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HEALTH CONCERN? BioHealth Health Concerns

Health & Autism Interview with Dr. Woeller

Contributing Author: Woeller, Kurt D.O.

Kurt WoellerKurt N. Woeller, D.O. is an osteopathic physician who specializes in traditional osteopathic medicine, cranial osteopathy and integrative medicine. His primary focus is treating children with autism-spectrum disorders. He graduated in 1995 from the University of New England, College of Osteopathic Medicine. He currently lives and practices in Temecula, California. Dr. Woeller serves as a clinical consultant for Great Plains Laboratory teaching doctors the latest in biomedical diagnostic testing and treatment protocols for children with autism-spectrum disorders. He lectures nationwide for Great Plains Laboratory, as well independently regarding the benefits of biomedicine for children with autism.



This interview first appeared in Healthy Times magazine

HT: I read the article that you wrote for a previous issue of Healthy Times on autism. Autism is something that in my experience I’ve always thought of as this tragic incurable condition. Basically, if you have a child with autism, you’re stuck and there’s really nothing that medical science can do about it. I understand that you’re treating these children with good success. I was very curious to learn more about what you’re doing.

DR. WOELLER: You’re right about the prevailing attitude within conventional medicine…that there is absolutely nothing that can be done for autistic kids from a traditional medical standpoint. The belief is that children on the autistic-spectrum are only treatable with psychiatric medications, behavioral, speech, and occupational therapy, which unfortunately is totally false from my perspective and from what I’ve experienced the past several years. I’ve been working with autistic kids since 1997. For most children on the autistic-spectrum they are suffering with a biological problem, or what we call a “biomedical” problem. This means they have underlying biological issues that are directly contributing to their autistic characteristics.

These biological issues are digestive problems, immune system imbalances, toxicity (environmental chemicals and heavy metals such as mercury and lead) and detoxification abnormalities. When you approach autism from this perspective many of these kids can improve, sometimes significantly. Many of them can be cured. I do have some kids who have lost their diagnosis. The younger the child the better their chance they have of greater gains. The sooner you can get them on a biomedical program of diet, nutritional and detoxification support the better they become. Older kids above 12 or so can be a little bit more difficult, but they too can be helped - many times dramatically as well. My goal is to improve their quality of life and to optimize their health potential no matter how old a child is.

The nice thing about my biomedical approach is it encompasses the true essence of holistic and natural medicine. I take into account diet and nutritional supplementation. I look at the potential for adverse environmental exposures that may be affecting a child's health. I provide a medical service called “functional diagnostic medicine” that uses highly specific and specialized laboratory tests to evaluate for chronic infections, immune disorders, biochemical imbalance, heavy metals toxicity and more. These tests involve the use of hair, stool, urine, and blood for an in-depth evaluation.

The first approach that is necessary for optimal health is good nutrition. This lays the groundwork for a healthy body. I know that a lot of children with an autistic-spectrum disorder respond dramatically to a gluten/casein-free diet. Gluten is a protein found in wheat and casein is a protein found in dairy. It is not just autistic kids that have sensitivities to these foods. Celiac disease, which is a genetic disorder that manifests as an immunological reaction to gliadin, a subfraction of the gluten protein is quite prevalent in our society as well.

Current statistics in the United States indicate approximately 1 in about 133 people have celiac disease. Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, colitis, lupus, as well as migraines, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression can all be affected by gluten. Many of the autistic kids improve by getting the gluten and casein out of their diet. This not only helps their immune systems be stronger and helps their digestive system function better, but they have increased cognitive awareness as well. This is to say many children have increased capacity to focus, attend to task, and have increased environmental awareness.

I’ve had kids who’ve began talking after going on a gluten/casein-free diet. It is well known these proteins can have a drug-like effect on brain chemistry in susceptible individuals. I call this the “peptide effect” when a child is literally being drugged by these food proteins.

As mentioned before a cornerstone of optimal health enhancement is good nutrition. You have to get these kids off the junk food. Refined sugar, sodas, highly processed foods are all deleterious to their health. The goal should be whole foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, organic meats, etc.

One of the best therapies that I have seen which ties directly into the genetics of autism is the methylcobolamin therapy. Also known as Methyl-B12 injections. This is what I talked about in a previous article for Healthy Times. Methylcobolamin is a specific form of vitamin B-12 therapy. Hands down this has been the most successful treatment for the largest percentage of autistic kids in my practice. I have seen children who were non-verbal begin talking within 4 to 5 weeks.

HT: Wow!

DR. WOELLER: Kids with very poor eye contact begin connecting with their parents and siblings. Also many kids develop an increase in environmental awareness; increased willingness and ability to socialize; increased ability to focus and attend to task. The results have been dramatic.

This therapy has also been effective for kids with ADD/ADHD. Of all the biomedical therapies the B12 program is one that has also been well-tracked and is well-researched. Dr. Jim Neubrander, who originally developed this protocol has been meticulous in the way this therapy proceeds from the sequencing of the injections (1st 5 weeks without other biomedical medication, diet or supplement changes), time frame of doing (every 3 days for usually 1-1/2 years), what you’re looking for (positive gains), etc. When I have a new child come into my office one of the first things I do is discuss the benefits of B12 injection therapy and to begin ASAP while we’re waiting to get results back from their child’s laboratory tests. What parents need to understand is this therapy is one of the simplest things they can do. The actual needle is so very small and is the same needle a diabetic would use to inject insulin. It is non-painful and takes about 5 seconds to give the injection. Parents actually administer the injection themselves. At first they have some apprehension until they release the injection is not painful and their kids benefit so greatly from them.

Another big issue is heavy metal toxicity. Many kids and even adults on the autistic-spectrum are heavy metal toxic. We know genetically that these kids have problems with detoxification. Almost 100% of autistic-spectrum individuals carry some genetic dysfunction in a couple key biochemical areas. One particular area is something called MTHFR. This enzyme helps specifically with our ability to regulate proper brain chemicals, immune function and detoxification capacity. Obviously, in autistic individuals this enzyme system is not functioning properly.

We also know many children on the spectrum were exposed and injured by thimerosal (mercury preservative in vaccines). This is nothing new. The thimerosal issue has been in the news for quite some time now. Heavy metal exposure and toxicity from vaccines, food, water, and other environmental sources play a huge role in keeping autistic-spectrum children ill. What separates a neurotypical child and an autistic child with regards to these exposures is the ability of detoxification and antioxidant status. As I stated before the simple truth is that autistic children have faulty detoxification function.

HT: So it’s possible that this group of kids then has a genetic predisposition to toxicity. They just can’t detoxify the way most people can and so they get overloaded and perhaps autism is one of the symptoms of that.

DR. WOELLER: Absolutely! There is no doubt that metal toxicity plays a significant role in this disorder. However, there are more issues than just metal toxicity. My personal feeling is for a lot of these kids an overload of vaccines have been the “straw that broke the camel’s back.” I am not anti-vaccine, but I do feel many kids are overloaded with vaccines today. There are no individual assessments when it comes to vaccination, everyone gets the same thing regardless of personal or family history, unless of course there is a known history of allergy to a previous vaccine.

Let me reiterate, I am not “anti-vaccine”. What I am against is the indiscriminate use of vaccinations and the blatant attitude within traditional medicine that these things are harmless. I’ve come across that attitude a lot in the medical community. I have had parents report to me that within a week of their child receiving an MMR shot they completely disappeared cognitively. This means a lack of communication, decreased eye contact, a drop in language. This means they became autistic almost overnight. You hear this story over and over and you begin to realize that these reactions are not a coincidence.

The bottom line is parents of autistic-spectrum children need to know that there is help and that there are many things that can improve the quality of health for their child.

HT: Do you feel that younger children respond better to the therapies you provide? Do older children have less potential for healing.

DR. WOELLER: Response from biomedical therapy such as vitamin and mineral supplements, B12 injections, dietary changes, heavy metal detoxification, etc. is highly individualized. Certainly the longer toxins are left in our bodies the more potential there is for cellular and tissue damage. I like to begin helping children as soon as possible, and in general younger children between the ages of 3 to 7 many times respond quicker, but I have older children in my practice who are making great strides in their development as well. There is no age cut-off in my opinion for health improvement. Everyone can be helped.

My personal feeling is that there are no incurable diseases, however there are incurable patients. What this means is that there are people who think they are incurable. Self-motivation and the power of our minds is a very influential thing with respects to illness recovery. When it comes to a child with an autistic-spectrum disorder the child’s motivation becomes highly dependent upon their parents or caregivers to help do the work for them. Each parent has to be involved. They cannot stand on the sidelines and expect me or any other doctor to do all the work for them. The biomedical approach to autistic-spectrum disorders holds many keys for improved health and cognitive function for these children, but parents have to be educated and actively involved to really make it work.

The biomedical approach to autistic-spectrum disorders offers hope for a better life. These children can be helped. When a child is healed a family is healed. When this happens it makes all the hard work totally worth it to me, and I know to the parents as well. I don’t expect to cure everybody. In fact, I don’t cure anybody. People heal themselves. My role is a facilitator in the process of healing, but ultimately all patients (and in the case of autism - parents) have to do much of the work themselves.