How does Korean Herbal Medicine treat autism?
How does Korean herbal medicine address the causes and aggravating factors of autism?
One : Antiviral responses to recover the regulation function of the brain stem
Based on Dr. Tomato protocol, I believe that Korean herbal medicine is superior to other biomedical treatments or stool transplantation methods as a cure for autism. The key reason is the antiviral effect produced by Korean herbal medication. As discussed earlier, the primary cause of the development of autism spectrum disorders is a viral infection. Damage to the brain stem and hypothalamus due to viral infection in the central nervous system is the direct cause of autism. Suppressing the virus in the brain stem and hypothalamus produces remarkable effects by eliminating autistic tendencies within one to two weeks.
In just one or two weeks, you can observe increases in eye contact, reductions in acoustic and tactile seeking behaviors, improved concentration and attention, betterment of sleep disorders, and digestion and bowel movements become evident. These are brought about by controlling the inflammation in the central nervous system caused by viruses.
Incompetent viruses kill the host (humans), but competent viruses coexist with the host (humans). Autism is a disorder where a virus that invades the central nervous system consistently remains with humans to grow, develop, and aggravate. Therefore, other treatments than controlling the virus in the central nervous system would not be capable of effectively treating autistic symptoms.
However, the problem is that the effectiveness of existing chemically formulated antiviral agents is significantly limited. It is virtually impossible to develop an antiviral agent that is effective for countless variants, which became apparent as we experienced the COVID pandemic. Suppose it is impossible to develop an antiviral agent for a clearly known cause. In that case, it is much less viable to develop an antiviral agent capable of effectively controlling the development of autism, which is thought to involve many different viral infections.
Natural medicines, however, can produce very effective antiviral effects. It is confirmed and validated that natural herbal medications such as cinnamon, ginseng, and ephedra have antiviral effects. The antiviral efficacy of ethnomedicine using combinations of natural herbal medicine can be explained in two ways.
First, plants synthesize various secondary substances to defend themselves from external bacteria and essential nutrients for growth. This secondary metabolite includes phenolics (flavonoids, quinones, coumarins, tannins, and anthocyanins), terpenoids (sterols, saponins, essential oils, and cucurbitacins), alkaloids, proteins, and peptides are species-specific and vary in structure. A common feature is that they are generally toxic, have a strong odor, and attack pathogens. These substances’ diversity and structural characteristics exhibit comprehensive effects against various viruses.
Second, ethnomedicine developed in China and Korea has established a complex treatment method that uses a mixture of various herbal medicines rather than individual plant ingredients. This enables synergies of the antiviral effects of different plants, hence clinical results directly applicable to the treatment of various infectious diseases.
As a result, compared with the current chemical drug treatments, chemical antibiotic treatment is effective in killing bacteria, but treatment using natural products excels in killing viruses.
Korean herbal medicine does not exhibit antiviral effects through one or two mechanisms. It shows a combination of different results, which are summarized below. For more details, refer to New Look to Phytomedicine published in 2019.
First, it directly removes the virus by promoting an autophagy function. Second, it weakens proliferation by directly inhibiting virus reproduction. Third, it suppresses viral growth through the generation of active oxygen. Fourth, it makes the virus less fatal by inducing changes in viral gene expression. Fifth, it blocks viral infiltration by activating the defense function in the mucous membrane.
Through these comprehensive responses in the body, natural treatments using Korean herbal medicines have the potential to win the war against viruses and open the possibility of getting rid of the root cause of autism.
Two : Restoration of the intestinal bacterial flora and propionic acid removal
As pointed out in the schematic diagram of autism progression, the full-scale degeneration of the cerebrum is caused by dysbiosis of the intestinal bacterial flora, particularly the influx of toxic substances produced by harmful intestinal bacteria such as propionic acid. The primary step is antiviral action, and the secondary step is antibacterial action – these steps must be achieved to keep the autism effect stable.
The first action, which is the most critical that should be considered in the antibacterial action to tackle intestinal dysbiosis, is the reduction in harmful bacterial counts. Clostridium, for example, is an anaerobic bacterium strongly suspected of exacerbating autism. A study on treatment using vancomycin already demonstrated that autism symptoms could be improved by reducing the presence of anaerobic bacteria, including clostridium. However, the treatment could not be sustained due to several side effects, and when the autism treatment effect thus disappeared when ceasing the use of vancomycin. Now, we need a treatment that is harmless to the human body and produces sustainable antibacterial effects.
One of the methods proven to generate very stable antibacterial effects is using prebiotics rather than directly using antibiotics. The best-known pre-biotic substance for this is inulin. Inulin is a prebiotic that is decomposed only by bacteria in the large intestine without being digested in the stomach and small intestine. It is known to reduce the presence of clostridium. Hence it is effective for autism.
Inulin is a water-soluble natural fiber found very commonly in medicinal plants, most notably Helianthus tuberosus, dandelion roots, burdock roots, and lotus roots. In treating autism using Korean herbal medicine, organic acid analysis often confirms reduced levels of clostridium.
Another effective method is using natural medicines with direct antibacterial and antimicrobial effects. The antibiotic action of natural treatments generally has minimal side effects on the human body; hence they can be used for a prolonged period. Most notably, the lonicera flower (honeysuckle), balloon flower (bellflower root), and forsythia fruit have been used for bacterial infections for thousands of years because of their natural antibiotic effects. In addition, Scutellaria baicalensis, Coptis Chinensis, and Phellodendron amurense have solid antibacterial effects, hence are good for maintaining homeostasis by stabilizing the inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract and restoring immunity. Taking these natural medicines with antibacterial and antimicrobial effects contributes to improving intestinal environments and reducing the number of harmful bacteria in the intestines.
Ensuring the stability of the intestinal flora should also be accompanied by removing harmful substances such as monoenoic fatty acids synthesized from harmful bacteria. The most notable identified so far is propionic acid. It has been shown to cause significant changes, such as abnormalities in nerve cell tissue functioning and neurobehavioral and biochemical abnormalities, which can result in autism. Therefore, stable removal thereof should be an important treatment goal to treat degenerative autism.
Chrysophanol has been known to have the effect of removing propionic acid. Animal studies have confirmed that Chrysophanol effectively improves social interactions and learning and memory deficits in mice exposed to propionic acid. In other words, it effectively treats autistic symptoms by successfully reducing oxidative stress, neuroinflammation, and neuronal death.
Chrysophanol is a natural substance extracted from natural medicines. It is widespread and abundant in anti-inflammatory Korean herbal medication. Notable examples include rhubarb, cassia seed, reynoutria, Cnidium, swallow-wort, and polygonum multiflorum. Prolonged administration of combinations of these medicinal herbs is effective for discharging harmful substances of bacterial origin, including propionic acid. Thus, medical herbs are thought to be effective in treating autism.
What we eat eventually becomes food for our gut bacteria. The food a person eats represents a person’s intestinal microbiome. After all, the best bet to resolve dysbiosis is to restore a healthy diet and continuously consume natural plants capable of controlling harmful intestinal bacteria as sources of probiotics. Dr. Tomato’s herbal remedies are a very effective way to resolve this issue.
Three : Recovery of digestive functions to stabilize SIBO conditions
It is unclear whether the microbiome problem that causes autism is attributable to the lack of intestinal microbiome or the overgrowth of intestinal bacteria. According to the Nemechek Protocol, the leading cause is the overgrowth of intestinal bacteria, and the fundamental problem is the proliferation of these bacteria in the small intestine. Indeed, Nemechek’s argument has been supported by many antibiotic studies where various types of bacteria were found among children with autism.
In my clinical experience, I have witnessed many autistic children who evidenced an overgrowth of harmful intestinal bacteria through an organic acid analysis; these children recovered well in their journey. In my opinion, even when intestinal dysbiosis aggravates, stabilizing SIBO is enough to improve autism symptoms. For this reason, I agree with Nemechek’s argument.
After all, the aggravation of autism is accompanied by SIBO, in which the over-proliferation of harmful bacteria in the large intestine flows back into the small intestine and starts to proliferate there. This implies that merely recovering the intestinal microbiome balance is not enough to fundamentally treat autism without addressing SIBO. In other words, treating SIBO is the best way to protect autistic children’s brains from intestinal microbiota attacks.
The fundamental way to resolve the symptoms of SIBO is to normalize the digestive abilities of the gastrointestinal tract. This is because the movement of the intestinal tract is reduced due to declines in digestive capacity, which causes the bacteria in the large intestine to flow back into the small intestine. In other words, the decrease in digestion affects the ability to transfer bacteria and their metabolites to the colorectum, hence allowing them to flow back into the small intestine. Therefore, rebuilding digestive capacity is the key to solving SIBO and is the fundamental treatment for recovering autistic gastrointestinal tract functioning to a normal gastrointestinal tract.
Reports have shown that taking digestive enzyme supplements is effective for behavior changes in children with autism. Particularly notable is the stabilization of temper tantrums and behavioral disorders and significant improvements in the CARS assessment. However, digestive enzymes only reduce the chemical responses in the digestive tract and have no effects on the functional and physical improvement of the digestion rate.
Korean herbal medicines have superior effects in improving digestive ability by increasing the movement of the gastrointestinal tract. Traditionally, medicinal herbs have shown incomparable results for functional digestive disorders. The most commonly used are atractylodes root, Pachyma hoelen, pinellia, Amomum villosum, mandarin peel, Aplinia katsumadai Hayata, Amomum cadamomum Linne, and many more. Using medicinal herbs to treat functional digestive disorders in parallel with digestive enzyme supplements is an excellent method to overcome SIBO symptoms and alleviate autism.
The treatment of the digestive system using Korean herbal medicines does not stop at improving the symptoms of SIBO. It is also effective for treating the dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system. The root cause of digestive disorders is the instability of the autonomic nervous system. Therefore, digestive disorders are inseparable from other signs observed in children with autism, such as sleep disorders, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and lethargy. Thus, the fundamental treatment requires not only improving the digestive abilities but also the recovery of the autonomic nervous system.
At present, there are no ways to control this with chemicals. Functional medicine using nutritional supplements only treats symptoms. For example, digestive enzymes are used for digestive disorders and melatonin for sleep disorders. They are not effective at all for adjusting the overall autonomic nervous system. For this reason, the only method to produce autonomic nerve system regulation effects for autism is vagus nerve stimulation or TMS, which makes similar effects to acupuncture. It may contribute to the temporary adjustment of the autonomic nervous system, but the fundamental recovery of the autonomic nervous system cannot be achieved.
Surprisingly, medicinal herbs for the treatment of functional digestive disorders also stabilize the autonomic nervous system. For example, Pachyma hoelen improves digestion and, at the same time, is effective for anxiety and sleep disorders. White atractylis is effective for improving digestion, demotivation, and depression. Pinellia helps with digestion by improving allergic inflammation in the stomach and treating extreme anxiety neurosis. Medicinal herbs such as Scutellaria baicalensis and Coptis Chinensis may alleviate inflammatory reactions in the gastrointestinal tract and improve anger management. For these characteristics of medicinal herbs, Korean herbal medicine is called “a medicine for the body and soul.”
Combining medicinal herbs for children with autism is a very challenging process. However, the effective combination of medicinal herbs not only helps improve SIBO by improving digestion but also brings digestive and psychological stability by improving the autonomic nervous system, hence enabling the fundamental treatment of autism.
Four : Stabilization of the autoimmune action of the central nervous system
Autism is caused by a virus that impacts the structure of the brain and the over-proliferation of intestinal bacteria. Therefore, antiviral treatment and antibacterial treatment are fundamental. However, after the initial infection period, various inflammatory substances, including environmental toxins, continue to flow in, causing autoimmune damage to the central nervous system. As a result, intellectual impairment becomes gradually irreversible, eventually leading to epileptic seizures caused by permanent nerve damage.
Thus, it is imperative in autism treatment to quickly stop the autoimmune inflammatory reaction to prevent further damage progression. Current research has confirmed that inflammation is induced by increased microglia activity and cytokines in the brain and cerebrospinal fluid (CNS) of children with autism. In addition, this process is known to enhance the inflammatory response by autoimmune antibodies of the central nervous system. However, which specific autoantibodies cause autism remains unclear. For this reason, there are no ways to treat the central nervous system inflammation in autism with modern medical approaches.
Biomedical approaches tried to tackle this problem with nutritional improvement. The ketogenic diet was used to control inflammatory substances generated in the process of carbohydrate metabolism, and healthy fatty acids such as omega three or olive oil MCT oil were used to ease the inflammation in the brain. In addition, antioxidants such as vitamin C, glutathione, and NAC were used to alleviate the progression of the autoimmune reaction by boosting antioxidation. Although these efforts achieved considerable outcomes, they lacked consistency, presumably because of their indirect approach.
Autism is said to be a genetic disease, but it is a complex congenital disease where a single gene has no decisive power. Likewise, although autism is said to be an autoimmune disease, it is not caused by the reaction of a single autoantibody but involves a complexity of autoantibodies. For this reason, it would not be viable to develop chemical treatments to stop autoimmune reactions by blocking one or two antibodies. Instead, natural therapy from a natural source that can help form autoimmune antibodies on its own will provide a realistic answer.
Korean herbal medicine has already proven useful as a comprehensive treatment for autoimmune diseases. It has been proven clinically effective for autoimmune diseases that modern medicine cannot control, such as rheumatoid arthritis, Behcet’s disease, ankylosing spondylitis, and alopecia areata. To achieve the excellent autoimmune disease treatment effect of Korean herbal medicine to autism treatment, I investigated cases of use of traditional herbal medicine treatment where the inflammation of the nervous system was treated. From this, I discovered a wide variety of treatments.
The most notable are herbal medicines to treat tetanus and polio. The causative organism of tetanus is Clostridium, an anaerobic bacterium known to aggravate autism spectrum disorders. Clostridium tetanus is a disease that causes death by invading the central nervous system from the outside, aggravating inflammation, and, if severe, causing opisthotonus and respiratory failure. According to the Essential Prescriptions of the Golden Cabinet written in China 2,000 years ago, decoctions of Pueraria, Da-Cheng-Qi-Tang, and Tiao-Wei-Cheng-Qing-Tang were used to treat tetanus. The key medicinal herbs used included ephedra, Pueraria, cinnamon, rhubarb, and red peppermint, which are known to relieve inflammation and restore the central nervous system.
Another disease, polio, is a viral disease. It is an acute infection caused by an enterovirus called polio, which causes temporary or permanent paralysis and deformation of the body attributable to damage to the cranial nerve tissue. Before the development of the polio vaccine, medicinal herbs were used in Korea, China, and Japan to treat polio and prevent disability without difficulty. Although they did not have the same preventive effect as a vaccine, the early treatment prevented damage to the nervous system. It showed surprising therapeutic results in preventing disabilities caused by polio. The prescriptions used at the time were Baekhotang or Baekhoga-Insamtang, where gypsum, anemarrhena, ginseng, etc., prevented inflammatory damage to the central nervous system.
Dr. Tomato’s protocol uses combinations of medicinal herbs in the Pueraria decoction, Da-Cheng-Qi-Tang, and Baekhotang. Rather than simply using one or two medicinal spices, Pueraria, ephedra, cinnamon, gypsum, Natrii Sulfas, rhubarb, and ginseng are mixed and combined appropriately. This compound administration prevents the progression from autism spectrum disorders to intellectual impairment and epilepsy. The patients escape from inflammatory damage and recover brain and nerve functions, hence social skills.
The autoimmune antigens that induce nerve damage in autism are not a single antigen. As various antigens act as causative agents, different autoimmune antibodies should be established. In this context, taking complex approaches will be more effective than using one or two specific herbs. Combining the ketogenic diet and omega-3 therapy developed by functional medicine with various medicinal herbs that help calm the inflammatory reaction of the nervous system would be the wisest choice for preventing brain damage caused by autism.
Five : Recovery of the central nervous system response and information processing speed
When the Dr. Tomato protocol begins to better the symptoms of autism, the patients quickly recover social directivity but still lack actual execution. Such unskilledness eventually leads to cognitive disorders and attention deficit. Children at 30 months or younger suffer less from degenerative damage; hence in many cases, they achieve betterment without cognitive disorders or attention deficit if treated early.
However, most children treated at or over 30 months of age experience cognitive impairment and attention deficit remaining after the improvement of the social impairment. In reality, this causes learning difficulties and challenges in overall performance capabilities caused by ADHD. If severe, they may be diagnosed with intellectual impairment; even if not, they are likely to be considered to have ‘silent’ ADHD or attention-deficit disorder (ADD). In this case, intelligence tests often reveal declines in information processing speed and the processing of short-term memory, hence classified as intellectual impairment or Borderline Intellectual Functioning (BIF).
These are not innate, but the aftereffects of the nervous system will not be fully recovered from the damages caused by autistic degeneration. The following describes these causes in more detail.
First, prolonged autoimmune inflammation in the brain resulted in the fixation of slow response.
Second, abnormalities in the autonomic nervous system are caused by stagnant blood flow in the brain, resulting in declines in response and information processing speed in the brain and the fixation of non-responsiveness.
Cognitive disorders and attention deficits can be treated only by improving the autonomic nervous system’s response. To do so, treatment to improve cerebral responsiveness should be continued even after the patient has been relieved from autism.
This does not require specific treatments. Treatments to improve autoimmune inflammation and stabilize and vitalize autonomic nervous system responses should be sustained. Doing so, it helps improve sensory disorders in the early stages, followed by the activation of the entire cerebellum and improvement of information processing speed, hence a gradual betterment of cognitive disorders and attention deficit. Treating autism with Korean herbal medicine does not stop at improving social impairment but continues pursuing the improvement of cognitive impairment and attention deficit.