Physiology of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Autism (or ASD) is a wide-spectrum disorder with a complex developmental disability. This means that no two people with autism will have exactly the same symptoms.

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. Autism’s most-obvious signs tend to appear between 2 to 3 years of age and in some cases, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months due to associated developmental delays. Kids or adults with autism often can’t communicate with their peers easily and have trouble understanding emotions, they might act in a way that seems unusual, and it can be hard to understand why they’re doing so.


Environmental, biological and genetic factors increase the susceptibility to this disorder. In few cases, autism is seen in children of mothers who suffered from rubella, folic acid deficiency, gestational diabetes, fragile X syndrome, encephalitis, untreated phenylketonuria during pregnancy.

Fathering a child at an older age also increases the chances of having an autistic child.


  • Inability to interact socially
  • Language impairment
  • Repetitive behavior
  • Associated neurological symptoms like  sleep problems, mood swings, anxiety attacks, attention deficit and hyperactivity
  • Associated systemic disorders like  immune dysfunction, GI disturbances


Autism is usually a lifelong condition, remains mystifying and stubbornly difficult to treat. All children and adults benefit from interventions, or therapies, that can reduce symptoms and increase skill and abilities. Although it is best to begin intervention as soon as possible, the benefits of therapy can continue throughout life.

Autism and Ayurveda

Ayurveda regards Autism as a vitiation of Vata Dosha. Imbalance of Vata dosha is responsible for symptoms like restlessness, anxiety, repetitive behavior and lack of focus.

Ayurveda considers Autism as a multifactorial dysfunction of the immune system, the gastrointestinal system, and the nervous system. For each child, a detailed analysis is done to figure out the probable root causes. The treatment focuses on strengthening the immune system, detoxing the body of the accumulated toxins, improving the digestive system, and strengthening the central nervous system./span>

Treatment in Ayurveda

It is said that children with Autism have a higher load of toxins and heavy metals in their body. The Panchakarma techniques like are used to get rid off these accumulated toxins from the body. Swedana or (steam therapy), Vamana (Emesis therapy), Virechana (purgation therapy) and Basti (medicated enema) are some of the techniques used to remove toxins.

Abhyanga or Massage ritual

A morning routine of massage or Abhyanga with medicated oils is recommended to balance Vata Dosha. A proper massage long strokes help in controlling the symptoms such as restlessness and anxiety. Oil is also rubbed systematically on the cheeks of the child to strengthen the facial muscles for speech and chewing. A daily massage soothes the child’s ruffled nervous system and helps to calm him down. It also stimulates blood flow and neuron response between the brain and various parts of the body. Shirodhara can also be tried once if the child is willing to lie down without moving for some time.

Strengthening the digestive system

Most of the autistic children have a very weak digestion. They suffer from many kinds of food allergies. Therefore, it is better to remove all the food items that can cause inflammation in the body like milk, peanut butter, nightshade vegetables and gluten. The undigested food items can move into the bloodstream causing an autoimmune attack similar to an allergic reaction. An IgG and IgE -mediated food sensitivity test can be carried out to figure out the sensitivity to a particular food item. Removal of allergic food item has a miraculous effect on the overall health of the child.

Strengthening the immune system

Most of the children suffering from Autism have an underdeveloped immune system. Since 75 percent of the immune cells are situated in the gut, the gut health and gut microbiome become very vital. To increase the colony of the beneficial gut bacteria that act as the first line of defense against pathogens, prebiotics and probiotics are prescribed. Natural probiotics in the form of pickled vegetables and fermented foods are given besides prescribing over the counter-beneficial probiotics. Herbs are also given for strengthening the immune system and preventing systemic inflammation.

Strengthening the nervous system

Herbs like Shankhpushpi, Gotu Kola, Ashwagandha, Brahmi, and Shatavari are recommended to strengthen the Central Nervous System. Herbal supplementation of Brahmi or Bacopa Monniera has demonstrated significant improvements in reducing symptoms associated with autism.

Ayurveda along with behavior therapies can go a long way in helping the autistic children.

ADHD and Naturopathy

Naturopathy uses the natural healing power of the body to systematically address any disease and condition. Like Ayurveda, Naturopathy believes in strengthening the nervous system, digestive system, and immune system. It does not regard autism as a behavioral issue. It sees root causes of Autism in genetic susceptibilities, accumulation of harmful yeast and virus in the digestive system, exposure to heavy metals, gluten, and casein intolerance and weak immune system response. These stressors build upon the nervous system causing discomfort to the child. There can be more than one stressors for the autistic symptoms. Naturopathy tries to identify and remove the triggers and work on improving the immune and nervous system.

Treatment in Naturopathy

Like in Ayurveda, the first step in Naturopathy is to detox the system of toxins. There are many methods of detoxification like an enema, hydrotherapy, steam therapy and massages. The skin, gut, liver, and kidneys are the organs responsible for detoxification. A systematic approach is followed to target each of these excretory organs of the body.

A few naturopaths use chelation. Chelation uses medicines to remove heavy metals from the body. It is believed that heavy metals are mainly responsible for autism.

The body’s inherent ability to detox is strengthened by repairing the natural cycle of methylation. Methylation is needed for gene expression, immune system regulation, detoxification of heavy metals and making of glutathione, the body’s enzyme responsible for the detox. Methylation also helps control inflammation in the body. For strengthening methylation process a child is given supplements such as B12, L-Glutamine, and C0Q10. Healthy fats rich in omega 3 fatty acids are prescribed to support the brain cells.

Balance the Nutrition

Nutrition plays a key role in treating autism. Most of the autistic children are severely deficient in essential nutrients and trace minerals. On top of that, they suffer from food allergies. Therefore, designing a right diet is vital in autism treatment. All inflammatory and allergic foods are removed from the diet. Since the digestive system is weak in children with autism, it is better to give food that is easily digestible. Too many proteins, simple carbohydrates, refined sugar, milk and milk products, peanut butter, gluten, caffeinated drinks and processed foods are removed from the diet. For building good gut flora, prebiotics and probiotics are emphasized.

Balance the Nervous System

Detoxification and a balanced diet help in balancing the nervous system. Depending on the condition of the child a treatment called Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment (HBOT) is recommended. Mild HBOT is said to be a safe and effective way to get more oxygen into the body at the cellular level by using pressurized air chambers. These procedures can only be carried by a licensed and experienced practitioner.

Yoga, Pranayama, Acupuncture, and Acupressure techniques are also used to aid the process of healing. The sensory issues can be effectively tackled by Yoga and breathing exercises. Anulom-Vilom and Bhramari Pranayama are especially effective. The practice of yoga helps to strengthen muscles and increase child’s consciousness towards involuntary body movements.

There are many cases where by following a combination of naturopathy, homeopathy and ayurveda along with behaviour therapy and speech therapy children are able to go to mainstream school and follow a normal routine.

Homeopathy and Autism

Early intervention helps to a great extent in difficult to treat cases like Autism. Homeopathy as a mode of treatment for autism is gaining popularity the world over. Homeopathy is a gentle mode of treatment with absolutely no side-effects. Homeopathy approaches each case as a separate entity and treats each child with autism as a different and unique individual. Autism qualifies as a chronic disease in homeopathic parlance and as such requires a constitutional medicine.

Treatment of Autism in Homeopathy

A constitutional medicine is one that is chosen carefully after a detailed analysis and evaluation of the case. The study requires in-depth analysis of the child’s medical history like vaccinations, genetic history, the mother’s history during pregnancy, the personality development and changes in the child, the food habits, seasonal afflictions, and several other factors.

The constitutional remedy helps in bringing improvement in the child in terms of social interaction, communication, and personality development.

The efficacy of homeopathic medicines in treating autism varies from case to case. This means that some kids may respond favorably at a quick pace, some may respond slowly and some may not show any response at all.

However, all children undergoing homeopathic treatment for autism should be evaluated regularly on the autism development scale to get a clear idea of the progress of the disease.
Indicated Remedies for Autism-

Carcinosin– The Carcinosin child has a history of  an early teething and a very hairy body. The child finds it difficult to sleep, has a sweaty head, is extremely restless and desires milk and foods that are high in salt content. The child is always fidgeting, restless and loves dancing. A strong family history of cancer is also seen.

Baryta Carb– Baryta carb is a remedy that has an action on the brain and the neurodevelopmental process. The child has difficulty in learning, communicating and in interacting socially with his peers. The child is extremely unhygienic and dirty looking. He is extremely sensitive to cold and has recurrent attacks of tonsillitis.

Agaricus– The Agaricus child is extremely active and restless. He keeps dancing and jumping around the whole day but will typically not respond when spoken to or called for. He often refuses to speak to others and stays alone muttering to himself. The Agaricus child has the characteristic twitching and jerking of muscles especially of limbs. This twitching is seen even when he is awake.

Autism is a chronic condition that responds best to early intervention. While a complete cure may not be guaranteed, homeopathy goes a long way in reversing a lot of symptoms and vastly improving the child’s quality of life.

The medicines given above are only indicative. Always consult a homoeopath before starting on any medication.

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