Enzymes for Autism and other Neurological Conditions
The Practical Guide for Digestive Enzymes
Better Health and Better Behavior
By Karen DeFelice
Published by ThunderSnow Interactive, 2008
Reviewed by Linda M. Olsen, M.ed
The author writes, “enzymes are basic elements that activate all functions in the body, facilitate reactions that build compounds from the body’s raw materials, transport elements throughout the body, break down substances, and eliminate many unwanted chemicals in the body.” Enzymes are necessary for good gastrointestinal health. If the digestive system is injured or compromised, the entire body comes under attack. She adds that many studies verify that malabsorbtion and nutrient deficiencies are very commonly associated with neurological conditions like autism. Enzymes improve the digestion, absorption, and utilization of whatever food we eat, or supplements and medicines we take. She describes studies that show many children with autism have food allergies, maldigestion or malabsorption issues which can lead to nutrient deficiencies. In addition to autism, gut dysfunction has been found in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, dyslexia and other neurological conditions. DeFelice writes doctors have not always seen this connection as they do now.
The author, Karen DeFelice, has worked in education and biological sciences for many years. She is a pioneer in the practical uses of digestive enzymes. She begins the book by sharing that she and her two sons suffer from pervasive neurological and sensory integration dysfunctions. DeFelice describes her hard time growing up when in her teenage years she developed an eating disorder, non-stop migraines and depression. She goes on to describe their first son, Matthew, as having many problems.
He did everything intensely, transitioning was difficult, he would scream himself to sleep and would do a lot of rhythmic rocking and bouncing. However, he is an extremely bright and gifted artist. When Matthew was twenty one months old his brother, Jordan, was born. Jordan had increasing
severe gastrointestinal problems. He had chronic constipation alternating with diarrhea, constant headaches and bacterial infections. He was also very sensitive to bright lights and loud sounds. One doctor she took Matthew to said “he is a little too odd to be autistic”. She looks back now and considers he was on the Spectrum with PDD NOS. She and her husband became very frustrated because they were not getting any help from the doctors they took their sons to.
In the chapter on food and its effects on neurology, the brain and behavior, she shares her discovery that eliminating dairy products was helpful, but the key was to eliminate everything that had even the smallest amount of milk protein in it including substances called whey and caseinates. She reports that following this elimination diet lessened their migraines and the sensory difficulties that Matthew had. She describes that food allergies to preservatives, artificial colorings, and flavorings can cause an allergic reaction in the brain and the results disrupt brain chemistry, moods and behaviors. She suggests when doing a food elimination it should be done in a flow and paced way so as to avoid other behavior, sensory or health problems.
The author includes a wealth of detailed information on specific enzymes and many examples of how
children with autism and other neurological conditions have improved their lives by taking enzyme supplements. I found this book to be detailed and filled with much valuable information.