Recent research indicates that children with autism also suffer from toxic overloads of metals such as mercury, lead and arsenic. The symptoms of mercury poisoning in adults are similar to those of autism, and mercury is known to be a neurotoxin. It enters body cells and attaches to cell mitochondria, causing gross cell dysfunction and preventing cell replication. As well as affecting the brain, mercury can also prevent the gut from secreting the right balance of digestive enzymes and can also increase gut porosity, which explains why the GF-CF diet described above is so effective. Dr. Richard Deth and others have also shown that mercury and other toxic metals block vital biochemical processes known as the “methylation cycle”. The result of impaired methylation directly affects brain functioning.

Tests on groups of  children show that they carry an average mercury body load three times higher than control groups of neurotypical children. The most heavily afflicted can have twenty times the mercury load of a neurotypical child. Research by Bradstreet.pdf, Nataf.pdf and a wealth of laboratory tests on live patients provide ample evidence. Furthermore, the symptoms of mercury poisoning and those of autism are identical, as described in a groundbreaking paper by Sallie Bernard et al. But the most powerful piece of evidence is that, if mercury is removed from an  child, he or she gets better. Many are cured completely if this is done early enough.

The connection between mercury and autism has been hotly debated in the USA, with advocacy group Safeminds leading the debate. This has led to a great deal of US research on treating ASD children by removing mercury and other toxic metals from their bodies, a process known as chelation. American doctors such as Dr Jeff Bradstreet, Dr Stephanie Cave, Dr Amy Holmes and Dr Anju Usman have successfully treated thousands of  children with this method in the last few years. The excellent book “Children with Starving Brains” by Jacquelyn McCandless describes this treatment for the damage done by mercury to the brain, gut and other organs. The more recent “Changing the Face of Autism” by Bryan Jepsom is a very comprehensive work on the whole subject.

Europe lags behind the US in both treatment and research on heavy metal toxicity and its impact on autism. Detoxification treatment is available at a few specialist clinics in the UK such as Sincere Health, whose Dr Goyal previously practised at Breakspear Medical Group in Hertfordshire. Others include the Autism Clinic in Berkshire, Autism Treatment Trust in Edinburgh, and Jean Muscroft in north-west England. There are other European practitioners such as Dr Skorupka in France and Dr Cubała in Poland, but due to the low provision in Europe, many parents have to travel to the USA to obtain treatment for their children.

It is hoped that one day this treatment will be available on the NHS in the UK and their equivalents in other European countries. At present it has to be carried out privately, but it is nonetheless essential to fully involve your family doctor (GP). Use a reputable DAN! registered practitioner who keeps the family doctor informed of all test results and treatment recommendations, and try to use the test results to obtain some prescriptions from the NHS. Whilst most GPs and paediatricians in the UK are still sceptical that autism can be treated, others are more enlightened and have been known to provide prescriptions for gluten-free food, nystatin for treating yeast infections, melatonin to assist sleep and pregabelin as a neuronal stabiliser.

Natural remedies such as Humet-R can also be used for heavy metal detoxification. This product provides essential minerals such as zinc, iron and magnesium but also attaches to toxic metals such as lead, cadmium and mercury resulting in their excretion. It’s use in treating autism has been documented in the book “Autism, Amalgam and Me” by Jean Shaw, and it has also been used to successfully treat adults with premature dementia caused by mercury amalgams. Humet-R is particularly pleasant and easy to administer in syrup or capsule form.

A new chelating agent promises to revolutionise detoxification of lead and mercury in children with autism. Developed at the University of Kentucky, USA by Dr. Boyd Halley, It was initially available as a food supplement known as OSR (Oxidative Stress Relief) from Dr Halley’s company, CTI Science, but was so successful that the FDA in the USA insisted that it be treated as a prescription medicine. This makes it currently unavailable due to the length of time required for regulatory trials. Meanwhile evidence of its effectiveness mounts, Being fat-soluble, the powder can be dissolved in an edible fat such as Coconut Oil or nut butter for effective delivery to the fatty tissues where mercury is concentrated. It has also been used successfully in conjunction with the fat-based supplement known as Lipo-Health (previously phospholipid exchange) by Dr Klinghardt, delivered at bedtime for optimum de-toxification.

All children with autism ought to be tested for mercury poisoning by means of a porphyrin test. This can be carried out by Laboratoire Philippe Auguste in France on a urine sample sent by post. Unlike the well-known “challenge” test the child does not need to swallow anything beforehand so there are no side-effects and it is very simple to take the sample.