Autism and Its Link to Heavy Metals

The most recent issue (2553) of the New Scientist has an article talking about a study on autistics urine as compared to normal controls. It shows further correlations to the much-debated links of heavy metal poisoning to development of autism in children. The subject of heavy metal poisoning , especially that of mercury, being a tie to autism has been something of rather hot debate.

Here’s an excerpt from the New Scientist article:

Samples from children with autism contained abnormally high levels of a family of proteins called porphyrins, which are precursors in the production of haem, the oxygen-carrying component in haemoglobin. Heavy metals block haem production, causing porphyrins to accumulate in urine. Concentrations of one molecule, coproporphyrin, were 2.6 times as high in urine from children with autism as in controls. [...] The researchers restored porphyrin concentrations to normal in 12 children by treating them with “chelation” drugs that mop up heavy metals and are then excreted.

In the past, when checking for heavy metal poisoning most studies I’ve seen solely looked for mercury excretion in the urine. This is perhaps a better study because it looks for secondary signs of the presence of heavy metals. Afterall, if the metals were being excreted properly in the first place there may have never been any kind of problems. But what I find most exciting about this study is it’s leading the way to treating mental disorders through de-toxification via chelation, which, I believe may be the most important thing accomplished through articles like these. I look forward to seeing the results to these kinds of studies.

Where do these heavy metals come from, though, you may ask? The most popular in the autism debate, mercury, can be taken into the body in many different ways. One of which is through “silver” dental amalgams, which leak mercury vapor into the mouth which is readily absorbed into the brain and bloodstream through the nasal cavity. Videos of both the destructive ability of mercury on neurons can be seen, as well as mercury vapor leaking from a dental amalgam at This could, theoretically, be a source for unborn children to receive it in the mother’s bloodstream.

On top of that, mercury is also used in vaccines as a preservative known as “thimerosal.” Thimerosal, however, doesn’t solely preserve, it also acts as an adjuvant to initiate an immune response to the contents of the vaccine (since mercury in itself is toxic). Though the amount is extraordinarily small, it can have an extremely hazardous effect on an infants developing mind because of their lack of a fully developed blood-brain barrier. This lack of a blood-brain barrier may allow the adjuvant materials to initiate an immune response within the brain itself, thus the mercury isn’t the only enemy — but the body itself.


The argument for adjuvants evoking an auto-immune response does not hinge on any inherent neuro-toxicity of these compounds, but on the initiation of an allergic response. The model by which adjuvants initiate an immune response is that of Experimental Allergic Encephalomyelitis (EAE). To date, EAE is recognized as the best available animal model of several degenerative human diseases, like multiple sclerosis and post-vaccinal encephalopathies. EAE3 is generally thought to be an autoimmune response to myelin basic protein (MBP). Oddly, MBP can also suppress EAE, and many observations suggest that an independent immune response to so-called “adjuvant” material is also necessary to EAE induction. Of course, this is why adjuvants are used in vaccines, to dramatically increase the likelihood of an immune response to the administered biological material.

Chelation is an effective method of mercury removal, and can even be done with oral products like DMSA (which can be found readily simply by googling it), and neurofeedback also has a history of helping autistics. See this case study. Omega 3 has also been shown to drastically alleviate the affects of ADHD, and since ADHD is a part of the autistic spectrum it’s a safe bet that omega 3 certainly would not hurt in the case of autistics as well. My point is this: options exist out there for the parents of autistic children. The information is just a little more esoteric than it should be.

Neurofeedback experimentation without a clinician…

A new reader, Susan, who writes about Oxytocin on her blog Hug The Monkey, asked me whether I had any training before I started doing neurofeedback myself, how I knew which frequencies to train, and whether I found myself ever drifting toward negative effects.

To get started… Whether I have any training. The answer is no. I’ve read a very well-known book for neurofeedback practice called “Getting Started with Neurofeedback” by John Demos. It’s an absolutely fabulous book, and even gives its thoughts and tips on starting a neurofeedback practice (so it’s safe to assume the book is probably intended for clinicians). I was also a little bit familiar with the workings of different brainwave frequencies from digging around on transparentcorp’s brainwave entrainment forums.

The truth is, though, that some of the most effective uses for neurofeedback are virtually side-effect free from my understanding. These are the same ones that have been found useful for treating alcoholism, anxiety, stress, etc… And that is alpha/theta training and alpha synchrony training. I’ve even read some reports of alpha synchrony training being effective for treating dyslexia, and alpha/theta training for being effective in treating OCD (which I have a small amount of, I believe), as well as alcoholism, anxiety, depression, and the rest.

Essentially, using alpha training and alpha synchrony training, if done right, really isn’t going to be particularily dangerous. Outside of that, I haven’t done a lot of exploration. I’ve done beta/smr training a bit to treat insomnia and to help focus… but I think I was getting just as good of benefits from simply toying with alpha.

The most important thing, I believe, is probably paying attention to what is called the “BAT” triad. Essentially the left hemisphere should have more beta activity (and thus lower alpha activity), and the right hemisphere should have more alpha activity (and thus lower beta activity), and theta should be roughly equivalent. If there is a reversal in any way then anxiety/depression is likely to be accompanied with it. So if I am experiencing a reversal, I’ll simply train alpha in the way that I believe will most alter the reversal. I.e. train alpha only on the right side… this will likely drag the left hemispheres alpha up at times as well, but not as much. So I’m killing two birds with one stone: learning to access the twilight states while correcting a reversal as well. There can also be a front/back reversal. The back of the head should generally have more alpha than the front… so as long as I’m training alpha towards the back in the parietal and occipital regions, I’m also reducing any reversal that may occur in that way as well. So basically, if you’re doing alpha/theta training you can do the back and on the right hand side and be mostly quite safe. While as, because alpha synchrony training requires two channels you can easily see what’s going on at each site and be able to adjust the protocol accordingly. I tend to change my protocol pretty regularily for the sake of experimentation and flexibility.

As far as negative effects, when I first started alpha training I actually had a euphoric buzz for the first two days that was similar to the effects of marijuana. I felt slowed down, but euphoric. Since then this effect seems to have subsided some, and I’m not entirely sure what caused it. I also at one point did SMR training without the accompanied left hemisphere beta training… I believe this may have caused a slight disruption in the BAT triad which left me feeling a little depressed, but then again that is in part why beta is usually trained in the left hemisphere while SMR is trained in the right… to prevent that kind of thing from happening.

None of this should be taken as medical advice, but if you are a person looking for some kind of training of neurofeedback training and don’t mind experimenting… I recommend you buy a neurofeedback unit. They range from $600 to $1,800 for a decent one. While that may sound like a lot, most sessions from a clinician can cost $100-200 per session… While if you own your own machine you can get literally hundreds or thousands of sessions by yourself. Just make sure you stay smart and stick with the moderately safe protocols (stick with alpha, baby! you can’t go wrong). Most people get tremendous results in 20-40 sessions, so what will thousands do? I want to learn to control my mind in the most effective way possible — without control of my own mind I am little more than an animal running on autopilot.

Neuroticism as a function of vitamin B(ooty) deficiency…

I ran across an article that was listed on the wikipedia article for oxytocin that specifically talks about the effects of sexual intercourse on the stress system. Though it doesn’t specifically refer to neuroticism in the more broad sense, it’s talking about how sex reduces the stress response in humans for up to a week based on studies.

For a fortnight, 24 women and 22 men kept diaries of how often they engaged in penile-vaginal intercourse (PVI), masturbation or partnered sexual activity excluding intercourse. After, the volunteers underwent a stress test involving public speaking and mental arithmetic out loud.

So for two weeks they got the nitty-gritty on peoples sex lives while checking their stress levels after performing well-founded stress causing tests.

Volunteers who’d had PVI but none of the other kinds of sex were least stressed, and their blood pressure returned to normal faster than those who’d only masturbated or had non-coital sex.

Okay, so here’s what I’m wondering… I’ll buy the fact that sex reduces stress. But what does this mean for the long term deprivation of sex? I’m not trying to promote forms of sex-aholicism, but more specifically I’m pointing to religions that practice celibacy and the like. Could the extra anxiety, etc. caused by the deprivation of stress actually help accomodate obsessive behaviors useful for religion?

Flame on, baby… and by the way… this article can be checked out at New Scientist, which I thoroughly recommend you get a subscription to. It’s also important to note that they believe that the effects of the stress reduction may very well be credited to oxytocin release.

Verbal Abuse Proven to Cause Anxiety and Depression

Science blog had another great article talking about a new study that is showing that verbal abuse is highly-correlated with anxiety and depression in adult-life. It does this through means of habituating self-critical thoughts.

Little clip:

“People who were verbally abused had 1.6 times as many symptoms of depression and anxiety as those who had not been verbally abused and were twice as likely to have suffered a mood or anxiety disorder over their lifetime, according to psychology Professor Natalie Sachs-Ericsson, the study’s lead author.”
Check out the article, AND digg it.

Schizophrenics Can’t Understand Body language Well…

There is a new blog entry at talking about how studies are now linking schizophrenia to problems with recognizing body language, thus causing social ackwardness. It also discusses how “standard” forms of treatment do not help with the social problems now known to be linked to schizophrenia. View this article here.

Of course, I’m sure, by standard treatment they’re referring to the use of drugs and/or counselling. Neurofeedback can both correct the need for drugs by balancing neurochemistry, and training different areas of the brain to work together through coherence/phase training. It’s been well documented that it can treat aspergers (social ackwardness?) and schizophrenia both. I’d be interested to see how neurofeedback affects the social ackwardness related to schizophrenia… I’m sure it helps, simply by the mechanism by which it CORRECTS these problems. An abstract giving an example of how schizophrenia symptoms can be aided through neurofeedback can be found here.

Interesting Omega 3 Article

Ran across this cool article on google ( ) by “Anthony Kane, MD”… Who I might add also apparently has a blog on ADD…

Some cool highlights include:

The ideal dietary ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats is approximately 2:1. The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in the average American diet is about 20:1.”

Wow. That kind of a deficiency is absolutely unreal. And we’re surprised by the prevalence of depression and anxiety in our society? Sounds like those three-a-day omega 3 pills may not be enough to cut it…

Researchers have yet to determine the optimum dosages. Studies have used between 1-6.4 g of EPA a day. EPA seems to be the omega-3 that is helping.”

Yeah, I’d say this confirms it. While the pills may be helpful, it may be better to score some actual fish oil and start taking it with each meal for a REAL therapeautic effect.

Studies of the fatty acid status in psychiatric patients have shown that depressed patients have lower levels of EPA and DHA. [...] Though there is still very scanty research, the best run studies show the EPA is effective in almost 90% of depressed patients.

Coincedance? Perhaps if they were getting enough EPA their brain wouldn’t develope these issues in the first place, and it’s only when the brain is starved of omega 3s can it begin to function in this messy way (depression, anxiety, ADD, etc.)

In another case study, a patient with depression that didn’t respond to medication was placed on 4 g pure EPA. After one month, the patient’s depression improved and after nine months the patient was symptom free. Utilizing MRI technology, the researchers found that after EPA treatment, there were structural changes in the brain that showed a reversal of some of the brain abnormalities commonly found in depressed patients.”

When you consider the fact that the main difference is obviously solely omega 3 intake… That’s pretty impressive. It’s also important to note that structural changes took place. That means the brain is different, and is thus operating in a new way after the omega 3 therapy. I would be interested to find out what would happen if he threw in some CES, brainwave entrainment, or neurofeedback into the mix for some awesome synergy with the omega 3s. Since the brain is made of 20% fatty acids anyway, and omega 3 also not only is a building block for neurons it would be conceivable to see that simply it’s ability to promote cerebral plasticity would be beneficial for the depressed who are also practicing other kinds of therapy.

But on top of that, it also blocks cytokines which can have an anti-depressant effect as well.

The article also had a wider list of things omega 3 can treat than I’ve seen in the past:

  • Bipolar depression
  • Unipolar depression
  • Depression during pregnancy
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Depression associated with borderline personality disorder
  • Post-partum depression
  • Reduction of suicidal thoughts”
  • Also check out the authors blog at: .

    Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation Forum Testimonial

    Ran across this testimonial at

    It is talking about the effectiveness of CES on their son. The thread actually has quite a bit more information than that, but since I will be posting a ton of information and studies on it on my own, I’m reserving for that for later. The testimonial is of the most interest at the moment.

     ”We’ve been doing a trial w/the CES Unit the past week. The subject was DS, our 14 yo with diagnosed insomnia, anxiety and depression. He used the unit for 20 min. per day, at bedtime.

    I would rate the improvement in apparent anxiety & depression to be significant. Anxieties are no longer a major topic of discussion. DS is starting to leave the house on his own for activities other than school. He’s walked outside for exercise many days since starting the program. Last night he performed w/his school orchestra & said he didn’t feel strung out about it like he usually has in past. He settled down well afterwards, which is a first.

    Insomnia has shown moderate improvement. We had hoped for more improvement in that dept., but perhaps we will see this continue over a longer term. DS does like to use it at bedtime, finds it easier to fall asleep. He is no longer asking for a prescription for sleeping pills. But still some early morning wakening, etc.

    My DH & I find our son more talkative, less defensive, & quite a bit more mellow in the past week. That is something we have not seen for a long time. Irritability has been markedly decreased … now closer to normal teenage irritability than what we endured before. I suspect the reduced anxiety and reduced depression are contributing to the mellower kid.

    Side effects: DS feels dozy after using it. Would not do a treatment just before driver’s ed. . No negative side effects otherwise noted.

    Our family gives CES an “A,” and “thumbs up.” The unit’s positive effect on our anxious, depressed, irritable, insomniac teen has taken a lot of stress off of the entire family. And I must add — finding a psych doc who gave us a “free” (w/consult) week-long trial period on the device was very helpful before making the full investment in purchase, which we plan to do.


    We’re new, and we’re going to have some fun.

    It’s about time someone like me got to join in on a little bit of the neurotalk. I’ll be talking about everything I can dig up.
    A few things things that I’m wanting to talk about right off the top of my head…

    • Neurofeedback (AKA EEG Biofeedback)
    • Omega 3′s, and their affects
    • Short-Term Memory Training
    • Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES)
    • Brainwave Entrainment Therapy (otherwise known as “audio/visual” stimulation)
    • All things related to ADD, autism, depression, bipolar, and anxiety (which may include some philosophical and psychological explorations).

    If that isn’t enough to make you want to pee your pants, I certainly don’t know what is. I’ll be providing information on studies, and my own abstract thoughts on them. They WILL get abstract. I’m also considering putting up a forum to discuss all of the above and more. So stick around, plug this site into your RSS reader, and get ready to bitch-slap some sense into me if I’m off-course.