The nemechek protocol
The Nemechek Protocol for reversing autism. Have you heard of it? Trying it? Reversing autism with 3 simple supplements is a tall order..
Personally, I laughed when I first read about it. I thought it was a joke. That yet another doctor was looking for his 15 minutes of fame at the expense of parents everywhere looking for a little hope on dark days.
Then there is that little voice in your mind, “what if he’s right? What if I could hear the sound of my sweet child voice, stop the violence and self injury or maybe even eat pizza again? What if?”
I don’t like what if’s. So in usual Elizabeth fashion, I dug a bit deeper. But first things first…
What is The Nemechek Protocol?
The protocol is based of the premise that Autism, ADHD and developmental delays are due to imbalanced intestinal flora and brain inflammation. The imbalanced intestinal flora is thought to be Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth or SIBO. The protocol uses Inulin (or Rifaximin), Fish Oil and California Olive Oil to correct both the SIBO as well as the brain inflammation. No probiotics, enzymes, or Omega 6 oils (soy/vegetable oils) are to be taken while on the protocol.
Sounds easy right? 3 little supplements and a promise of happy days filled with stories of how school was that day, soccer try-outs, AP classes, prom dates, early college acceptance letters, weddings and grandkids.
Okay, sure, Dr. Nemechek didn’t promise all that specifically. But when I think of recovery for my severely affected child, that is where my mind goes. Will he do those things without recovering from autism? I don’t know. Would he do those things even if he does recover? I still don’t know. But man, would I love to hear my son say “I love you mommy”. And even though he shows me that love everyday, it would still be nice to hear it. We have spent the last year working on Chases health and he has come so far behaviorally, but the speech has hardly progressed. So I decided to research this “recovery” protocol.
Does the science back it up?
If you have researched autism and gut health, then you know there is a strong connection. However, most gut health protocols regarding autism involve removal of yeast and bad bacteria. They call for diets like The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) and Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) both of which drastically limit fiber intake as to “starve” out the bad guys in the gut and allow it to heal. Many people have had success on these protocols, us included. Chase was on SCD for about 5 months and behaviorally came a long way. But now, this guy is telling me to give Inulin, a prebiotic fiber which feeds gut bacteria. Effectively saying to the do the exact opposite of what the autism community is used to doing to heal their kids guts.
Is he right? Did I want to risk 5 months of hard work just to potentially be undone and maybe even worse than where we started? On Dr. Nemecheks blog he discusses the proposed action in the body while on the protocol. He says that often the overgrowth of bacteria are clostridium species which produce large amounts of propionic acid. Per Dr. Nemechek, “Propionic acid is a short chain fatty acid that is normally produced in small amounts within the intestine but the higher concentrations are being linked to some of the behavioral aspects of autism”. He goes on to discuss propionic acid further and states “In animal studies, high propionic acid leads to development of anti-social behaviors, increased sensitivity to sound, light and touch, as well as gait abnormalities. In human studies, children with autism have very high concentrations of propionic acid within their tissues.” Then he mentions that the SIBO leads to leaky gut, proinflammatory cytokine levels, and inflammatory priming of the microglia (White Blood Cells within the Central Nervous System) something all too common in autism.
So the inulin is supposed to correct the reverse SIBO. The fish oil should reduce brain inflammation and normalize the microglia. Olive oil (from California, to avoid the many fake imported oils) contains oleic acid. This oleic acid reverses the toxicity from a western diet high in Linoleic acid (omega 6 fatty acids found in many conventional foods).
Personally, I had no trouble with the fish oil and olive oil concept. We have already been giving Chase both of these items with good results. The inulin is the tricky part. How is it possible that a fiber that people take specifically to feed bacteria, is supposed to reduce bacteria levels? Dr. Nemechek has his own theories on this topic, but I wanted to know if this had been tested by outside sources.
It turns out that it has. There are many studies on the positive effects of inulin in many health conditions like obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer and more. The thought is that the inulin kind of “grabs” the bad/overgrowth bacteria in the small intestine and moves it to the large intestine where it belongs. In addition to that, the inulin feeds the good bacteria, which produce a natural antibiotic. This is how a normal microbiome keeps bad bacteria in check. I was quite shocked at just how many positive studies there are on inulin. Why had the autism community shunned the use of this prebiotic? And further more, why are they advocating for low fiber diets? Want to read some of the studies on inulin, check them out here, here, here and here.
So we took the plunge and tried it.
And prayed like hell that Chase didn’t regress. So what happened? He regressed. But hold on a second, this regression according to Dr. Nemechek, is normal. He equates it to someone being on calming drugs and coming off of them. They are less aware of the things that bother them due to the drugs. When they start coming off of them, they are more aware of the things that bother them. But after time they will begin to calm down and adjust to their new “non drugged” world.
This is exactly what happened to Chase. We had three terrible weeks. I won’t sugar coat it, they were rough. Lots of crying, meltdowns, violence. But then it happened. He woke up. He was happy, engaged and initiating play. Who was this kid? It was amazing. We’ve been on the protocol now for about 2.5 months and it’s going fabulously.
And because I was initially 100% against this protocol, I decided to do before and after stool testing. Take a look. Chase jumped from the 77th percentile for diversity to the 92nd! And he initially had NO GROWTH for bifidiobacterium and then he did WITHOUT probiotics. He still has a way to go but these changes happened in 2 months. I’ll say that’s pretty good.
If you’re interested in doing a uBiome stool test, click one of the photos above for a 15% discount.
THEN IT HAPPENED
CHASE SPOKE. 5 words, in 1 day! The holy grail in the biomed world if your child is non-verbal. It’s what most of us with non verbal kids hope and pray for. It’s what we dream about at night. It’s the reason why we work so hard. To hear our sweet child’s voice.
Some people are lucky and get speech from simple diet changes. Many of us, aren’t so lucky and spend years hoping for what feels impossible. But there it was. Now since then the words have not came consistently but they are still coming. I couldn’t be happier.
I will say that that we did not stop our other supplements. Dr. N. does recommend stopping other supplements unless there is a documented deficiency. However, with Chase I know from experience he needs to be on his, at least for now. So I’m not sure if the speech was just from this protocol, or the overall combination of healing. And I know that the possibility of regression is scary as hell. But if this protocol allows any other parents to hear their kids voices then I can’t not share it.
If you decide to do this protocol at your house, it’s super easy, you can read Dr, Nemecheks blog regarding the dosing. But it just takes 3 simple supplements: