Parents frequently inquire about, and/or try, various home remedies. In a continuing effort to keep this site complete, by covering as many autism treatment modalities as possible, this discussion will be about diatomaceous earth.
What is DE?
“Isn’t that the stuff that you put into swimming pool filters?” Yes, but the supplement form is “Food Grade, 100% natural, with no side effects.” Except diarrhea, and a host of unstudied changes in fluids and minerals throughout the body.
OSHA and The National Institute for Occupational Safety have set limits for human exposure. Composition varies greatly. According to a prominent proponent, “Out of 600 deposits in the U.S., only 4 rate in purity by FDA standards to be labeled as ‘Food Grade'”.
The product was discovered over 150 years ago, and consists of the fossilized remains of millions of microscopic sea critters. According to Wiki, “…It is used as a filtration aid, mild abrasive in products including metal polishes and toothpaste, mechanical insecticide, absorbent for liquids, matting agent for coatings, reinforcing filler in plastics and rubber, anti-block in plastic films, porous support for chemical catalysts, cat litter, activator in blood clotting studies, a stabilizing component of dynamite, and a thermal insulator.”
Use in Health
There are claims of more than 1,500 benefits; including, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, healing sore joints, healthier hair, skin, teeth, gums, and nails, better bowel movements and it is supposedly safe for pregnant women (no source).
Use in Autism
Agents that remove toxic metals – chelators – have been used as autism treatments since the turn of this century. When detoxification became a popular treatment, DE was introduced. As the issue of symptom-causing parasites (including fungi, viri, and bad bacteria) waxes, this cathartic product has received new mention. Anecdotal stories abound. Sensory issues, ADHD, behavioral disorders, and even speech, have apparently been changed for the better after administration, for some.
A Google search for ‘diatomaceous earth’ and ‘autism’ returns >27,000 responses. A Google Scholar search for this supplement returns ZERO valid, scientific hits.
The problem originates with the fact that conventional – and even biomedical treatments – are not relieving enough people who display the signs and symptoms of ASD. Home remedies are attempted to fill the void. However, autism consists of many conditions, so comparing disparate treatments is nearly impossible, outside of a scientific study. Importantly, parents are not aware of the parameters to follow; including laboratory testing of electrolytes, minerals, and the health of key organs, such as the liver and kidney.
It has been the experience of many practitioners that such gut-cleansing treatments – from worms, to CD, to Miralax™ – only help selected patients, and then, for a brief period of time. Plus, conditions may worsen. Expect a paucity of testimonials about those negative reactions. Plus only a few warnings appear in the web.
Practitioners should listen carefully to parents who discover supplements that improve their children with ASD. A variety of valuable information has been provided, moving successful protocols forward. Likewise, it is our job to consider the scientific implications, as well. Unregulated substances lead to metabolic consequences that have yet to be elucidated.
As with other alternative alternatives, more reliable data is needed before experimenting on our children.