Herbal remedies for Autism

Herbal remedies for autism that are useful

By Veena Deo

This article discusses about herbs, herbal remedies for autism that can be tried easily at home.

The definition of Autism is “Absorption in self-centered subjective mental activity” as in daydreams, fantasies, delusions or hallucinations and when accompanied by marked withdrawal from reality. Autism is a mental disorder originating in infancy that is characterized by self absorption, inability to interact socially, having repetitive behavior and language dysfunction. Autism affects the individual brain’s normal development of social and communication skills.

Children suffering due to Autism have a unique set of symptoms in three areas. First Socialization, then communication and finally behavioral. Autism is a disorder of neural development. Children with Autism show repeated body movements and show unusual attachment to objects. Children with Autism generally tend to be loners from their birth. They usually do not seek cuddling, kissing, or other forms of attention and affection. In fact, parents of such children describe them as happiest when they are left alone, self sufficient and they act as if nobody is present around them.

Autistic children treat the people around them as objects. Generally, they do not participate in normal activities with other children; they play alone and use toys in a self stimulatory manner. When a child fails to develop speech, then this is the first clear indication that there could be something not entirely right with the child.

Many autistic children who develop speech have abnormal patterns and use speech egocentrically, that is without effort a meaningful communication. Another characteristic about speech is the reversal of pronouns, particularly I and You. The child generally will never say “I want……..”, he or she  would say “You want……”.  Autistic children have intolerance to changes. They get upset when they see any changes in the routine  or in the re-arrangement  of  their room, furniture or toys.

DeMyer and her colleagues ( Demyer Higtgen  and Jackson, 1981) reported that approximately 75% of autistic children have IQs that place them at mentally retarded level, but it is generally accepted that in isolated areas some autistic children are capable of exceptional performance.   It was observed that in a number of families the “gene” is passed from the father to a male child that causes autism.  Since the father transmits  only an X-chromosome to his daughters and not to his sons, the “gene “ probably is on the Y chromosome in these families . Ref: Cuccaro M.L, Wolpert C.M, McClintock D.E. Abramson R,Beaty L.M, Storoschuk S,Zimmerman A, Frye V,Porter N, Cook E.,Stevenson R,DeLong G.R, Wright H.H, Pericak-Vance, M.A Familial aggregation in Autism: Evidence against X-linkage as a major genetic etiology. American society of human genetics 1996. Hallmayer J,Spiker,D,Lotspeich L,McMahon W.M, Petersen .B,Nicholas P,Pingree  C,Ciaranello RD, Male to male transmission in extendol pedigrees with multiple cases oof autism. American Journal of Medical  Genetics.67: 13-18,1996.

Some researchers stated that there is a relationship between Serotonin levels and autism but lot of research work is required on this. Source

There is no cure for autism currently. Treatment options include educational, behavioral interventions medications and other therapies. Traditional psychotherapies are ineffective with autistic children and the use of medications remains  controversial. Following  the successful  use of behavioral modification methods with early  childhood  psychosis, by Ferster and DeMyer in1961, behavioral techniques became widely used in the treatment of Autism.

Self stimulating  behaviors such as babbling or hand flapping occupy the attention of an autistic child to such an extent that appropriate learning  gets blocked. To reduce such behaviors,  a variety  of techniques have been used including  verbal commands instead of talking , followed by physical gestures, time outs etc. ( Jahnson, Baumeister, Penland and Inwald, 1982).

A  lot of effort  is  are required towards teaching  language skills , One of the most innovative programs for working with Autistic children  is a community based treatment that uses  parents directly to eliminate disruptive behaviors( Schopler, Mesibov and Baker, 1982)

TEACCH ( Treatment and Education of Autistic and related  communications handicapped children ) Program strives to keep autistic children in special  classes in public schools while training parents to acts as co-therapists in carrying out a treatment plant. A comprehensive evaluation of this program  has not yet been done, but preliminary  findings are encouraging.

These findings offer hope to parents of autistic children and point the way to future advances that have the potential to enrich  the lives of their children. Ref: Abnormal Psychology --- By Richard H. Price University of  Michigan. Steven JAY  LYNN   Ohio University.

Herbal remedies for autism that are helpful-        

Vitamin B6 has a potential effect on behavior in Autistic children. Some studies show that Vit B along with Magnesium is necessary for several neurotransmitters in the brain, which lead to interest in its use for Autism.

Herbs that have antioxidant properties may be useful for Autism like-

Bacopa Monnieri - Several studies show that its antioxidants help to improve concentration and learning ability .

Centella Asiatica- In various clinical studies Centella Asiatica produced behavioral improvement in mentally retarded children and increased consistency in IQ. The herb was also found to help with general debility. Ref: Appa Rao MVR et al, J Res Indian Med,8:9,1973; Sharma A et al.J Res Edn Ind Med. 4( (1-2)1985; Swammy VN AND Gaitonde M, Arogya J Health Sci , XIV, 1988.

Glycyrrhiza Glabra- in China it is known  as a detoxifier. It is thought to remove toxins from the systems.

Withania Somnifera- or Ashwagandha has Adaptogenic properties that might be helpful in Autism.

Nelumbo Nucifera , Acorus Calamus - These herbs may have the potential to relieve the Autism. But several studies are required for that.

I hope the above herbal remedies for autism are useful to all people. Since this is a complicated condition one should always check with a Medical Doctor.

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Dr. Veena Deo is an Ayurvedic Doctor in India. All the information provided above and opinions expressed above are her own and should not be construed as medical advice. This information and on supplements is provided for educational purposes only. For questions or to consult Dr. Veena Deo, please send an email to


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