Monday, June 14, 2010

Shh, A Restricted Diet Might Help Psychiatric Diseases

Did you know that trying dietary modifications to help treat mental health issues might not be as crazy as it sounds? Well, that is unless you are suggesting it at a potential treatment for autism. But, unlike last month's sensational headlines based on research presented at a conference, this study is one that you probably won't see in the headlines.

The reason you won't see this study in the headlines is that it does not deal with an exciting new disease like autism but instead looks at an older, less exciting condition, schizophrenia.

In this study, researchers from John Hopkins School of Medicine looked for evidence that individuals with schizophrenia had an increased level of antibodies against casein (the protein in cow's milk). While I don't want to get into a discussion of the various types of antibodies and how they relate to food allergies and/or intolerances, I did want to point out that the researchers took a different approach than is typical and looked at IgG rather than IgE antibodies.

The researchers did find a large, significant relationship between these IgG antibodies and schizophrenia. Or, as the researchers put it -
In both [schizophrenia] groups, we found elevated IgG to casein proteins, particularly to whole casein and the alpha(s) subunit (p
The elevated IgG and unique patterns of antibody specificity to bovine casein among diagnostic groups provide a rationale for clinical trials to evaluate efficacies of dietary modifications in individuals with neuropsychiatric diseases.
Let me put it in even simpler terms. If you have an elevated level of IgG antibodies against a specific food protein, it might not be a bad idea to try eliminating them from your diet. And, if you have a mental health condition that has a strong association to these antibodies, perhaps there might be something going on that is worth investigating.

You might be asking yourself what this has to do with autism, and the answer is simple. Autism and schizophrenia may be two sides of the same coin. Many of the areas in the genome that are associated with autism and also associated with schizophrenia and there are theories that these two conditions are in fact just opposite ends of a developmental spectrum. In other words, if you have too much of some chemical or duplications in a genetic region, you may get autism. If you have too little or deletions in the same region, you may have schizophrenia instead.

On a more personal level, this finding is important to me because my twin daughters had an extremely high level of IgG antibodies against casein. This antibody level was one of the reasons that we tried a restricted diet with them, a diet with which we have had good results.

Now imagine what would happen if researchers looked looked for similar antibodies in other children with autism and targeted their dietary interventions at the children who had a biological basis for trying the diet.  Instead of a study that excluded children with milk or wheat allergies, we might instead have one that tried eliminating casein when there are antibodies against casein or gluten when there are antibodies against gluten.  Perhaps that would finally give us a better answer to whether a GFCF diet can help children with autism and who it might help.

Wouldn't that be something?


  1. Actually they have. I have a page with several links to some of this. One of the links on this page you will find a speech you can listen to by Timothy Buie, the MD who headed up the study published in AAP in Jan/Feb. He talks about what they do find in the diet responders. There are a few more links to journal articles on here. Also he cites that ASD children have gi issues that are treatable. It just so happens that many of these gi issues also involve food sensitivities.

    Oh, love the new blog "do".

  2. I haven't listened to the talks that Timothy Buie gave but I did read the consensus papers in Pediatrics. I will have to listen to the talks and see what he had to say on the subject.

    Thanks for the links, some of those studies I had not seen before (irritable bowel syndrome and IgG antibodies), so I have some more reading to do.

    But what I would really like to see is a larger organization, like John Hopkins, take a look at the various biological markers in a decent number of children with autism, and give breakdowns of how often they happen. And then get this result published in a mainstream journal.

    After that is established, then they could use that as a road map for how to test the diet in trials and be able to give a quantitative answer to whether the diet can move these biomarkers.

    I am glad you like the new layout, I was getting tired of the old, boring one and decided to try something new (and blue)

  3. Damn right!

    My son tested high for wheat and soy on the IGg...

    I'd take this a step further...
    All children should have IGg ran! Especially before they move to solid and a typical diet. Too bad most "pediatricians" think the IGg is a holistic joke. At least the ones in Chicago I've dealt with do...