens, a group of male steroid hormones (Ridlon et al.,2013). Intestinal bacteria also play a significant role in estrogen metabolism, because use of antibiotics leads to lower estrogen levels (Adlercreutz et al., 1984)......Microbes raise testosterone levels in male NOD mice......

This type of research needs to be explored for Autism as the connections can explain much.  Here, 15 years ago, Dr. Sydney M. Finegold did excellent research on the bacteria of the MICROBIOME in Autism, as reported here in the book, Autism, Brain, and Environment

"There is also good evidence  of abnormal bacteria in the GI tract of ASD subjects.  Stool analysis on 13 patients with regressive autism showed a dramatic increase in titers of the abnormal and potentially toxic Clostridia.  The group of Clostridia is famously associated with severe disease including gangrene, botulism, and tetanus (depending on the particular strain).  These specific hyper-toxic strains are rarely encountered in the GI tract; even so, Clostridium difficile is known to produce colon inflammation with abdominal pain and diarrhea, and is most commonly seen in patient treated with antibiotics that remove "normal" gut flora.

Finegold and colleagues [36] reported that titers of particular strains rose in ASD by up to seven orders of magnitude (10 million-fold) compared to controls.  Titers of C. ramosum and C. scinden (identified by DNA sequencing)  were respectively 6x10 (7) and  9 x 10 (7).

That C. scinden bacteria is VERY elevated in Autism and above it, we see that ¨Clostridium scindens converts glucocorticoids to androgens, a group of male steroid hormones.¨ The realization and significance of that has NEVER been discussed in AUTISM. I cannot stress enough that as these children hit puberty, and many, many even before then, develop levels of hormones that cause seizures, agitation, and aggression, with physical and emotional pain. Here´s that study, again not discussing AUTISM, but I think very related:  Clostridium scindens: a human gut microbe with a high potential to convert glucocorticoids into androgens.

I believe this to be another pivotal role in the AUTISM-MICROBIOME connection.  The spectrum of Autism may have much to do with the interactions of the Microbiome. HORMONES are another big clue.



Such a story of triumph to come out of tragedy. A serious testament to God, IMO, who provides us everything we need. Sometimes I think synthetic medicines are man's way of trying to compete with God, or nature if one doesn't choose religion as a guide. The malleability of the microbiome is the herald of personalized, and wise, preventive care. Quantifiable lab testing that will indicate whether an immune system is up to snuff, what can be added to beef it up, what needs to be changed to stop inflammation, what can be adjusted to balance hormonal messaging. You can bet that even the scary implications of EMF carry a positive message. If electrical impulses can affect the microbiome, then we can certainly hone in on the voltages that promote positive microbiome reactions instead of wreck them and thereby impart positive support to the body. I'd lay odds that homeopathy will eventually be shown to affect the secretions of the microbiome as well, both in the mouth and the gastrointestinal system. The implications of food testing on microbial secretions will go on for decades.

Gary Ogden

Benedetta: The gut and brain are intimately connected (and continually interacting) through the vagus nerve, so surely if one is messed up, the other will be, too. Perhaps they both must be healed at the same time, in order to do any good.


Oh, and a teenager had a bad accident here in the county. She suffered a head injury.
She was going a bit wild to begin with. I would hear of her antics from her father and think; she is showing signs of all the wild mental illness that goes on around here.

But at any rate, She came down with a C diff infection that they could not get rid of .

Out here in the boonies they gave her a fecal transplant and it did work.

SO what is going on there?
Is it a brain injury that effects the optimum growing conditions of certain bacteria in the gut. In return the gut effects the brain and it is a vicious cycle?

Or in all the emergency medicine, all the antibiotics given while in intensive care that it resulted in killing out all the gut microbes. hmmm, which might have been in trouble to begin with from all the vaccines given to these young teenagers.


Old vaccine for TB is considered in treatment for diabetes I
They say it kills our own immune - T cells that are messing up the pancreas?

It is suppose to target TB?
Lots of strange stuff is going on.


I have a feeling too that the other piece of the puzzle is the electrical health, function, whatever you want to call it, of each cell. This ties in acupuncture and what the ancients knew about energy that modern medicine has disregarded. As I keep posting, I am really worried about the increasing electrification/irradiation of society. In the documentary "Generation Zapped", Dr. Olle Johansson says:

"If I asked you how much more radiation does penetrate your body today, compared to, like 10 years ago - Is it twice as much? 3x as much?

No, it's a quintillion times more. That's a 1 with 18 zeros."

Olle Johansson, PhD
Associate Professor in Neuroscience
Karolinska Institute, Sweden

Dr. Mercola has published many interviews about this. I hope you don't mind my sharing this one from a couple of weeks ago, Teresa. EMR also effects the microbiome and cellular function:

Margaret J. Jaeger

Yes...kinda sorta brings up an essence of the studies Dr.. Wakefield did me...


First thing I thought of reading today's post is the role of oxytocin in birth and breastfeeding. Just found this - has a lot of information about the effect of vaginal vs c/s birth and what happens throughout the process with regard to oxytocin levels:
Oxytocin effects in mothers and infants during breastfeeding

Traditional societies used to use human milk to treat adult illness. I have long thought that fresh unpasteurized human milk (screened for disease and chemical contaminant diet) would help with autism.

One of my pet peeves is infant carriers. I HATE to see young babies in those things because they belong skin to skin on their mother's chest. That one simple act of detachment/deprivation decreases an infant's oxytocin levels.

Thanks Teresa.


Thank you very much for this.
This is very much a part of all this mess.
I have thought so for year.
I look at my own extended family of my younger cousins on both sides of the family. These younger cousins were born in the 70s.

. Did they start increasing the DPT boosters, or did something a bit different with the DPT vaccine at that time? Barbara Loe Fisher's children were hurt at that time, and my college professors were sure on their soap boxes about mistaken parents in the late 70s?

Kind of embarrassing to admit but we had rather a lot of " very sexually active at a very young age, girls in our family. I thought that it might be connected in some way to the thyroid. One of the girls, just one cause there was more than one; when she reached puberty did develop seizures , but in college stopped taking her medicine and was okay. These girls in my family did have children and, it is just like some kind of exploding epidemic of weirdness. Several children I suspect has high functioning autism, diabetes, depression, anxiety, obesity, or too thin.
And get this: my once upon a time sexually wild cousin said of her daughter - she is asexually, and will always be a virgin, and then looks very confused on how that could be. LOL. Oh, I am terrible. I thought to myself that you must of have sucked up all of your libido and hers too in your youth.

As for epilepsy; There is many of a doctor that sits on his little round stool, and says, seizures is an electrical storm happening on the brain, from a brain injury. That happened just this past month.

Yeah? I bit my tongue like I have for a decade now and not ask the question of where these electrical storms originate from. From the brain that has been injured? If so then how come they are putting electric probes on the vagal nerve to stimulate it. A nerve coming out of the stomach? hummmmm?


Thanks so much, Teresa, for sharing this information. I have been studying the role of testosterone in both the onset and "offset" of schizophrenia. As many people are aware, males typically succumb to schizophrenia during puberty. What most people do not know, however, is that males often recover from schizophrenia in their 50s and 60s. Researchers have downplayed this critical detail because it does not fit with their theory of organic brain damage. If these patients suffer organic brain damage, there should be no recovery. And yet, they do.

The most obvious changes that takes place during those two periods of life are 1) a surge in testosterone levels during puberty; and 2) a dramatic decline in testosterone levels after middle age. So it seems to be a likely contributing factor in males. The role of hormonal changes in female schizophrenics is much more murky, however. I have not yet been able to get a handle on it.

Harvard MD

Thank you Teresa! Great summary post!

This is very interesting research, I for one was not aware of the research that you cited. I hope that more independent open-minded research continue exploring this, at least it is a good basis for clinicians and nutritionists to start trying different dietary approaches - as several do but it is far from mainstream.

It is maddening that no concerted research, funds and folks, have not pursued this avenue. The mantra that we must find a genetic or pharma solution, precludes many sources of grant funding for this emerging field. I say "emerging" as a physician, I only learned of the biota's influence on health circa 2013 I think. The good news is that the biota is no longer a "laughing matter" but taken seriously.

Gary Ogden

Absolutely critical connection. Thank you, Teresa. This should be at or near the top of the list for funding. NIH, have you any interest in our children? In science?

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