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Autism: Do digestive enzymes help?

Theresa Lyons 11/06/2017
Have you wondered if digestive enzymes actually do anything to help your child with autism? Click play to learn the answer by video or keep reading below...




What are digestive enzymes?


Plant or animal proteins that are similar to the enzymes in the human gastrointestinal tract that help digest the food we eat.

The 2009 Autism Research Institute Parent Survey found that of the 2,350 responses 62% saw a benefit in using digestive enzymes for their child with autism.

Digestive enzymes are often the first supplement recommended by a physician. Some even recommend using digestive enzymes before switching diets.

Indications of Need

If your child has any gastrointestinal issues such as:
  • Food sensitivities, gut dysbiosis, undigested food in stool, increased stool fat content, diarrhea or constipation, IBS, any behaviors associated with GI distress - sleep issues, aggressive behavior, self injurious behavior, jumping, etc. (If you're curious about what other autism behaviors are associated with GI distress, learn more here.)


There is no readily available lab test to screen which digestive enzymes are needed so a comphrensive digestive enzyme supplement is best.


Taking Digestive Enzymes

Best to be taken at the beginning of each meal.

Enzymes work in the stomach and small intestine and the enzymes themselves are digested eventually just like food.

Partially digested food can feed the wrong bacteria in your child’s gut microbiota leading to dysbiosis and inflammation so be consistent...take digestive enzymes with every meal.

There might be a die-off period initially...typically lasting up to two weeks.

Digestive Enzymes & Autism

The most recent clinical trial investigating digestive enzymes and autism was in 2015. It was 3 month double blind, placebo controlled clinical trial, the gold standard of clinical trials so this was a well designed clinical trial. The study had 101 children with autism and there was reported significant improvements in autistic behaviors, emotional response, restrictive repetitive behaviors, and GI symptoms with digestive enzyme treatment.

The scientists and clinicians involved in this study were from Egypt, USA, Saudi Arabia, and Norway.


So yes, this clinical trial found that digestive enzymes DO HELP HEAL autism symptoms.


I get asked very often which broad spectrum digestive enzyme is a good one and I found the best one to be from Kirkman. This one in particular is very pure and does NOT have any soy (most digestive enzymes on the market have some soy in them so please read the labels of all supplements carefully especially if your child is on a special diet and avoiding certain known allergens)


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