Before you read this, I’m going to remind you of my disclaimer (there’s a link to it in the footer of every web page). Do your own homework, and consult holistic health professionals if you want to rebuild and restore your health… don’t just take my word for ANYTHING!
Given that, I’ve been getting requests to share how I’m taking care of myself, so here’s the skinny on what I’m doing, and why it works for me.
Most of us autistics have parts of our immune system which are over-active, as well as parts which are under-active. Metabolically, we’re a very diverse bunch. One of the few generalizations you can make about autism is that, like the elderly, we autistics are more vulnerable to infection and illness.
What this means is that it’s highly worthwhile to bolster our body’s anti-viral capacity, while infectious viruses (including the regular winter flu) are travelling around.
Canada’s public health care is focused primarily on emergency and crisis response, which is generally well done (and much appreciated). However, illness is “managed” almost entirely by doctors trained to prescribe pharmaceutical drugs. This is the most expensive way to run health care.
If our body was a car, “emergency response only” would be the equivalent of not changing the oil, not shutting the gas cap so rain and grit gets into the fuel, not keeping the spark plugs clean, not replacing the shock absorbers, not replacing brake pads, not keeping the tires inflated to the right pressure, not using some kind of rust-protection to stop things from decaying prematurely, and so on.
Without preventive maintenance, when things go wrong with the car, they go really, expensively wrong. With preventive maintenance, keeping a car running smoothly and effectively for as long a time as possible is much more likely. Unlike cars, our bodies are designed to prevent illness and heal themselves, when given the right support.
In Canadian health care, very little attention (and no public health funding) is given to support people in prevention of illness and restoration of full health through nutrition, lifestyle, and natural medicines — which tend to be much better tolerated by autistics than drugs are. In the face of chronic health problems, natural and lifestyle medicines have the potential to restore full mental, emotional, and physical health so a drug habit isn’t necessary.
Autistics vary quite a bit in how our bodies aren’t functioning optimally. Problems go well beyond brain inflammation into multi-systemic imbalances. It’s a bit like living in a city with lots of construction and run-down infrastructure — getting anything done takes more time, materials, and energy, depending on how off-balance our bodies are.
When body systems, chemical cycling, and detoxification aren’t working optimally, pharmaceutical drugs (which rely on healthy metabolism) often have side effects well beyond the expected, or make things worse overall.
As a result, like many Canadians either living with autism, or like the Dr. Mums and Dr. Dads caring for someone with autism, I look for easily accessible, do-it-yourself ways to support health, ones that don’t take my body further out of balance: foods, supplements, herbs, lifestyle choices, and other natural supports.
My life routines haven’t changed much since the stay-home advisory, although I’m sad to miss cancelled spring autism events and meetings. I do autism and trauma consulting work mostly online, and take midday breaks to garner some of nature’s benefits and occasionally walk the neighbour’s dog or social-distance-walk with one of my brothers.
I can walk, bus, or bicycle to all the food, hardware, and other services I need — fortunately, food and hardware are counted among the essential services which haven’t been shut down. Beyond that, exercise includes yoga, dancing, and some bouncy play with therapy balls or rebounders (which keep my hands and feet free of swelling).
I’m eating an organic, anti-inflammatory diet that includes home-made probiotic foods, home-sprouted seeds and peas, plus lots of immune-boosting herbs and spices. In addition, I usually intermittent fast (keep my window of food consumption within 6 to 8 hours) and at least a few times a year do a longer fast of 3 days to 2 weeks.
The infrared light in sunlight (the warmth that sinks through your clothes and skin) can help the mitochondria (in every cell) triple the amount of energy they produce. This extra energy can help my cells to fight off infection before it gets established, or lessen the impact of an infection on my health.
Sunlight also boosts your body’s production of (anti-viral) vitamin D, and triggers the production of cholesterol sulfate (an excellent molecule for transporting sulfate into autistics’ sulfate-deficient brains). The brain also needs way more cholesterol than the rest of the body.
Exercise and lymphatic movement from walking help to keep my body a lot more comfortable. If I stop to do a little gardening, I’m adding the benefit of earthing to my day, which is one of the fastest ways to calm inflammation all over the body (including my inflamed brain).
Also, gardeners’ digestive tracts have a lot more of specific microbes which manufacture the happiness hormones and neurotransmitters. Getting your hands “soiled” has a lot of emotional health benefits!
The outbreak of COVID-19 has changed the friendliness of my daily walks. Instead of avoiding gazes, most people are smiling and nodding as they pass at caribou-distance — as the Yukon government recommends — and some people even stop for a brief conversation.
Big-city neighbours are playing guitar on their front porches, wearing clown noses, and generally greeting strangers the way Canadians who live in smaller communities usually do.
Friends on social media are making posts such as asking for suggestions on cheering up the lonely seniors in nearby assisted living apartments who lack internet access… and are receiving a heart-warming plethora of enthusiastic and practical suggestions.
Apart from the fear-mongering mainstream media, the world feels a lot more compassionate, right now, which I am deeply grateful for on a personal level (I love all the smiles), but also grateful for on a social level (in my opinion, everyone needs more smiles).
Why does this matter? Research is very clear that loving, positive social interactions are up to four times as preventive of getting ill, and up to four times as restorative of health if you do get sick, than all other health interventions put together.
Dr. Dean Ornish compiled data on this in his popular book, “Love and Survival”, because when other clinics first tried to duplicate his heart-disease reversal results, they left out the social support groups he created to help increase the quality and quantity of positive relationships in his patients’ lives (and didn’t reverse heart disease).
When colds and flus are going around, I also incorporate some do-it-yourself, do-no-harm, easy changes to my daily routines. I’m being particularly vigilant around COVID-19, and will share what I’ve learned about preventing or minimizing the impact of infections for me (what works best for you is something you need to figure out).
Since COVID-19 is a virus, I’m staying well-hydrated by drinking lots of antiviral herbal teas — sometimes up to 3 litres a day of different types! Staying hydrated is highly recommended right now, because drinking washes viruses out of your mouth and into your stomach acid, which kills the viruses.
Instead of trying to design drugs or vaccines t0 target specific, rapidly-mutating microbes which quickly adapt — just like the antibiotic resistant super-bugs have — antiviral herbs help your body’s immune soldiers to be creative and thorough in fighting off infections before they take hold. The research-supported anti-viral herbal teas that I’m mix-and-matching right now include:
Because herbal medicinal properties are degraded by exposure to metal, I keep a ceramic slow-cooker simmering the root, seed, and bark teas, and then pour the liquid into a glass teapot through a strainer filled with the leaf and flower teas, to steep.
I don’t recommend drinking any one herbal tea day-after-day, because just like pharmaceutical drugs, they lose effectiveness over time. It’s much better to build variety into your medicines and take breaks from them, just like foods.
If you decide to drink more herbal teas, keep in mind that, of the herbs in this list, only peppermint is known to be safe for women who are pregnant or nursing.
In addition, just like my warning about liquorice and people with high blood pressure, each of these herbs may have warnings against use for people with specific health problems — and we autistics have a multitude of health problems. Please look herbs up for “contraindications” before you decide whether or how to try them!
Many foods fight viruses, and lucky for me, many of them are easily available and enjoyable. While I could have included oregano and thyme in the herbal tea list, I don’t like the taste of them in tea! However, I very much like them added to soups, stews, pestos, vegetable dishes, and home-made salad dressings, where they are just as potently antiviral.
Research shows that when you eat an anti-inflammatory diet, it reduces your vulnerability to viruses and other infections, and decreases diseases like cardiovascular disease by up to 75% (quote from Dr. Tom O’Bryan of TheDr.com).
If you have an autistic family member and aren’t yet eating an anti-inflammatory diet, I highly encourage you to look it up. Tiny tweaks in menu over time can have high yields in autism function, and immunity, given the neural inflammation at the root of autism challenges! Here are some more antiviral foods:
Please note that elderberries, renowned for antiviral and immune benefits, are not on this list. The reason is that elderberry can aggravate a cytokine storm, which is the driving force behind ARDS (the Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome which is killing so many seniors and other vulnerable people).
While I’m talking about food, I should also mention more about fasting. Fasting has so much research indicating so many health benefits, I’ll just refer you to Dr. David Jockers’ recorded fasting summit. Intermittent fasting — extending the overnight hours I’m not eating any food — helps to keep my brain inflammation down nicely.
I have much more energy, emotional stability, and brain clarity when I’m fasting, because my body gets a total break from gut-related inflammation (though stress-related and toxin-related inflammation are still there). To be thorough, though, high chronic inflammation (including autistic brain inflammation) can also result from compressed nerves and chronic infections.
Note that fasting is something that can require preparation and professional support for people who haven’t fasted before. If you have blood sugar issues, your body needs to adapt to getting some of its energy from high-quality fat before you’ll be able to safely go more than overnight without food. This reference has a good list of when fasting will help, and when it won’t (contraindications).
Research is showing that the COVID-19 virus is getting into our bodies through our noses, mouths, and eyes. What the virus meets when it enters us is determining whether we avoid infection altogether, whether we become an invisible carrier, or whether we get sick.
Essential oils are particularly suited to protecting our airways. Most essential oils are best used through inhalation; many aggravate the skin, and most aren’t edible (even when they are pharmaceutical grade).
Dr. Tisserand is a leading researcher and blogger on how effective essential oils are; e.g. rosemary essential oil can improve memory up to 75%! Some essential oils will prevent a virus from multiplying, while other will kill a virus, but no single essential oil has been studied and proven to affect all viruses.
Here is a list of easily available essential oils which have shown some antiviral properties:
Essential oils are easy to use, even when you don’t have a diffuser. When I was a child with congested sinuses and lungs, my mother used to seat me in front of a bowl of steaming-hot water with a few drops of eucalyptus oil in it. She’d drape a towel over my head, covering the bowl, and have me breathe in the steam. It got me decongested, every time!
I can also put a few drops on a tissue and tuck it inside my face mask, my collar, or my scarf when I go out. Alternately, just take some sniffs from an open bottle when you get home from an outing. As with herbal tea, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with cautions and contraindications before using an essential oil!
Because viruses mutate rapidly, they very quickly develop resistance to drugs. With antibiotics, we’ve already reached a limit where more and more antibiotic drugs are ineffective because “superbugs” have mutated and evolved faster than the drugs can get developed. We have reached the limit of the “Kill All The Germs” model of health.
Louis Pasteur and Antoine Béchamp had a life-long rivalry around whether it was more effective to kill off all the microbes (Pasteur’s position, which is why we pasteurize milk), or more effective to strengthen people’s overall health and terrain so they resist infections better (Béchamps’ position, which Pasteur acceded to as he was dying). I’m a Béchamp fan.
The benefit of homeopathic treatments is that they support organs, systems, and cycles in the body to operate better, without killing any of the probiotic (helpful to life) microbes within us. Stronger health then resists infections… like viruses. Homeopathics can:
I’ll cover treating the symptoms homeopathically when you get infected (the top 4 bullet points), before I get into homeopathically developing immunity. The idea with homeopathic treatment is that you look up the symptoms you’re experiencing (my favourite reference is Homeopathic Self-Care by the Reichenberg-Ullman couple).
Since COVID-19 infection starts with a tickle in the throat, I would look up throat symptoms and choose the remedy that was the best fit with the symptoms I was experiencing. Then I’d call the health food store to make sure they have it in stock, and if they didn’t have it, order it online, or get it shipped from a homeopathic doctor through an online consult.
Fortunately homeopathic doctors didn’t choose to follow the dogmatic Ontario government directive that scared the naturopathic and traditional Chinese medicine associations into abandoning patients and shutting down practices which are needed RIGHT NOW to restore health and prevent infection. A smart government would have extended OHIP (public health care funding) to cover online natural medicine practices during this outbreak.
Sorry, momentary voicing of deep frustration, I’ll get back to the positive stuff again now…
Anyway, I’m not going to list all of the homeopathics the way I did herbs, because they don’t work the same way. Herbs are like gentle drugs, pushing your body to support or suppress symptoms.
In contrast, homeopathics are like hormones and neurotransmitters, substances in the parts-per-million and parts-per-billion ranges which nudge the body to do what it’s designed to do, only more effectively. Hormones and neurotransmitters are HIGHLY individual; what’s superb for one person could make another really sick.
Fortunately, there aren’t dire consequences if you choose the wrong homeopathic remedy (the way there would be if you chose the wrong pharmaceutical drug). For homeopathy to be effective, you need to find a remedy that’s a good match for the symptoms you’re experiencing, and not everyone has the same symptoms of infection.
Unethical researchers who want to slam homeopathy have a heyday, treating many different types of migraine with the same homeopathic remedy instead the 5 to 15 different ones that a homeopath would bio-individually prescribe to suit each person’s symptoms. Once you know this, it gets very easy to identify unethical research on homeopathy.
For first aid, I keep some drainage (blended) remedies and individual remedies on hand at all times to treat things like sore throats, sinus issues, lung issues, and detox issues, as they come up.
It’s always a good idea to consult a holistic health professional regarding individual need, quality, and quantity, before adding daily supplements, apart from taking a high-quality, food-based, organic, (and if you’re smart, fermented), daily multivitamin. There are lots of factors at play:
If you get a pricier but bio-available supplement and only take it every 3 or 4 days, you’re way better off than if you get a cheap one your body can’t use, or that causes additional harm!
Pre-eminent vitamin C tracker Doris Loh just came out with some thoroughly research-supported blog posts showing that in parts of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, a vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and melatonin protocol is both:
If you’re interested in the recommended protocols for prevention of ARDS, and recovery from ARDS, you can find the details of how the protocols work, and what to do, in these two blog posts:
I’ve been spreading this information about the Ascorbic Acid & Melatonin protocols to friends, to the “essential services” staff in the stores where I get food and hardware, to seniors and other vulnerable people I know (plus the closest senior’s homes), and to people I hope will pass the information along to where it’s most needed.
Unfortunately, Canadian media is predominantly owned by the same few large corporations. This recent visual from Clutch helps. These owners aren’t interested in natural health options that are out-performing the patentable pharmaceuticals they gain advertising profits from.
As a result, natural health successes in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and increasingly, elsewhere, are not being broadcasted here. Thank goodness for the internet!
In terms of my own supplements, I’m taking vitamin C (of course). I’m also taking magnesium bisglycinate (the best-absorbed form of magnesium) because magnesium is used in so many health-promoting tasks in the body that it’s really easy to run out when you’re immune compromised.
Magnesium helps to keep my gut, liver, brain, foot spasms, and other grumpy parts happier, and I really notice if I run out! If gut absorption of magnesium and sulfates is really poor, Epsom salt baths are a real boon, because the skin will drink them in, bypassing the gut absorption problems.
I’m also taking humic and fulvic acid. I find these particularly helpful for my brain, but they really shine in that they attach to and remove systemic toxins, funghi, gram-negative (unhealthy) bacteria, and viruses from the body, without removing nutrients the way other chelators do.
So far I’ve tried four different types of humic-fulvic supplement. The liquids are expensive (you’re paying for transporting the weight of the water), the inexpensive Ayurvedic Shilajit has a smell and taste that can be off-putting even for non-autistics, but the inexpensive powders (dissolved in hot water, tea, soup, etc.) are going down nice and easy, every day.
And as always, I take full-spectrum digestive enzymes and a rotation of various soil-based probiotics with every meal. These are well-known to reduce your vulnerability to infection, because the gut and the immune system overlap by between 65 and 90%, depending on which researcher you listen to. Anything that helps the gut, helps the immune system!
In addition, anything that increases your body’s anti-0xidant levels will help to quench inflammation, and reduce vulnerability to infection. Many substances are anti-oxidant, including the vitamins A, C, and E, and the minerals selenium and zinc.
In the case of COVID-19 infection, be careful with selenium, because it can feed the ARDS inflammation, making it faster and worse. The B vitamins also help your body deal with stress much better, which is another way to reduce vulnerability. For an overview of potentially useful supplements, I found this blog post helpful.
The body is supposed to manufacture its own glutathione, a powerful anti-oxidant that can be recycled indefinitely as long as those pathways aren’t “under construction” and inaccessible — a situation that’s far too common in those of us with autism.
There are several ways to increase the body’s production of glutathione by up to 7x (TUDCA supplements and coffee enemas are the most effective). Glutathione can be orally supplemented, as well, but many forms are completely broken down in the gut.
With the most absorbable forms of glutathione, it’s easy to get the dosage too high and end up feeling both intoxicated and hung over, as the fatty cells in your brain and body dump too many fat-soluble toxins into the bloodstream, all at once.
If you’re going to try glutathione supplements, look up Liposomal Glutathione, and S-Acetyl L-Glutathione, which are the best-absorbed forms, and get some dosage advice from a holistic health professional!
If you’re only going to make one change while this COVID-19 scare is going on, I encourage you to do things that make you laugh and smile and connect with who and what you love.
Make phone or video calls to people you love. Cuddle with your pets. Even if every other option I’ve shared isn’t within your reach, or any change feels overwhelming right now, letting yourself feel more love can make all the difference.
Take really good care,
Best Wishes, Jackie
If you believe the Canadian government isn’t doing enough to embrace the natural health care that allows our bodies to fight effectively and keep themselves healthy, please consider signing this petition: https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Sign/e-3108