Showing posts with label Biotin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Biotin. Show all posts

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Interview Series with Leading Autism Researchers

Seth Bittker, a regular reader of this blog and our occasional guest blogger, is creating an excellent interview series with leading autism researchers.

These interviews will be of interest to all readers of this blog.  There is something for everyone, whether you are the type that reads the literature in detail, or is more interested in the lay summary.

There are three interviews, all with podcasts, and more will be added later.

Good work Seth!  I am sure he will be interested in your suggestions for future interview candidates. 

By the way, in the third interview, Dr Lonsdale refers to his preferred thiamine supplement called TTFD, this has been used for decades in Japan.   It is also called Fursultiamine and the Japanese brand name is Alinamin, which is made by Takeda, a major Japanese company.  The Japanese website (in English) is here.

Takeda have various combinations with other B vitamins and some are sold on Amazon/eBay.  Some with very high amounts of B12.  

In interview number two above, Dr Hendrenon clearly does believe in the merits of extra B12 in autism.  His trial did inject the vitamin, rather than take it orally. 

It is best to only supplement at high doses the B vitamins that really help in your specific case; there are known  negative reactions to some B vitamins, so best to go through them one by one.

There is also a version of TTFD sold as Allithiamine by a small US company, Ecological Formulas, which Seth is investigating.

So as long as swallowing pills is possible, you have the opportunity to replicate Dr Lonsdale's trial and see if you have a responder or not. 

Side Effects of high dose B vitamins

According to the University of Maryland taking any one of the B vitamins for a long period of time can result in an imbalance of other important B vitamins, they suggest taking a B-complex vitamin which includes all B vitamins.

This might explain why some people who initially respond well to high doses of biotin, vitamin B7, later experience a negative response. 

Many people do not respond well to high doses of multiple B vitamins as prescribed by some DAN-type doctors.

Dr Frye, from interview number one, is also a big believer in B vitamin supplementation.

Clearly B vitamin supplementation needs to be much better thought out, to keep any good effects, without developing any bad effects. 

Friday, 8 April 2016

Mirtazapine and Folate for Idiopathic Schizophrenia, but for which Autism?

 China, where things tend to be big, even their clinical trials

A short while ago we looked at the possible mechanisms behind a reader’s successful experience in use of Mirtazapine (Remeron) in autism, then being prescribed to increase appetite.

Mirtazapine is a tricyclic antidepressant, meaning it is very closely related to first generation antihistamines, but it has numerous other effects;  more of that later.

Folate is vitamin B9.  Folic acid is synthetically produced, and used in fortified foods and supplements on the theory that it is converted into folate, which may not be the case.

It appears that in both schizophrenia and autism there is a family of possible folate dysfunctions that range from minor to severe.  The mild dysfunction responds to a small supplement of folate, while the severe dysfunction requires a much larger supplement of folate.

Roger, another reader of this blog has the more severe dysfunction called Cerebral Folate Deficiency (CFD) and this condition is best studied by Vincent Ramaekers  (Department of Pediatric Neurology and Center of Autism, University Hospital Liege) and Richard Frye at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital.

Cerebral folate deficiency as diagnosed by Ramaekers/Frye is extremely rare.

In a previous post we looked at Biotin (vitamin B7) and we saw that while biotin/biotinidase deficiency is technically extremely rare, a partial deficiency seems to exist in about 5% of people with autism.  

Both severe biotin/biotinidase deficiency and partial biotin/biotinidase deficiency responds well to high dose biotin supplementation.

Without going into the details of Folate Receptor Autoantibodies (FRAs), it is clear that Ramaekers has found the same condition in both Schizophrenia and Autism.

The milder folate dysfunction is very well known in schizophrenia.

The Chinese Trial

On the basis that bigger is better, a clinical trial is underway in China on 330 subjects with Schizophrenia to measure the benefit of Mirtazapine and/or folate as an add-on therapy.

I was quite surprised to come across this trial.

Today’s Post

Today’s post will look at the known effects of Mirtazapine and folate in schizophrenia and also the role folate plays in human biology.

There are lab tests that you could make to check for Folate dysfunction, just as there are for Biotin dysfunction. 

The standard therapy for Cerebral Folate Deficiency is the prescription drug leucovorin, normally used in cancer therapy.  There is also a supplement called Metafolin (Levomefolate calcium) that should have a very similar, if not identical, effect. Metafolin is produced by Merck and sold to supplement companies on the basis that it is only sold in low doses.  Metafolin appears more than your average “supplement”.

Another producer of Levomefolate calcium, is Pamlab; they sell it as a treatment for memory loss and peripheral neuropathy.  Pamlab was purchased by Nestlé Health Science in 2013; the Swiss tend to know what they are doing.


Schizophrenia overlaps significantly with autism in terms of its genetic origin.
Interestingly, people with schizophrenia may have a high rate of irritable bowel syndrome, but they often do not mention it unless specifically asked.

To better understand the clinical trials you need to know that the schizophrenia is a spectrum like autism with three main problem areas:-

Positive symptoms
These are symptoms that most individuals do not normally experience but are present in people with schizophrenia. They can include delusions, disordered thoughts and speech, and tactile, auditory, visual, olfactory and gustatory hallucinations, typically regarded as manifestations of psychosis. Hallucinations are also typically related to the content of the delusional theme. Positive symptoms generally respond well to medication.

Negative symptoms
These are deficits of normal emotional responses or of other thought processes, and are less responsive to medication. They commonly include flat expressions or little emotion, poverty of speech, inability to experience pleasure,lack of desire to form relationships, and lack of motivation. Negative symptoms appear to contribute more to poor quality of life, functional ability, and the burden on others than do positive symptoms. People with greater negative symptoms often have a history of poor adjustment before the onset of illness, and response to medication is often limited.


Cognitive dysfunction

The extent of the cognitive deficits an individual experiences is a predictor of how functional an individual will be, the quality of occupational performance, and how successful the individual will be in maintaining treatment.  The presence and degree of cognitive dysfunction in individuals with schizophrenia has been reported to be a better indicator of functionality than the presentation of positive or negative symptoms

Effective psychiatric drugs only exist for the positive symptoms, they do not exist for the negative symptoms or the cognitive dysfunction.

Folate Deficiency in Schizophrenia

Folate treatment in schizophrenia is linked to improvement in the negative symptoms that are normally untreatable.

Studies are mixed, but subgroups clearly exist in schizophrenia where folate supplementation improved well-being.

The rare severe dysfunction which is Cerebral Folate Deficiency is shown to exist in schizophrenia. 

Folate and vitamin B12 supplementation reduces disabling schizophrenia symptoms in patients with specific gene variants

Participants were all taking antipsychotic medications – which have been shown to alleviate positive symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions, but not negative symptoms – and were randomized to receive daily doses of either folate and vitamin B12 or a placebo for 16 weeks. Every two weeks their medical and psychiatric status was evaluated, using standard symptom assessment tools along with measurements of blood levels of folate and homocysteine, an amino acid that tends to rise when folate levels drop. Nutritional information was compiled to account for differences in dietary intake of the nutrients. Participants' blood samples were analyzed to determine the variants they carried of MTHFR and three other folate-pathway genes previously associated with the severity of negative symptoms of schizophrenia. 

Among all 140 participants in the study protocol, those receiving folate and vitamin B12 showed improvement in negative symptoms, but the degree of improvement was not statistically significant compared with the placebo group. But when the analysis accounted for the variants in the genes of interest, intake of the two nutrients did provide significant improvement in negative symptoms, chiefly reflecting the effects of specific variants in MTHFR and in a gene called FOLH1. Variants in the other two genes studied did not appear to have an effect on treatment outcome.


Folate and vitamin B12 status in schizophrenic patients

This study showed that folate deficiency is common in schizophrenic patients; therefore, it is important to pay attention to folate levels in these patients.

Folinic acid treatment for schizophrenia associated with folate receptor autoantibodies

The Role of Folate/vitamin B9 in Human Biology

Vitamin B9 is essential for numerous bodily functions. Humans cannot synthesize folates de novo; therefore, folic acid has to be supplied through the diet to meet their daily requirements. The human body needs folate to synthesize DNA, repair DNA, and methylate DNA as well as to act as a cofactor in certain biological reactions.

Folic acid is synthetically produced, and used in fortified foods and supplements on the theory that it is converted into folate.  To be used it must be converted to tetrahydrofolate (tetrahydrofolic acid) by dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR). Increasing evidence suggests that this process may be slow in humans.

Note betaine below, which is also used to treat Cerebral Folate Deficiency, along with NAC.

Folic Acid, Folinic Acid and Folate

The terminology is confusing; what we want is folate, but there are several ways to get it.  Folic acid does not appear to be a good way.  Folinic acid, Levomefolic acid and Levomefolate calcium look to be the most effective supplements.

Here is a brief summary from Wikipedia:_

Folinic acid  or leucovorin, generally administered as the calcium or sodium salt (calcium folinate, sodium folinate, leucovorin calcium, leucovorin sodium), is an adjuvant used in cancer chemotherapy involving the drug methotrexate. It is also used in synergistic combination with the chemotherapy agent 5-fluorouracil.

Folinic acid (also called 5-formyltetrahydrofolate) was first discovered in 1948 as citrovorum factor and occasionally is still called by that name. Folinic acid should be distinguished from folic acid (vitamin B9). However, folinic acid is a vitamer for folic acid, and has the full vitamin activity of this vitamin.

Levomefolic acid is the primary biologically active form of folic acid used at the cellular level for DNA reproduction, the cysteine cycle and the regulation of homocysteine. It is also the form found in circulation and transported across membranes into tissues and across the blood-brain barrier. In the cell, L-methylfolate is used in the methylation of homocysteine to form methionine and tetrahydrofolate (THF). THF is the immediate acceptor of one carbon units for the synthesis of thymidine-DNA, purines (RNA and DNA) and methionine. The un-methylated form, folic acid (vitamin B9), is a synthetic form of folate, and must undergo enzymatic reduction by methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) to become biologically active.

It is synthesized in the absorptive cells of the small intestine from polyglutamylated dietary folate. It is a methylated derivative of tetrahydrofolate. Levomefolic acid is generated by MTHFR from 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate (MTHF) and used to recycle homocysteine back to methionine by 5-methyltetrahydrofolate-homocysteine methyltransferase(MTR) also known as methionine synthase (MS).
Levomefolic acid (and folic acid in turn) has been proposed for treatment of cardiovascular disease and advanced cancers such as breast and colorectal cancers. It bypasses several metabolic steps in the body and better binds thymidylate synthase with fDump, a metabolite of the drug fluorouracil.

Levomefolate calcium, a calcium salt of levomefolic acid, is sold under the brand names Metafolin (a registered trademark of Merck KGaA) and Deplin (trademark of Pamlab, LLC). Methyl folate can be bought at online stores or in some chemists though without a prescription.

A good choice seems to be Metafolin, like in this product:-

Folate and Autism

We know from Roger and Frye/Ramaekers that the rare condition condition Cerebral folate deficiency (CFD) exists in autism, but what about the more widespread milder dysfunction like that found in schizophrenia?

As usual the level of knowledge in autism is less than that in schizophrenia.  The paper below concludes that when it comes to autism, not much is known.

Folic acid and autism: What do we know?


Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) consist in a range of neurodevelopmental conditions that share common features with autism, such as impairments in communication and social interaction, repetitive behaviors, stereotypies, and a limited repertoire of interests and activities. Some studies have reported that folic acid supplementation could be associated with a higher incidence of autism, and therefore, we aimed to conduct a systematic review of studies involving relationships between this molecule and ASD. The MEDLINE database was searched for studies written in English which evaluated the relationship between autism and folate. The initial search yielded 60 potentially relevant articles, of which 11 met the inclusion criteria. The agreement between reviewers was κ = 0.808. The articles included in the present study addressed topics related to the prescription of vitamins, the association between folic acid intake/supplementation during pregnancy and the incidence of autism, food intake, and/or nutrient supplementation in children/adolescents with autism, the evaluation of serum nutrient levels, and nutritional interventions targeting ASD. Regarding our main issue, namely the effect of folic acid supplementation, especially in pregnancy, the few and contradictory studies present inconsistent conclusions. Epidemiological associations are not reproduced in most of the other types of studies. Although some studies have reported lower folate levels in patients with ASD, the effects of folate-enhancing interventions on the clinical symptoms have yet to be confirmed.

Given the anecdotal evidence, including from our reader Seth, and the close biological relationship between autism and schizophrenia it seems pretty clear that a sub-group of people with autism do have a folate dysfunction that should respond to supplementation.  

How big this subgroup is remains to be seen.  For biotin it is about 5%, for vitamin B12 it about 10%.  Given it is known that MTHFR mutations are very common in autism, for example 23% were found to have the homozygous mutation 677CT allele (see the study below), it is very likely to be a sizeable group.  MTHFR is only one of the genes that could cause a folate problem.

A trial of metafolin could be a rewarding experience for some.

Back to the second half of that big Chinese Trial - Mirtazapine

There is a wealth of research that looks into the benefit of Mirtazapine in schizophrenia.  I choose to highlight a study from Finland because it is extremely comprehensive.

It has been reported earlier, from another part of this study, that clear-cut differences in all PANSS subscales and a large effect size of 1,00 (CI95% 0,23-1,67) on the PANSS total scores resulted from mirtazapine treatment when compared with a placebo in both within group and between group analyses during the double-blind phase (Joffe et al. 2009). In the open label phase, patients who switched to mirtazapine treatment demonstrated a clinical improvement in the same manner as their mirtazapine-treated counterparts in the double-blind phase. Prolonged treatment with mirtazapine led to more prominent improvements in clinical parameters than short-term treatment. A trend towards improvement was seen in all measured parameters, therefore providing more evidence of mirtazapine’s beneficial effect on schizophrenia symptoms.

The actual mechanism for a potential neurocognitive enhancing effect of mirtazapine in schizophrenia remains unknown, but it may be elucidated from its receptor binding profile. Like most SGAs, mirtazapine could also increase prefrontal dopaminergic and noradrenergic activity via 5-HT2A or 5-HT2C receptor blockade, as demonstrated in animal models (Liegeois et al. 2002; Meneses 2007; Zhang et al. 2000), and thus improve neurocognitive performance. Secondly, 5-HT3 receptor modulation by mirtazapine could also improve neurocognition (Akhondzadeh et al. 2009), presumably through increased release of acetylcholine (Ramirez et al. 1996). Thirdly, mirtazapine might improve neurocognition as a result of the indirect agonism of 5-HT1A receptors (Sumiyoshi et al. 2007). Moreover, mirtazapine is a more potent alpha-2 receptor antagonist than clozapine, which may explain its additional neurocognition-enhancing effect, even if it is added to clozapine (as in the study reported by Delle Chiae et al. 2007). The alpha-2 receptors remain an important target for neurocognitive research and its down-regulation may enhance neurocognition through a noradrenaline-mediated modulation of response to environmental stimuli (Friedman et al. 2004). Furthermore, alpha-2 receptor antagonism seems to boost hippocampal neurogenesis (Rizk et al. 2006). Also, mirtazapine may actually boost levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) Rogoz et al. 2005), which is a major mediator of neurogenesis 62 and neuroplasticity. Correspondingly, those who suffer from schizophrenia often have abnormally low BDNF serum levels (Rizos et al. 2008).

During the 6-week extension phase, patients who had previously received six weeks of mirtazapine and those on placebo both showed significant improvement on several neurocognitive tests. Twelve-week mirtazapine treatment demonstrated better neurocognitive outcome than just six weeks of mirtazapine treatment, as evaluated by Stroop Dots time and TMT-B, number of mistakes, which are associated with general improvement in mental speed/attention control and executive functions. Twelve-week mirtazapine add-on to antipsychotic treatment indicated additional neurocognitive improvements of just six weeks, which demonstrates a progressive therapeutic effect.

In earlier posts on Mirtazapine/Remeron I raised various possible modes of action and other readers added their further ideas.

The table below lists some of the possible modes of action.  I declare a bias towards the importance of histamine, but clearly many more things are involved.

Mirtazapine has been trialed for a vast range of conditions:

A Review of Therapeutic Uses of Mirtazapine in Psychiatric and Medical Conditions

Mirtazapine is an effective antidepressant with unique mechanisms of action. It is characterized by a relatively rapid onset of action, high response and remission rates, a favorable side-effect profile, and several unique therapeutic benefits over other antidepressants. Mirtazapine has also shown promise in treating some medical disorders, including neurologic conditions, and ameliorating some of the associated debilitating symptoms of weight loss, insomnia, and postoperative nausea and vomiting.

And even Fibromyalgia, which I did suggest was the “almost autism” for females:-

In a 6-week open-label trial of mirtazapine, 54% of the 26 fibromyalgia patients who completed the study demonstrated a clinically significant reduction in pain intensity and in mean weekly dosage of acetaminophen. Additionally, there was a significant improvement in sleep quality and somatic symptoms, including cold extremities, dry mouth, sweating, dizziness, and headache. Of note, the magnitude of reduction in major fibromyalgia symptoms was significantly correlated with the magnitude of reduction in depression

Mirtazapine in Autism

In the new trial of Mirtazapine in autism they have chosen to focus on anxiety.  That looks odd to me given the very wide scope of benefits seen in schizophrenia and the feedback of our reader who asked why Remeron was working wonders with his child.

As is often the case, this trial at Massachusetts General Hospital uses doses that are extremely high.  Given the numerous effects of this drug it is highly likely that the effect may be completely different at higher/lower doses.

This study will determine the effectiveness of mirtazapine in reducing anxiety in children with autistic disorder, Asperger's disorder and Pervasive Developmental Disorder.

The starting dose for subjects is 7.5 mg daily. The maximum daily dose will be 45 mg.

I am very much in agreement with the readers of this blog using Mirtazapine at a lower dose.

As the schizophrenia trial showed, the effect grows over time, so better to try a low dose of 5mg for two months than race up to 45mg. 

Thursday, 21 January 2016

2016 To-do List

I expect many readers of this blog have a list of things to trial in 2016; I certainly do.

Monty’s older brother, codenamed Ted, did say to me recently, “I thought you said you’d be all finished with this, in a couple of years”; that was indeed the intention.  

A medicine cabinet to be proud of, but not mine

It has now been three years.  I never really intended to go so deeply into the science, and I never expected there to be so many “obvious” things un/under-investigated by researchers.

Most people diagnosed these days with “autism” are fortunate to be relatively mildly affected.  Parents of those kids likely find this blog rather shocking; how can so many pills be needed and still you want more?

Some other people also diagnosed with autism, face really big challenges, not limited to:-
     ·        Unable to talk
·        Unable to walk
·        Unable to eat (must use G tube)
·        Unable to be toilet trained
·        Unable to read
·        Unable to write
·        Have seizures 

So when asked by a teacher at school, if Monty, now aged 12, has severe autism I responded in the negative.  He does not tick any of the above boxes.

If you have more than “mild autism” it seems that there are likely many dysfunctions and the more you treat, the better the result.  A quest without an end.


Ted hates his relatives discussing his school grades and I agree with him that they are entirely his business.  We all know that typical kids vary in how smart they are and how motivated they are.  NT kids tend to get the grades they deserve.

I do break these rules with Monty, but that is because I really want to show that when a person has numerous neurological dysfunctions, as those found in classic autism, if you treat them with science (not with bleach and other nonsense), you can end up in a different, better place. 99.99999% of the world do not know this; perhaps 500 people do know.

Improving IQ will improve the person’s ability to understand and compensate for the dysfunctions that have not been treated.  

Grading academic performance at school is something we all understand and along with its limitations.  We have all been there, so let's use it.

Kids with classic autism do not get the grades they potentially deserve.  Most can be made smarter and it is easy to measure.

Before coming to my to-do list, I did receive another question about what exactly is the effect of bumetanide. 

When I collected Monty from school the other day, his assistant was proudly holding up the latest “quick fire” math test, where speed is seemingly even more important than the right answer.

So Monty, the only one with autism, came first and by a long way. 3 minutes and 35 seconds, with the runner up taking 3:56.  He got 90% correct, but that is enough to keep first place.   The previous test before Christmas he got 100%, but finished 7th out of 16 on speed.  It must be the turkey.

The questions are very simple, since you have to be very fast; but until the age of 9, and the introduction of Bumetanide, the class teacher would never have dreamt of having Monty compete at all.  Coming a distant last in everything would be disheartening, for the teacher. Monty would not have even noticed, let alone cared.

People with Classic Autism, or what Knut termed SDA (strict definition autism), are usually hopeless academically; but with Bumetanide, it does not have to be that way. 

Many people with classic autism leave school 18 years old, still at the level of single digit addition and subtraction, or perhaps up to 20.

If you reach the academic level of Grade 2 (Year 3 in the UK system), that of a typical 7 or 8 year old, by the time you “graduate” high school, you are doing above average.

So Ted is not alone in being able to get good grades.  The PolyPill is indeed worth all the bother.

To-do list

I did have to go through by supply cupboard to see what I had not got round to testing and that I still think has some potential merit.  Some things did get thrown out.

Some old ideas are worth revisiting.

·        Biotin (high dose)
This did seem to have a marginal positive effect and is both cheap and harmless. 

·        Pregnenolone (very low dose)
This also appeared to have some positive effect and should affect GABA subunit expression. High doses have been used in a Stanford clinical trial. We saw in earlier posts that allopregnanolone possesses biphasic, U-shaped actions at the GABAA receptor, meaning that a tiny dose can have the same effect as a large dose.
 I like low doses.  

Old ideas worth developing:-

·        Miyairi 588 bacteria, but at higher doses

This is the bacteria used as a probiotic in Japan for humans, since the 1940s.  It is also added to animal feed to avoid inflammatory disease and so produce healthier animals.

The science showed that it should be helpful to raise Butyrate levels.  It can be achieved directly via supplementation, with sodium butyrate, and indirectly by adding a butyrate-producing bacteria, such as Clostridium Butyricum or Miyari 588.

I have been using a tiny dose of Miyari 588 for months.  It achieves what it is sold for in Japan, in that it reduces gas, which is the only obvious negative side effect of Monty’s Polypill, other than diuresis.

The positive side effect of the Polypill is near perfect asthma control.  Asthma is an auto-immune/inflammatory disease, highly comorbid with autism. 

The effect of Miyari 588 is reversible because this bacteria cannot survive long in the intestines, which is why you have to take it every day.  It crowds out some of the other bacteria in the intestines, but they will soon grow back.

New ideas already in this blog:-

·        Diamox

I did suggest on several occasions that it might be possible to get a “Bumetanide plus” effect by adding Diamox.

Diamox (Acetazolamide) is another diuretic and it is a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor

Acetazolamide is a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor, hence causing the accumulation of carbonic acid Carbonic anhydrase is an enzyme found in red blood cells that catalyses the following reaction:

hence lowering blood pH, by means of the following reaction that carbonic acid undergoes:

The mechanism of diuresis involves the proximal tubule of the kidney. The enzyme carbonic anhydrase is found here, allowing the reabsorption of bicarbonate, sodium, and chloride. By inhibiting this enzyme, these ions are excreted, along with excess water, lowering blood pressure, intracranial pressure, and intraocular pressure. By excreting bicarbonate, the blood becomes acidic, causing compensatory hyperventilation, increasing levels of oxygen and decreasing levels of carbon dioxide in the blood

This change in bicarbonate will also affect the AE3 and NDAE exchangers.

As you will see in the figure below the regulation of bicarbonate HCO3- and pH is directly connected to chloride Cl- homeostasis.  This means that via AE3 and NDAE you can affect intracellular chloride levels by change the level of HCO3-

In turns this means that Diamox (Acetazolamide) really should have an effect on the level of intracellular chloride.

This in turn suggested to me that Diamox could augment the effect that bumetanide has on NKCC1.

 In the case that Bumetanide can lower intracellular chloride, but not to the optimal level to correct the GABA dysfunction, Diamox might be able to lower chloride levels a little further so further shifting GABA to inhibitory.

Neuronal activity results in significant pH shifts in neurons, glia, and interstitial space. Several transport mechanisms are involved in the fine-tuning and regulation of extra- and intracellular pH. The sodium-independent electroneutral anion exchangers (AEs) exchange intracellular bicarbonate for extracellular chloride and thereby lower the intracellular pH. Recently, a significant association was found with the variant Ala867Asp of the anion exchanger AE3, which is predominantly expressed in brain and heart, in a large cohort of patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy. To analyze a possible involvement of AE3 dysfunction in the pathogenesis of seizures, we generated an AE3-knockout mouse model by targeted disruption of Slc4a3. AE3-knockout mice were apparently healthy, and neither displayed gross histological and behavioral abnormalities nor spontaneous seizures or spike wave complexes in electrocorticograms. 

After only a couple of days of Diamox, it is pretty clear that there is indeed a “bumetanide plus” effect.  So the same changes that were noted when starting bumetanide appear again.

A promising start to 2016.

·        Ponstan

This is the NSAID that is also suggested to be useful to affect the ion channels expressed by the genes ANO 2/4/7 & KCNMA1.  We saw in this post

where Knut highlighted that Fenamates act as CaCC inhibitors and also stimulate BKCa channel activity.  Ponstan is a Fenamate.

·        Vitamin A

This was Maja’s discovery, that in some people vitamin A will stimulate oxytocin, via upregulation of CD38.

·        Zinc

Zinc should affect GABA, particularly in immature neurons.  Zinc homeostasis is disturbed in some autism and perhaps, in some people, a small dose of zinc may actually have a positive effect.  Simple to check.

Clioquinol, the drug that shifts zinc to the “right” place, is not without risks.

·        Picamilon

Once the GABA switch has been repaired, it may be time for a little extra GABA.  GABA should not be able to cross the blood brain barrier (BBB), but in the form of Picamilion, it does cross the BBB.

·        Inositol

This it naturally produced in the body from glucose and used to be known as vitamin B8.  In some people Inositol reduces OCD and stereotypy.  Simple to check.

·        Montelukast

This is an asthma drug, considered very safe in children, that Dr Kelley (formerly of Johns Hopkins and likely the cleverest autism clinician)  uses in children with AMD, as a short term therapy, when they are sick and, very interestingly, before immunizations.  This is to avoid further mitochondrial damage.  Montelukast is a leukotriene receptor antagonist (LTRA) used for the maintenance treatment of asthma and to relieve symptoms of seasonal allergies.

Dr Kelley also uses Ibuprofen as a short term therapy to counter the effects of increased cytokine production.  Montelukast is more potent and has different side effects, meaning it might be a better choice than ibuprofen for some people.

Ibuprofen may be OTC, but, more than very occasional use, can cause side effects in many people.  These side effects are caused by NSAIDs also being COX-2 inhibitors, which leads to stomach and intestinal adverse reactions.

Since I have determined that in the case of autism I deal with, the surge in cytokines like IL6 causes behavioral regression, Montelukast might be a good alternative to Ibuprofen to treat some types of autism flare.  

So a new addition to the autism flare-up toolkit, I hope.


Ideas not yet in this blog:-

·        Curcumin

Curcumin, and particularly some of the substances within it, have been shown to have very interesting autism-relevant effects, particularly in vitro (in test tubes).  Whether taking curcumin orally, in reasonable doses, produces any of these effects in humans is a big question.  Many such substances like luteolin and resveratrol fail to meet expectations in humans, due to poor bioavailability.

There are various ways to improve the bioavailability of curcumin, so it seems worth investigating.

·        5-loxin

Frankincense has been used for 5,000 years.  More recently, two thousand years ago, three wise men did bring gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Frankincense is an aromatic resin obtained from trees of the genus Boswellia.  Boswellia is used for inflammatory conditions like arthritis in a similar way to curcumin.

There are six boswellic acids, one is most active. This fraction is called AKBA. 5-Loxin is a boswellia supplement claiming to deliver a high standardized level of AKBA.

5-Loxin does seem to help some people with arthritis, but does it have any benefit for the pro-inflammatory aspects found in some autism?  I am not expecting much, but you never know.

Ideas suggested to me by others, that look interesting:-

·        Mint/Menthol

This is Natasa’s discovery and there is evidence to show that Menthol does indeed affect GABAA receptors.

These results suggest that menthol positively modulates both synaptic and extrasynaptic populations of GABAA receptors in native PAG neurons. The development of agents that potentiate GABAA-mediated tonic currents and phasic IPSCs in a manner similar to menthol could provide a basis for novel GABAA-related pharmacotherapies.

·        NIAGEN / Nicotinamide Riboside

This was highlighted by Tyler and is another potential therapy for oxidative stress.  Not as cheap as peppermint, but definitely interesting, perhaps particularly for those with autism and mitochondrial dysfunction.

Also note that there are odd recurring links between some autism and obesity. This is not the first anti-obesity therapy that potentially has some benefit for autism.

As NAD+ is a rate-limiting cosubstrate for the sirtuin enzymes, its modulation is emerging as a valuable tool to regulate sirtuin function and, consequently, oxidative metabolism. In line with this premise, decreased activity of PARP-1 or CD38—both NAD+ consumers—increases NAD+ bioavailability, resulting in SIRT1 activation and protection against metabolic disease. Here we evaluated whether similar effects could be achieved by increasing the supply of nicotinamide riboside (NR), a recently described natural NAD+ precursor with the ability to increase NAD+ levels, Sir2-dependent gene silencing, and replicative life span in yeast. We show that NR supplementation in mammalian cells and mouse tissues increases NAD+ levels and activates SIRT1 and SIRT3, culminating in enhanced oxidative metabolism and protection against high-fat diet-induced metabolic abnormalities. Consequently, our results indicate that the natural vitamin NR could be used as a nutritional supplement to ameliorate metabolic and age-related disorders characterized by defective mitochondrial function.

Low-grade chronic inflammation (metaflammation) is a major contributing factor for the onset and development of metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Nicotinamide riboside (NR), which is present in milk and beer, is a functional vitamin B3 having advantageous effects on metabolic regulation. However, the anti-inflammatory capacity of NR is unknown. This study evaluated whether NR modulates hepatic nucleotide binding and oligomerization domain-like receptor family, pyrin domain containing 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome. Male, 8-week-old KK/HlJ mice were allocated to the control or NR group. NR (100 mg/kg/day) or vehicle (phosphate-buffered saline) was administrated by an osmotic pump for 7 days. Glucose control, lipid profiles, NLRP3 inflammasome, and inflammation markers were analyzed, and structural and histological analyses were conducted. NR treatment did not affect body weight gain, food intake, and liver function. Glucose control based on the oral glucose tolerance test and levels of serum insulin and adiponectin was improved by NR treatment. Among tested lipid profiles, NR lowered the total cholesterol concentration in the liver. Histological and structural analysis by hematoxylin and eosin staining and transmission electron microscopy, respectively, showed that NR rescued the disrupted cellular integrity of the mitochondria and nucleus in the livers of obese and diabetic KK mice. In addition, NR treatment significantly improved hepatic proinflammatory markers, including tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin (IL)-6, and IL-1. These ameliorations were accompanied by significant shifts of NLRP3 inflammasome components (NLRP3, ASC, and caspase1). These results demonstrate that NR attenuates hepatic metaflammation by modulating the NLRP3 inflammasome




An apparently crazy idea of my own, but actually serious:-

·        Propolis tincture, without the propolis

The BIO 30 Propolis from New Zealand is a (mild) PAK1 inhibitor.  One reader is convinced of its cognitive enhancing effects in autism .  I also think it had an effect, but in our case not as potent as that reader.  Now I am wondering what was it that produced this effect. 

Most propolis is made as a tincture with ethanol.  Propolis is not soluble in water.  They typically use 70% ethanol to make propolis tincture.  “Non-alcoholic” tinctures use glycol.

In the last post we saw ethanol has pronounced effects on several GABAA receptor subunits, mainly delta but also alpha, including possibly down regulating alpha 5.

So was it the propolis, or the ethanol that has the effect?

Propolis tincture is either made with ethanol (grain alcohol) or if it is “alcohol free” they use propylene glycolPropylene glycol actually is a food ingredient but it is also used to de-ice aircraft in winter.  Ethylene glycol is the antifreeze in your car and you would not want to drink that.

Compared to ethanol, glycol can dissolve less propolis, 

A quick check of school chemistry reminds us that if it is an –ol , it’s an alcohol.

·        Alcohols have at least one hydroxyl group
·        Diols have two hydroxyl groups

Propylene glycol is  C3H8Oand as you can see below it has two hydroxyl groups (the – OH), so it is both a diol and an alcohol. 

So your Propolis tincture can be ethanol-free, but it cannot be alcohol-free.  Someone might point that out to the supplement makers.

It also should be noted that propylene glycol has known effects on GABA very similar to ethanol.

This suggests that the users of ethanol-free BIO30 may also be seeing responses unrelated to propolis.

Propylene glycol even has an E-number, it is E1520.  It is cheap and they even sell it on Amazon.

Food grade ethanol is normally not sold to the public.

In lay terms, ethanol and alcohol are interchangeable, so one corner of the supermarket contains food grade ethanol, with some impurities.

Japanese research suggests that these impurities are much more potent than ethanol in modulating GABA receptors.  It is the fragrant compounds that accumulate over the years on wooden barrels that cause this effect.

The twenty drops of propolis suggested to me by the Japanese PAK1 researcher/doctor contained about 1ml of ethanol.  It seems that to get an effect on GABA similar to this amount of ethanol would require a much smaller amount to well-aged Japanese whiskey.

So if someone over 18 responds well to twenty drops of BIO 30 propolis, it would helpful if they could compare the effect with 1ml of Propylene glycol (E1520), 1ml of ethanol, if they find it, and with a few drops of well-aged whiskey.