The Link Between Inflammation and Autism

The Link Between Inflammation and Autism

Understanding the link between inflammation and autism symptoms can help you in your quest for autism recovery. Autistic kids have gut issues, yeast issues, parasite issues, and their body’s have turned into toxic waste sites. They’re also almost always victims of vaccine injury, causing neurological complications and brain damage. Autism recovery comes from addressing all these critical concerns, but an important aspect of the recovery process that is often overlooked is addressing inflammation. 

Kanner’s Contribution To Misdiagnosis

Ever heard of Leo Kanner? Well, he was the first person to identify autism in 1943. His theory was that autism was a result of the mother being emotionally unavailable to the child. Essentially, his idea was that the child’s autism was caused due to  psychological damage because the mother didn’t nurture and emotional bond with the child.

I can only assume he took one look at the hopeless, despairing, exhausted and flat mother before him and failed to realize that the mother’s disposition was more than likely the effect of raising the child, not the other way around. Indeed, the depression and anxiety mothers of autistic children experience is tremendous.

Autism is so common now that the effect of having an autistic child on the parent’s sanity is no longer questioned. Regardless, Kanner’s erroneous conclusion about the cause of autism seems to have left a lasting impression. Autism is still diagnosed with psychiatric diagnostic codes despite decades of published literature documenting the physical symptoms and ailments of children with autism.

For those parents like myself who have spent thousands of dollars and thousands of hours in search of answers, we know this is absolute bullshit. Autism is indeed an illness and our kids aren’t psychotic. They’re physically ill,  and true to the point of this article, inflammation must be addressed as part of the autism recovery protocol.

How Inflammation Causes Autism Symptoms

What comes first, the chicken or the egg? That seems to be the conundrum that researchers face when considering the connection between inflammation and autism. Are the underlying autism symptoms causing the inflammation, or is the inflammation causing the autism symptoms?

In my experience recovering my own son (click here for more on Aaron’s story), the inflammation and the symptoms are one and the same. You see, with Aaron, he was showing extreme signs of immune distress as an infant but no signs of autism.

I now know that he already had inflammation in his body before he began to drift away from us. I say it was the state of his weakened immune system and chronic inflammation that pre-disposed him to vaccine injury. My son began showing signs of autism 10 days after his MMR. So, the sequence of events here looks like this.

  1. Aaron shows signs of immune distress which I know now indicate inflammation in the GI tract, among other things.
  2. Aaron receives his MMR.
  3. Aaron suddenly develops extreme rashes, eczema, head tics, stops talking, loses eye contact, balance, and no longer shows preference for his right hand. In short, he no longer looks like a typical infant. He is now showing signs of autism.
  4. Inflammation increases, yeast overgrowth persists, gut dysbiosis becomes chronic.
  5. Aaron is finally diagnosed with autism 1.5 years later.

What Exactly Is Inflammation?

Dan Arking of Johns Hopkins’ McKusick-Nathans Institute for Genetic Medicinewhite-blood-cell-543471_640 has this to say:

“There are many different ways of getting autism, but we found that they all have the same downstream effect (inflammation).  What we don’t know is whether this immune response is making things better in the short term and worse in the long term.”

What this means is that autistic kids, regardless of what triggered their autism, are in a state of extreme inflammation. Not just in the brain but in their entire body. Inflammation is supposed to occur as a natural process in the body to attack bacteria and viruses that enter our blood stream.  But the inflammatory response is only supposed to be temporary!  The body must reduce inflammation in order to heal because prolonged inflammation leads to serious health consequences. 

Some researchers are finding that inflammation in the mother during pregnancy is enough to predispose the child to develop autism. This makes total sense. Inflammation does indeed subject the brain of a fetus to develop brain abnormalities that can result in cognitive and behavioral characteristics of autism.

Want proof? There was a a study published in February of 2014 in Finland which followed the pregnancy, birth, and development of 1.2 million children. The first stage of the study was a measurement of the pregnant woman’s C-reactive protein (CRP), which is a well-known measure of inflammation.

What they discovered is that autism rates were 43% higher in children born to mother’s whose CRP was elevated, compared to mother’s who’s CRP level was considered within normal limits. Hmm…

 Is Inflammation Contributing To My Child’s Autism Symptoms?

In short, yes. If your child has autism then inflammation is contributing to the severity of their symptoms. Signs of inflammation are inability to focus or concentrate, cognitive and language delay, eczema, behavioral issues, headaches, chronic illness, trouble sleeping, and itching. However, even though research indicates that brain inflammation is almost always a factor in children with ASD, they are very rarely given the medical diagnosis of encephalitis by their doctors and pediatricians when symptoms first appear.

What’s Encephalitis?

Encephalitis is acute inflammation of the brain that is caused by either a viral infection or the immune system mistakenly attacking brain tissue.

 brain image

Encephalitis Triggers

  • Vaccines
  • GMOs
  • Stress
  • Gut Dysbiosis,
  • Viruses
  • Infection
  • Poor diet of processed foods
  • Chemical exposure


What are microglia?

You need to know this term in order to more fully understand the connection between brain inflammation and autism. Think of microglia as the body’s main defenders of the central nervous system. They’re job is to protect us from microorganisms, diseases, and infections.  When activated, microglia seek and destroy microbes and unhealthy cells in the brain. When they are not activated, they stay quiet and dormant.

Activated microglia will harm healthy brain tissue when they don’t shut off like they’re supposed to. In a study where researchers analyzed microglia in 72 brains, they found that the microglia were almost entirely dormant (not-inflamed) in the non-autistic brains, whereas in microglia of autistic brains where widespread and active. By the way, 47 of the 72 brains analysed belonged to autistic individuals. This study is just one among so many which prove the links between autism and brain inflammation. So you’ve got to figure that the microglia in your child’s brain are running in over-drive, too.

Should I Give My Child Prescription Medication to Reduce Inflammation?

I understand the appeal of wanting give your child a pill to “fix” their condition. Honestly, its a pipe dream. True healing doesn’t work this way. Reducing inflammation is absolutely an essential part of relieving autism symptoms, but the use of prescription medication should be very carefully scrutinized.

If you are considering any prescription medication in your child’s recovery plan, be sure you research the side effects carefully.  Also, keep in mind that the temporary reduction of inflammation will do nothing for your child in the long term if the cause(s) of the inflammation are not addressed.

On the other hand, there are plenty of things you can do to reduce the causes of inflammation and reduce autism symptoms permanently. These are things you can do at home, with little expense. It only takes time, commitment, and education. I have used all the the following home remedies to help my son recover.

Home Remedies to Reduce Inflammation and Autism Symptoms

  • Diet that removes starch, refined sugars, synthetic ingredients, processed foods, GMOs, and gluten
  • Homemade Ginger Tea (homemade, NOT from a tea bag)
  • Turmeric Root
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Daily Detoxification like Epsom salt baths, drinking beetroot kvass, and fresh pressed juices
  • Organic Sulfur
  • Vitamin C
  • Filtered Water
  • Reduced Stress Environment: Sleep, remove stimuli, don’t pressure
  • Chiropractic Care


I can guarantee that the causes of inflammation will not be remedied by drugs although with drugs symptoms oftentimes can be effectively managed. But what are you trying to do? Manage symptoms or address the cause? Train yourself to forward think to understanding causes rather than symptoms and the consequences of your decisions will be much clearer to you.

A therapeutic diet like GAPS is the only way to permanently reduce internal and external causes of inflammation so that your child’s body can heal. Once the inflammation is down, the severity of autism symptoms almost always comes down as well.

By the way, the Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience happen to be the largest and most cited resource for neuroscience publications. If you’re interested in reading some excellent research on the subject of brain inflammation and autism, try reading Relevance of Neuroinflammation and Encephalitis in Autism.

I personally have found that reducing inflammation is indeed a critical step in autism recovery, so if you have any questions about this objective or suggestions for other readers please feel free to reach out via the comment section below!

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  1. Thoughts on chelation for reducing inflammation? Cutler method seems gentleist

    • Hi Dan!

      Thanks for reaching out. First off, I don’t recommend people try any form of chelation until the GI track is fully healed, and there are no signs of parasites or malnutrition. In order to accomplish those things one would have to undergo a dedicated period of time to a therapeutic diet like GAPS that ensures the gut is healed and allows the body time to reestablish its natural detoxification pathways. Chelation causes numerous issues and can be very dangerous. In fact, many of the kids who experience benefits during the process also experience regression afterwards since chelation only removes what is present, and does not correct the malfunction of the body’s ability to process and detoxify naturally. Even the Cutler method, gentle as is may seem, in my opinion should only be considered as a step in the total recovery plan as a last resort once safer approaches have been adopted. As far as chelation for reduction of inflammation, I wouldn’t give it much hope. If you do go this route, be sure you child is under close medical supervision before, during, and after the process. Hope this helps!

  2. Hi Patrisha

    From researching the “Cutler Chelation Protocol”, he believes that you will never be able to fully heal the gut if you are harboring metals. He also believes that systemic inflammation is likely due to metals disrupting the body’s normal functioning.

    Can you provide any sources for your belief that chelation is dangerous if done using this method?

    And could you do a SCD or GAPS diet while chelating?


    • Hi Rose! Thanks for commenting! First thing – I agree absolutely that if if the body is holding on to high levels of heavy metals there will always be an internal source of toxicity which will add to inflammation and prevent the GI tract from full recovery. Second – I firmly believe that there is a fine line between detoxification and chelation. They are not the same thing, yet when working to rebuild the body’s natural detoxification pathways we are essentially able to “chelate” heavy metals and other toxins to a large degree. Third – I am not advocating that the Cutler Chelation Protocol is more dangerous than other methods of chemical chelation, in fact, it’s probably less dangerous. What I am saying is that any form of chelation can be dangerous if not done at the right time in the healing process and under close medical observation. Consider the following:

      1. DMSA and other chelating agents can cause bone-marrow suppression, which leads to problems with blood clotting and interferes with blood immune response to infections and other toxins.
      2. Chelation of any kinds causes and explosion of fungal and bacterial growth in the gut. This is why responsible physicians administering chelation will always advise that any gut issues be resolved prior to undergoing chelation. Chelation almost always results in the return of gut dysbiosis in patients who have previously achieved balance. Sometimes, the dysbiosis is worse than before.
      3. Chelation strips the body of essential minerals. Zinc is particularly a problem autistic children are almost always severely deficient in this mineral to begin with. Doctors typically advise very high doses of supplementation of zinc during chelation for this reason. The trouble with zinc supplementation (and this goes across the board) is that the absorption mechanism for zinc the body requires normal levels of stomach acidity, which autistic children do not have.

      So, to answer your final question, I believe that GAPS diet is essential for recovery. SCD is very similar to GAPS, but they do have some fundamental differences which, in my opinion, makes GAPS superior for autism recovery. Read Specific Carbohydrate Diet Vs. GAPS Diet for Autism Recovery for more info on this decision.

      If chelating, I would absolutely continue GAPS during the process, being extremely diligent to watch fruit and honey consumption until 3 months after chelation is stopped.

      Having said all this, here’s the bottom line: Chemical chelation is risky. I suggest doing all that you can with diet and detoxification to help the body heal and restore natural detox systems. Consider chemical chelation, even Cutler Protocol, as a last resort.

      Good luck!


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