RHR: Resolving the Underlying Causes of ADHD and Autism

RHR: Resolving the Underlying Causes of ADHD and Autism

by Chris Kresser

Published on

revolution health radio

Both attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have seen a dramatic increase in recent years. What’s causing this rise? It’s not just genetics or bad luck. Environmental factors, like diet, do play a role—despite what conventional medicine might say. Today we’ll discuss what the latest research says about the underlying causes of both ADHD and ASD and what areas to investigate if you or a loved one has been diagnosed.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Environmental factors do play a role
  • Three critical factors that cause brain malfunction
  • Factor #1: Biome depletion
  • Factor #2: Environmental stimulus
  • Factor #3: Genetic/epigenetic predisposition
  • The propionic acid theory
  • The cell danger response
  • There is no single root cause
  • Key areas to investigate

Chris Kresser: Hey, everybody, Chris Kresser here. Welcome to another episode of Revolution Health Radio. This week we have a question from Tiffany. Let’s give it a listen.

Tiffany: Hi, Chris. My name is Tiffany Hill. My 11-year-old son has been identified as a dyslexic learner as well as having inattentive ADHD. I too suspect that I have inattentive ADHD, given his behaviors in symptoms and diagnosis. I’m curious to know what protocol you recommend for children and adults identified as having inattentive ADHD whether through diet, supplementation, or other interventions. My son is about to go on a medication trial prescription for his ADHD and I’m wondering what your thoughts are about prescription medication as well. Thank you.

Chris: Thanks a lot for sending in your question, Tiffany. You know, I get this question a lot because the incidence of ADHD has risen so dramatically over the past decade. According to the CDC, ADHD now affects 11 percent of kids, which is a 42 percent increase over just the last eight years alone. About 6 percent of kids now are taking medication for ADHD, and males are three times more likely than females to be diagnosed. This is clearly a big issue. It’s becoming a bigger and bigger problem.

Environmental factors do play a role

If you’ve been following my work for some time, then you’ll recognize right off the bat that this dramatic increase over the past eight years, 42 percent increase, could not be related to genetic factors alone because our genes simply don’t change that quickly. We know that there are some environmental factors that are contributing to this increase in ADHD. Which is interesting because if you look at conventional sources—if you do some searching on “Doctor Google” for the causes of ADHD and you click on some mainstream website links and read what they have to say, they’ll tell you that there is genetic predisposition, but otherwise there aren’t any real known causes. Some sites will go out of their way to say that diet has never been shown to be a cause.

Here we have the fact that ADHD has risen in incidence by almost 50 percent over the last eight years, and on the other hand we have mainstream organizations telling us that environmental factors are not playing a significant role, at least diet, which is pretty ridiculous, in my opinion. There actually is quite a bit of evidence that suggests that diet—at least indirectly—is a major contributing factor, as well as many other environmental factors. This is yet another example of where the conventional medical establishment is out of sync even with its own research, even with peer-reviewed published research over the past 10 to 20 years that has a lot to say about what some of the non-genetic causes of ADHD may be. I think that genetics are likely to play a relatively small role in these conditions, along with every other chronic condition. They certainly play a role in terms of predisposition, and we’re going to talk more about that in a little bit. But genes are not driving this condition, and that should be obvious given the dramatic increase just in the last eight years.

Three critical factors that cause brain malfunction

Okay, so I want to talk a little bit about a recent paper that was published, and I think it’s relevant to ADHD, although ADHD was not the subject of the paper. This paper was actually looking at what causes autism spectrum disorder, and it had a very interesting title. It was calledEnteric Ecosystem Disruption in Autism Spectrum Disorder: Can the Microbiota and Macrobiota Be Restored? Of course, ADHD and autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, are not the same thing, but I believe they do share a common etiology, or a common set of causes. What they share in common is that the brain is not working properly, and the particular manifestation of how the brain is malfunctioning is different in ADHD and ASD, but I think they do share a lot of similar mechanisms, and that’s why I’d like to take a look at this paper as a way of getting into talking about some of the things that I investigate when I work with kids with ADHD.

The authors talk about what they call the “biome depletion” hypothesis and a “three hit paradigm” in the paper. The three hits are: number one, biome depletion—we’re going to talk about each of these a little more in a second; number two, an environmental stimulus; and number three, genetic or epigenetic predisposition.

Factor #1: Biome depletion

The biome depletion hypothesis suggests that alterations of the microbiome are a consequence of our increasing hygiene and the resulting eradication of helminths, parasites, and other organisms that we co-evolved with over hundreds of thousands—if not millions of years—that help regulate and stabilize our immune system. And the loss of these organisms has been suggested to contribute to not only autoimmune conditions but also conditions like autism spectrum disorder and possibly ADHD because the microbiome works with the other legs of the stool, if you will, of the body to promote stability of the whole body’s ecosystem and immune function. The idea here is that changes to our environment disrupt the microbiome in a way that leads to a lack of immune competence. And that in turn affects the brain and can increase the risk of autoimmune disease, autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, and a whole bunch of other problems.

Factor #2: Environmental stimulus

Hit number two is environmental stimulus, and this is a very long list of possible contributing factors, but they would include things like:

  • poor diet
  • excess consumption of refined and processed foods (including sugar)
  • vitamin D deficiency
  • excess exposure to antibiotics
  • acetaminophen exposure

Acetaminophen is used quite a bit in kids, and there’s actually some fairly alarming research suggesting that it can be a contributor to autism spectrum disorders and possibly ADHD via similar mechanisms.

If these environmental stimuli happen at critical times during brain development early in a kid’s life, then they can have long-lasting effects.

Factor #3: Genetic/epigenetic predisposition

Hit number three is genetic and/or epigenetic predisposition. Obviously, not all kids have ADHD and autism spectrum disorder, even if they have microbiota depletion and environmental stimuli like I just mentioned. So why do some kids get it and other kids don’t? Well that’s where genetics and epigenetics come in. They do play a role in terms of predisposing how kids that are exposed to these triggers are going to respond. One child might develop autism spectrum disorder, another kid might develop ADHD, another kid might develop an autoimmune disease like Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis or something else. There are a variety of ways in which these triggers can manifest in terms of symptoms, and that’s determined primarily by genetic and epigenetic factors.

The propionic acid theory

Another interesting theory that the researchers mentioned is the propionic acid theory. This suggests that disturbances in the gut microbiota lead to increased production of a short-chain fatty acid called propionic acid. There are different short-chain fatty acids. There’s propionic acid, there’s butyrate, and they have different impacts. Butyrate is anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory. It plays a role in supporting the immune system. Propionic acid, on the other hand, when it is found in excess, can alter metabolic and immune pathways, gene expression, and synaptic plasticity in a way that’s consistent with the findings of autism spectrum disorder and other brain disorders.

Some of the people that are studying these theories, like Derrick MacFabe, who is in Toronto, I believe, have performed some very interesting experiments where they infuse propionic acid into the brains of rats or mice, and those animals exhibit behavior that is very consistent with autism spectrum disorder models. This is probably another mechanism by which disruption of the gut flora leads to changes in brain function, including autism spectrum disorder-like behaviors and ADHD-like behaviors.

The cell danger response

Then the third theory that they mention is the cell danger response. This is something that has been put forward by a researcher in San Diego, I think at UCSD, named Robert Naviaux. This refers to an adaptive response by the cell to a perceived threat. Adaptive responses are normal responses that are appropriate especially in short-term response to a particular threat. But all adaptive responses, if they become stuck or chronic, can cause problems. An example would be the stress response. The stress response is very helpful when we’re exposed to a threat because this fight-or-flight response helps us to either run away or fight if we need to when we’re faced with a stress. If you think about it from an evolutionary perspective, if we’re out on the savannah walking and we get confronted by a lion or a predator, our heart rate will increase, blood flow to the muscles will increase, oxygenation increases, all of the things that would help us to survive that immediate threat, and so that’s adaptive. That’s a smart thing that the body does. But if that fight-or-flight response becomes chronic, as it has in the modern world, where that stress system is continually activated, then something that was adaptive in the short or immediate term can become maladaptive over the long term and cause a lot of problems.

The cell danger response is a similar kind of situation where you have an adaptive positive short- or immediate-term response that happens in the cell that has become chronic, and what this does is this causes changes in mitochondrial function, oxygen consumption, redox metabolism, membrane fluidity, lipid dynamics, protein folding, vitamin availability, metal homeostasis—a whole bunch of other aspects that are related to cellular function. Cells are the scaffolding of the entire body. Everything in the body is made up of cells, so if the cells are dysfunctioning, then the body’s not going to work right in the brain; in particular, it’s not going to work right.

Lastly, all of these changes would be expected to affect mitochondrial function. Mitochondria, being the power plants of the cell, and mitochondrial dysfunction have been shown to be a common mechanism in autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, and a lot of other conditions, for that matter.

There is no single root cause

That’s kind of a broad overview of what I think the most likely contributing factors are to ADHD at this point in our understanding. We could think of it as a kind of gut–brain disorder really. That’s turning out to be true for a lot of behavioral and even psychiatric conditions like depression, ADHD, autism spectrum disorder. Even Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s now are increasingly thought to have a gut–brain element. This is not too surprising given what we’ve come to understand in terms of the gut–brain axis, which I’ve been talking about for many years. If you’re interested in learning more about that, you can just search for “kresser gut–brain axis” and you’ll find a lot of stuff come up there.

Let’s talk a little bit about what to consider from a practical perspective for ADHD. Unfortunately, I can’t provide a protocol because the etiology of ADHD is multifactorial, which means it can have many different causes in different patients, and that’s, I think, one of the reasons it’s been hard to study. This paradigm of conventional medicine is like, “one disease, one cause,” and if you can’t find a single cause to the disease, then we don’t know what the cause is, which is ridiculous, of course. Most diseases have many different causes, and those causes can be different in different people. That’s something that the conventional medicine paradigm just doesn’t get. It’s one of the reasons why functional medicine is so much more effective for addressing chronic disease, and you’re going to see why when I read this list.

On the one hand, it’s not the greatest news because it’s not easy. I can’t just give everybody a protocol that’s going to work for ADHD for every kid and adult that has it because, like I said, their causes are different. But on the other hand, the good news is that all of these fundamental factors that can contribute to ADHD are things that need to be investigated and addressed for optimal health, lifespan, and healthspan, anyhow. There are things that can be addressed in many cases without taking drugs that can alter brain chemistry and have a number of other negative side effects. There’s actually a promise here of correcting the underlying cause of the problem and being able to fix it without drugs, or at least without psychoactive drugs, that can have some pretty significant and sometimes long-lasting side effects.

Key areas to investigate

Nutrient status. The first thing to look at, of course, would be nutrient status. That means ensuring a nutrient-dense diet, adequate amounts of zinc, copper, choline, B12, iron, folate, vitamin A. Adequate vitamin D status is crucial and sometimes that can be achieved with diet, but in other cases supplementation will be necessary, or sun exposure.

Toxin exposure. Even in the conventional world, they have recognized that toxic exposure is a contributor to ADHD, and there’s certainly plenty of research to support that, so reducing exposure to toxins in food and in the environment in general and then implementing some safe detox and making sure the detox systems are working properly is very important. I recently wrote an article with a lot of information about how to do that and we’ll provide a link to that article in the show notes.

Heavy metals. Any kid who’s dealing with ADHD, I would test them for heavy metals. Particularly mercury, arsenic, lead, and cadmium can be contributors, and unfortunately, high levels in kids are quite common. We would want to identify those and get those out if possible.

Gut microbiome. The gut microbiome, of course, becomes a major focus for all of the reasons that I mentioned earlier. We know that disrupted gut microbiome can cause a lot of adverse effects in the brain, and one of them that I mentioned was an increase in propionic acid. We want to identify potential issues like fungal overgrowth, parasites, bacterial pathogens, and SIBO and treat those. We want to make sure that the patient is consuming plenty of fermented foods and fermentable fibers.

Short-chain fatty acids. Specifically, we want to look at the balance of short-chain fatty acids—whether butyrate levels are low, which they often are in these kids, and propionic acid levels are high. (Which, by the way, are somewhat difficult to measure. There are some stool tests that do measure production of these things, but it’s imperfect.) In a lot of kids who have these conditions, we kind of just assume that propionic acid production might be elevated and we want to do things like all of the things that we talk about to fix the gut—broth, nutrient-dense diet, fermentable fibers, fermented foods, etc., to shore up the gut flora and increase butyrate production. Specifically, prebiotics are important for promoting butyrate because they feed the beneficial bacteria that produce butyrate, like Bifidobacteria. Probiotics also can play a role, but I would say prebiotics are arguably more important in these cases as a way of increasing butyrate.

Also, you can supplement with butyrate. Up until very recently, butyrate supplements have not been all that effective, especially oral supplements, because they tend to just dissolve in the stomach and not make it to the colon, where they’re needed. We have recommended butyrate enemas for some patients in some cases, and that’s more effective because the butyrate is getting to the colon where it’s needed, but that can be problematic for a number of reasons. There’s a new form of butyrate that’s coming out soon, a supplemental oral butyrate that’s encapsulated in such a way where it is released in the colon where it should be released. It’s a molecular trap. It was created by Al Czap, who was the founder of Thorne Research, which is a great supplement company. He is no longer with Thorne, but his company now is called TessMed. You can find out more about them at tessmed.com. I don’t have any affiliation with them. I’m just excited about their delivery technology, and I’ve been experimenting with their butyrate with some patients, and it does seem to have a significantly better impact than other forms of butyrate that we’ve used in the past.

Antibiotics. You want to reduce exposure to antibiotics as much as possible. Of course, antibiotics can be lifesaving and necessary. I’m not suggesting they should never be used, but I’m suggesting that they should be used judiciously and wisely. Things like ear infections, doctors may often prescribe antibiotics, but if you look at the research on ear infections, many of them are viral and many of them are self-limiting, which means they’ll heal with or without antibiotics at the same rate. We can provide a link to some podcasts or articles I’ve written on that in the past. There are a lot of health issues that can be resolved without antibiotics, even though antibiotics are often prescribed.

Acetaminophen. I mentioned that acetaminophen exposure has been linked with autism spectrum disorders and ADHD. Prenatal exposure to acetaminophen has been associated with hyperkinetic and ADHD disorders. There’s a lot of somewhat disturbing evidence around this, and maybe I’ll cover it more specifically in a future podcast or article because acetaminophen is obviously widely used in obstetrics and pediatric medicine.

Diet. It may be worth trying, more specifically, above and beyond just a nutrient-dense diet, a GAPS or a ketogenic type of diet. In some cases, I think with ADHD you get a disrupted gut microbiota that’s producing these chemicals that affect brain function, and restricting carbohydrate and particularly starch can be very helpful in resetting the gut microbiota and reducing the production of these chemicals. You’d want to do that under the supervision of somebody who knows how to work with these diets, probably, because there are some other considerations with kids where you want to make sure that they’re getting all of the nutrients that they need and you’re doing it in a way that it’s safe.

HPA axis. Another important factor would be to support the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, HPA axis, often kind of referred to as the adrenals. Circadian entrainment is important with kids as well as adults, which means not getting too much exposure to light at night, not using their iPad in bed, for example, before they fall asleep, keeping the phone out of the room, making sure they get exposure to bright light during the day, not spending too much time indoors, managing their stress—helping them to find techniques like deep relaxation techniques or others that can help reduce stress. Kids are under a lot of stress, especially in this day and age, especially as they get into their teenage years. We often forget that that’s very important for kids as well as adults. Stress has been the biggest risk factor for mitochondrial dysfunction, which as I mentioned, is an issue in many of these cases.

Mitochondrial function. We want look at other ways of improving mitochondrial function. Certainly everything that I’ve mentioned so far is important for mitochondrial function. We also want to test for any infections that might be present and treat those, so that could be any viral infections or reactivated viral infections like Epstein-Barr, or tick-borne illnesses like Lyme, Bartonella or Babesia, if they’ve had exposure. We want to look at methylation, test for methylation and treat that preferably with diet if possible but sometimes methyl donor supplementation may be required. In some cases, if addressing all of that, the mitochondrial function is still impaired, we might want to consider supplements like CoQ10, ubiquinol, PQQ, creatinine, L-carnitine, B-vitamins, all of these things, which are collectively referred to as a mitochondrial cocktail.

Genetic testing. Finally, it’s sometimes helpful to do more advanced genetic testing where you look at genes. Genomics, I should say, is really the best way of approaching it. Genetics looks at single genes and their function, but genomics looks at the relationship between all of the genes, and epigenetics is looking at the expression of those genes. In some cases, we want to look at the genomic environment to see what polymorphisms they have in various genes that are known to influence brain function and be related to ADHD and that can help direct some of the diet, supplement, and lifestyle choices.

As you can see, there’s a lot to consider and a lot to look at here, but I would really kind of, to summarize, focus in on nutrients, the gut that … and mitochondrial function, and really direct most of your efforts there. As you can probably gather doing this work with a practitioner who has an understanding of these systems and how to test for and treat the issues that would show up is going to probably produce the best results, but there’s a lot you can do on your own. Hopefully some of the ideas I’ve shared so far will give you a good head start. You can make some progress that way even without working with the practitioner.

Okay. I hope this was helpful, Tiffany, and anyone else who has ADHD or has kids with ADHD. It’s something I’m really passionate about—helping kids with these conditions because it’s just heartbreaking to me that today is the first generation of kids that is expected to live shorter lifespans than their parents, and that’s on us. We need to do everything we can to protect the health of future generations and make sure our kids have as high a quality of life and as long of a lifespan as possible.

Again, hope that was helpful. Please keep sending your questions in to chriskresser.com/podcastquestion, and I will talk to you next time. Thanks again, everybody, for listening.

48 Comments

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  1. I find most of these comments upsetting, verging on abuse. They come across as expressions bereft of gratitude for the very FREE information provided.

  2. I am flabbergasted that Chris left out the biggest reason — lack of vigorous exercise! Us kids in the 1970s had ample recess time and were encouraged to run until we dropped from exhaustion, unlike today where kids aren’t even allowed to walk to school. How much of this increase in ADHD diagnoses is simply a bunch of wiggly kids who aren’t given enough activity? I honestly believe that a better diet + two 45-minute recess periods a day would solve a LOT of the ADHD problem. Why make it so complicated?

    • Sure, kids generally do not move enough. But exercise does not cure ADHD, and that’s a well-established fact.

  3. As a parent of a son mis diagnosed with ADHD, recently confirmed with ASD and dyslexia. I can say we’ve tried every food, supplement, and traditional treatments to fix or reverse issues. Now my son is 17. And I regret all of it because it starts with a premise that there’s something wrong. That in and of itself is the wrong message for these kids.

  4. >We also want to test for any infections that might be present

    It would be great if you say the specific names of the laboratory tests you use.

  5. Here is a success story of an autism partial cure of a child by rebuilding the gut microbiome using GcMAF. The first parts of the video are by Italian scientists, so fast forward to the 40:00 minute mark to hear the success story.

  6. Disappointing that my medical comment pointing out that the original describer of so-called ADHD was quick to clarify that it was all a joke and rightly so, there is no such condition..In earlier times it was cured by discipline being applied…You could not handle this so you deleted my post. .Shame
    But of more concern is the link between Ritalin and cocaine both their molecular structure and mode of action being similar, which means as they come off Ritalin they will seek out cocaine to maintain the euphoria…you are creating a potential nation of junkies. Fmr World Health Org & Aust Fed.Gov medico

  7. ADD/ADHD/Autism can be due to Celiac. No gluten/dairy/soy/sugar/GMO/food with a label…taking vitamins/good oils/minerals…probiotic…LDN…detoxing may help and no vaccines. Sunlight/exercise may help. No gluten may help heal the gut lining so more nutrients absorb so cells are made right to work right in the brain/body and help the immune system. Antibiotics may hurt the mitochondria. Fish oil/Vit C/eating organic/good water and more may help. Tests may not work to diagnose Celiac, but fixing the gut lining may help restore the brain/body to normal.

  8. I have followed your log for a number of years and always find well researched information. So it comes as a surprise that in this article vaccine damage is not mentioned at all.
    Are you not familiar with Neil Z. Miller’s book on Critical Vaccine Studies? He summarizes 400 important scientific papers and includes studies by Geier D A, Geier MR: A CDC-sponsored database shows significant link between thimerosal in vaccines, including autism and ADD.
    There are many other peer- reviewed studies from prestigious journals showing the link between an increased risk of cancer,, allergies, seizures, bleeding disorders, type 1 diabetes and autism spectrum disorders and ADHD.
    Studies reviewed even include one that parents who refuse vaccines are highly educated and are sophisticated at researching vaccines and reject the more and more aggressive vaccine schedule.
    Chris, please have a look.

    • I agree, Ursula, that the vaccine connection is a major part of this puzzle and that the discussion was incomplete without it. Also see the work of Yehuda Shoenfeld, in addition to Dr. Suzanne Humphries you tube channel and book Dissolving Illusions.

    • To be certain, vaccines play a role… so does artificial, unrelenting emf exposures from excessive wifi, cell phones and wearable devices.

      I guess this is covered in the statement “There is no single root cause…” Exposures are cumulative.

      Do the best you can… live life in harmony with nature… stay positive… think about the wonderful things in your life that you’re grateful for… eat like our early ancestors did… move around like our ancestors did… stay away from danger (think excessive wifi, dirty electricity, emfs, vaccines)… slow down… go barefoot, connect to the earth… get sensible sun exposure… get cold (environmental conditioning)… mind your magnesium… sleep like a rock… keep stress in check… and breathe like Wim Hoff.

  9. Chris, your overt omission of mention of the influence (or extremely suspected exceedingly researched influence) of toxic overload due to over (not-tested-for-safety) vaccination is simply appalling. Thousands of parents around the world claim and have validated such.

    Respectfully, who are you try to fool with this? I hold (held) you in higher regard than someone that would pass off such a nonsensical article about the greatest childhood epidemic and suspected pharma/gov’t cover up.

    You’re a good guy…but this article has you appearing just like one of “them” (those not being fully honest per public safety and health). Bummer indeed.

    • Bobbi,

      To be certain, vaccines play a role… We can’t expect every article to cover every point, even as important as the central role vaccines play in our health. That said, I’m grateful that we have this comment section to share what Chris has overlooked.

      I personally appreciate you calling attention to this important oversight.

  10. I wish under acetaminophen you mentioned salicylate sensitivity or intolerance. The cleaner I have been eating the more I have been reacting to salicylates and my ADD symptoms seem to be worse.

  11. Hi My teenage son has ADHD and despite my every effort to change diet and use of alternative techniques acupuncture brushing cranio the only thing that really worked for him was medication it’s changed his life for the good he is now far more confident and it seems to have unlocked his mind and potential . To me I hope this is a temporary measure and I applaud any research into ADHD . I do believe food and environment play a part in exhabating ADHD and it seems to me as a population we are increasing experiences many inflammatory diseases and illnesses so anything that makes people think about diet I see as good. Finally I would like to add and this is what I tell my son ( whose truly is a remarkable person – the only person I know that has the ability to think laterally and vertically at the same time and will exhaust a subject until he is fully conversant) he has a gift which he needs to channel and whatever he needs to do to help this gift flourish is all positive.

  12. One last comment..if I were not a 50 year old women but rather a young child receiving the level of pollution I probably would have been diagnosed with autism…I was anxious, forgetful, nervous, avoidant and at times scared, paranoid, sleepless, cranky, etc. Keep in mind this was while I was inside my home! I was nervous to go outside and interact with people. I isolated myself as I was afraid of people judging me and my inabilities. I can only imagine the symptoms a young child would display.

  13. Oh and I also forgot to mention, you didn’t say anything about Lyme disease being the root cause of most of this. What are you guys doing?

  14. No mention of vaccines. Give me a break guys. Your entire article could have said “oh by the way, stop poisoning your kids with vaccines.” You could be doing so much better on this with the platform that you have. You also did not mention PANDAS or PANS. I am shocked but I guess I’m not surprised. Such a disappointment.

  15. I am a senior who was diagnosed with ADD twenty years ago.
    Growing up I had life threatening asthma and had weekly injections, plus very powerful oral medications. Perhaps these had something to do with it? The asthma is gone due to my being fed up with the usual drug protocol and frequent hospital visits. Seven years, still ongoing, of research and dietary changes, I am free of it. My doctor can hardly believe it, but has been most supportive. So where is this going? I tried taking a half low dose of Ritalin and it turned me into a zombie. Final thought. I use meditation and enjoy my ADD for I am very creative. At age seventy-three (yikes I can’t be that old)-no drugs for anything and feel great. Most grateful.

  16. Excellent article; however no mention of vaccines and their constituents, which include heavy metals. Chris, if you have not already addressed vaccination and its issues, I hope you will do so in the future. I am aware this is a very controversial topic, with some bloggers experiencing consequences of opining contrary to the polarized mainstream media and big pharma positions. If you are unwilling to wade into the fray, perhaps you can refer us to sites and authors in the controversy whom you respect. Thank you for your time and consideration.

  17. I must say, for the first time I’m disappointed in you, Chris. If you’re going to write about potential causes and environmental triggers/toxins for autism/adhd how in the world do you omit vaccines (and the adjuvants in them including heavy metals like mercury and aluminum)?!?! Not responsible or accurate writing at all. RFK Jr has done a lot of research into this and he has cited that the ONLY environmental toxin that can explain how autism has increased exponentially in the past 20 years across all demographics, races, & economic statuses, but affects boys twice (or more) as much than girls is mercury because estrogen protects the brain from mercury whereas testosterone magnifies its affects. You mention mercury but you don’t mention vaccines which have mercury (and are being injected into pregnant women by the way); mercury in vaccines is the primary source of exposure to infants & children. If you don’t want to get into the “vaccine debate” then don’t even bring this topic up because it really is shameful to do that and leave out this crucial information people so desperately need to hear. I hope you’ll seriously consider this and find the courage to speak the WHOLE truth on the matter.

  18. Vaccines are the number 1 most obvious cause, even when parents have been vaccinated and not the children. This seems like “duh” to me. You don’t have to be a scientist or a doctor to figure this out. A bit of common sense goes a long way. I am 51 ((unvaccinated) with 4 healthy normal children. Back in my early school years kids got like 10 shots. There were maybe about 3 out 60 kids a bit on the spectrum. Today, about ⅓ of the classes are medicated. People argue that pharma pushes these drugs unnecessarily, but now that I teach in a classroom I disagree. The kids can’t even control their fidgeting, if they try. Teachers have to work so hard. My kids, themselves, have told me that they don’t want to have children. They said that the risk is too great in having a “mess up”. These are their words, not mine. It sounds cruel, but they are at least honest.

  19. Chris, you’re missing the biggest piece (I know you knew someone would eventually mention this), and that is that damage to the infant brain is caused by immune activation due to vaccination.

    When the Patterson group made their autistic monkey in 2014, it demonstrated how to create an autistic brain via maternal immune activation.

    Here is what another researcher in the field says:

    “…any factors that alter the number or activation state of microglia either in utero or during the early postnatal period can profoundly affect neural development, thus resulting in neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism.”
—Tomoyuki Takano (Shiga University of Medical Science, Japan), 2015

    What does Patterson say?

    “And what does vaccination do? It activates the immune system. That’s the point of vaccination…I think that universal vaccination of pregnant women could get us into a whole new set of problems.”
—Dr. Paul Patterson, et. al. (California Institute of Technology), 2006

    Then, eight years later, he demonstrated how to create an autistic monkey via indirect immune activation.

    The biggest reason we are damaging so many brains is via vaccine-induced immune activation of the delicate, developing infant brain.

  20. No mention of vaccines – a major factor in at least some autism.
    Clostridium butyricum produces butyrate. It’s available as Myarisan.

    • yes, very diplomatically handled, really. he touches on heavy metals, but omits the vaccine connection. there are soooo many pro-vaxxers who would totally discount every single thing he’s saying if he takes a public stance against vaccines. what can you do, we live in a crazy toxic world and so many people are brainwashed into thinking it’s all normal and safe.

    • Yes, vaccines are a cause of autism–they would fall under the environmental toxin heading. I would recommend watching the lectures of Dr. Suzanne Humphries. Not quick but a way to begin to understand the damage vaccines cause and to understand how the immune system works.

  21. What a crock of Bovine Feces. I have Autism and I can tell you it runs in my family. And I notice it runs in other families as well. Autism even goes back to biblical times though we didn’t know what it was called at the time.

    What a bunch of morons to think Autism is a malfunctioning brain. The last thing we need is heartless insults like yours. You show absolutely no proof and you need to look into the genetic causes of Autism. We are becoming more aware of Autism which explains the larger numbers. Present hard evidence instead of playing guessing games.

    Let me tell you something, most Autistics have different operating systems that are working just fine. Understand there are co-morbid conditions that make Autistics so severe and unable to care for themselves such as Intellectual Developmental Disorder and Epilepsy for instance.

    • I am inclined to agree with you Alice. This is all just a bunch of theories, with no hard evidence presented. Way below the usual standards of this otherwise remarkable website.

    • Autism can “run” in families because of inherited microbiomes, shared environments and diet, and genetic susceptibility to harm from whatever has caused the autism.

    • Have we read the same article?
      He does mention the incidence of genetic predisposition.
      Also, if you follow the links written in blue, you will get the hard evidence you are wishing for.

    • Keep in mind that this article refers to “the increase” in these disorders! The increase is at the exact same rate as the rate of toxins in our foods, vaccines and environment! This is not about “the cause” but rather the cause of the “rate of increase” read carefully before reacting negatively. I believe many of the “diagnoses” are not true disorders but rather a response in the brain to increased poisons in our food and air both interior and exterior pollution. I was exposed to “pollution” at a high level and I showed “symptom ” of dementia at age 50…I did not have dementia because once pollution was removed I “recovered” I have some permanent damage to my brain but I am not experiencing the same dementia” symptoms as I was while exposed. Read again with an open mind. The “increase” in the rate…is the focus.

      • Hi I just reread my post above and now see several errors in grammar. This upsets me because prior to my brain injury I would have seen these errors before posting. This type of thing causes me stress and makes my “symptoms” worse. Even though I am no longer experiencing “pollution” I still react similarly but to a lessor degree when I am stressed or upset. I have not received any assistance in mainstream medicine and was actually misdiagnosed. It was suspected that I had a bleed in the brain at first. I “diagnosed” myself and later through the assistance of a naturopathic doctor did I receive any treatment for the side effects of the pollution and my bodies reactions to the stress caused by the effect of the pollution on my brain.

    • And there is also G6PD deficiency which runs in the same populations among which autism it more statistically prevalent.

      It should also be noted that drugs derived from proprionic acid are contraindicated for G6PD deficient.

    • Alice, it seems like there is some difference in opinion of the various forms of autism.
      I really liked what Donna Williams has to say from her view of this topic in her video for the Autistic Voices Project – https://youtu.be/1jYBsTUmUFo
      “For me, Autism is a ‘fruit salad’ and that fruit salad and the personality package it comes in differs from person to person.”
      She thoroughly goes through all she feels may have contributed to her autism on her web site
      http://www.donnawilliams.net/index.php?id=diagnosis
      Donna was an incredible person with a savant to communicate her own experiences. Sadly she died from breast cancer just recently. Her videos of the journey are amazingly honest and joyous. She had an operating system that was beyond fine 🙂 …. maybe artfully constructed.
      Speaking of operating systems, I think it is fascinating that as a need arises for software engineers there is a human variation that accommodates.

    • It does appear that you either didn’t listen to the podcast or read the transcript, or you’ve misunderstood. I describe a “three-hit” hypothesis for the origin of ADHD and other behavioral disorders: biome depletion, environmental factors, and genetic predisposition. Two of three of those hits are heritable; certainly genes are, but studies have also shown that we “inherit” our initial microbiome imprint from our mother.

      Also, changes to gene expression (epigenetics) can be passed down across at least two, and possibly three or more generations. So environmental factors that a mother was exposed to affect the expression of her genes, which in turn can be passed down to her offspring.

      This means that all three of the “three hits” can be inherited, which explains why these disorders run in families. Genes play a role, but environment plays a stronger role. Autism and ADHD have risen dramatically in the past 20 years alone, and our genes have not changed appreciably in that time frame.

    • Alice,

      You say “absolutely no proof” – which is not true – follow the links. Moreover where is your proof to support your contention.

      Science is countered with science, yours is missing.

      Uncouth harsh language – you should apologise – shame on you.

  22. Hi Chris
    How Amazon that this podcast pops up in my feed just as I al researching this topic. I believe that I have ADHD myself – and being a stay at home mom, this has some unfortunate consequences for myself and my family.

    I see you mention the GAPS diet in here – but what about the Wahl’s protocol? It certainly ticks off a lot of the boxes you mention in here – methylation, paleo, keto, probiotics, prebiotic and all the vitamins and minerals you mention too. I personally tried an AIP diet for 2 months, and while I see a lot of improvement from that, I had to cut my carbs way below what is recommended by many thought leaders in the AIP community. I am now on something that I would call a Wahl’s Paleo Plus/AIP combo and it seems to be working really well for both my ADHD symptoms and my eczema and allergies.

  23. ADHD is an invented sham condition as you would know if you studied the full history..Shame on you for perpetuating this myth,,
    Dr.G.Sayer MO prev. WHO & Aust Gov MO

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