The Lyme-Autism Connection
By Tami Duncan

Pasteur's Legacy Feeds the Epidemics of Lyme and Autism
By Mary Budinger, Guest Columnist

From the Annual Conference of the Lyme-Induced Autism Foundation

Townsend Letter – November 2008 issue

The "germ theory" got a stranglehold on Western medicine, thanks to Louis Pasteur. He was a flamboyant sort of guy compared to his nineteenth-century contemporaries Antoine Bechamp and Claude Bernard, who, by the way, had vastly different ideas. Pasteur excited the establishment of his day with his new ideas of vaccinations and pasteurization. You could say he was a marketing success extraordinaire. An entire system of medicine came to be built around his theory that germs make us sick. Pasteur eventually said he was wrong. But few remember that now; medical books long ago memorialized his germ theory.

Bechamp espoused the pleomorphic theory: bacteria change into organisms that are increasingly detrimental to the body. The waste products of their metabolism are harmful to local body fluids, causing pain and inflammation. It is not the germs, viruses, and bacteria that make you sick, it is the waste-products of the metabolism of those organisms that make you sick.

Bernard held that the immune system was merely a backup" system that took over when the terrain failed. He downed a glass of water filled with cholera to make his point that a strong terrain is uninviting to bugs.

Pasteur, on his deathbed in 1895, admitted Bechamp and Bernard were right. He said, "The pathogen is nothing. The terrain is everything." The strength of the terrain explains why one person gets sick with the flu in winter, while another person doesn't - or why two people can test positive for Lyme, but one is asymptomatic and another struggles to live on long-term antibiotics. Look at a body of water. When it is free-flowing and clean, the terrain is healthy. But let that water stagnate, and mosquitoes swoop in to breed and spread mischief. A weak terrain explains why an estimated one in 150 American children have autism; why Lyme is now the fastest growing infectious disease, faster than AIDS; and why Lyme disease can induce autism.

A Toxic World's Synergistic Effects

The annual conference of the Lyme-Induced Autism (LlA) Foundation functions like a think-tank, bringing together some of the best minds to compare notes. At the June 2008 conference, experts concurred that the human immune system is much poorer now than ever in human history. "Kids don't play in the dirt, we don't take in a wide range of food with a wide range of taste, plus we have ecosystem disruption - all these things allow greater incursion of diseases into the human community," said author and herbalist Stephen Buhner. The human community lives in a polluted world that reaches us deep down on a cellular level. Dr. William Lee Cowden put it simply: "Toxins create a tissue environment to grow microbes."

Heavy metals are perhaps the most troublesome toxins because they have been found to feed and make up the biofilm that surrounds the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that is found in Lyme disease. Biofilm makes Lyme invisible to the immune system and able to dodge a barrage of antibiotics. Mercury and lead probably lead the list of heavy metals of concern.

Mercury exposure is an everyday occurrence for all of us, no matter where we live. And mercury levels are rising. The primary source is coal-burning power plants. Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center in 2008 documented higher rates of autism in the vicinity of coal-burning power plants. Air currents carry what is burned in China, for example, into the air we breathe in the US. Other common sources of mercury are dental fillings, vaccines, plastics, fungicides, and the new compact fluorescent light bulbs. Mercury potentiates aluminum and pesticides. "Mercury, aluminun;J, and lead in any amount are potentially toxic, and the combination has a synergistic effect," Dr. Allan Sosin concurred. When mercury is on board, the ability to handle infections is significantly impacted. Mercury damages the 20,000 or so enzymes in the human body.

The lead epidemic in America may be even bigger than mercury. "Lead came into our environment with the Industrial Age, but it really got going when we put it in gasoline," said Dr. Garry Gordon. "We all have 1000 times more lead in our bones than people 400 years ago." Lead proliferates in our environment today as our use of electronic devices grows. Children are especially vulnerable to lead.

Peering into one's genetic makeup can guide the increasingly complicated detox process. "An underlying cause of autism is genetic defects in sulfation, methylation, and other detoxification pathways," Dr. Cowden explained. "Heavy metals block various enzymes and enzyme cofactors in these vital pathways. Mercury binds to the microtubules in the cell. When a cell is going to divide, the mercury means you do not get proper division." So not only do metals impair healthy cellular activity, they make it harder for our body's detoxification system to keep us cleaned out, and they feed the bugs within us.

Thanks to Environmental Working Group (EWG), we know b<:lbies today marinate in a virtual toxic stew in the womb; EWG counted some 287 chemicals in newborn umbilical cord blood. The modern human terrain is compromised from Day One. "This kind of body burden leads to suppression of the immune system and helps create an environment where chronic infections flourish," Dr. Gordon said. "Beyond the damage these infections themselves create, they signal the body to create fibrin, which protects the organisms from the reach of many therapeutic interventions by thickening the blood and providing the pathogens a place to hide. As we kill infections, dying organisms release heavy metals into our bodies. You need something in place to mop up those released metals." !

In mainstream medicine, heavy metal toxicity is an uncommon diagnosis. A July 2008 Associated Press story reported the suspension of a study that would have looked at the effects of chelation on autistic children, "a move some scientists see as an unethical experiment in voodoo medicine." In contrast, chelation was described as a standard treatment when it was used to detox US Navy sailors from lead-based paints during the World War II era. "Some doctors do not know how to measure heavy metals," said Kazuko Grace-Curtin, a self-described "warrior mom," who created care clinics for Lyme-affected children. "We can't measure what departs through the skin. Many of these children are not natural secretors. They need a provoking agent, a chelator."

Dr. Garry Gordon says many parents are ahead of mainstream medicine by insisting that their Lyme or autistic children undergo chelation to remove heavy metals. "We must lower our total body burden of pathogens to help lower our inflammation, which is holding heavy metals in tissues in spite of using the best chelators," Dr. Gordon explained. "There is no drug that can overcome all the infections we all have today, so we have to go back to improving the terrain."

Lyme-Induced Autism

The L1A Foundation estimates that the majority of children with autism may be also infected with Lyme disease. Informal studies put the number at about 30%; clinicians are reporting numbers ranging from 20% to 90% of children with autism who test positive for Borrelia (Borrelia burgdorferi). Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt suggests that the best way to fix autism "is to test the mothers before conception because most will test positive for Lyme." He said giving chiarella (a species of green algae that grows in fresh water) to moms before birth "can mean a reduction of 30% of toxin transfer to baby because it removes most environmental toxins including mercury, and it has high level of methyl B 12." He also suggests that 80% of people have Lyme and do not know it. "Most autistic Kids have Lyme disease because most docs do not treat for Lyme first to knock it down enough that the white blood count can mount an attack and give you something to measure," Klinghardt said. "That is why it is unknown."

As Buhner told the conference, Lyme bacteria consumes collagen tissues. So it shows up most often in the joints and in the brain. "Lyme fog" is a phrase used to refer to the cognitive impairment victims experience, the inability to connect the dots on any given day. Autism spectrum disorders are characterized by dysfunctional neural processing and significant social deficits - two diseases where the brain is impacted, yet two different expressions of that impact. And our educational system is mostly ignorant of the differences.

Judith G. Leventhal, PhD, and Leo Shea III, PhD, have directed their efforts toward the schools. "They want to put Lyme kids in ADD classes," Leventhal said. "Lyme kids often look to the school psychologist like an ADHD kid, because the Lyme kid will also have some attention traits. But even if you can improve a Lyme kid's attention issues, their processing speed still is not normal. Many of these kids cannot synthesize what they read."

TOWNSEND LETTER - NOVEMBER 2008

Lyme - Autism Connection In both Lyme and autism, brain function is affected, but in different ways. "Lyme kids have memory problems and are accused of not studying when they did," Leventhal explained. "The ADHD children cannot stay still. If you remove all the sensory distractions, the ADHD kids are still not okay, but Lyme kids are. Lyme kids have 'mental blinks' where, like a cell phone dropping out, you miss a few words - the brain neurons didn't fire. So they miss the words the teacher just said, and the teacher thinks they are not paying attention. The teacher thinks the child has ADHD because that is what she knows." How many "Lyme kids" get shunted off on the wrong path is unknown.

Electromagnetic Fields - Silent but Deadly

An unseen threat to the human terrain is electromagnetic fields (EMF), also sometimes called electromagnetic radiation (EMR). One of the hallmarks of autism is its ability to rob its victims of the power to communicate, and . ironically, the very technology that fuels the information

age may be to blame. Cell phones and wirejess Internet access are relatively new, and they are large contributors to the blizzard of EMF that envelops us every day. That blizzard appears to be biologically active. "Electromagnetic

radiation, coupled with accumulation of heavy metals, has damaged the cell membrane and made this generation of children more vulnerable [than earlier generations]," said Tamara Mariea, PhD.

In 1984, the US embraced cell phone use, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) changed the vaccine. schedule. The autism rate was said to be one in 5000. By the late 1990s, the autism rate was pegged at one in 500. Today, that rate is one in 150. "Information-carrying radio waves cause disruption of the human intercellular communication," said Mariea. "Unprecedented levels of exposure to EMF combined with at-birth vaccinations that include mercury provide a unique trigger that accounts for the dramatic rise in autism rates in the past five years." The Hepatitis B vaccine is given at birth to US babies, and it contains mercury and aluminum.

The base station for a portable, cordless phone is a particularly intense EMF source, for example. It can blast a radio frequency signal for several hundred feet throughout a house and likewise penetrate more deeply into human tissue. A 2007 study conducted by Mariea and George L. Carlo found evidence that the steep rise in the incidence of autism correlates with the rapid and universal deployment of wireless technologies. They postulated that when exposed to EMF, cells harden their membranes. That creates a buildup of toxins and disrupts the normal DNA repair process. But most of all, it impedes communication between

cells and the systems - immune, nervous, endocrine. This break in communication results frequently in clinical symptoms consistent with autism.

"The body acts like an antenna for ambient electric fields in the home and these interfere with body functions," said Dr. Klinghardt. "Neurons cannot function at higher than 40 microwatts." Dr. Klinghardt explained there is a synergistic effect of environmental pollution and EMF and growth of microbes. "We need oxidation to kill the bugs, but there is too much oxidation where we don't need it, in healthy cells, because of EMF." He suggested that if you live out in the country with no cell phone reception, and you have Lyme, you may have no symptoms. "But move to the city, and the Lyme microbes will believe they are under attack and put out 600 times more toxins in defense. They are simply doing what they need to survive," he explained. Dr. Cowden added that EMF can combine with parasites and fungi to create Leaky Gut Syndrome, a common problem in children with autism.

TOWNSEND LETTER - NOVEMBER 2008

Genetically Modified - Unlabeled and Unreported

Genetically modified (GM) foods represent a dangerous and radical change to our food supply. Europeans have resisted GM food, but American supermarket shelves are full of it. The American media has been comparatively quiet, neglecting to report, for example, that the only human GM feeding study ever published showed that foreign genes inserted into GM food crops can transfer into the DNA of our gut bacteria. So, long after we stop eating GM corn chips, our intestinal flora might continue to manufacture the Bacillus thuringiensis pesticide - "Bt," for short - that the GM plants are engineered to produce.

Autism advocate Andrea Lalama shared her hypothesis with the LlA conference that the Bt pesticide may be the genesis of the autism epidemic. After Lalama's child turned autistic, she researched intensively. She concluded that vaccines are only a contributing factor because autism showed up in 1943, three years after the use of Bt pesticide began. "The pesticidal properties of Bt are due to the effects of a protein that punctures the insect's mid-gut, causing it to leak uncontrollably," she reported, noting the parallel with the high number of autistic children who suffer from Leaky Gut Syndrome.

Lalama also reported a corresponding rise in autism as the use of Bt spread. "The Bt pesticide was introduced into genetically modified corn, then potatoes, then fruits and vegetables./I Countries around the world where Bt use is low have low rates of autism, she said, arid where Bt use is high as it is in the US and China, autism rates are high.

"Many of the top researchers at the FDA know how dangerous GM food is, but they are not permitted to say anything, so, officially, the FDA does nothing to warn us about the potential for serious harm,/I said Dr. Gordon. "GM food can help introduce antibiotic resistance, and it also carries a virus than can lead to the development of various 'stealth infections,' which may not be detected on today's standard tests for infections. This means that although we are all focused on things like food sensitivities, even the most astute doctors are doing little to combat the ever-present infection component contributing to our current health crisis.

Changes in Diet Change the Terrain

Two people could test positive for Lyme, and one would be sick, while the one would not be. The reason is the condition of the host. Genetics playa part, and get a lot of attention. But nutrient deficiencies are silently becoming epidemic. What we eat day after day profoundly influences our inner terrain. Dr. Jeffrey Wulfman has said nutrition is the first thing he looks at with patients. "The organisms change depending upon the soup they are in", he explained. "We evolved as a species eating 100 different organisms. Now we eat maybe ten; we need more variety. And the soi I has lost a great amount of its nutrient content./I According to Dr. Wulfman's figures, 50% of the calories children consume come from white flour and high fructose corn syrup. "Whole foods provide thousands of inter-related

constituents that gradually shift the milieu of the body in an empowering direction", he said. "What you put in your mouth is treatment",I He says the most common mistake he sees with autism and diet is that people will say they are gluten-free, but they are still eating gluten-free pretzels, waffles, cookies - in other words, junk food. "You removed a negative thing, but you didn't add a positive one".

Parents of autistic children find it difficult to get good nutritional advice. Dr. Rick Melde explained that formal medical training still ignores the power of food in favor of treating symptoms. "In med school, the emphasis is on finding the" diagnosis", Dr. Melde said". Then you have a treatment regime that is basically drugs and surgery. I don't remember ever hearing that nutrition was a way to treat anything. Amy Derksen, NO, said parents need to choose foods containing fewer artificial ingredients and preservatives, and choose organic meats. The poultry industry is pushing a message right now that chickens are never fed hormones. "But non-organic chicken is full of arsenic and mercury", she clarified. Also, chickens raised under inhumane conditions have higher stress levels, which makes the meat acidic. When people eat such chicken, they in turn get acidosis, a clear invitation to disease. Eating organic food minimizes exposure to pesticides, fertilizers, mercury, and exogenous hormones.

Smart Bugs

Chronic illnesses like Lyme and autism involve multiple infections, different genetics, and multiple environmental toxins that impact them. No matter how many antibiotics we throw at the pathogens, they continue to evade us and survive. "One of the most foolish things humans did was to assume that bacteria were not intelligent,/I said Buhner. "Bacteria can actually analyze ways to deactivate an antibiotic and give that info to other bacteria the}' encounter. Lyme seeds every part of the body where it has been with spirochetes. It generates scores of alternate forms of itself to maximize survival.

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Lyme - Autism Connection

Many doctors have come to believe most of us have intracellular bacterial infections that never go away. They can be suppressed, so there are no symptoms for a time, but the infections still lurk within us, waiting for an opportune moment to strike. One way these infections show up is as an autoimmune disease, so common today.

"These intracellular organisms hide from the immune system," explained Garth L. Nicolson, PhD. "Only part of their life cycle is outside the cell. When they escape the cells and cause an infection, they carry a little bit of the host cell with them and can trigger an autoimmune response. They can carry host antigens when released."

Studies from long ago taught us that some bugs are able to change their modes of transmission. Lyme, for example, used to be something you got from a tick bite. Recent studies reveal Lyme disease is now transmitted by mosquito bites, fleas and gnats, and even human-to-human transmission since spirochetes have been found in semen, vaginal fluid, tear ducts, sweat, and mothers' breast milk. "Eradication is not the approach; making peace with it is." Buhner offered. "In the case of Lyme, the longer the organism has been in the body, the less effective the antibiotics are because the more the Lyme has adapted."

Dr. Wulfman pointed out there are more bacterial cells in our body, mostly in our gut, than there are body cells. "There is a constant relationship among us and the bugs," he said. "Diet and toxins are changing our immune system competence. And the organisms may be changing as well. The Pasteur way of thinking - a person is sterile, a bug comes along from the outside and exists in only one form - is fairly stupid. The thinking that we kill it and are sterile again - that does not work."

Many experts are coming to believe that Mother Nature is now fighting back - or at least defending herself. "That is why these superbugs are on the horizon," said homeopath Cindy L. Griffin. "Antibiotics may be medical science's attempt to kill something that perhaps cannot be killed - something that preceded us and will post-date us." For that reason, Griffin is concerned with protocols that rely on antibiotics. "The biomedical world does not get it. They tout every new drug there is," she said. "I was most impressed when Buhner said he is now working toward supporting the immune system instead of attacking the germ. We've been trying to bully the body with antibiotics, but that usually backfires. There is a lot of literature now about biofilms, and it is obvious that the widespread use of antibiotics may be why we are seeing so many biofilms - it is the pathogen's way to fight back at the antibiotics." Griffin believes homeopathy is a better way to go and clarifies that "classical" homeopathy needs to give way to "sequential" homeopathy because healing comes in stages. "There isn't one magic bullet; we have been too polluted since World War II for one magic bullet to do it."

Bechamp and Bernard Vindicated at last

The human species has evolved over many millennium, and we are incredibly adaptive. "But we have maxed out what we can do to a child's brain," suggested Dr. Klinghardt. Some suggest that autistic children are like the canaries of our society. In older times, miners would take a cage of canaries down in the mine with them, and when the canaries keeled over, the miners knew to get out because unseen, toxic gases were in the air. "Children in our society are becoming ill, and if we don't pay attention, we won't learn from the lessons the autistic children are teaching us," said Dr. Cowden. "It has been my observation that many of the causations for autism are also the causations for Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis, ALS, Parkinson's, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and other chronic diseases that are becoming more prevalent."

More than 120,000 chemicals are released into our envi ronment. Most of them have not been tested i nd ivid ually, and it is almost impossible to study the synergistic effects. Experts at the LlA conference proposed that the proportion of damage we are seeing in the population is the result of the synergistic effects. The world is not likely to lessen our pollution exposure anytime soon. The global scale of industrial chemical production is expected to grow fourfold by 2050, according to a November 2007 resolution by the California Medical Association.

New vaccines are routinely touted. Genetically modified sugar is about to come on the market. Our blood supply is not checked for Lyme. The Infectious Disease Society doctors continue to dismiss the idea that Lyme disease can be a life-long debilitating infection. Yet increasingly, the impetus for change is coming from parents and doctors in the front lines of the battle for health. More and more, moms are demanding BPA-free baby bottles, buying organic food, learning about non-toxic cleaning products, and questioning links between vaccines and autism.

Since measles and mumps, for example, are more an inconvenience than "dreaded childhood diseases," why do we need to vaccinate children against them? A child who experiences measles and mumps will gain lifelong immunity; childhood vaccines impart immunity for perhaps just eight years. Experiencing these diseases as adults can be serious. Yet parents who resist the childhood vaccines have been threatened with arrest and jail time. Louis Pasteur is likely rooting from the grave for those who resist. The terrain is everything.

Mary Budinger is an Emmy award-winning journalist. She is a freelance researcher and writer for complementary and alternative medicine.

TOWNSEND LETTER - NOVEMBER 2008

 

 

 

 

 

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