In 2014 I came down with a mild case of thyroid cancer. I was actually elated when we discovered the tumors on my thyroid because for the last five years my health had been spiraling downward, and no medical professional had yet been able to tell me why, though my tests always came back as showing elevated white blood cell count. A much longer version of this story ends with my life being upended and having to fight this disease on my own, a journey that took me down paths of discovery I never thought possible, and over the last few years I have not only been able to get rid of my cancer symptoms but have also been able to regrow my lost hair (not lost from treatment, but from aging) restore my thyroid function, and eliminate conditions of depression, insomnia, erectile dysfunction, and even my alcoholism and addiction which I discovered to be a neurological disorder.
Recently, while investigating a therapy to leverage the neurotransmitter GABA and its promotion of sleep, relaxation, and more importantly cellular regeneration I inadvertently stumbled on a possible cause and thence treatment for conditions of autism. The most important regulating factor in GABA production, I found, is the B vitamin biotin. You will not see this directly cited in medical studies because biotin’s role comes further up the chain of pathways which eventually lead to GABA production, as biotin is required to break down macronutrients for the body to make use of them, most pertinently and consequentially the branched chain amino acids (usually abbreviated BCAA). The material of which branched chain amino acids are made is used to supply other amino acids, proteins, and enzymes which directly influence our overall health and metabolic function, and this is especially relevant to the storage and elimination of ammonia sequestered in the protein glutamate, as though ammonia is an important mediator of metabolic processes, in excess it causes a wide range of deleterious health effects, and without biotin this process is inhibited.
Those with autism present with low biotin, and a few recorded cases of biotin supplementation have shown to reverse symptoms of autism — but which returned on cessation of biotin supplementation, which means that biotin is related to autistic symptoms but also that some other factor is the true root cause of the condition, and does so by interfering with biotin activity.
There are pathogenic species of bacteria which produce a protein called streptavidinthat bind to and inactivate biotin. Researchers do not know what biological function streptavidin performs for the microbes which produce it, because it does not sequester biotin for their own purposes (as I understand it), but it is clear to me that streptavidin’s purpose is to alterhost metabolism through blocking biotin, as streptavidin’s binding to biotin is one of the strongest bonds in nature and can’t be broken by our normal digestive enzymes, and in so doing cause the branched chain amino acids to remain intact which in turn stimulates diabetic-like conditions which better favor the survival of those pathogens. The resultant drop in glutamine and GABA from biotin deficiency predictably raises ammonia, and those with autism also often present with high ammonia, and ammonia impairs brain function as well as interrupts sleep, and those with autism often also suffer from insomnia. All humanseventually harbor the bacterial species which produce streptavidin, but due to healthy immune systems and gut microbiomes are usually resistant to them until afterwe are already grown and fully developed, so their presence more commonly result in symptoms such as fatigue, malaise, metabolic disease, thyroid disease, weight gain, brain fog, and insomnia, whereas their ingress in young people who have yet to finish growing the presence of these bacteria halt and impair mental and physical development through the effective inhibition of biotin absorption. This premature ingress probably originates during a stress event which compromised the immune system or the gut microbiome sufficiently. This accounts for the wide range and seemingly nebulous timing, speed, and condition of onset — it can even be justified by vaccine courses which sometimes cause a burden on young immune systems if those young people are also already stressedby other nutritional or environmental factors which also lower the immune function, which would explain some of the association with vaccination events but not all, as clearly vaccination does not cause autism conditions as evidenced by the millions of vaccinations which take place that do not result in autism.
Even more tellingly, biotin is also needed in order to promote the cholesterols and fats which eventually contribute to the production of vitamin D during exposure to sunlight — and those with autism are also deficient in vitamin D, and a vitamin D deficiency actively alters the gut microbiome, so it may be that a total depletion of vitamin D stores combined with another stress event then allows these bacteria to access the gut of a young person, which would normally be resistant to such microbes until they are much older.
Streptavidin is synthesized from protein, and I inadvertently discovered this potential therapy while developing ideas for dealing with excess ammonia levels in the body using short, strategic protein fasts since most conditions of excess ammonia also originate from protein fermentation by bacteria in the intestinal tract. Similar to the process I developed to address gut dysfunction in adults to help cure conditions like thyroid and metabolic disease, a strategic protein fast will halt streptavidin synthesis by invasive microbes since protein is necessary for streptavidin synthesis, and studies have shown that substrates that include amino acids like proline and arginine promote an increased affinity for biotin binding by streptavidin. The nature of streptavidin and biotin absorption is the primary reason why people see an improvement in health when they first practice vegetarianism or veganism, as the substrates for this molecule are eliminated (meaning those who don’t supplement protein), but a long-term protein deficit is harmful and is also why those on such diets eventually begin suffering different health consequences.
Making matters more complicated, for decades the research industry has used these very microbes which produce streptavidin to mass produce streptavidin for the research industry, as it is used in many aspects of scientific and medical research, and some companies have even developed mutant strains which produce molecules that are more powerful than streptavidin at binding biotin, and I think it likely that some varieties of these bacteria have entered the populace and is probably the reason for increased rates of autism, although this is purely speculative, where those bacteria which exist naturally have been given an advantage by human activity and thus account for the uncanny rise in these conditions over the decades.
A protein deficiency can have its own serious metabolic consequences, so this should not be taken as advice to avoid or reduce protein generally as doing so will prevent healing and accelerate and worsen emotional, mental, and metabolic health in the long run. But in order to bypass streptavidin synthesis and replenish biotin and thus biotin dependent metabolic products and pathways it is necessary to go on a very low protein diet for a time. It is important that all major protein sources like meat, milk, beans, cheese, nuts, and grains be abstained during these protein fasts (yes, even bread and cereal), as even a small amount will enable these microbes to produce streptavidin and block biotin absorption, and you must educate yourself to the protein content contained in the food you prepare for your autistic charge. It is impossible to avoid all protein, as there is protein every food, but abstaining from as much of it as possible will be highly effective, and there is no need to be overzealous about it, as abstinence from high-protein foods will be sufficient. Protein fasts are especially stressful for children and the elderly, so it may be necessary to shorten the duration of protein abstinence and instead perform intermittent days of protein repletion, such as two to four days off protein, one or two with protein, then another two to four off and so on until symptoms resolve, though not indefinitely nor for a long period of time and only abstaining from protein so long as everyone is comfortable. More important than protein fasting is the requirement for exposure to natural sunlight to thus achieve an increase in endogenous vitamin D (endogenous means made within our body rather than supplemented), as I believe it is the absence of vitamin D due to biotin deficiency which accounts for the consequential derangement of gut microflora which in turn promotes those bacteria which synthesize streptavidin. Doing a protein fast and supplementing biotin withoutalso getting sunshine to make vitamin D will not alter the gut microbiome in any meaningful way and thus not permanently eradicate these bacteria. Supplementing vitamin D will also not be sufficient as certain hormones like melatonin, which are elevated during light deficiency, actively inhibit vitamin D, so getting sunshine is crucial to the success of this therapy. After beginning a protein fast it would probably take a few days to clear out the remaining streptavidin, so sunshine exposure can start a few days in (please take care to avoid times of day and conditions which promote sunburn — and sunblock and even glass inhibit vitamin D synthesis, so sun exposure to bare skin during safe hours and climates is ideal). Using large amounts of biotin to dilute any remaining streptavidin through the first days of therapy is a good idea, followed by ample amounts afterward. Anyone with medical supervision might also be able to hasten this process with the use of antibiotics to wipe out the gut microbiome at the beginning of therapy, as the low-protein diet afterward will instead promote a very different microbiome, one which will crowd out the streptavidin producing microbes.
It is extremely important during a protein fast that you prepare adequately to provide a substantial increase in calories, meals, and snacks from carbohydrates and fat during this time, as the reduction in protein will stimulate a significant increase in hunger stimulus and requirement for nutrients. The only way to avoid discomfort and distraught children (or adults if you are practicing this) is to stay ahead of your hunger, make satisfying meals, and keep a shit-ton of fruit and other quick access foods handy in order to prevent lapses in hunger. Root vegetables like sweet potatoes, potatoes, beets, carrots, and cassava are especially helpful. Cream, butter, and coconut oil can help boost caloric intake in healthy and delicious ways, and lots of good fruit both whole, frozen, or dried are also necessary in order to achieve good nutrition and caloric intake. Healthy candies which are made of good sugars and simple ingredients are also a great way to provide some fun and entertainment while also assisting the metabolic rate and the production of vitamin D precursors.
I have not been able to develop this approach significantly, and there may be variables that I am not aware of, but I think that this is an extremely promising and simple course of investigation for those families whose loved ones present with autistic symptoms. This also has implications for adults and other metabolic conditions — many of which I discuss in my book, Fuck Portion Control, including my journey through recovery, how to regrow lost hair, cure thyroid disease, heal cancer through nutrition, and address such problems as candida, white-tongue, depression, insomnia, erectile and libido dysfunction, and how to maintain healthy weight through easy and accessible therapies.
The protein fast, biotin supplementation, and sun exposure to evict those bacterial species which are probably the root of autism should last for at least a week, but is probably more effective if it extends to two or three weeks if possible. If protein fasting is stressful it is better to have protein intermittently, taking care to increase calories, carbohydrates, and fats from other good foods in order to make up for the nutrient deficit and the increase in metabolic rate which will absolutely occur. It will do you no good to force yourself or others with zealousness to practice this therapy, and you should employ compassion, understanding, and rational thought else you could do more harm than good. Evidence that this therapy is working should see an increase in the quality of sleep rather quickly (perhaps a week or so), increased bowel transit time as ammonia is eliminated from the gut, a steady improvement in mental cognition, and a reduction in agitation and restlessness. This is just a beginning, and this idea warrants further investigation and discovery by those who are more competent than I. For more reading on related conditions as well as how to improve your own health through simple and accessible strategies and learning how to live in harmony with the human condition you can get a copy of my book, Fuck Portion Control.