The Nemechek Protocol
This book came out last year and has made a splash on the market - a new protocol to help those with ASD and developmental disorders. Using his patient experience, Dr. Nemechek clearly draws a direct connection between the brain and the intestinal system (the gut), a concept that is slowly becoming mainstream- the state of our digestive system truly affects our mood, personality, focus, memory and how we learn. A healthy bowel microbiome equals a healthy brain.
In his book, he explains how he uses a five step program to improve their conditions, by improving the beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract, using omegas to reduce inflammation and strengthen the vagus nerve to boost the nervous system. He also goes in depth to explain how cumulative brain injury (CBI) can make things worse for those with a compromised tract- think bumps and falls for children or sport injuries for athletes.
The Nemechek Protocol steps:
1) Balance intestinal bacteria (he guides his patients using inulin a prebiotic or Rifaximin a specific antibiotic)
2) Reduce inflammation by balancing omega-3 using fish oils
3) Removal of all omega-6 foods from diet
4) Supplementation of omega-9 in diet (extra virgin olive oil) further reduce inflammation
5) Induction of neuroplasticity- stimulating the vagus nerve (VNS)
After these steps his patients go through an 'awakening period' where the fogs lifts, they connect with their environment and/or underlying conditions are now revealed. He goes into the pace of recovery, allergies & histamine release, behaviour-age mismatching, and changes in gastro function- all concerns of the families he has worked with. He does outline that he does not believe in any other supplementation- his patients cannot take vitamins, minerals, enzymes or probiotics- he does not see the benefits while addressing bacterial overgrowth.
He has a whole chapter on relapses and triggers, he has witnessed regression from the following triggers:
4) Food poisoning
5) Brain injury (physical or emotional)
6) Stomach acid suppression
7) Adverse vaccine response
8) Medication that slow intestinal motility
9) Intestinal infections
10) Alcohol consumption
I was hoping to see more of a guideline on #3- removing all omega-6 from the diet- this is where families may need more detail and support. His patients must remove these oils: soy, sunflower, corn, safflower, cottonseed, grapeseed, peanut, margarine and shortening- every single item in a box, jar, bag or container may have these oils. He states all these oils cause inflammation in body and brain. That means all processed food is off the table- the families now must read all labels and find their way to a whole foods diet. This can be challenging especially when the children may have sensory dysregulation or picky eating is an issue.
Families must also work with their practitioners to address the conditions that may be revealed after the protocol- based on evolution of their symptoms, that could range from mitochondria issues, genetic disorders, nutritional deficiencies, IBD, dyspraxia, large development delay etc.
Biomedical treatment is a multi system approach - and each approach is individualized per child, since every child is completely different. When I compare Dr Nemechek's work to Dr Pangborn, Dr Jepson, Dr Bock, Dr McCandless, Dr Coombs, Dr Campbell-McBride, Dr Adams (*respective books and papers). They all incorporate most elements listed below, and not necessarily in this order, based on individuality and prioritization from test results:
1. Specific testing for system, as puzzle pieces to show what is wrong in the body.
2. Nutritional therapy- diet changes, removing offending foods, correlation between food and behaviours, reduce body inflammation.
3. Supplement therapy- correcting nutritional and/or hormone deficiencies and bring body back into balance. A lot of focus on EFAs that the body may need (oils and omegas)
4. Balancing the microbiome (gut)- repair and repopulate good bacteria. A lot of focus here for repair and reversal of damage.
5. Detoxification- reduce toxic load on body, help the body excrete stored toxins, chemicals, heavy metals. Consider chelation through many modalities.
6. Supporting the immune system- metabolism and detox systems repaired so the body functions as it should.
7. Other modalities and therapies to consider (OT- regulating the nervous system, massage, cranial sacral, special exercise, neurofeedback, HBOT, brain highways, sleep therapy, chiropractic, speech, ABA, IBI, Floortime, SONrise etc)
I believe that any form of intervention/therapy can help ease symptoms of any condition, at any age- there are various to choose from. Any aspect of the protocols listed above can help any child, parents just need to consider what options will work for their current stage. When you give the body what it needs to move towards healing, it responds in kind. From there, discovering a new baseline of feeling better, becomes the incentive to progress on the path towards health.