Children With Autism: Can Treating Candida Improve Autism?

 autism What is autism?

Autism is a neurological disorder of the brain and it affects the ability of the child to communicate, relate, and socialize. Children with autism often have repetitive behaviors or body movements and do not like change in the routine. These characteristics usually develop before the age of three. Information received by a brain of an autistic child is processed differently then it would in the normal child. Processing information takes a lot of time and effort for that reason, an autistic children are sometimes over sensitive or not sensitive enough to certain stimuli like sound or physical contact. They cannot assess cause and effect relation and have a hard time maintaining eye contact. Children with autism often have trouble planning and organizing, this is the reason that they like routines which gives them the feeling of order and security.

Is Autism Related to Candida ?

So how is autism related to candida ? We all know that there is a debate on the causes of autism being linked to genes, environmental toxins, and vaccines. Recently some researchers have suggested that yeast plays an important role in children with autism which can lead to behavioral and health problems in these kids. Autistic children have a different gut flora then a normal child. These children often have what is called a leaky gut. Leaky gut is a result of imbalance of good bacteria in the gut and the root cause of many problems ranging from nutritional deficiencies to behavioral problems and inflammation. Leaky gut causes the overgrowth of candida albicans, a type of yeast that grows in the digestive system and can cause a havoc because it produces toxins that effects the nervous system and the immune system. The overgrowth of yeast can also be cause by over use of antibiotics. Dr. William Shaw, who has done a great deal of research in genetic causes of diseases found that the urine samples of the kids with autism had several abnormal compounds that were not because of the genetic causes, but the chemicals from the microorganisms like yeast and some bad bacteria that lived in the intestinal tract. According to Dr. Shaw,  children with autism are more susceptible to food allergens, toxic chemicals, microorganisms like yeast, environmental toxins then those who do not have autism because of certain genetic vulnerabilities. When the factor that is causing the biochemical abnormalities  is resolved the person with autism will get better, which in some cases cause some improvement or complete recovery of the symptoms.

How is fungal or candida yeast treated in children with autism?

Medication used to treat candida are anti-fungal medications like Nystatin, Diflucan, Flagyl and Nizoral. Along with these medications, Vitamin B6 and magnesium have also been used in some children as vitamin therapies. Diet plays a major and a very important role in managing autism. Children with autism are allergic to certain foods, therefore elimination of these foods from the diet is very important. Allergy testing is required to test for food allergies. Even though in some children gluten might not show up as an allergen, eliminating gluten, casein and sugar improves manifestation of autism.

Why is it important to eliminate certain food allergens like milk protein casein, sugar and gluten important part of treating autism?


Casein is the protein found in cow’s milk and human milk. In his book Breaking the Food Seduction, Neal D. Barnard, M.D explains about how certain foods have a direct effect on the brain. He goes on to explain in his book about a remarkable discovery made by Eli Hazum and his colleagues at Wellcome Research Laboratories in Research Triangle Park, N.C. These researchers found that the traces of cow’s milk had a chemical that looked like morphine. Morphine as we all know is an highly addictive opiate. Casein, which is the milk protein breaks down during digestion and releases lots of opiates called casomorphins which are also a histamine releasers. This is the reason why so many people are allergic to dairy. In children with autism allergic foods will develop high level of opiates in the bloodstream which increases autistic behaviors which includes less desire to communicate socially and increases confusion.


Elimination of sugar and limiting simple carbs is very important part of stabilizing blood sugar as they have damaging effect on the gut flora and the immune system. This is because an autistic child has a different gut flora then a non-autistic child. Yeast or candida feeds and grows on sugar. When the sugar is eliminated from the diet, it causes Candida die-off. This is also called  Herxheimer reaction. The Candida yeast releases 79 different toxins when they die, which includes production of ethanol and acetaldehyde.


Elimination of gluten helps because gluten causes inflammation in children with autism who already have a leaky gut.  Parent’s with kids who had autism reported a remarkable improvement in their children’s behavior, attention and speech when they eliminated gluten from their diets. The reason behind elimination of gluten from the diet is that autistic kids lack the enzymes to break down the protein in wheat. As a result they are broken down to exorphins, or group of opioid peptides also called peptides with morphin like activity, that form during digestion of the gluten protein. This results in abnormal behavior in autistic kids.

  Removing toxins and correcting deficiencies:

Because of the fact that the children with autism have certain genetic deficiencies which results in low levels of glutathione and cysteine, they cannot detoxify the heavy metals like mercury they accumulate in the body, causing high toxic levels of these metals. Detoxifying from these metals become very important. At the same time children with autism are deficient in certain vitamins and minerals. It is important to test for these deficiencies and correct them.

In a nutshell treatment for autism:

Treatment may vary from child to child, as the severity of autism varies. But below mentioned steps may benefit if not eliminate autism in a child. Always remember that early intervention plays a huge role in the quality of life that an autistic child will lead. Along with the below mentioned steps , it is important that the treatment be targeted toward the child’s individual needs. This may include treatment with medicines, physical therapy, speech therapy, development of language skills among other things, the child who has autism should also get tested for:

  • Mercury and other toxicities.
  • Urine test for presence of yeast and other pathogens.
  • Vitamin or mineral deficiencies.
  • Food allergies.
  • Healing leaky gut with probiotics.

Given that 1 in every 88 children is diagnosed with autism, according to a report, by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to autism speaks  website NIH spends only $169 million on autism out of its $30.5 billion annual budget. It is more underfunded then other diseases like AIDS, which effects 1 in 300 kids. People might debate that autism is not a life threatening disease like AIDS, but then they have not known any child with autism. We cannot put a number on suffering especially when our children are concerned. Our children deserve a better quality life and for that more funding is needed to not only evaluate which kids are at more risk, but focus should also be on the alternative and unconventional treatments for autism.


Image: smithereen11 via Compfight

Celebrities with autism

Treatment option for Autism

Source for reseach on children with autism having low levels of glutathione :

Autism Speaks

Autism Treatments

A free book by National Autism Center can be found here

ABC’s “What Would You Do?” on Autism

HBO movie Autism: The musical

DISCLAIMER: This article is written for informative purposes only. Do not make any changes to your diet, lifestyle, or treatment plan before contacting your physician or health care provider.

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