Dr. Bruce Semon, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Semon’s main office is in Glendale, Wisconsin, which is just north of Milwaukee.
This page is Wisconsin Institute of Nutrition’s main page on Autism. This website contains many other pages about Autism as well. We urge you to explore them:
- Dr. Semon’s Personal Story about Autism
- Speech Loss is a Medical Emergency
- Using a Yeast-Free Diet to Treat Autism
- The link between Autism and Cottonseed
- Helpful Information for Implementing IEP’s for Children with Autism on Special Diets
- Travel Tips for Dealing with Children on Special Diets
- Restaurant Survival Guide for Special Diets
COMPREHENSIVE TREATMENT OF AUTISM
Autism is a complex problem and requires complex solutions. In my medical practice, I treat both children and adults with Autism. I have found that one needs to approach Autism from a medical perspective as well as a therapeutic perspective. Therapy won’t work well if the child or adult is feeling ill or has a headache.
I use both Anti-Yeast treatment and Homeopathy to treat autism, as well as medications in cases where the parents or guardians desire that approach.
Anti-Yeast Treatment of Autism
Here is a case using anti-yeast treatment:
Carl came in at the age of five with a diagnosis of autism from the age of 2 and a half. At 18 months he had lost his language. He could speak the alphabet but no words. He went to a number of doctors and received a diagnosis of autism about a year later. He was having subclinical seizures on EEG (electroencephalogram, a test of brain electrical activity). DMG (dimethyl glycine) calmed him and helped his mood. Some other supplements had been helpful. He had started behavioral therapy at the age of three. He learned some reading through the association method.
He had had an elevated lead level at 18 months at a prior residence. Mother tried homeopathic remedies but could never find anyone to do chelation therapy (a procedure to take toxic minerals out of the body). The family moved and the lead level went down in six months. He had been continued on supplements and behavioral therapy. He had had loose stools as an infant. He had never had an ear infection. He was taking Depakote, an anti-seizure drug, at 125 mg twice a day. He had never had a seizure.
He had walked on time. Some speech had begun with behavioral therapy. He had a rash on his buttocks. In the room he was active and responded to some questions with rote answers. He was echolalic (Echolalia means the repeating of phrases said to a child. Echolalia is a sign of autism) and he was not destructive.
I started Carl on the anti-yeast diet and nystatin. A month later he was talking more spontaneously without prompts. He could nod yes or no. He was relying less on body language. He was more spontaneous. He was more naughty, more like a normal kid. He was eating better and was in a growth spurt. He was trying new foods with less difficulty. He was not running away from the dinner table. He was helping to set the table. His appropriate play had increased. He was interacting with his brother and was generally more interactive and could say, “that’s mine”. He was taking nystatin 1/4 tsp. four times a day and he was taking Depakote.
On exam he was playing appropriately and he showed me his toys. He was smiling spontaneously and appeared comfortable. He fought with his brother over toys and appeared more normal. Rash on buttocks was better.
He came back at six months and his mother said that he was doing much better. He was off Depakote for two months. He cried more easily, and he hit if he was frustrated. He seemed more clear headed and more present (not withdrawn). He was very verbal, saying appropriate things and was responding to what other people were saying and he would greet people spontaneously. He would make appropriate comments to others. He was working on these things in therapy. He said phrases to himself. Mother said that he looked more normal. He was more easily frustrated now. He liked to take the nystatin. He had filled out and he was refusing dairy. He no longer had dark circles under his eyes. He could read and write. On exam he made appropriate comments and repeated some phrases. Overall he was much more verbal. He responded to questions and played appropriately. His skin was clear.
A year after beginning treatment, he was in a full day kindergarten shadowed by a therapist. He was eating better, growing well, was not pale, and was more spontaneous. He no longer echoed, although he still reversed pronouns. He had trouble with first and last and with abstract concepts. He played very appropriately with toys. He skin was clear. He was taking 1/4 tsp. nystatin four times a day and was on stage 1 of the diet. On exam he answered questions appropriately and he played appropriately and he smiled and interacted with his mother. His mother also noted that he could verbalize when he had pains, which he could not do before. He could toilet himself and dress himself, and he was not running away. I commented to mother that one had to look closely at him to see that there was anything wrong. He was not totally normal but close observation was required to see his deficits.
This child is now eight years old. He is no longer diagnosed as autistic. He has some speech and language delays and some social delays. He is close enough to normal that kids do not know how severe his handicaps used to be. They tease him.
Why does Anti-Yeast Treatment Work for Autism?
Autistic Spectrum Disorders are severe developmental disorders, which was first described around 1940, about three years after the introduction of the first major commercial antibiotics, the sulfa drugs. As antibiotic usage grows, so do rates of autism. Antibiotics help the yeast Candida albicans grow in the intestinal tract. Candida albicans makes toxic chemicals which hurt the developing brain. I have a complete explanation of my anti-yeast treatment on another page on this website. For now, know that in my experience, this treatment works for Autism. Click here for that complete explanation.
One of the main reasons is that using anti-yeast therapy gets rid of toxic chemicals that slow the brain down. Slowing of the brain, especially in speech areas has been found in brains of autistic children. Alcohols are well known to disrupt brain development.
Every child I have seen who has followed this anti-yeast therapy has improved. Children who can speak always speak better and more. Children under two and a half who can talk a little can be brought back to normal or near normal. Behavior and sleep all improve. Children are calmer and easier to teach. The key is to follow the diet.
Homeopathic Treatment of Autism
Homeopathy is a different system of medicine. I explain much more about it on another page, Homeopathy Works. I have used many different remedies for patients with Autism, including several that I have developed. Particular remedies are important in individual cases. Providing a list of remedies would not be helpful here, because each individual is so unique. However, I have developed remedies that have helped decrease “pica” (eating non-foods as foods), problems with molds, problems with balance, and increasing functional ability globally. Homeopathy works well in conjunction with a yeast free diet.
Other popular treatments for Autism
Gluten Free, Casein Free Diet
The anti-yeast diet includes a gluten free, casein free component for people who need it. I explain elsewhere what the relationship is between the gluten free, casein free diet and autism. We have a separate page about the relationship between gluten free, casein free diet and autism.
High Dose Vitamins and Minerals
What about high doses of vitamins and minerals? Vitamin B-6 neutralizes one of the yeast chemicals and this yeast chemical takes the place of magnesium at important sites in the body. The neutralization of this chemical may explain why vitamin B-6 and magnesium are sometimes helpful. However, I think it is much better to clear out the yeast, so that the chemical is no longer made rather than to try to neutralize it. There are many other yeast chemicals which are not affected by vitamin B-6 and magnesium.
Parents who continue the high doses of vitamins and minerals and then try to add nystatin often find that nystatin is not helpful. I suspect that one of the vitamins, perhaps vitamin B-6, binds to nystatin, making it ineffective. I now recommend to parents not to use the high doses of vitamins and minerals while giving nystatin.
I often get asked about Acidophilus. I do not recommend it, because Acidophilus helps yeast grow. Initially, Acidophilus may seem to help because it clears out another bad microorganism, Clostridia, but acidophilus does nothing for yeast. Acidophilus makes an anti-bacterial chemical. Acidophilus should only be used short-term, not long-term.
Some people for their autistic children try the specific carbohydrate diet. This diet is used for people with major allergic reactions. This diet is not an anti-yeast diet. This diet consists of simple food molecules which the yeast Candida can easily use to grow. For fighting yeast, the specific carbohydrate diet has no place and may make the yeast and the autism worse.
Why do autistic children have such trouble sleeping? There are many chemicals which put their brains to sleep. But the brain does not want to go to sleep from these chemicals. How does the brain fight these chemicals? The brain stays awake. When the chemicals are removed, children sleep better.
These chemicals also cause headaches and abdominal pain.
Melatonin is a natural hormone made in the brain when it is dark. Melatonin is a signal for people to go to sleep. For unknown reasons, Autistic people do not seem to make enough melatonin or perhaps they make enough, but don’t respond to it, so they stay awake for long periods of time when other people would be asleep.
Giving melatonin at night is helpful in promoting sleep.
Melatonin is available in health food stores and other places. However, be sure to get a brand that contains only melatonin, and is not mixed with vitamins or other substances. Some brands may also contain other allergens, such as wheat or dairy or casein. Look for melatonin mixed in powdered rice. Start with 1/2 capsule (about 1.5 mg.) mixed in a small amount of food, given at the start of bedtime routine, preferably when it is already dark.
Melatonin is not a sleeping pill and does not act like one. You will not see the person drop off suddenly to sleep. Rather, it promotes natural sleep.