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What is the DAN Protocol and how does it relate to the yeast Candida albicans and Autism?

DAN stands for Defeat Autism Now. Dr. Bernard Rimland, who headed the Autism Research Institute, started this organization in1995. Dr. Rimland was a great thinker and doer in Autism, and had a personal interest in making Autism research accessible to ordinary people.  His DAN protocol had a lot of information about the yeast Candida albicans and Autism.

Dr. Rimland started DAN with a meeting in 1995. This was a group of health care practitioners and people who ran labs that could run tests on patients with autism. The DAN protocol emphasized the biological treatments for Autism and PDD.

I, Dr. Bruce Semon, M.D., Ph.D., was trained in the DAN protocol and was a registered DAN practitioner.  

One of the main benefits of DAN and Autism Research Institute was the newsletter. Yes, a real print newsletter. Remember this was pre-internet. The Autism Research Institute’s newsletter would print parent rankings of different drugs and other things people were trying for autism. These included diet, vitamins, DMG, secretin, chelation, pro-biotics and many other things. At the top of the list was always anti-yeast treatment, including Nystatin, the non-absorbed anti –yeast medication. In my experience, I focused my practice on anti-yeast treatment because this is the most effective biological treatment for Autism. For more information, see my page on anti-yeast treatment and Autism. The reason is that Nystatin treats the yeast Candida albicans, which makes all kinds of toxic chemicals which affect the brain. , .

DAN’s Discontinuation

Until 2011, there were yearly DAN meetings. After Dr. Rimland passed away, the DAN protocol was discontinued in 2011.

The DAN protocol and meetings did not survive for several reasons. One was that Dr. Rimland was gone.   His tireless efforts on behalf of parents of children with Autism were remarkable.  Another reason was that the DAN protocol presented a lot of options, including a lot of testing, but did not lead to a prescribed path for parents of autistic children.  I would prescribe the tests when parents requested them, and would interpret test results for parents who had obtained them elsewhere. The tests were not very good because the results were only partly reliable and did not really lead to effective treatments. Because nothing could solidly defeat Autism immediately, parents could be confused about what to do next.

In addition, one of the main doctors featured in the original DAN meetings was Dr. Andrew Wakefield, who forwarded his fraudulent research about vaccines and autism. This research turned out to be a fraud. His papers were retracted, and Dr. Wakefield was stripped of his medical license.

In addition, some treatments did not work at all, including Secretin, and some caused more harm. For example, a big part of the DAN protocol was based on the idea that toxic metals in the body might cause neurological effects. This idea was linked to the anti-vaccine movement. After studies proved that vaccines do not cause Autism, people latched onto the idea that mercury in vaccines could cause Autism. There is no evidence supporting this idea, but it was very popular because it presented a quick fix.   At the time this idea was popular, vaccines contained a tiny amount of mercury. Some health care practitioners prescribed chelation therapy to clear the body of toxic metals such as mercury.   However, chelation therapy also has major side effects.  The tests for toxic metals are expensive. The therapy itself is toxic and the intake of chelating agents made yeast problems much worse.  The major practitioner of this therapy continued to promote it, even knowing that chelation therapy made yeast worse in patients with Autism and made their behaviors worse, not better.   I have treated patients who tried chelation therapy, and from a medical perspective, I do not and never did recommend it due to the problems it causes. I then had to help parents treat the major yeast problems resulting from the chelation.

Where can parents turn for guidance on alternative treatments for Autism?

What is the situation now? The Autism Research Institute now is run by the Cleveland Clinic.  Although Dr. Rimland promoted alternative therapies for Autism, the Cleveland Clinic is a standard medical clinic.  Information requests on the DAN protocol now go to Dr. Amy Holmes, who at one time was a major promoter of chelation therapy.

Thus, the DAN protocol no longer stands for a way for parents to get information about alternative Autism treatments.  Why is this important? Because the standard medical institutions do not have good treatments for the biological bases of Autism.  

Where can parents turn for help if they wish to get alternative resources?

Parents mosly turn to the internet, which probably is how you found this blog post. Although the DAN protocol could have been confusing, the explosion of information and misinformation on the internet, with no filters, dwarfs the confusion experienced in the 1990’s from the DAN protocol. This is unfortunate.

I have more than 25 years of experience in treating patients with Autism.  I also am a medical doctor, a psychiatrist and nutritionist.  I have the same unique passion because I am a parent of an adult with Autism. To read about our story, click here.  

I urge parents to try treatments that do not cause harm and can provide benefits. The main treatment is diet. Changing diet does not cause harm and provides potentially huge benefits. I developed the Feast Without Yeast Diet, and was a part of the DAN protocol because of this. In my more than 25 years of experience treating patients with Autism, I have seen tremendous benefits from using this diet. When it is followed, parents usually see some results within a few days, and larger results within a few weeks.

Why is this? The yeast Candida albicans is present in the intestines (gut)after antibiotics. Many people who have autism have also had a history of taking at least one round of antibiotics as children. The antibiotics do not directly cause Autism, but the side effects include yeast problems. The yeast Candida albicans makes toxic alcohols, which can disrupt neural development.   The only effective way to treat Candida is to start with a special diet which excludes foods which help the yeast grow, and to take Nystatin, a non-absorbed medication that kills Candida. I am not surprised that Nystatin was at the top of Dr. Rimland’s ratings because it is effective.  To read more about Candida and Autism, click here.   You can also look at our books, Feast Without Yeast: 4 Stages to Better Health, and An Extraordinary Power to Heal.

My advice is to start your child on anti-yeast therapy, including the Feast Without Yeast diet and Nystatin. This is almost always helpful and is non-toxic. Then if you try anything else, you can see if it is genuinely helpful. I am of course open to discussing other therapies, and have found homeopathy to be effective for Autism combined with my Feast Without Yeast diet

Contact Me Please!

I make time in my schedule to see any family and child for treatment, either in the office in Wisconsin or from California or New York via telemedicine. If your child has recently lost or slowed down in speech, please call me for an emergency appointment. Speech loss can be reversed if treated immediately. The number is 877-332-7899. For contact information, click here.