Could a sudden, severe change in a child's behavior be brought on by something as common as strep throat? Many experts -- and distraught parents -- say yes. We dig deeper to find out what's going on, and which children are at risk.
PANDAS syndrome sometimes referred to as PANDAS disease is an acronym for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associate with Streptococcal Infections. The syndrome is characterized by a strep infection which leads to an adverse immune response resulting in inflammation of a child’s brain. When this occurs, the child very quickly starts to display significant and life altering symptoms including:
• A change in personality
• A regression in schoolwork such as handwriting and mathematics skills
• Restrictive eating
• Heightened sensory sensitivity
While there is not yet any sort of unanimity of medical opinion regarding the syndrome, the PANDAS Network has conservatively estimated that PANDAS may affect around 1 in every 200 children although medicine.net puts the figure closer to 1 in every 2,000 although they go on to say that a proper diagnosis is often overlooked.
The difficulty doctors have in making a proper diagnosis of PANDA syndrome is because many common symptoms are associated with the illness. Indeed a number of researchers and experts in the field recommend that PANDAS is included with similar neuropsychiatric conditions such as PANS and CANS.
Some parents, if they can even get a doctor who will diagnose PANDAS (it’s not exactly main-stream just yet), choose to use long-term antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals to cure the syndrome.
Such was the case with Beth Alison Maloney, the author of Saving Sammy, a book about her son’s battle with, and subsequent curing of PANDAS. It worked for Sammy, and he was cured of PANDAS, without any diet changes even, but I do wonder about the long-term health effects of long-term antibiotic use.
Overcoming PANDAS/PANS required a comprehensive whole body approach to healing. from http://www.thefamilythathealstogether.com/pandas-syndrome-how-we-healed-it/
Too often, if parents realize the diagnosis, they are led to believe that strep or some other pathogen is the cause of the problem and may spend years giving antibiotics or trying to suppress immune function. While such measures may result in relief for some typical children who were never beset with previous autoimmune issues, for those on the autistic spectrum, such regimens often only result in greater problems of inner ecosystem imbalance and immune dysfunction. There is mounting evidence that implicates antibiotic use in the development of autism in the first place, and repeated long-term dosing can often result in regression and further complications.
Rather than suppression, a holistic approach deals with the underlying cause of autoimmunity; that the immune system, overworked and overwhelmed, has lost its ability to distinguish pathogen from brain cell and is attacking the area of the brain responsible for checking repetitive thought and movement. A holistic approach involves strengthening the immune system so that it can regain its vision to distinguish self from pathogen. For more and more children, a combination of nutrition, homeopathy, and herbs are making the difference. For each child the protocols must be individualized, but a comprehensive approach takes into account these steps:
- Gut healing: A leaky gut, whereby undigested proteins, pathogens, and toxins can pass into the bloodstream provoking inflammation and immune reaction generally underlies autoimmunity. It also makes absorption of nutrients difficult which adds to immune dysfunction. Over 70% of the immune system is in the gut. Gut healing is a multistep process that can be helped with herbs and healing nutrients in conjunction with dietary changes.
- An anti-inflammatory diet: Respecting bio-individuality, a diet that eliminates foods contributing to inflammation, allergy, and sensitivity for each person, to calm the fires of inflammation and give the immune system a needed healing rest is essential. This generally begins with removing the most well-known contributors to inflammation and immune reaction: gluten, GMOs, refined vegetable oils, dairy products, processed foods, chemical additives, pesticides, refined flours, fried foods, and sugar. Foods that serve to quell inflammation are key. A nutrient dense diet of real food that promotes a slightly alkaline internal Ph is essential to healing. Note: It is a common misconception that allergy testing can define a child’s food intolerances. Most of the food reactions our children face are not true allergies, but are due to the child’s inability to properly digest or process the chemicals (natural or artificial) or proteins in the food. These foods will not test positive as allergens, yet can be causing chronic inflammation and immune reactivity. more on a healing diet: The GAPS diet
- Homeopathy: This system of energy healing supports and strengthens the immune system and was key to my own son’s healing. Remedies are determined on the basis of the totality of the individual child’s symptom picture. During acute PANDAS episodes, when the child can often take on a completely different symptom pattern, an intercurrent remedy may be recommended based on the individual child’s symptom picture.
- Anti-inflammatory herbs and nutrients that help to strengthen and support a healthy immune system are a key component of the healing process. One family found success using:
- Cell salts that are appropriately determined for the individual can help with nutrient absorption and healing the gut and nervous system.
- Detoxification: Toxic overload can often contribute to the immune system’s overwhelm. Toxic metals, mold, and chemicals in the environment can act as triggers or contribute to ongoing immune dysfunction. Eliminating common environmental triggers in the home environment in combination with gentle, natural methods to improve the child’s own detoxification capacity are important. One family found success using: Diatomaceous earth, oregano leaf tincture, and intestinal tract defense
Balance the inner ecosystem: We have more microorganisms in our bodies than human cells and an imbalance significantly impacts immune function. Overgrowth of yeast, bacteria or parasite invasion must be overcome in order for the immune system to heal. Homeopathic methods to balance the inner terrain, such as the use of appropriately indicated bowel nosodes, particular in the wake of antibiotic use, can provide tremendous healing. To kill pathogens and candida: biocidin, monolaurin, grapefruit seed extract, and happy belly
A dozen years ago, PANDAS was unknown to most health practitioners and the options for healing were limited. Today, we are blessed to have a wealth of holistic knowledge that provides true hope for healing autoimmunity as well as the support of a growing community of well-informed parents.
Story after story of healing can be found at the facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/recoveringkids2/