The exposure of the human body to toxins often begins before birth as the prenatal is assaulted with compounds derived from air pollutants (cigarette smoke) to ingested chemicals (alcohol and other drugs). Such exposure has been linked to a wide range of congenital maladies such as fetal alcohol syndrome to low birth weight. It has been suggested that environmentally acquired mercury, either through some causal contact or through vaccination, is the culprit behind autism and the autism spectrum disorders. The standard treatment has been to apply chelating agents in an attempt to extricate the mercury from the body. While this approach may meet with limited success, one large area left unutilized is the body's endogenous enteric bacteria (probiotics). The rationale behind using high-dose probiotics for detoxification protocols is presented and discussed in the context of autism.
Detoxification protocols exist for a wide variety of conditions. Such protocols employ everything from fasting to intravenous chelating agents. Equally diverse are the range of conditions to which the therapies are applied. One such condition is autism and the autism spectrum disorders (ASD), herein collectively referred to as 'autism.'
While the numbers vary among sources, it is generally believed that 5:10,000 (1) to 1:300 suffer from autism. The initial onset of symptoms usually occurs by age three. While the exact cause of autism remains elusive, considerable advances have been made in recent years. These advances come from a study of the geographic localization, biological, and psychological aspects of the disease. From these studies, several theories have emerged. (2,3)
Neurological damage induced by exposure to mercury is one such theory and has even reached the mass audience of the television show 60 Minutes. Exactly how this happens has not been elucidated, but it is known that high levels of organic mercury are neurotoxic. (4,5) During the first three years of development, the theory holds, mercury exposure occurs with a subsequent neurotoxic effect on the brain resulting in a manifestation of autism. Others have similarly implicated mercury, suggesting a molecular aspect associated with the gut and immune system and that a toxin, of which mercury is only one, may throw a genetic switch or multiple switches early in development. (3) The idea being that the gut associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) is in some way a lynch-pin in the establishment and progression of autism. A malfunctioning immune system may be responsible for the aberrant presence of neuroactive peptides in autistics. (19)
Environmentally derived mercury poisoning is now well established as a danger and studies are being done to find ways to detoxify both the environment and humans. In the former case, the well known ability of bacteria to detoxify methyl mercury (organic) has been employed to create plant chimeras harboring bacterially derived mer genes. (6) The mer genes are required for plants to detoxify organic mercury by converting it to volatile and much less toxic elemental mercury. The mer genes can detoxify both organomercurials and inorganomercurials.
The mer genes are organized in a regulated operon,...
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