Saturday, 22 April 2023

Doom Scrolling vs Taking Action - more Game Changers


Arnie (in the brown jacket) fixing a local pothole



Some actors can act and some cannot

I recently went to see Keanu Reeves in John Wick Chapter 4 with both of my sons. Big brother thought it was great, like a three-hour non-stop video game with Keanu Reeves laying waste to hundreds of villains. My view was that there was almost no dialogue. I have more dialogue with Monty, aged 19 with classic autism, than Reeves has in this film. It was rather like watching a film with Sylvester Stallone or indeed Arnold Schwarzenegger. For Monty I think the best part was probably the popcorn.

Big brother told me that Arnie can act, that is why he also made films like Kindergarten Cop.  That apparently is acting.

There is no doubt though that Arnie is a man of action, as well as being an action man.

I just got a link to him fixing a local pothole.  It is on his twitter feed. Not quite sure why I received it.

I forwarded the link to Monty’s Big Brother.

What does Dad have in common with Arnie?  We both go out and fix the pothole outside our house – the one that nobody wants to come and fix.

In our case I brought several bucket loads of steaming hot asphalt to fix the road. Arnie and his helpers used a few bags of cold repair asphalt – which looks a lot less bother.

When I went twice in search of asphalt, I explained to the road crews laying asphalt with a big machine that I just wanted a few bucket loads to repair an annoying hole in the road in front of our house. Both times the initial story was “you can’t do that ... you cannot fix the road yourself”. My approach, like Arnie’s, was “just watch me”.  The second time one of the road crew actually came to help.  Since then the whole road has been resurfaced, so my asphalting days are likely over.


Doom Scrolling

Even if you are not aware of the term "doom scrolling", if you have a smartphone you are probably already doing it.


Doom scrolling

The practice of obsessively checking online news for updates, especially on social media feeds, with the expectation that the news will be bad, such that the feeling of dread from this negative expectation fuels a compulsion to continue looking for updates in a self-perpetuating cycle.


It is similar to the echo chamber

In news media and social media, an echo chamber is an environment or ecosystem in which participants encounter beliefs that amplify or reinforce their pre-existing beliefs by communication and repetition inside a closed system and insulated from rebuttal.


These days many people have got hooked on reading about problems, rather than solving them. Severe autism being one such problem.


Taking action in Autism

I recently was contacted by a Dad who has been treating his child with autism for a few years.  He probably does not fix potholes like me and Arnie, but he does like to fix autism.  He is doing rather well.

He read my book and contacted me.  His very extensive investigation and trials resulted in his personalized therapy.  These were his game changers:-



Fluvoxamine         to treat OCD and improve cognition




Fluconazole          The single most effective intervention. 

 (Diflucan)            It just lifted the fog.




Valaciclovir (Valtrex)   


Rifaximin               used extensively


Bumetanide             Improves cognition.

The antifungals and Rifaximin have the similar effect in terms of more situational awareness, “presence” and ability to interact.  Bumetanide improves cognition.



B1 (Sulbutiamine)   high doses (800mg) quickly solved the longstanding feeding problems like chewing and swallowing, the stubbornness (e.g. refusing to go through a door)

Another form of B1 has been covered in this blog. Benfotiamine was proposed by our reader Seth in 2016 and he wrote a guest post about it.

Benfotiamine for Autism

A researcher/clinician called Derek Lonsdale wrote about the potential to treat autism with vitamin B1. 

B6  high doses (> 150 mg a day) are essential to avoid explosive rages. 

Vitamin B6 with magnesium is an old autism therapy that was made popular by the late Bernie Rimland. Rimland founded and directed two advocacy groups: the Autism Society of America (ASA) and the Autism Research Institute. He was the force behind Defeat Autism Now! (DAN). 

Bupropion is transformative, but the effect unfortunately fades in 5 days. 

 The mechanism of action of bupropion in the treatment of depression and for other indications is unclear. However, it is thought to be related to the fact that bupropion is a norepinephrine–dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI) and antagonist of several nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. It is uncertain whether bupropion is a norepinephrine–dopamine releasing agent. 

L type calcium channel blockers helped but Nimodipine caused side effects with gum inflammation; this is a well-known possible side effect.

 * * *

Fluconazole and Rifaximin are quite popular therapies in autism and certainly tell that something is amiss in the intestines.  In the US Rifaximin is very expensive and so you will see Vancomycin used.

In Singapore one of the US-trained MAPS (autism) doctors recently got in trouble prescribing Fluconazole/ Diflucan and Vancomycin to young children with autism. The kids' pediatricians heard what he was prescribing and complained to the medical regulator. 


Doctor ordered to temporarily stop prescribing antibiotics, antifungal medication to children after specialists complain

Dr Erwin Kay Aih Boon, a general practitioner in private practice at Healthwerkz Medical Centre, had prescribed antibiotic Vancomycin and antifungal medication Fluconazole – trade name Diflucan – to children with autism.

It comes after four paediatricians in a hospital, which was unnamed in the grounds, complained to the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) about Dr Kay’s management of children with autism.

They said his management of the children were “not based on evidence”, the grounds read.

“Hospital A’s paediatricians were of the view the use of antibiotics and antifungal agents for the treatment of children with (autism spectrum disorders) was unnecessary and had the potential for harm,” said the committee in its grounds.



It is rather addictive reading the news that appears on your phone.

Making your own news, even if you choose not to share it with the wider world, looks like a better option.

I was asked by one person who reviewed a draft of my book, why do I not include a collection of autism treatment case studies. I explained that most people who have been successful do not want to publicly share their results.  That is a pity, but it is human nature – why take an unnecessary risk? Even Dr Kay in Singapore gets himself into trouble, just trying to help other people.

In spite of there being no autism treatment gazette with hundreds of detailed case histories for parents to look through, there are nonetheless many clues in the published research.

The key point is that therapy needs to be personalized. Antifungals, antibiotics and antivirals might do wonders for one person, but do absolutely nothing for your child.    

The worst problem of all can be aggression and self-injurious behavior; vitamin B6 clearly works for some, but most people will need one of the numerous other therapies.



  1. Peter, I had earlier mentioned in a comment that my son has a tendency to regress to lose his walking ability and he responded to Valtex in the past which later stopped working and that now he responds to high dose iBuprofen. It took a long time to crack that it was not Valtrex that recovered my son from Ataxia, rather it was SSRI.

    When left untreated my son has this regression very quickly usually within 2 to 3 weeks. As soon as I realized it was the SSRI that helped, I restarted SSRI on him 2 months back. Ever since then he has not had the Ataxia regression at all. There is also increase in cognition. Another thing I’m observing with SSRI is that he is not losing skills in general. When he was 1 year old he would do certain imitations which he lost soon. But now while on SSRI he is keeping the skills he acquires without losing them.

    I’m not sure how far SSRI will take him forward. But I’ve realized he needs it, at least to keep him walking and to keep his acquired skills from losing them. Before this acquiring skills even the simplest ones was not possible. This also tells me that Dr. G was right that he mentioned Autism as a Neuroimmune disorder. He is really a genius to have cracked it 35 years back that SSRI can help, when there was not much research about microglia back then.

    1. Janu, very interesting. Which SSRI are you using?

    2. I have read in the book “ I know you’re in there” by Marcia Hinds about her use of low dose SSRI’s such a Prozac as an immune modulator for her ASD son. This was to increase blood flow to certain areas which then helped with behaviour and learning. A before and after brain scan confirmed the improvements

    3. Peter, I’m using Lexapro. I have to admit that SSRI is not an easy road. It almost always leads to hyperactivity and behavior issues in ASD kids. This has been the experience among a lot of parents who are Dr.G’s patients in a FB group and the main reason people soon quit this treatment (including myself in the past). I think it’s happening because SSRI activates brain regions that were inactive and those activated brain regions have some E/I dysfunction. I first tried Oxcarbazepene, a sodium channel blocker which did help with the SSRI side effects. But even at sub-normal doses it caused drunken behaviors. But at low doses it helped. But I stopped it and I’m noticing potassium supplementation is also helping equally.

    4. Here is how I think SSRI helps with neuroimmune dysfunction. The prevailing idea in Autism Biomed treatment community is that, microglial activation stops pruning and we somehow need to make that pruning happen. But we have scientific evidence only for the opposite. When microglia is activated, it goes on a pruning spree and even prunes the healthy synapses (possible reason for regression in my idea). Beth Stevens a top microglia researcher has published several studies showing this. I’m linking one important one

      In the above study her team shows that microglia when activated destroys healthy synapses and by keeping those neurons active using Forskolin, they could avoid the microglia from pruning those healthy synapses. What Forskolin does to keep neurons active is, it raises cAMP levels. SSRI is helpful because it also raises and normalizes cAMP levels. . Probably this why, even Pentoxifylline was shown to be very useful in Autism.

      There is a book called Angels and Assassins written by a science journalist, which also talks in depth about how microglia overprunes healthy synapses and does refer to Beth Stevens studies.

    5. With bipolar SSRIs are avoided unless a mood stabilizer is also given because it can trigger hypomania/mania. There are genes that overlap with asd and bipolar - maybe this is what is happening?

    6. This was probably discussed here earlier, but is there a way, besides an MRI, to establish a current status of microglia (overactivated vs underactivated)?

    7. Janu,

      May I know what dose you are using? I am planning to use fluoxetine for my son who will turn 6 this month and weighs 40 lb. I am not sure if the effects you are describing occur at low doses or regular doses.


    8. Anvesh, I also recently switched to Fluoxetine. I use 4 mg for my 4 year old. According to Dr. Goldberg it is 1 mg/yr of age. He has mentioned the doses for SSRI in his book, the myth of autism.

    9. Janu,

      Thank you. I have bought the book too.

  2. Hi,

    Ive seen it mentioned that ssri's reduce neuroinflammation, could this be one of the reasons why some see an increase in cognition at standard doses?

  3. Hey Peter, so you were talking about better autism statistics recently, and here is a paper going a bit more in depth:

    However I personally think that this too is bad data - because I don’t quite know what ‘autism’ is. Our organisation has so far pushed probably like 300 kids through an indepth gastro/immuno/neuro/genetic workup (it takes almost a year for all of that to finish) and about a third of cases get a very specific diagnosis completely unrelated to autism, as we say in the organisation - an illness with a name and a surname. In some very tragic cases the found problem could have been mitigated had it been caught early on, say up to age 2.
    And truly when you look up many illnesses, for example amino acid deficiencies , it will say ‘often have diagnosis of ASD’. Just how crazy this is, that an asd diagnosis is basically the end of diagnostics for a child, when it should actually be just the start.
    In personal news - my daughter has been a great responder to IVIG and Valtrex. Going from the outside inwards, our immuno has concluded that her immune problems reside in the gut. We did a full workup with biopsies from the gut and have a PCR positive for Virus B19. The microscopy of samples is still out but they have been alerted to this virus and will look for it. I am loooking forward to vanquishing this enemy because it can easily be behind my daughters ‘IVIG addiction’.

    1. It is useful to know that what they want to call "profound autism" occurs in about 0.4% of kids. Many parents do not read the definition carefully, because it is non/minimally verbal OR IQ <50. So, it pretty much equates to what people called autism 20 years ago and still do in many non-Western countries.

      When I looked at the statistics long ago in this blog, I concluded that "Classic autism" was about 0.3%. I had true Aspies (the clever ones) at 0.3% and PDD-NOS was 0.4%.

      There is a great resource where doctors can learn how to diagnose and treat Intellectual disability, but they do not use it. They say the diagnostic yield is too low. If you have 300 kids to treat, you will for sure find some with treatable ID/Autism.

  4. Yes I believe so.

  5. Peter what would you propose for someone with mild Aspergers social communication being the biggest problem? My nephew has been diagnosed with it recently and he often complains about chronic fatigue and sleeping problems, so far he tried Baclofen with no luck, what should we try next?

    1. See the comment below from Leen.

      There seem to be many people with mild autism for whom the key is to resolve gut issues. Rifaximin is often effective for them.

      For some people it can be a case of "dietary autism" where they key is dietary changes rather than any pharmaceuticals.

  6. These treatments sound highly familiar. Rifaximin, nystatin, high-dosed B1 and calcium channel blockers made a big difference for me too.

    I (used to) suffer from concentration issues, chronic fatigue, autonomic symptoms, mood swings and a host of other aspecific symptoms. Causes for me were dysbiosis (which I've resolved with rifaximin, macrogol, prucalopride and now pig whipworm/TSO to lift the constipation) and were/are overactive mast cells/TRP ion channels, for which cromoglicate eyedrops work really well (only on mood though). I am also on the Failsafe diet/RPAH elimination diet.

    Bupropion might stop working precisely because it's anticholinergic, as the problem with this type of dysbiosis is that it produces ammonia, which overloads the CNS, causing the immune system to react and switching on the histamine H3 receptor in the brain, which then goes on to suppress dopamine, serotonin and acetylcholine - hence the brain fog, autonomic symptoms sleepiness and general suppression of the nervous system, beside concentration and mood problems.

    Hope this helps someone.

    Best, Leen

    1. Hi Leen,

      ''concentration issues, chronic fatigue, autonomic symptoms, and a host of other symptoms''- sounds like my child.
      How was your dysbiosis diagnosed? Was it based on presented symptoms? It seems to me that this diagnosis may sometimes be cloudy. My child's functional physician was very quick on it: diarhea once a month-dysbiosis, did not poop for two days-dysbiosis, does not gain weight-dysbiosis, eczema-certainly dysbiosis... It went on and on, even though the performed tests were not determinative of the diagnosis.

      Also, how did you detect an overactive mast cells/TRP ion channels? (we also have signs of mast cell activation, but no blood work to confirm/rule out)

      Thank you!

  7. Peter,

    Our doctor prescribed Cromoglicic acid as anti allergy medicine. I have only been able to find eye drops. Would giving the eye drops have the same effect or should I convert it into nasal spray somehow and give it like that?


    1. Also known as cromolyn sodium this drug is used as eye drops, a nasal spray and as a tablet taken my mouth. If you had a food allergy you might take the oral version, for hay fever you would take the nose spray. In some countries the oral version is not sold. I suggest you ask your doctor for advice.

      Many people with autism are taking the oral version.

    2. Thank you. I will have to convert it to the oral version, but the eye drops are just 5ml and may not last long. The tablets are not sold in India, I will see if I can get the tablets somehow.

  8. Peter, what are your thoughts on Wi-Fi exposure and calcium channelopathies? Is it just an issue for epilepsy? I did note years ago with the invention of iPads my son did not do well using one for over a certain amount of time - was like flipping a switch with his behavior. My son does not have epilepsy but of course the other co-morbidities I’ve mentioned before in comments. Just curious

    1. Tanya, there is data to show that wi-fi is not without risks, but these days it would be almost impossible to avoid it. Here is one paper on the subject.

      Wi-Fi is an important threat to human health


      7 effects have each been repeatedly reported following Wi-Fi & other EMF exposures.

      Established Wi-Fi effects, include apoptosis, oxidat. stress &:

      testis/sperm dysfunct; Neuropsych; DNA impact; hormone change; Ca2+ rise

      Wi-Fi is thought to act via voltage-gated calcium channel activation.

      One claim of no Wi-Fi effects was found to be deeply flawed."

      I think the biggest issues with iPads and smartphones are behavioral rather than biological. They are really addictive and may produce symptoms ADHD in an entirely “normal” person. They make people impatient, less tolerant and less social. They also cause sleeping problems if used late at night.

      Personally, I do not worry about Wi-Fi activating calcium channels, but screen time definitely needs to be limited.

  9. Peter,

    Timely post from you. We were on antibiotics (Rifaximin and amoxycillin) in preparation for FMT and I noticed that my son was getting very restless - lot of self talk, severe urge to squeeze/hit someone as if he could not control his hands etc. This was last seen at this level almost 2 years ago, so it was concerning.

    I tried Diflucan for two days and he is more or less back to normal. I am not sure what is the mode of action - excess yeast or something else. And it could very well be a coincidence. But I thought it was worth noting.


    1. Some people experience negative reactions due to the secondary effects of antibiotics (unrelated to bacteria), while some people see a benefit. In the case of the bacteria killed by the antibiotics, be aware that you will lose many beneficial bacteria, which can also affect behavior.

      Hopefully FMT will be beneficial. It works for some people and not for others.

    2. Peter,

      I am keeping my expectations low with FMT because my son does not start with any major GI issues apart from infrequent stomach pains.

      We are staring the sessions tomorrow. I will post an update in a couple of weeks.


    3. Current research from James Adams (Arizona State University) is to validate if the antibiotics are really needed for FMT's. for people looking for FMT's strongly advice to follow his research.


    4. A mom is reporting severe regression after FMT

    5. Hi Anvesh,

      You mentioned something very important and I thought you would like to know. Per Dr. Ashwood. children with autism that do not have gi issues usually have elevated il-4 and il-5. Children with GI issues have an elevated il-17 response.

      35 minute mark. Hopefully that knowledge will help you on your quest.


    6. Thanks for your comments and suggestions.

      We just finished 5 sessions of FMT (from two different donors). Since my son did not have any GI issues to start with, I have not noticed any change there. It might be too early but behaviorally too I do not see much change.

      Interestingly the doctor mentioned that to see the effects, one would have to do at least 15 sessions. He has had many patients including his own daughter who have completed more than 100 sessions. He says that FMT does not reverse autism but helps improve sensory issues and irritability. He expects that in the long run focus and cognition also improve.

      I will post an update in a few weeks.


  10. Sudhakar Vankamamidi1 May 2023 at 07:23

    Hi Peter, to replenish brain serotonin what is better do you think for regular use between SSRI's, 5HTP, resiperidone. Our concerns are SSRI 's can they become habit forming. Or can it further deteriorate the situation. Thanks Sudhakar

    1. You may well not need to do anything at all. Only a sub-group have a problem relating to serotonin. They seem to find their therapy via trial and error. Using a therapy when not needed can indeed make symptoms worse.

  11. Hi Peter,

    I found a fun video for you and the rest of the group to watch.

    Stalicia is using a vast ASD database with biomarkers to help them develop ASD treatments. There drug STP1(Bumetanide/Ibudilast) has shown positive response in there hand selected individuals.


    1. I think this is the research study link to sign up.


  12. Peter another question, have you looked at the correlation of high CXCR3 and asd?

    Interesting video on weak NK cells and neuroinflammation

    1. I think that I have not mentioned it specifically.

    2. So, this is sort of interesting. I decided to do some more research on cxcr3 and found it correlates with cxcl10 and cxcl9. Leading me to stumbled on this disease which reminded me of autism.

      Cerebral malaria is the most severe neurological complication of infection with Plasmodium falciparum. With >575,000 cases annually, children in sub-Saharan Africa are the most affected. Surviving patients have an increased risk of neurological and cognitive deficits, behavioral difficulties, and epilepsy making cerebral malaria a leading cause of childhood neurodisability in the region.

    3. Cxl9 is part of the Mig family.

      Mig is one of the three cytokines that is changed by bumetanide in the high responder group.

    4. Yes, I agree about cerebral malaria as a potential cause of "autism". I think I suggested this in a post along with TBI (traumatic brain injury) as potential causes.

    5. I agree, there are multiple insults that can trigger an over exaggerated immune response. You once quoted Monty saying he has "fire in his brain." Maybe the "fire" was the T lymphocytes being attracted to Cxcr3? Thank God you found Verapamil.


  13. Peter, I have tried various of these medications, my sons vocal tics seem to get more pronounced during spring, I have been using Neuroprotek in the past and OTC allregy meds like Zyrtec/Claritin, this year his eyes are watery etc and he is restless more, I remember that Verpamil helps with the histamines during pollen season - correct?

    1. Verapamil blocks ion channels including L type calcium ones. These ion channels are known to affect autism and are also involved in mast cell degradation. Mast cells are the ones that release histamine. Histamine release seems to make autism worse. Verapamil seems to control allergy related autism flare-ups. In some people verapamil also reduces allergies, which makes sense.

  14. Hi Peter,

    I am following your advice and giving my 4 year old NAC(solgar brand). I mix in vitamin c effervescent. at times I mix in fresh orange or beetroot juice. I try to do it twice a day or once atleast. should I increase it? around 50ml fresh beetroot juice.does it interfere with NAC? without vitamin C effervescent he wont drink so I hav to add that. is that ok?
    the positives we noticed is he is getting better at functional language. he is verbal from 3 years old. but wasnt doing conversations. now that is improving. spontaneously commenting. my husband noticed his language improvement too.
    after I started NAC we noticed he is not as obsessed with things like his trains which he now moved on to sharks.he uses step stool to be placed in same way always earlier but now its fine which ever way we keep.

    also your advice to broaden his diet lead me to read about SCD diet. I am slowly working to get him to eat meats and organ meats. thanks.
    I need your advice when I wrote about his dark under eyes and eczema allergy you mentioned he could benefit from mast cell stabilizers like ketotifen. I am in UK who should I raise this with? my GP said to continue giving cetrizine? Does this fall under GI issue or allergy? which team should GP refer ? I got his recent blood test done. His thyroid ,blood profile looked ok. his Vit D was way high so GP asked me to stop supplements. should I wait?

    I wanted to thank you for the effort in writing blogs and helping with advice. I dont fully understand all the scientific jargon people talk and explain but its helping.

    1. You can mix NAC with the juice or vit C to mask the taste. It is best to give it 3 or 4 times a day, because the effect lasts 3-4 hours. Ask your GP if you can try Nalcrom which is another well known mast cell stabilizer for allergies. It is probably the best one, but it costs more so you may not get it.

      If you give vitamin d or fish oil that would explain the high level.

      UK GPs do not believe that autism is treatable.

    2. I use a mix of grape-cranberry juice, the sulphuric flavor mixes well, and masks the NAC flavor. The only issue is that most juices tend to have a lot of added sugar

  15. thanks Peter . I will try to get Nalcrom You rightly pointed out I was giving fish oil in high dosage as it was recommended to give more initially when we started and other vitamins had it too.
    I wrote to Kings college on medication trials for my son. Earlier we participated in their prechool MRI and EEG program. to be put on waiting list for trials for bumetanide. I got response that I am on their list. But as you mentioned here they use Autism word with caution. No medical treatment. only Speech and Occupational therapy available.


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