The Autism Research Institute calls for further investigations into the use of chelation therapy for individuals with autism
Two studies published by the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in the October issue of BMC Clinical Pharmacology investigated the use of oral dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA), a prescription medicine approved by the FDA for treating lead poisoning, and used off-label in these studies for treating heavy metal toxicity in children with autism.
In the investigations, DMSA was given to 65 children with autism (ages 3 -8 years) to determine its effects. The researchers found that DMSA dramatically increased excretion of several toxic metals, including a 10-fold increase in excretion of lead. In terms of safety, the study found that there was no adverse effect on standard safety tests, including no effect on kidney or liver function.
Of greatest interest was a surprising finding that DMSA therapy had a dramatic effect on glutathione levels. Glutathione is the body's primary defense against toxic metals, and it was very abnormal in children with autism. Treatment with DMSA for only 3 days normalized glutathione levels for at least 1-2 months in almost all children.
DMSA therapy also had promising effects on possibly reducing some of the symptoms of autism, including improvements in language, cognition, and sociability. However, a formal randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study is needed to confirm those results.
The study was led by Matthew Baral, N.D., Chair of the Department of Pediatric Medicine and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine (SCNM) and James B. Adams, Ph.D., Adjunct Professor in the Division of Clinical Sciences at SCNM and Science Director for the Autism Research Institute.
"Toxic metals are a common problem in autism, and I have personally observed that many of my patients with autism have greatly benefited from DMSA therapy. I hope this data answers the question that many physicians have: whether chelation is safe and effective, and clearly it's both," says Dr. Matthew Baral. "This study shows that DMSA therapy is safe and effective, and should be considered as a possible treatment for children with autism who have significant body burden of toxic metals," says Prof. James Adams.
Autism Research Institute