What is Autism?

Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132


The word autism has its roots in the Greek words autos, meaning self and –ismos,
meaning condition. Autism is a neurobiological disorder that leaves a person
permanently developmentally disabled. Individuals with autism display withdrawal, an
inward turning of the self. The insidiousness or abruptness of the disorder provides
parents and pediatricians no clues as to its cause and development. At times the subtle
signs of autism are not easily monitored and in retrospect, parents can trace the gradual
decay of their children’s personality. Other times the abruptness of the disorder can be
pinpointed to a specific event.

…Terri Kerr knew that what her boys had was autism, and she left no stone
unturned to find out what she could do to help. Perhaps one of the reasons she
acted so swiftly was her own health. Terri was a young, beautiful woman with a
serious heart condition, whose doctor had told her that her life expectancy was
uncertain. She was willing to try the diet for the boys within a few minutes of
speaking with me (Karyn Serroussi) on the phone.
“I believe it was the MMR vaccine that started their problems,” she told me.
I replied politely. “Yes, I’ve heard people say that before. The vaccine does
coincide with the typical age of onset.”
“Well, in the case of my boys, it coincided pretty dramatically. Ian was
completely normal until that day. Kyle was hospitalized later that week, and was
never the same.”
Autism alters the communication skills, social-ability, and behavior patterns typical of a
“normal” child. Parents and pediatricians may deny the signs and fail to compare the
early, subtle signs of autism with that of normal infantile maturation. The disorder can
easily engulf the lives of the child and his/her family. Early detection and early
intervention are keys to “open” the inward turning of the child’s personality. Tito
Mukhopadhyay, a 14-year-old youth with severe autism, was taught by his mother at a
very early age to communicate via a computer and the written word. His eloquent poetry
shows the world that the mind of this autistic boy is active, imaginative, and intelligent. Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
He is able to describe to researchers what autism is to him. He writes, “It is an intact
mind with a disobedient body.”
“It is estimated that about 1 in 1000 children have autism. Also, as many as 2-5 per 1000
children may exhibit some form of the disorder. Developmental disabilities are a diverse
group of physical, cognitive, psychological, sensory, and speech impairments that are
usually identified between birth and up to age 18 years. It is estimated that about 17
percent of all children have a developmental disability, and 2 percent have a serious
developmental disability such as mental retardation, cerebral palsy, or autism.”
Boys are
3 to 4 times more likely to develop autism than girls but the most severe form of the
disorder has an almost equal gender ratio. The prevalence of autism is worldwide with
no common underlying factor of race, culture, or economic status. The California
Department of Developmental Services published a report in April 2003 showing that
new cases of diagnosed full syndrome autism in the state doubled in the four-year period
between 1999 and 2002. This is an incredible increase of 634 percent in the 15-year
period from 1987 through 2002.

The complexity and origin of this neurological developmental disability baffles and
frustrates parents, doctors, and researchers. Autism Spectrum Disorder is one of five
disorders classified under the title of Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD),
“pervasive meaning that the condition affects development extensively and across the
By definition, spectrum disorders have a wide range of symptoms varying in
intensity from mild to severe.
· Autistic Disorder is described in detail in the preceding and following sections.
· Asperger’s Disorder produces children with difficulty in expressing themselves
appropriately in social situations. Unlike autistic children, those with Asperger’s
Disorder can speak and score above the range of mental retardation. The
difficulties of those with Asperger’s Disorder include their preoccupation with
unusual interests and the inability to communicate appropriately with people.Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
· Rett’s Disorder is a genetic disorder affecting only girls. It is a rare syndrome
occurring in 1 in 15,000. Characteristics of the disorder include a normal growth
pattern in infancy but between 6 – 24 months of age the child’s head growth
begins to slow, language skills decline, and social interactions are impaired. The
girls typically practice a hand-wringing ritual that is stereotypical of Rett’s
· Childhood Disintegrative Disorder is a rare disorder that strikes 1 in 100,000
children. It mimics the signs and symptoms of autism but affects those that have
had years of normal growth patterns, unlike autism that can affect a child from
· Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified (PDD: NOS) is used
as a diagnosis when the signs and symptoms are mild and do not appear to fit in
any other category.
Etiology and pathogenesis
Psychologists and pediatricians previously labeled the behavior of autistic children as a
response to uncompassionate parents. The physiological and behavioral irregularities
displayed by children were thought to be a negative response to uncompassionate parents.
More and more research is being conducted in an attempt to find the etiology of the
disease. Parents frustrated with the mediocre responses to their complaints from their
pediatricians have forged the deepest pathways to discovering the cause of their
children’s disease and the appropriate treatment for cure. Karyn Seroussi and Lynn
Lewis formed a grassroots parent organization, the Autism Network for Dietary
Intervention (http://www.autismndi.com/). Both scientific research and empirical
evidence is cited on the website providing readers with the explanation that autism and
other pervasive developmental disorders are reactions of the body to food allergies, Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
gastrointestinal abnormalities, and the opioid affects of gluten and dairy products on the
neurological system. Karyn wrote of her success story in combating her son’s autism in
her book, Unraveling the Mystery of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder.
Lynn Lewis wrote the indispensable diet therapy book, Special Diets for Special Kids.
The disorder is pervasive, and so is Karyn and Lynn’s will to cure their children. Their
undaunting quest to discover a treatment for their children and children around the world
is a testimony of the strength required to combat this disease. Through their perseverance
and that of researchers, theories explaining the cause of the disease are surfacing. These
theories are much different than the original thoughts of the psychologists that autism
was a retreat of the child as a response to uncompassionate parents.
· Compromised Immune System
The theory that autism is caused by a compromised immune system is becoming
more accepted as concerned parents, dedicated clinicians, and physicians are
producing empirical evidence. As this theory ages, the empirical evidence is
substantiated with clinical trials. Treating the patient’s biological deficiencies and
supporting the patient with behavior modification therapies has proven to be, at times,
a successful treatment protocol. The spectrum of autism is wide, and so are the
causal theories of the disease. An immune system that has been injured or
compromised, as described in Dr. Jeff Bradstreet’s website, http://www.gnd.org/, is
caused by:
A genetic weakness (C4B null allele) and/ or predisposition, combined with one
or more of the following:
1) Shortened or absent breast-feeding preventing the full development of
transferred cellular immunity.
2) Early gluten (usually wheat) introduction prior to one year of age.
Wheat has been genetically manipulated in the last 100 years to increase
the gluten content.Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
3) Early use of cow’s milk or casein based formulas. (Allergenic and
4) Immunizations with live viruses, especially the MMR after 1978. There
is frequent regression after the MMR vaccine that has been observed and
published. Other vaccinations and the resulting effects on interleukin or
autoimmunity. DPT (especially if whole cell pertussis is used) and HepB
(not live viruses) may also play a role in immune alterations.
5) Use of antibiotics and resulting yeast and pathogenic bacteria infection
or overgrowth, with resulting immune modification and toxic exposure.
6) Maternal allergy, chronic fatigue syndrome, or leaky gut problems that
caused the child to be pre-sensitized in the womb.
7) Leaky gut from any number of the above or also related to parasites or
GI infections in the child that allow gluten and casein to leak into the
bloodstream. Once in the body, the body alters them into toxic substances.
Sucrose (table sugar) also leaks in and it is an abnormal sugar in the blood
stream that causes a host of problems.
8) Defect in the detoxification pathway of the brain, Phenol SulfurTransferase or PST enzyme defect. Inadequate intake of sulfur
9) They develop autoantibodies to Myelin Basic Protein and other brain
components. Measles is known to induce MBP antibodies.
10) Defective cellular immunity, especially in the NK cell activity towards
self and pathogens and the probable elevation of Interleukin-2 and 12.
Other theoriesDebra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
· Subjection to toxic substance in utero or during breastfeeding
· “Fragile X syndrome, called Martin-Bell syndrome, is a genetic disorder and is
the most common form of inherited mental retardation. It is a sex-linked genetic
abnormality in which the mother is a carrier, transmitting the disorder to her sons.
It affects approximately 1 in every 1,000 to 2,000 male individuals, and the
female carrier frequency may be substantially higher. Males afflicted with this
syndrome typically have a moderate to severe form of intellectual handicap.
Females may also be affected but generally have a mild form of impairment.
Approximately 15% to 20% of those with Fragile X Syndrome exhibit autistictype behaviors, such as poor eye contact, hand-flapping or odd gesture
movements, hand-biting, and poor sensory skills. Behavior problems and
speech/language delay are common features of Fragile X Syndrome.”
· Tuberous sclerosis complex is a genetic disorder that is signified by the tuberous
growths appearing on various organs, skin and/or brain. Approximately 25% of
infants with TS develop autistic syndrome and 70% have epileptic seizures.
· Congenital rubella syndrome is a “trans- placental transmission of the rubella
virus to a fetus resulting in spontaneous abortion, stillbirth, or major birth defects
of the heart, eyes, or central nervous system including deafness.”
· Untreated phenylketonuria (PKU) can cause brain damage or severe mental
retardation. PKU is the presence of phenylpyuvic acid in the urine. This genetic
disease does not allow the body to change the amino acid, phenylalanine to
tyrosine. Treatment involves including only foods low in phenylalanine in the
· Poisoning by Thimerosal (TMS) is a highly controversial theory of causation of
autism. Thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative containing up to 49.6%
ethylmercury, has been used in vaccinations since the 1930’s. Mercury is a Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
highly toxic metal, affecting the neurological system by crossing the blood brain
barrier. As infants receive immunizations, which contain the preservative
Thimerosal, their bodies may or may not be able to process the toxic substance,
which may lead to a form of mercury poisoning. A study entitled “Autism: a
Novel Form of Mercury Poisoning” was presented to the Committee on
Government Reform of the U.S. House of Representatives in July 2000. This
report compared the traits associated with Autism and those with mercury
poisoning. The traits of Autism mirrored those of mercury poisoning: low levels
of glutathione, disrupted mitochondria activates, auto-immune—like symptoms,
central nervous system disruptions, neuro-chemistry disruptions, demyelination in
the brain, etc.
The Center for Disease Control states “today, all vaccines in the
recommended childhood immunization schedule that are for use in the U.S.
market contain no Thimerosal or only trace amounts. (Those with a concentration
of less than 0.0002% contain what is considered “trace,” or insignificant,
amounts.) Influenza (flu) vaccines and tetanus and diphtheria vaccines (Td and
DT) are not available without Thimerosal.”
When Indiana’s Dan Burton was chairman of the Committee on Government
Reform, he was a champion for the investigation of the cause of autism. His letter
to President Bush dated November 21, 2002 urged the president to host a White
House conference to determine the cause of the epidemic of autism in this
country. The controversy is fueled by reports in Journal of the American
Medical Association; some professionals rebuke the claims that vaccinations
cause autism, others support the claims of parents that the signs and symptoms of
autism are indeed linked to childhood immunizations.
The controversy continued at the passing of the Homeland Security Act – H.R.
5005. Section 1714 of H.R. 5005 amended the wording of the Public Health
Service Act. This rider essentially gave protection to the manufacturers of
vaccines (Lilly and others) from being sued because of the adverse reactions from
ingredients or components in vaccines (such as Thimerosal, which many Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
pharmaceutical companies and doctors said do no harm to children). The big
question in the world of autism is “If Thimerosal is harmless, why was a
provision protecting the pharmaceutical industry slipped into the Homeland
Security Act and why is no one taking responsibility for the action? Shortly after
this act was passed, three Senate Republicans worked to repeal the provision in
January 2003. “Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D, SD) responded by
organizing what he calls a “special interest watchdog group” comprising six
Democratic senators to comb through Republican legislation and Bush
administration regulation in search of language similar to the Lilly provision in
the Homeland Security Act.”
The threat of Thimerosal is real enough that the
pharmaceutical industry has found it necessary to maintain a heightened level of
influence and favor in the U.S. legislature.
Symptoms and signs
It is important for caregivers to bring their concerns to qualified practioners as early as
possible. Michael D. Powers, Psy.D. has edited a book, Children with Autism: A
Parent’s Guide, which has lists of important guidelines for observation of the early signs
and symptoms of autism. Typically, parents are the best observers of their infants and
children and with these clues parents have a chance for early intervention. Table 1
provides a chronological assessment guide for parents to evaluate the infants and
toddlers. Table 2 provides the main symptoms associated with PDD. Table 3 provides a
recap of the diagnostic tools used by professionals to diagnosis autism. The American
Psychiatric Association’s, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4
Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-YR) is a standard professional tool in evaluation of
autism and the other forms of PDD. The International Classification of Diseases, Ninth
Revision, Clinic Modification, Fourth Edition differs in its criteria and is equally
referenced throughout the world as a diagnostic tool. Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Table 1
Early Symptoms of Autism (Newborn to 5 years)
Newborn to 6 Months
· May be “too good”
· May be irritable, easily distressed
· Does not reach to be picked up
· Does not babble
· Lack of social smile
· Lack of eye contact
· Motor development may appear normal
6 Months to 12 Months
· Does not cuddle, may be limp or rigid when held
· Relative indifference toward parents
· Does not play simple social games (“Peek-a-boo,” “Bye-bye”)
· Does not begin to use words
· Does not seem interested in baby toys
· May be fascinated with own hands
· Uneven or delayed motor development
· May not chew or accept solid foods
2 Years to 3 Years
· Interpersonal interest still limited; may show some improvement
· Uses other people as “tools”
· Limited eye contact
· May sniff or lick objects
· Does not cuddle, may be limp or rigid when held
· Relative indifference toward parents
4 Years to 5 Years
· If speech develops, there may be echolalia (Repeat in rote fashion what others
say, either immediately or later)
· Odd voice quality (high-pitched or monotone, for example)
· Very upset by changes in routine
· Eye contact still limited; may show some improvement
· Gradual increase in affection, but still limited
· Tantrums and aggression continue, but may gradually improve
· Self-injury
· Self-stimulationDebra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Table 2
Pervasive Developmental Disorder’s Symptoms-Problems
1. Social Interaction
· Shows little or no interest in making friends
· Prefers own company to being with others
· Does not imitate others’ actions (for example, raising arms for “so big”)
· Avoids eye contact
· Does not smile at familiar people
· Seems unaware of others’ existence; for example, treats family members and
strangers interchangeably
2. Communication
· Has difficulty maintaining a conversation despite good speech skills
· Reverses pronouns such as “you” and “I”
· Has echolalia – repeats others’ words, either immediately or after a delay
· Lacks imagination or the ability to pretend
· Does not use symbolic gestures such as waving “bye-bye”
· Cannot communicate with words or gestures
3. Unusual Interests
· Fascination with facts about specific topics
· Reads words at a very early age, but does not use the words to communicate
· Very intensely interested in mechanical workings of objects
· Lines toys up in neat rows rather than play with them
4. Behavior Symptoms
· Is physically inactive, or passive
· Does not respond to requests by familiar people
· Has picky eating habits
· Throws frequent tantrums, often for no known reason
· Behaves aggressively, physically attacking or injuring others
· Injures self with behavior (i.e., head-banging; eye-gouging)Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV)
Diagnostic Criteria for Pervasive Developmental Disorders
Table 3
Diagnosis Criteria for 299.0 Autistic Disorders
A. A total of six (or more) items from 1, 2, and 3, with at least two from 1, and one each
from 2 and 3:
1. Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the
a. Marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as
eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate
social interaction
b. Failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level
c. A lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or
achievements with other people (e.g., by a lack of showing, bringing, or
pointing out objects of interest)
d. Lack of social or emotional reciprocity
2. Qualitative impairments in communication as manifested by at least one of the
a. Delay in, or total lack of, the development of spoken language (not
accompanied by an attempt to compensate through alternative modes of
communication such as gesture or mime)
b. In individuals with adequate speech, marked impairment in the ability to
initial or sustain a conversation with others
c. Stereotyped and repetitive use of language or idiosyncratic language
d. Lack of varied, spontaneous make-believe play or social imitative play
appropriate to developmental level
3. Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behviour, interests, and activities,
as manifested by at least one of the following:
a. Encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted
patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focusDebra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
b. Apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or
c. Stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerism (e.g., hand or finger flapping
or twisting, or complex whole-body movements)
d. Persistent preoccupation with parts of objects
B. Delays or abnormal functioning in at least one of the following areas, with onset prior
to age 3 years: (1) social interaction, (2) language as used in social communication, or (3)
symbolic or imaginative play.
C. The disturbance is not better accounted for by Rett’s Disorder or Childhood
Disintegrative Disorder.
The above lists are exceptionally limiting considering the American Psycological
Association developed it in 1994. Table 2 mentions the child’s possible “picky eating
habits” but nowhere else does it list a possible connection with dietary habits and
physiological status. Nowhere in the above criteria does it mention a screening device to
determine the physical pathogenesis of the disease, but there are many. The websites
listed below enlighten its readers to the many physical problems of autistic children and
the scientific studies cited with this information.
Woody R. McGinnis M.D.
Available at Autism Awakening 4 Doctors
Available at The Center for the Study of Autism http://www.autism.org/mcginnis.html
What is the condition of the Child with Autism?
The following is an outline of the scientific evidence of the problems with the digestive Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
system and the immune system of autistic children.
Gastrointestinal Abnormality Autistic children suffer from Malabsorption of both
vitamins and foods. (Journal Autism/Childhood Schizophrenia, 1971 1(1): 48-62)
clinicians report diarrhea and undigested fibers are common. They also suffer from Maldigestion of foods as evidenced by elevated urinary peptides (K.L. Reichelt numerous
Almost 85% of autistic children have serious Microbial Overgrowth of fungus, bacterial
and viral infections (William Shaw, Biological Basis of Autism and PDD, 1997).
Andrew Wakefield, Lancet 1998; 351: 637-Paul Shattock
As a result of the Microbial overgrowth many autistic children suffer from Abnormal
Intestinal Permeability Symptom Spectrum of diarrhea, constipation, gas, belching, deep
probing and visibly undigested food in the stool.
Compromised Immunity
It is widely reported in the scientific and medical literature that autistic children have
compromised immune systems. Many autistic children have history of recurrent
infections, especially ear infections. (Euro Child/Adolescent Psych, 1993:2(2): 79-90).
In laboratory analysis, T-cells, which are essential for proper immune function, are
below normal (J Autism Child Schizo 7:49-55 1977). In addition autistic children have
significantly reduced natural killer cell activity (J Ann Acad Chil Psyc 26: 333-35 ’87).
In addition, low or absent IgA levels in autistic children have been reported (Autism
Develop Disorder 16: 189-197 1986) and low C4B levels (Clin Exp Immunol 83: 438-
440 1991) (William Shaw, Biological Basis of Autism and PDD, 1997).
Detoxification Weakness in Autistic Children
Sulphation low in 15 of 17 (mean 5 vs. nl 10-18)
Glutathione Conjugation low in 14 of 17 (mean 0.55 vs 1.4-2.9)
Glucuronidation low in 17 of 17 (mean 9.6 vs. 26.0-46.0)
Glycine Conjugation low in 12 of 17 (15.4 vs. 30.0-53.0)
(S. Edelson, DAN Conference Sept, 1997, and Toxicology and Industrial Health 14 (4): Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
553-563 1998)
Abnormal Nutritional Profile in Children with Autism
Low activated B6 (P5P) in 42% of autistic children. Autistic group also higher in serum
copper. (Nutr. and Beh 2:9-17, 1984).
Low derivative omega-6 levels 50 of 50 autistics assayed through Kennedy Kreiger had
GLA and DGLA below mean. (J. Orthomolecular Medicine Vol 12, No. 4, 1997).
Low EGOT (functional B6) in 82% and all 12 subjects low in 4 amino acids (tyrosine,
carnosine, lysine, hydroxylysine). Dietary analysis revealed below-RDA intakes in Zinc
(12 of 12 subjects, Calcium (8 of 12), Vitamin D (9 of 12), Vitamin E (6 of 12) and
Vitamin A (6 of 12) (G. Kotsanis, DAN Conf., Sept, 1996)
Low methionine levels not uncommon in autism. (John Pangborn, 1995 DAN
Below normal glutamine (14 of 14), high glutamate (8 of 14) (Invest Clin 1996 June;
37(2): 112-28)
Higher Copper/Zinc ratios in autistic children. (J. Applied Nutrition 48: 110-118, 1997)
Reduced sulphate conjugation and lower plasma sulphate in autistics. (Dev. Brain
Dysfunct 1997; 10:40-43)
B12 deficiency suggested by elevated urinary methylmalonic acid (Lancet 1998; 351:
Low intracellular minerals by clinical reports. Fudenberg, for instance, reports
consistently low Magnesium, Zinc and Selenium which must be addressed before other
therapies can work
B6 and Magnesium therapeutic efficacy–multiple positive studies (start with Am J
Psych 1978; 135: 472-5)
The Autism Research Institute (Dr. Rimland) parent survey for therapeutic responses by
autistic children showed :
50% improved with Zinc (6% worsened)
49% improved with Vitamin C
46% improved with Magnesium and B6 (5% worsened) Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
58% improved with Calcium
(The Dr. Rimland’s complete survey is showed below in this paper under the heading of
What Nutritional Supplements are Helpful?
High-dosage (megavitamin) nutritional supplementation is playing an increasingly
important role in the treatment of autism. Dr. Rimland states that:
“Researchers both in the United States and abroad have demonstrated very clearly that
30 to 60 percent of autistic children and adults show significant behavioral and other
benefits from the administration of large amounts of vitamin B6 and magnesium.”
Magnesium is employed because the body cannot effectively use vitamin B6 without
adequate magnesium. According to Dr. Rimland, some studies show not only behavioral
improvement, but also normalization of brain waves and of metabolism. He adds that
this approach is far safer, more rational, and more helpful than the use of any drug. A
magnesium deficiency has also been shown to cause hearing hypersensitivity and
hyperirritability, both associated with autism. Dr. Rimland also recommends the
supplementation of zinc, as well as the other B vitamins in his program.
Vitamin C has also been shown to significantly reduce autistic behavior such as rocking,
spinning, and hand flapping, according to a recent study.
Dimethylglycine (DMG), a nontoxic chemical found in minute amounts in foods, has
also proved helpful in treating autism, according to Dr. Rimland. Many parents have
reported that within days of starting DMG, their autistic child’s behavior improved
noticeably, and better eye contact was observed, as well as an improvement in the child’s
speech, adds Dr. Rimland. Folic acid has been shown to reduce hyperactivity and
improve overall emotion health.
Digestive problems can be improved by restoring the balance of friendly bacteria to
unfriendly bacteria. Supplementation with acidophilus, scFOS and biotins greatly
improve the health of the digestive tract and reduce diarrhea and constipation while
improving overall health. Cranberry extract has been shown to be very effective against
unfriendly bacteria and yeasts. Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Colostrum, A potent immune booster is a fluid secreted into the mother’s milk for
approximately three days following birth. It can boost the immune system especially the
IgA levels that are low or even not found in many autistic children.
Many autistic children are allergic to diary products and must restrict their intake. Since
diary products are the principle source of calcium, supplements are necessary.
Super Nu-Thera a B6/magnesium based multiple vitamin designed by Dr. Bernard
Rimland for autistic children contains 16 different vitamins. It has shown remarkable
benefits to many autistic children.
Why Diet is Important for Autistic Children.
Diet is an important factor in treating autism. It is recommended by leading authorities
that autistic children eat a diet of whole, unprocessed, alkalinizing foods such as
vegetables, since many autistic children’s blood is overly acidic.
Canned, packaged, and frozen foods contain preservatives and other food additives that
can have adverse effects on autistic children. Dairy products should be avoided because
of their mucous-producing properties, as should processed sugar, due to the chemicals
used in refining.
Another dietary factor to consider when treating autism has to do with the peptides
contained in cows milk and gluten-derived products. According to a recent study when
milk and gluten-derived peptides were removed from the diet, language, social
interactions, and behavior all improved.
In this particular study, fifteen autistic children and adults, aged six to twenty-two, were
treated by restricting or eliminating cow’s milk and gluten-derived products from their
diets. According to the study, these patients were socially isolated, resistant to learning,
showed peculiar attachment to certain objects, showed fear of unusual items and
situations, and demonstrated both repetitive motor behavior and severe problems with
emotional expression. Language problems and disturbed attention were also common.
Urine analysis samples showed that patients had increased levels of cow’s milk and
gluten-derived peptides. Depending on the specific pattern of peptides in the urine, three
types of diets were prescribed to reduce overall peptide levels. Some patients received a Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
gluten-free and milk-reduced diet, others received a milk-free and/or gluten-reduced
diet, and a third group received a milk- and gluten-free diet.
Milk reduction was achieved by eliminating milk and cheese, and gluten reduction was
achieved by giving only gluten-free bread and cakes. After one year, all the study
subjects had changed in the direction of the normal spectrum; they were less psychotic,
more communicative, and showed less bizarre behavior. Other statistically significant
changes included improved attention and social integration, improved motor ability and
skills, and a decrease in irrational emotional outbursts. Especially noteworthy was the
decrease in resistance to learning demonstrated by all cases.
Dr. Crook says he has noticeably improved the behavior of autistic children by using an
elimination diet. Any food normally consumed more than once a week is removed from
their diets. As symptoms improve, each food is added back to the diet one at a time. One
of Dr. Crook’s patients became more alert, less hyperactive, and more sociable after
wheat, sugar, corn and eggs were removed from his diet.
Links to Autism Sites.
1. Dr. Rimland of the Autism Research Institute Known as the father of Modern Autism
Dr. Rimland provides valuable information for parents. http://www.autism.com/ari
2. Dr. William Shaw of the Great Plain Laboratory The leading testing laboratory for
Autistic Children http://www.greatplainslaboratory.com/
3. Dr. Jeff Bradstreet A doctor in private practice with remarkable success treating
hundreds of autistic children. http://www.gnd.org/
4. Stephen Edelson PhD. of the Center for the Study of Autism A leading researcher of
the autistic condition. http://www.autism.orgDebra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Laboratory Tests
Medical tests are used to rule out other diseases, not to identify autism, although people
with autism, as shown in the research in the previous section, do have abnormal
metabolisms. There are four laboratories (of many) frequently mentioned in clinician’s
websites and researcher’s notes as laboratories used to evaluate the biological aspects of
autism-spectrum disorders. The additional knowledge of immune panel results will
greatly enhance the treatment protocol of each individual with autism-spectrum
Great Plains Laboratory, http://www.greatplainslaboratory.com/
Great Smokies Diagnostic Laboratory http://www.gsdl.com/
Antibody Assays Laboratory, http://www.antibodyassay.com/
Immunosciences Lab, Inc., http://www.immuno-sci-lab.com/index2.html
The following list of tests and explanation of each test according to the necessity for
evaluating Autism/PDD is available at Great Plain Laboratory’s website cited above:
Great Plains Laboratory
Deciding Which Tests to Do
It’s a balancing act weighing the expense of tests with their usefulness in improving
symptoms. In general, the more abnormal the results, the greater the chance for
improvements after implementing therapies. Keep in mind that one approach never fits
all cases, and we’re available for consultation. The following recommendations are not
meant to take the place of sound medical advice from a doctor. (A doctor’s signature is
necessary to do the following tests though not necessary to order and have the sample
transport containers sent to you.)
Initial Testing RecommendationsDebra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Organic Acids Test – Virtually all specimens from children with autism or PDD have
one or more abnormal Organic Acid compounds, due to abnormal levels of yeast and
other gastrointestinal bacteria. These compounds can affect, among other things,
neurological functioning, vitamin utilization, energy level, intestinal wall integrity,
hormone utilization, and muscle function. In addition to identification of excessive levels
of GI yeast or bacteria, the test also reveals nutritional or antioxidant deficiencies, inborn
errors of metabolism, amino or fatty acid problems, exposure to solvent toxins,
indications of possible diabetic conditions, deficiencies of B or C vitamins, and unusual
levels of neurotransmitters.
Yeast Culture and Sensitivity – This test should be done in combination with the
organic acid test to get the most accurate reading for yeast and bacteria overgrowth. By
doing both of these tests you will have all the evidence your doctor needs to help you
treat this problem. The urine organic acid test is the most accurate measure of yeast,
which can sometimes be overlooked in the stool test. Yeast can sometimes attach to the
intestinal lining and will not be eliminated in the stool. In some cases, the sections of
stool where the yeast is present are not the sections that are collected and sent in to be
analyzed. Generally, however, the stool test is an accurate test. The greatest benefit of the
stool test is the sensitivity portion of the test, which will tell you which anti-fungal agents
your intestinal yeast will respond best to.
Food Allergy – The impact of food allergies on behavior can be astounding, and cravings
are very often, for the same foods that cause allergic reactions. And, those foods may
play a role in abnormal levels of GI organisms. We have two panels available; one that
tests for 96 foods, and another that tests for 10 of the most common foods people are
allergic to. We recommend doing one of these two panels. It is best to have the full panel
done. However, the 10-food panel is good for those who have limited resources, or for
those who do not want to wait until the yeast problem is under control to see what food
allergies they have.
Immune Deficiency Panel- Numerous papers document inadequate immune functioning
in this many populations, increasing the vulnerability to bacterial/viral/fungal infections. Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
In particular, yeast is well documented as suppressing the immune system. So, if there is
an excessive yeast population, it increases the likelihood of an inadequate immune
response, in turn, increasing the probability of more infections and more yeast. Our panel
is designed specifically for this patient population; for instance, levels of zinc, and
specific immune proteins like IgA and subclasses of IgG, are often inadequate.
Peptide Testing for Milk and Wheat – In most cases people that have food allergies to
milk and wheat, also have problems with peptides from milk and wheat interacting with
their brain and causing an opiate-like affect. However, there are some people that may
not show a food allergy to milk or wheat, but have the peptide problem and vice versa so
it is a good idea to have both the peptide and food allergy testing done. If you prefer to
have only one of the tests run, we recommend the food allergy testing since it can be
assumed that the majority of people who have food allergies to casein and gluten also
have the peptide problem. The peptide test is also a urine test and thus may be more
Metals (blood, hair or urine) – Hair is useful for the detection of toxic metals such as
lead, aluminum, mercury, and cadmium. Lead may be found in dirt near roads and is
commonly present in paint from older houses. Children with pica or who eat paint chips
may develop toxic lead levels. Cadmium is used in batteries, steel-belted tires, and
plastics. The clear plastics used to cover foods may be a source of cadmium and it is also
found in cigarette smoke. Mercury is used in batteries, dental amalgam, vacuum pumps,
valves, and seals. High amounts of mercury from the dental fillings of the cremated
deceased have caused contamination of the surrounding neighborhoods. Arsenic is high
in seafood and may also be found in animals fed arsenic in their feed. Arsenic is also
present in wood preservatives, fungicides, herbicides, corrosion inhibitors, and in lead
and copper alloy. Children with autism may respond favorably to removal of toxic
metals. Children with autism as a group also have low values of essential elements like
calcium, potassium, zinc, and magnesium. Treatment of heavy metal exposure usually
involves the removal of the heavy metal source and/or treatment with chelating agents. Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Amino Acids – Helpful in assessing causes and treatments for lethargy, muscle weakness,
vitamin deficiency, protein intolerance, vomiting, kidney stones, inborn errors of
metabolism, and seizures. Since many of these symptoms are caused, or worsened, by
elevated levels of GI yeast/bacteria, we recommend that Amino Acid testing follow
Organic Acid testing and treatment (if indicated) for GI organisms. The Organic Acid test
includes some indicators of inborn errors of metabolism.
Vitamin Profile – Helpful in identifying inadequate diet, mal-absorption, poor
compliance, gastric mucosal status, and causes of anemia and DNA synthesis deficiency.
The 20-vitamin profile is useful if Carnitine levels are needed. Vitamin testing can be
very important in children with diarrhea, loose stools, or undigested food in the stool.
Children who are extremely picky eaters may also benefit from this test since their
nutrient intake may be imbalanced. Recently some researchers have found that in some
cases Vitamin A deficiency can cause vision problems in autism, and is thus another
good reason to have the vitamin levels checked.
Essential Fatty Acids – Deficiencies of essential fatty acids are associated with hair loss,
dry or peeling skin, diarrhea, eczema, fatigue, aggression, dry brittle hair, eating
disorders, excessive thirst, gallstones, growth impairment, immune deficiency,
hyperactivity, and impaired wound healing. Essential fatty acids can be deficient due to
inadequate dietary intake, diarrhea, loose stools, inadequate production of pancreatic
enzymes, or inadequate production or secretion of bile or bile salts. The pattern usually
observed in children with autism is deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids, especially alphalinolenic acid with elevations of arachidonic acid and trans fatty acids.
Arachidonic acid is extremely important since it is converted to the regulatory substances
called prostaglandins. Grains and meats from grain-fed animals may be very high in
arachidonic acid. Trans fatty acids are unnatural fatty acids produced by hydrogenating
unsaturated fatty acids. Trans fatty acids may be especially harmful when alpha-linolenic
acid is deficient. Trans fatty acids may affect neuronal fluidity by virtue of different
dimensions compared to cis fatty acids. Trans fatty acids are high in foods like French
fries, potato chips, margarine, cookies, and cake. Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Inhalants (Comprehensive or Basic) IgE – Particularly useful when allergies to
inhalants, such as dust, molds, and pollens are suspected; blood tests have improved
considerably over the years, and are especially helpful with individuals who would have
difficulty complying with skin testing or have skin rashes; to save time; or for very young
children. May also be considerably cheaper than skin testing.
Follow-up Testing Recommendations
Organic Acids Test – It is helpful to re-test about 4-6 months after the start of treatment,
mainly to refine the treatment. If the original test demonstrated undesirable levels of GI
microbial metabolites exclusively, then the less comprehensive microbial panel will
suffice. The microbial panel measures only 20 of the 62 compounds in the full organic
acid profile.
Yeast Culture and Sensitivity – When redoing the organic acid test or microbial panel it
is a good idea to redo this test as well to see if any of the sensitivities have changed after
treating the yeast. In some cases yeast can develop resistance to anti-fungals after being
exposed to them. Retest 3-6 months or as needed for treatment directed by your doctor.
Comprehensive Food Allergy Panel – If you did the comprehensive food panel first,
when the yeast was present, you should follow up with this test again to see what food
allergies are still present. A lot of times food allergies may disappear when the yeast
problem is taken care of.
Other Tests
EEG’s are performed to rule out Landau Kleffner Syndrome.
Behavioral modification and communication
This is a selected list of behavior and communication modification treatments. For a
more detailed list, visit The Center for the Study of Autism: http://www.autism.org/Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
· Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) – See ABA Resources for Recovery from
Autism/PDD/Hyperlexia http://rsaffran.tripod.com/aba.html
· Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped
Children – (TEACCH) – See Division of TEACCH , University of North Carolina
– http://www.teacch.com/mainpage.htm
· Picture Exchange Communication Systems (PECS)- See Pyramid Educational
Consultants, Inc. http://www.pecs.com/page5.html
· Floor Time – See http://www.coping.org/earlyin/floortm.htm
· Social Stories – See the Center for the Study of Autism
· Sensory Integration – See Sensory Integration Network
· Facilitated Communication (FC) – See The University of Maine, Center for
Community Inclusion http://www.ume.maine.edu/cci/facts/facts5/crossley.htm
Biomedical and Dietary Treatments
· Dietary Changes
o Autism Network for Dietary Intervention http://www.autismndi.com
o Unraveling the Mystery of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder
by Karyn Seroussi
o Special Diets for Special Kids by Lynn Lewis
o Vance Foods, Inc. http://www.vancesfoods.com/main.asp?p=dietAutism
· Nutraceuticals – See listing of nutritional supplements in the above section
“Nutritional Perspectives on the Behavioral Child.”Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
· Medications – The following section will list the drugs frequently prescribed.
· Secretin See http://www.autism.org/secretin.html
Complementary Approaches
· Music Therapy – See American Music Therapy Association
· Tuning Forks for Healing Therapy – See http://www.positivehealth.com
· Art Therapy – See the American Art Therapy Association

Home – New

· Animal Therapy
o See the Delta Society http://www.deltasociety.org/dsx207.htm
o Swim with the Dolphins http://www.waterplanetusa.com/subdex.htm
· CranioSacral Therapy – See Upledger Institute, Inc.
http://www.upledger.com/clinic/autism.htmDebra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
ARI Publication: 34/April 2002
Available: http://www.autism.com/ari/form34q.html#biomedical
Autism Research Institute * 4182 Adams Avenue * San Diego, CA 92116 USA
The parents of autistic children represent a vast and important reservoir of information on
the benefits-and adverse effects- of the large variety of drugs and other interventions that
have been tried with their children. Since 1967 the Autism Research Institute has been
collecting parent ratings of the usefulness of the many interventions tried on their autistic
The following data have been collected from the more than 21,500 parents who have
completed our questionnaires designed to collect such information. For the purposes of
the present table, the parents responses on a six-point scale have been combined into
three categories: “made worse” (ratings 1 and 2), “no effect” (ratings 3 and 4), and “made
better” (ratings 5 and 6). The “Better: Worse” column gives the number of children who
“Got Better” for each one who “Got Worse.”
Note: For seizure drugs: The first line shows the drug’s behavioral effects; the second
line shows the drug’s effects on seizures.
No. of
Aderall 39% 28% 34% 0.9:1 285
Amphetamine 47% 28% 25% 0.5:1 1174 Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Anafranil 31% 37% 31% 1.0:1 351
Antibiotics 30% 59% 11% 0.4:1 1617
: Diflucan 7% 42% 51% 7.2:1 185
: Nystatin 5% 48% 47% 10:1 727
Atarax 26% 53% 21% 0.8:1 443
Benadryl 24% 51% 25% 1.1:1 2512
Beta Blocker 18% 49% 33% 1.8:1 236
Buspar 26% 45% 30% 1.2:1 281
Chloral Hydrate 41% 37% 22% 0.5:1 375
Clonidine 21% 31% 48% 2.2:1 1090
Clozapine 44% 39% 16% 0.4:1 79
Cogentin 19% 53% 28% 1.4:1 149
Cylert 45% 35% 21% 0.5:1 580
Deanol 15% 55% 29% 1.9:1 195
Depakene: Behavior 25% 43% 32% 1.3:1 871
Depakene: Seizures 12% 30% 57% 4.6:1 569
Desipramine 38% 25% 38% 1.0:1 61
Dilantin: Behavior 28% 48% 24% 0.9:1 1049
Dilantin: Seizures 14% 36% 51% 3.8:1 377
Felbatol 26% 45% 29% 1.1:1 38
Fenfluramine 21% 51% 28% 1.4:1 453
Halcion 37% 30% 33% 0.9:1 43
Haldol 37% 27% 35% 0.9:1 1119 Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
IVIG 13% 45% 42% 3.2:1 31
Klonapin: Behavior 28% 33% 38% 1.4:1 156
Klonapin: Seizures 38% 50% 12% 0.3:1 26
Lithium 27% 42% 31% 1.1:1 384
Luvox 28% 36% 37% 1.3:1 120
Mellaril 28% 38% 33% 1.2:1 2023
Mysoline: Behavior 44% 40% 15% 0.3:1 131
Mysoline: Seizures 19% 58% 23% 1.2:1 57
Naltrexone 22% 46% 32% 1.5:1 200
Paxil 27% 28% 45% 1.7:1 192
Phenergan 30% 44% 26% 0.9:1 244
Phenobarbitol: Behavior 47% 37% 16% 0.3:1 1052
Phenobarbitol: Seizures 17% 43% 40% 2.4:1 458
Prolixin 34% 34% 33% 1.0:1 83
Prozac 31% 33% 36% 1.2:1 975
Risperidal 19% 28% 53% 2.8:1 401
Ritalin 44% 26% 29% 0.7:1 3540
Secretin: Intravenous 8% 43% 49% 6.2:1 217
Secretin: Transdermal 12% 47% 41% 3.6:1 78
Stelazine 28% 44% 27% 1.0:1 415
Tegretol: Behavior 24% 45% 31% 1.3:1 1345
Tegretol: Seizures 12% 33% 55% 4.5:1 721
Thorazine 36% 40% 24% 0.7:1 897
Tofranil 30% 37% 33% 1.1:1 698
Valium 36% 41% 23% 0.7:1 788
Zarontin: Behavior 34% 43% 22% 0.7:1 129 Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Zarontin: Seizures 21% 51% 29% 1.4:1 87
Zoloft 33% 31% 36% 1.1:1 212
No. of
Vitamin A 2% 59% 39% 22:1 334
2% 62% 35% 14:1 988
Cod Liver Oil 3% 51% 46% 14:1 411
Colostrum 6% 58% 37% 6.7:1 163
Detox. (Chelation) 3% 28% 70% 27:1 116
Digestive Enzymes 4% 44% 52% 14:1 314
Di-methyl-glycine (DMG) 7% 51% 42% 5.9:1 4547
Fatty Acids 4% 44% 51% 12:1 299
5 HTP 11% 55% 35% 3.3:1 66
Folic Acid 4% 55% 41% 11:1 1100
Food Allergy Treatment 4% 37% 59% 14:1 290
Magnesium 6% 65% 29% 5.2:1 288
10% 33% 57% 5.9:1 302
Pepcid 9% 61% 30% 3.2:1 64
SAMe 25% 46% 29% 1.1:1 28
St. Johns Wort 11% 67% 22% 2.0:1 46
Tri-methyl-glycine (TMG) 14% 42% 44% 3.1:1 182
Transfer Factor 18% 51% 31% 1.7:1 39
Vitamin B3 5% 55% 41% 9.0:1 487
Vitamin B6 alone 7% 64% 29% 4.1:1 590
Vitamin B6 & Magnesium 4% 49% 46% 11.1:1 5079
Vitamin C 2% 59% 39% 16:1 1306 Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Zinc 3% 55% 43% 17:1 835
No. of
Candida Diet 3% 45% 52% 18:1 605
Feingold Diet 2% 47% 51% 23:1 645
Gluten- /CaseinFree Diet
4% 33% 64% 18:1 724
Removed Chocolate 1% 50% 49% 36:1 1491
Removed Eggs 2% 61% 37% 21:1 882
Removed Milk
2% 51% 48% 30:1 4950
Removed Sugar 2% 51% 47% 24:1 3392
Removed Wheat 2% 53% 46% 26:1 2701
Rotation Diet 2% 50% 47% 20:1 678
A. “Worse” refers only to worse behavior. Drugs, but not nutrients, typically also cause
physical problems if used long-term.
B. No. of cases is cumulative over several decades, so does not reflect current usage
levels (e.g., Haldol is now seldom used).
C. Antifungal drugs are used only if autism is thought to be yeast-related.
D. Calcium effects are not due to dairy-free diet; statistics are similar for milk drinkers
and non-milk drinkers.
E. Caution: While melatonin can benefit sleep and behavior, its long-term effects on
puberty are unknown.
Course and Prognosis
Diagnosis of autism is usually made in the first 3 years of life. An early diagnosis of
autism provides the patient and his family with a brighter future than those patients Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
whose conditions are ignored by parents and pediatricians. The early intervention of
drug, nutritional, behavioral, and supportive therapies has made a significant
improvement in the cognition, speech and social interactions of the patients. The wide
spectrum of autistic disorders preclude the treatments also must be of wide spectrum – no
two patients are alike, no two treatments are alike. The treatment therapies must be
sought to fit the need of the individual.
School-aged children can be placed in mainstream classrooms with the help of individual
training based on their I.E.P (Individual Educational Plan). The school systems provide
services based on the individual need of the student. Some need only additional
occupational and speech therapy outside of the regular classroom. Some need to attend
learning disabled classes. By the time the child reaches high school, the school system
has been working with him in all facets of his education and upon graduation, has guided
him to a career suited to his capabilities. Unfortunately not all students get to the
mainstream classrooms and may not be able function on their own. Institutionalism is
still one of the possibilities with autism.Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Research and Advocacy
National Institute of Mental
Health (NIMH)
Tuesday, May 13, 2003
E-mail this page
Constance Burr
NIMH press office
(301) 443-4536
NIH Awards Grants for Six New Autism Research Centers
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded grants to support six new
research centers of a major network focusing on the biomedical and behavioral
aspects of autism. These centers will join two that were funded last year. The overall
initiative, called STAART (Studies to Advance Autism Research and Treatment)
Centers Program, demonstrates NIH commitment to autism research and responds to
a need expressed in the Children’s Health Act of 2000.
NIH expects to spend $65 million over five years for the eight centers. STAART is
funded by the NIH Autism Coordinating Committee (NIH/ACC), which coordinates
autism research conducted by its five member Institutes: The National Institute of
Mental Health (NIMH), the National Institute of Child Health and Human
Development (NICHD), the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
(NINDS), the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
(NIDCD), and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).
Each STAART center will contribute to understanding the underlying brain
abnormalities, causes, diagnosis, early detection, prevention, and treatment of
individuals with autism. All of these areas are crucial to learning more about autism,
a brain disorder that affects social, communicative and behavioral functioning from
an early age.
Thomas Insel, M.D., NIMH Director and Chair of the Interagency Autism
Coordinating Committee (IACC) stated, “This major network of centers will
accelerate advances in our knowledge about autism causes and treatments and help
us achieve our mission of reducing the burden associated with autism spectrum
The six new centers, their directors, and this year’s grant amounts are: University of
Washington, Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D., $1.6 million; University of California, Los
Angeles, Marian Sigman, Ph.D., $1.4 million; Boston University, Helen TagerFlusberg, Ph.D., $1.7 million; University of Rochester, Patricia Rodier, Ph.D., $1.5 Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Flusberg, Ph.D., $1.7 million; University of Rochester, Patricia Rodier, Ph.D., $1.5
million; Kennedy Krieger Institute, Rebecca Landa, Ph.D., $1.5 million; and Mt.
Sinai Medical School, Eric Hollander, M.D., $1.6 million.
They join the two STAART centers funded last year at the University of North
Carolina, Chapel Hill, directed by Joseph Piven, M.D., and at Yale University,
directed by Fred Volkmar, M.D.
Plans for collaborative projects include multisite clinical trials within the STAART
network, as well as interaction with the Collaborative Programs of Excellence in
Autism (CPEA), ten major research programs funded by the NICHD/NIDCD
Network on the Neurobiology and Genetics of Autism. A data coordination center
will be responsible for both CPEA and STAART networks. Previous funding for the
STAART Centers program included one-year developmental grants funded at six
universities and research institutes to help research teams prepare applications for
future centers.
NIH is the United States Government’s primary agency for biomedical and
behavioral research, and is part of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Home > News & Events E-mail this page Subscribe to receive future
NIH and HHS press releases
Advocacy is based on the grass-roots efforts of the families of autistic children and
dedicated researchers and physicians. Organizations are abundant and compassionate to
assist the parents of newly diagnosised autistic children as well as dogmatic enough to
bring their cause to the U.S. legislature. The following are national organizations formed
to support the awareness of autism:
National Organization for Autism Research-NAAR, available at http://www.naar.org
Center for the Study of Autism, available http://www.autism.org
Cure Autism Now Foundation, available at http://www.canfoundation.org
Autism Society of America, available at http://www.autism-society.org
Each website has links to abundant of resources. Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Autism as seen in Traditional Chinese Medicine
Diagnosis and treatment of the autistic child is the ultimate challenge of the practioner of
TCM. The concept of TCM as a holistic medicine is tested as the practitioner treats an
autistic child because this disorder does not just disrupt the “normal” progression of
growth of the child; it disrupts the family as a whole and the whole web of personal
contacts of that child. In treating the whole child, one must treat the whole family and in
doing so, treat the extended family, i.e., every person who comes in contact with that
child. Besides the death of a child, what could be more devastating to a parent than the
knowledge that their precious child has been stricken with a disorder that could leave him
or her permanently disabled?
By intention, treatment of the child treats every extension of that child. As a stone
breaks the surface tension of the water, rings of ripples extend out from the center of the
breaking of the water’s energy. The ripples continue out in a circular direction as far as
the shores; the rings might not be visible any longer but the energy from the center is still
carried out. Just as the ripples of energy extend to the shores, so the body’s energy, the
body’s qi extend out from the insertion point of the acupuncture needle. Just as the
ripples of energy extend to the shores, so does the energy of each person extend out,
unseen to touch other people.
Autism Spectrum Disorder is not in a disease category treated by Traditional Chinese
Medicine yet it is of epidemic proportions in the Western world. That is not a deterrent
for the practioner of TCM. The signs and symptoms presented by the autistic patient are
analyzed to determine the treatment patterns of TCM.
Autism is an imbalance of the Heart, Spleen, and Kidney with phlegm
accumulation. Phlegm is not only a pathological factor for the autistic
child but also aetiological. In CM, autistic individuals suffer from Heart
blood imbalances that inhibit connecting on an emotional level with other Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
persons, including their immediate family. These children often present
with digestive anomalies characterized as Spleen qi deficiency. As autism
is most often diagnosed before the age of three, CM recognizes this
disorder as having a pre-heaven connection, i.e. Kidney essence

Pre-Heaven Essence
The mingling of the essence of the father and mother create the child. The infant’s preheaven essence is its foundational essence and if that is in any way deficient, the infant
will have growth difficulties. Since signs and symptoms of autism usually appear during
the first few years and hardly ever has an onset after 3 years of age, Chinese Medicine
says there is a disruption of pre-heaven qi.
The child may be born with a weak
constitution derived from the parent’s weak essence or the mother’s lack of pre-natal care
including stress during pregnancy. In TCM theory, it is the constitutionality of the person
that places them at risks for the contraction of disease as described in the Forty-sixth
Article – “Five Variations” The Divine Pivot:
The Emperor asked Shao Yu: “When the hundred diseases occur, they are
certain to result from the wind, rain, cold, and summer heat. These evils
enter the muscular striae through the body hair. They either turn to leave
the body or linger there, or cause wind swellings and perspiration, or
induce exhaustion, haggardness, or cause chill and fever, or induce
lingering impediment, or bring about accumulation and gathering.” Tell
me why. If two people are affected at the same time, one person contracts
one kind of disease, while the other catches a different disease. Does the
heaven produce many kinds of wind evils with different affects on the
human race?”
Shao Yu answered: “The heaven produces the wind evil and offers
favoritism to no one. It is just and upright. One who offends the wind Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
will fall ill, and one who shuns the wind will not catch illnesses. It is not
that the wind attacks a man but a man offends the wind.”
Post-Heaven Essence
Post-Heaven essence is extracted from food and drink as a natural function of the Spleen.
The ideal food of the infant is mother’s milk. An early introduction of other foods can
cause the infant’s Spleen and Stomach to be in distress. In their book, Treatment of
Children with Acupuncture, Julian Scott and Teresa Barlow write, “…Spleen related
disorders are extremely common, so much so that one Chinese doctor has said,
‘Treatment of children is simple—all they suffer from is indigestion.’ In a similar vein,
Dr. J.F. Shen has observed, ‘Children can only catch cold or have bad digestion.’”
“Organs are fragile and soft, qi easily leaves its path.”
Spleen Qi deficiency is the main
cause of Phlegm, substantial and non-substantial. The accumulation of phlegm and
dampness can mist the mind or the accumulation can turn into phlegm fire that harasses
the heart. An infant who is introduced to phlegm producing foods such as dairy, wheat,
thermoregulatory cold, and sugary foods when his Spleen is not matured will produce
phlegm. This is true for adults as well when it comes to the consumption of these foods.
The obsessive-compulsive behavior exhibited by autistic children and adults further
injures the Spleen. The obsessive-compulsive behavior is an act of over-thinking and
mental over-work, one of the causes of disease in Chinese medicine. Injury of the Spleen
allows for the continued emotion of pensiveness/compulsiveness to be uncontrollable.
Ethereal Soul – Hun
“The five viscera hide and store the following: the Heart stores and harbors the divine
spirit (the mind, Shen); the Lungs harbor the animal spirits (the Corporeal soul, Po); the
Liver harbors the soul and the spiritual faculties (the Ethereal soul, Hun); the Spleen
harbors ideas and opinions (Thought, Yi); and the Kidneys harbor will power and
ambition (the Will Power, Zhi).
Giovanni Maciocia quotes Yu Cang in Principles of
Medicine Medical Practice, (1658) “The Mind of the Heart gathers and unites the
Ethereal Soul and The Corporeal Soul and it combines the Intellect and the Will-Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
thus providing the connection of the Heart as the root and the Minister of all
the yin organs and the mental-spiritual aspects of the body. Through five elements
correspondence, the pathway of deficiency of Heart Blood or Yin will influence the other
organs as well.
The Ethereal Soul is that part of the soul that enters the body at birth and returns to
heaven (tian) at death. It is associated with the Western “soul” or “spirit”; it is a soul that
returns to the collection of souls upon death of the body. After death, the Ethereal Soul
enters another life being born, and so the cycle continues. “The Ethereal Soul is the
coming and going of the Mind”
Chinese mothers will ask their vacant-eyed children
who are lost in thought if they have lost their Hun.
The lack of eye contact and
impaired social interaction are some of the symptoms of autism giving the practioner of
TCM a clue to the disruption of the balance of Ethereal Soul and Shen. The old adage
“the eyes are windows to the soul” lends a clue to what was sounded in Chinese medical
classics, that the eyes give evidence to the health of the Ethereal Soul, hun. The
connection to the eyes and the Ethereal Soul is through the storage vessel of the Liver.
Repeating the quote from above, “the Liver harbors the soul and spiritual faculties.” The
Liver stores the Blood and in Five Element Theory the stage of development associated
with the Liver is birth. Birth of the child and development of the Ethereal Soul depends
upon the strength of the Liver. Deficiency of Liver Blood and Yin are detrimental to the
development and storage capabilities of the Liver. Once again, through five elements
correspondence, the pathway of deficiency of Liver Blood or Yin will influence the other
organs as well.
Infants and toddlers do not restrain emotions; normally emotions are expressed through
cries, screams, and laughter. “…Children under the age of seven have little awareness of
their emotions, and even less control over them. It is this that makes children so
susceptible to picking up the emotions of those around them. Many a mother has
experienced this phenomenon, where her baby reflects her own emotional state, being
happy when happy, and irritable when she is irritable.”
The autistic child appears void Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
of joyous emotion, responds little to feelings of pain and, at times, cries and screams
incessantly for no apparent reason. The interaction between parent and child with games
of “peek-a-boo” and “patty-cake” is without joyous smiles and laughter from the autistic
child. Autism robs the child of the capability to interact with other people. The toddler
who is learning to talk will ask questions of adults and point to things and people with
great excitement. The autistic child will not react to stimulus around them. The signs and
symptoms of autism are similar to the description in Chinese medicine of withdrawal and
mania (Dian and Kuang). Bob Flaws describes this essence spirit disease in his book,
Chinese Medical Psychiatry:
Withdrawal and mania, dian and kuang, are a yin-yang pair of conditions,
which can either exist separately or alternate back and forth between the
two. Withdrawal refers to a torpid, flat, depressed affect with a tendency
to taciturnity, uncommunicativeness, and solitariness. It may also include
incoherent speech, a lowering of mental faculties, and even syncope and
coma. Mania refers to an agitated, excited affect accompanied by
inappropriate anger and/or laughing, mental, physical, and emotional
restlessness, etc.
Practical Therapeutic of Traditional Chinese Medicine by Yan Wu and Warren Fischer,
describe dian as “generally brought on by stagnation of phlegm and qi leading to vacuity
of both heart and spleen and vacuity of qi and blood. Kuang…is generally caused by
internal disturbance by phlegm and fire, which can lead to depletion of and injury to yin
in chronic cases.”
As the autistic child ages the addition of phlegm-producing foods
weakens Spleen Qi. Weak constitutions and phlegm accumulation can lead to Heart fire.
As the child ages, his mind is active, emotions are stifled by the inability to communicate.
Frustration turns to heat. Heat and phlegm can harass the Heart and disrupt the Mind.
Insufficiency of Yin and Yang
“Children are extremely yang compared to adults – they are active, vigorous, always
moving, and demanding attention.”
Extremely yang constitutions will show a Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
deficiency of yin as seen in the frequent cases of febrile diseases and convulsions in
children. Julian Scott and Therese Barlow write that in China, yin deficiency in children
is seen more often than in western children not because of their constitution but because
of the immediate usage of antibiotics to combat the febrile diseases. Fevers are a normal
response of the body to a disease and when patients are given a cold “synthetic medicine”
to combat the fever, the pathogen can become trapped in the body. The cold nature of the
antibiotics (as discussed in detail in the following section) adjusts the constitution of the
child to be more Yang deficient. The pattern of diseases now appearing in Western
children is colder in nature, according to Scott and Barlow. Cold damages the Spleen and
Kidney Yang allowing for production of Phlegm, further injuring the Spleen. The
opportunity for the production of phlegm is set up in the body.
Lingering Pathogenic Factors
The Emperor asked Shao Yu: “When the hundred diseases occur, they are
certain to result from the wind, rain, cold, and summer heat. These evils
enter the muscular striae through the body hair. They either turn to leave
the body or linger there, or cause wind swellings and perspiration, or
induce exhaustion haggardness, or cause chill and fever, or induce
lingering impediment, or bring about accumulation and gathering.”
According to Chinese medicine, external pathogenic factors that induce diseases are
wind, heat, dryness, cold, dampness, and fire. Lingering of the pathogen energy within
the body can lead to chronic illness further weakening the body. The weakening of the
body leaves the child’s wei qi weak to additional attacks of pathogens; this is comparable
to the compromised immune system characterized in autistic children as quoted in
“Nutritional Perspectives on the Behavioral Child” by Woody R. McGinnis M.D. The
experienced practitioner will consider the strength of the child and determine the course
of treatment by expelling the pathogen first, then tonifying the qi or tonifing the qi to ease
the expulsion of the pathogen. The pathogen can be introduced into the body via the
skin, hair, and mouth. Modern allopathic medicine approaches treatment of diseases by
combating febrile diseases and bacteria through the use of antibiotics. Allopathic Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
medicine uses vaccinations as a preventative measure in avoiding diseases. Both
antibiotics and vaccinations are considered pathogens in Chinese medicine.
Antibiotics such as amoxicillin are given orally. Penicillin may be administered orally,
by intramuscular injection, or intravenously. In Chinese medicine, amoxicillin and
penicillin represent an introduction of a pathogen into the body. Adverse reactions from
amoxicillin, according to Springhouse Nurse’s Drug Guide, 4
ed., are nausea, vomiting,
diarrhea, anemia, thrombocytopenia, thrombocytopenic purpura, eosinophilia,
leukopenia, agranulocytopenia, hypersensitivity reactions (erythematous maculopapular
rash, uticaria, anaphylaxis), and overgrowth of nonsusceptible organisms.”
Penicillin is
produced from molds and fungi. Adverse reactions from penicillin include “seizures,
thrombocytopenia, hemolytic anemia, leukopenia, arthralgia, hypersensitivity reactions
(rash, urticaria, chills, fever, edema, prostration, anaphylaxis), and overgrowth of
nonsusceptible organisms.”
Z’ev Rosenburg’s article “A Chinese Look at Western Pharmaceuticals” analyzes the
actions of various pharmaceuticals in terms of Chinese herbal properties. He writes:
Amoxicillin…is very cold, bitter, and toxic; it enters lung, spleen, stomach,
bladder, and kidney channels. Although accumulation of damp can follow the use
of antibiotics, mainly by impairment of kidney and spleen yang functions
(including destruction of the intestinal flora), long-term use of such bitter and cold
substances can damage the yin as well, leading to yin vacuity heat over time. The
original antibiotic, penicillin, was taken from mold/fungi cultures. Molds and
fungi modify the human body’s internal environment, leading to great disturbance
of intestinal flora, digestion, immune function, and hormonal balance. Long-term
allergies, candida, yeasts, and functional imbalances can develop from even shortterm use of antibiotics. If they must be taken, they should be followed with
acidophilus and formulas to strengthen spleen, clear damp, and regulate qi.
31Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Vaccinations defined in Chinese medical language are an introduction of a toxic, hot
pathogen into the body at the Xue (Blood) Level. This is a serious condition for the
patient, as any practioner of Chinese medicine knows the patterns of diseases defined at
the Xue level are the most serious of the Wei, Qi, Ying, and Xue Levels.
There are two basic types of vaccines: live attenuated and inactivated vaccines.
Modifying a disease-producing “wild” virus or bacteria in a laboratory so that it
retains the immunogenic effect withough causing illness produces live attenuated
vaccines. Inactivated vaccines can be composed of either whole viruses or
bacteria, or fractions of subunits, toxiods, conjugate which are composing of pure
cell-wall polysaccharides from bacteria.
Be it an introduction of whole viruses or bacteria or a modification of a “wild” virus or
bacteria in a laboratory, the vaccination is an introduction of an evil pathogen and the
energy from the pathogen can remain locked in the body to further cause diseases. Z’ev
Rosenburg writes on the subject of vaccinations:
Vaccines are generally a problem in terms of their ability to overwhelm the
body’s natural defenses, even as they are designed to enhance immunity to
specific pathogenic qi. DPT is a combination of three vaccines; it includes
diphtheria toxoid, a poison emitted by the diphtheria bacterium tetanus toxin, and
pertussin. Pertussin especially is known to have potential toxic effects, such as
neurological damage, high fever, or seizure. We can say that pertussin especially
is hot, highly toxic, drying; it enters the liver channel, causing stirring of the liver
According to Xu Da-cun, the body can effectively deal with only one pathogenic
qi at a time. When given a combination vaccine, three different disorders are
introduced deep into the body. The wei/defensive and qi levels are bypassed, and
the pathogenic qi in the vaccine enters directly into the ying/constructive and
xue/blood levels, there to incubate as hidden toxins indefinitely.
33Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
The concept of latent pathogenic factors is a cause of disease in Chinese medicine but
this concept is controversial in the biomedical community even when presented by a
practioner of biomedicine. In the quest to find a cause of autism, Dr. Andrew Wakefield,
a gastroenterologist, reported in The Lancet in 1998, “We have identified a chronic
enterocolitis in children that may be related to neuropsychiatric dysfunction. In most
cases, onset of symptoms occurred after measles, mumps, and rubella immunization.”

Dr. Wakefield termed his findings “autistic enterocolitis.” “Although he identified
measles antigen at these sites, and assumed that this was due to an underlying chronic
gastrointestinal measles infection, he also discussed the possibility that the combination
of measles and mumps in the same vaccination was partially to blame for the damage,
citing records collected by the medical associations in Iceland and in the United
The gastrointestinal measles infection is suggested to cause a “leak” in the
gastrointestinal lining providing an escape mechanism for toxins to enter the blood
Uncle Qi replies to the Emperor: “Lingering instead of leaving, the evils are
transmitted to settle at the hidden-penetrating channel (a part of the penetrating
channel, which runs and hides in the spinal column). When the evils are at the
hidden-penetrating channel, the body becomes burdensome, heavy and aching. If
the evils persist in lingering, they will make their way to the intestines and
stomach. If the evils are in the intestines and stomach, the intestines rumble and
the abdomen distends. Excessive cold there can cause intestinal rumbling,
diarrhea, and indigestion: excessive heat there can cause loose, foul stool.
Lingering instead of leaving, the evils are transmitted to dwell outside the
intestines and stomach, settle at their wrapping membranes, and lodge at the
vessels there.”
36Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Early detection of the pathology of autism in Chinese medicine is the best chance for the
recovery of the child. Be it ever so fortunate that the practioner of TCM be the child’s
primary care provider. Preventative medicine is the best course to avert the condition of
autism. This conceptual framework of prevention is written in the Huang Ti Nei Ching
Su Wen:
The superior physician helps before the early budding of the disease. He
must first examine the three regions of the body and define the atmosphere
of the nine subdivisions so that they are entirely in harmony, and nothing
can be destroyed, and then his help sets in. Therefore he is called the
superior physician.
The inferior physician begins to help when (the disease) has already
developed; he helps when destruction has already set in. And since his
help comes when the disease has already developed it is said of him that
he is ignorant. The three divisions of the body and the nine subdivisions
then contend with each other and the disese will therefore be destructive.
In determining the proper differential diagnosis in TCM, the practioner uses the Four
Examinations: inspection, listening and smelling, inquiry, and palpation. During
inspection, remarkable tongue patterns are observed in autistic children. According to
Majebe, the autistic children will frequently display a notch or thin crack at the tip. “The
notch reflects constitutional weakness where there is insufficient Heart qi (to fill out the
tongue). The slight crack at the tip reflects constitutional Heart yin deficiency.”

Tongue body color ranges from pale to dark red. Autistic children will not show a thick
tongue coating even though hot or cold phlegm is the pathology.
During inspection of the Spirit, the practioner determines the quality of the spirit by
observing the eyes. One of the main characteristics of autism is the lack of eye contact.
This is a sign of Heart imbalance and exhaustion of the essential qi. The Mind or Spirit Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
clouded in a mist is expressed as dull or clouded eyes. “ The spirit in the eyes and the five
colors seen in the complexion show how qi blooms.”

Chi Po said: “Let me discuss shen, the spirit. What is the spirit? The spirit
cannot be heard with the ear. The eye must be brilliant of perception and the
heart must be open and attentive, and then the spirit is suddenly revealed through
one’s own consciousness. It cannot be expressed through the mouth; only the
heart can express all that can be looked upon.”
Watch the child and listen to the
child. Are all of his actions and behaviors appropriate for his age? How does he
interact with other children and play with toys in the waiting room? Does he
come to his mother when called? Does he respond to his name being called?
Does he smile? How is his disposition? How is his movement? Does he even
look at anyone or anything in the room? Is his verbal communication appropriate
for his age? Does he have a conversation with you or his mother or does he just
repeat the words spoken to him? Does he speak at all? These are all important
observations that can be made before the child even enters the room. Practioners
are taught in school that observation begins in the waiting room.
Basic inquiry of the patient’s condition is obtained. In addition to the basic inquiry, the
practioner must obtain a detailed medical history of the patient and the onset of the
disorder. Ask what makes the disorder better and what makes the disorder worse. If the
patient can respond, ask what the symptoms feel like. Ask the parent what the symptoms
look like and sound like. Do the symptoms appear as an outward physical manifestation?
How severe do the signs and symptoms appear? When do the symptoms appear, how
long do they last, and does any event trigger the onset or make the symptoms dissipate?
“In all diagnosis, doctors must ask diet and living, sudden joy and sudden bitterness, or
past joy and current bitterness, which all can impair the essential qi.”
As stated earlier,
the wellness of the mother should also be observed as the illnesses of the mother can be
transmitted to the child. This subject will be briefly covered in the heading “Treat the
Mother to Treat the Son.”Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Palpation of the pulse in infants is unreliable. For children three years and younger the
finger veins on the radial palmer side of the index finger are used to gauge the extent of a
disease. To gain a better understanding of palpation techniques used in the diagnosis of
infants and children, the reader is referred to the following reference books on pediatrics.
These insightful pediatric books, Acupuncture in the Treatment of Children and Pediatric
Acupuncture, provide the reader with the basics necessary to treat infants and children
with TCM. Self-study courses are available through Blue Poppy Inc. in the study of
pediatrics, available via the World Wide Web, http://www.bluepoppy.com. As the
experienced practitioners will attest, there is no better training than that of hands-on
experience. It is beyond the scope of this paper to cover the complete topic of pediatric
care with Chinese medicine, but rather to inform the reader of the resources available for
the inquisitive mind.
Revisiting the quote from Mary Cissy Majebe’s article, “Chinese Medicine and Autism”:
Autism is an imbalance of the Heart, Spleen, and Kidney with phlegm
accumulation. Phlegm is not only a pathological factor for the autistic
child but also aetiological. In CM, autistic individual suffer from Heart
blood imbalances that inhibit connecting on an emotional level with other
persons, including their immediate family. These children often present
with digestive anomalies characterized as Spleen qi deficiency. As autism
is most often diagnosed before the age of three, CM recognizes this
disorder as having a pre-heaven connection, i.e. Kidney essence
To gain a better understanding of the clinical manifestations of each of the patterns in
autism, four references will be used:
The Foundations of Chinese Medicine by Giovani Maciocia
“Chinese Medicine and Autism” by Mary Cissy Majebe
Acupuncture in the Treatment of Children by Julian Scott and Teresa Barlow
Practical Therapeutics of Traditional Chinese Medicine by Yan Wu and Warren FischerDebra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Spleen Disharmonies
Spleen Qi Deficiency
No appetite, abdominal distension after eating, tiredness, lassitude, sallow
complexion, weakness of the limbs, loose stools. If Spleen-Qi deficiency
gives rise to Dampness, there may also be nausea, a feeling of oppression of
the chest and epigastrium and a feeling of heaviness.
Tongue: Pale or normal-colored, in chronic cases the sides will be swollen
sometimes with transversal cracks.
Pulse: Empty
p. 8
Spleen qi deficiency is primary in the development of phlegm.
p. 402
Extreme qi deficiency is seen after a febrile disease. During the fever the
child will be restless and agitated, and even delirious or convulsive, but when
the fever comes down the pendulum swings the other way, and the child may
become completely inert. This is quite a common occurrence and normally
rights itself: but sometimes the pattern persists and the child is never right
again. Instead, it will live in a twilight world, only half there. The spirit
somehow never finds its way back to the Heart
Yan Wu
p. 496
Infantile Diarrhea due to Spleen Qi Vacuity: Pale-colored liquid stools
without marked foul odor, bowel movements often occurring directly after
meals, variation in severity of diarrhea, sallow complexion, poor appetite,
emaciation, lassitude, fatigue.
Tongue: Pale with white coating
Pulse: Tardy, thready
Damp or cold phlegm
p. 196
Cold phlegm is manifested with expectoration of white-watery phlegm, a
cold feeling in limbs and back nausea. This form of Phlegm is often seen in Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Stomach or Lung Patterns.
Tongue: Pale with white-wet coat
Pulse: Deep-Slippery-Slow
Damp phlegm is manifested with expectoration of very profuse phlegm,
which is white and sticky, no appetite, no thirst, a feeling of oppression of
chest and epigastrium.
Tongue: Sticky coating
Pulse: Slippery
p. 8
The child is lethargic. The shen is active at night due to phlegm in the chest,
hence the child wakes exhausted. This child may exhibit obsessive
Scott Not addressed.
Yan Wu Not addressed.
Hot Phlegm
p. 196
This is manifested with expectoration of yellow-sticky phlegm, a red face,
dry mouth and lips, restlessness. This form of Phlegm affects the Lungs, the
Stomach or the Heart.
Tongue: Red with sticky-yellow coat
Pulse: Rapid-Slippery
p. 8
This child will have more impulsive behaviors rather than compulsive
behaviors. They will be aggressive and exhibit loud verbalizations.
Scott Not addressed.
Yan Wu
p. 506
Acute Fright Wind – Internal Phlegm-Heat – Initial symptoms include loss of
appetite, vomiting, fever, abdominal pain and constipation or stools
containing pus and blood, followed by sudden loss of consciousness,
convulsions, wheezing respiration, abdominal fullness and distention, heavy
Tongue: Thick yellow slimy coat.Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Pulse: Wiry, slippery.
Wind Phlegm
p. 196
Wind phlegm causes dizziness, nausea, vomiting, numbness of the limbs,
coughing of phlegm a rattling sound in the throat and aphasia. This form of
Phlegm is seen in Wind-stroke.
p. 8
This can develop due to cold or hot phlegm. An autistic child with wind
phlegm may manifest seizures, epilepsy or tremors.
Scott Not addressed.
Yan Wu
p. 507
Acute Fright Wind – Sudden Fright or Fear – No fever, lack of warmth in the
limbs, restless sleep followed by crying or wailing and jumpiness after
awakening, greenish complexion, and intermittent convulsions.
Tongue: Thin coating.
Pulse: Deep; greenish-purple index vessel.
Heart Disharmonies
Heart Blood Deficiency
p. 205
Palpitations, dizziness, insomnia, dream-disturbed sleep, poor memory,
anxiety, propensity to be startled, dull-pale complexion, pale lips.
Tongue: Pale, think slightly dry
Pulse: Choppy or Fine
The heat governs Blood, if Blood is deficient the Heart suffers and the Mind
is deprived of its “residence”, hence the insomnia, dream-disturbed sleep,
anxiety and propensity to be startled. The heart also controls the mental
faculties and if Heart-Blood is deficient thinking will be dull and the memory
p. 8
An infant with Heart blood deficiency has a propensity to startle easily.
Signs of Heart blood deficiency include a pale complexion, pale tongue, Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
insomnia, dream-disturbed sleep, a propensity to anxiety and emotional
difficulties tending towards lethargy and quietness.
Scott Not addressed.
Yan Wu
p. 243
Depressive Psychotic Patterns – Heart and Spleen Vacuity – Chronic
duration of illness, trance-like mental state, loss of contact with reality,
palpitations, tendency to be easily frightened, fatigue, decrease in food
intake, lusterless complexion.
Tongue: Pale
Pulse: Thready, forceless
Heart Yin Deficiency
p. 206
Palpitations, insomnia, dream-disturbed sleep, propensity to be startled, poor
memory, anxiety, mental restlessness, uneasiness, fidgetiness, malar flush,
low-grade fever or feeling of heat especially in the evening, feeling hot and
bothered, night sweating, dry mouth and throat, 5 –palm heat.
Tongue: Red, no coating, tip redder and swollen with red points, deep
midline crack reaching the tip.
Pulse: Floating-Empty and Rapid or Fine-Rapid. It may also be
Overflowing in both Front positions and weak in both Rear positions.
p. 8
More heat signs are apparent. This child will manifest with rosy cheeks and
may experience night sweats and sweating of the palms and soles of the feet.
They may develop mouth ulcers with a white rim around the ulcer. A child
with Heart yin deficiency will tend to be more restless or fidgety than the
child with Heart blood deficiency.
Scott Not addressed.
Yan Wu
p. 246
Manic Psychotic Patterns – Exuberant Fire with Injury to Yin – Prolonged
illness with moderate symptoms such as irritability, tendency to be easily
frightened, insomnia, emaciation, and tiredness.
Tongue: Red with little coating.Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Pulse: Rapid, thready.
Heart Fire
p. 208
Palpitations, thirst, mouth and tongue ulcers, mental restlessness, feeling
agitated, “impulsiveness”, feeling of heat, insomnia, red face, dark urine or
blood in urine and bitter taste.
Tongue: Red, tip redder and swollen with red points, yellow coating. There
may be a midline crack reading to the tip.
Pulse: Full-Rapid-Overflowing especially on the left Front position. It could
also be Hasty (Rapid and stopping at irregular intervals).
p. 8
The child with Heart fire will be extremely agitated. Mouth or tongue ulcers
will have a red rim. This ruddy child will often have a very rosy face,
whereas the Heart yin deficiency child only exhibits red cheeks. These
autistic children will manifest more manic behaviors than the autistic child
with Heart blood deficiency and Heart yin deficiency. This child will tend
towards aggressive behavior.
p. 403
Lingering Pathogenic factor – This pattern can be caused by a high fever, or
alternatively a bad reaction to an immunization. The behavior of the child
will be restless, irritable, cannot settle, some red on the face, either red lips or
cheeks, may talk to themselves, unable to concentrate. The pattern here is
like hyperactivity, only the effect on the spirit is much more extreme. The
heat in the Heart has an extreme effect, and the spirit is just not quiet enough
to stay still even for a moment, so the child cannot relate in a normal way.
Yan Wu Not addressed.
Phlegm misting the Mind
p. 211
Mental confusion, unconsciousness, lethargic stupor, vomiting, rattling
sound in the throat, aphasia.
Tongue: Thick-sticky-slippery coating, midline crack reaching the tip with Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
prickles in it. Tongue body: Swollen.
Pulse: Slippery
p. 8
A child who manifests this condition will generally appear to be mentally
slow, with incoherent speech or aphasia. Often this child will not be able to
initiate speech but may copy speech heard. For example, you may say “byebye John” and rather than respond with your name the autistic child would
repeat “bye-bye John” in speaking to you. This child will tend towards
lethargy and have a very limited attention span. They may manifest with
repetitive patterns of behavior.
Scott Not addressed.
Yan Wu
p. 242
Depressive Psychotic Patterns – Binding Depression of Qi and Phlegm –
Gradual onset of illness, emotional depression, with increased dullness of the
senses during the initial stages, followed by incoherent speech in later stages
or muttering to oneself, unprovoked bouts of sadness and crying, loss of
ability to differentiate clean from dirty, loss of appetite.
Tongue: White slimy coat
Pulse: Wiry, slippery
Phlegm fire harassing the Heart
p. 209
Mental restlessness, palpitations, bitter taste, insomnia, dream-disturbed
sleep, propensity to be startled, incoherent speech, mental confusion, rash
behavior, tendency to hit or scold people, uncontrolled laughter or cry,
agitation, shouting, muttering to oneself, mental depression and dullness; in
severe cases aphasia and coma.
T: Red, yellow-sticky coat, midline crack with yellow prickles in it. The tip
may be redder and swollen with red points.
Pulse: Full-Rapid-Slippery or Rapid-Over-flowing-Slippery or Rapid-FullWiry.
p. 8
This child will often have dream-disturbed sleep, constipation and episodes
of talking to themselves. They may exhibit uncontrolled laughing or crying. Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
They will tend to be short tempered, easily agitated, exhibit rash behavior
and may tend to aggression to themselves or others.
Scott Not addressed.
Yan Wu
p. 244
Manic Psychotic Patterns – Phlegm-Fire Harassing the Interior – Abrupt
onset of illness, with initial symptoms of agitation, irritability, headache,
insomnia, flushed complexion and bloodshot eyes, followed by sudden
manic behavior, lack of judgment, physical aggression, destructive behavior,
spells of boisterousness, cessation of food intake and sleep, exhibitionism in
severe cases.
Tongue: Yellow slimy coat.
Pulse: Rapid, wiry, slippery.
Kidney Disharmonies
Kidney Essence Deficiency – In children, this called the “Five Delays”. 1) Slow
walking, 2) slow talking, 3) poor bone development, 4) late closure of fontanels, and 5)
mental dullness or retardation.
p. 256
In children: poor bone development, late closure of fontanels, mental
dullness or retardation.
In adults: softening of bones, weakness of knees and legs, poor memory,
loose teeth, falling hair or premature graying of hair, weakness of sexual
activity, soreness of the back.
Tongue: Red and Peeled
Pulse: Floating-Empty or Leather
p. 9
The young age at which autism develops indicates Kidney essence
deficiency. Kidney essence is necessary for brain nourishment and a
deficiency in Kidney essence will result in poor mental development. If
Kidney essence is deficient it will not support the Spleen yang function of
transporting and transforming.
Scott Kidney weakness: This may be attributed to many causes, among them
deficiency of Kidney essence from birth, or Kidney qi deficiency due to long Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
p. 404 deficiency of Kidney essence from birth, or Kidney qi deficiency due to long
illness or overwork. The symptoms are pale face– maybe gray, weak lumbar
back, feels frail, as though a wind would blow them away, often sees
“ghosts” and talks and interacts with an imaginary world (Julian Scott’s note:
In the context of autism, the condition becomes pathological when either the
“imaginary” world becomes more important than the “real” one, or when the
child cannot make a distinction.)
Yan Wu Not addressed.
Extraordinary Vessel Disharmonies
Chong Mai (Penetrating Vessel) Deficiency
p. 361
Since the Penetrating Vessel provides the link between the Pre-Heaven and
Post-Heaven Qi, it can be used in all cases of weak constitution with
digestive symptoms, such as poor appetite, abdominal distension and poor
assimilation of food.
The Penetrating Vessel exerts an influence on the heart, as it flows through
it, and it can be used to move the Blood of the Heart in cases of pain in the
chest, feeling of stuffiness of the chest and palpitations.
p. 9
The ability of the Chong Mai to positively affect autism is based on its
ability to treat imbalances that have components of pre- and post-heaven
deficiency through its connection to the Kidney, Spleen and Heart. The
Chong Mai connection to the Spleen strengthens a weak constitution that
manifests with digestive problems of poor appetite and assimilation of food.
The Chong Mai is connected to the Heart, as it is the Sea of Blood.
Strengthening the Chong Mai will create and nourish blood through the
Spleen and Heart connection. The Chong Mai can also nourish pre-heaven
essence, thus positively affecting Kidney jing essence.
Scott Not addressed.
Yan Wu Not addressed.Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
53Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
TCM Nutrition
Barbara Kirt O.M.D. says in her lectures, “When you see bizarre things that don’t add up,
suspect the presence of Phlegm.” This most certainly applies to the difficulties Western
medicine has had finding the cause and cure of Pervasive Developmental Disorders. The
empirical evidence produced by countless parents of autistic children and scientific
evidence produced in studies is that the elimination of dairy (casein products) and gluten
products from their children’s diets produced outstanding results.
The empirical
evidence produced by these parents such as Karyn Seroussi and Lynn Lewis mirrors
thousands of years of empirical evidence of Chinese medicine. Call it “theory of opioid
excess” or “Phlegm misting the portals of the mind” and “Phlegm fire confounding the
portals of the Heart,” the elimination of dairy and gluten in TCM Nutrition Therapy and
in Special Diets for Special Kids provides the same results, the elimination of the cause
of autism.
“To be a doctor one must understand the origin of disease clearly. (One must) know
which part of the body has been invaded and treat it with food. If diet cannot cure the
disease, then prescribe the medicinal formula.” (Bian Que from the Warring States (475-
221 B.C.E.)
In the Chinese culture, food is medicine and medicine is food. The more
nutritious-conscious Westerner will source out foods that are organically raised, will
lower their lipid levels and raise their HDL levels, provide the body with much needed
vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants. The Western food culture is not based on emphasis
of food as medicine and for the most, the thought of avoiding or adding certain foods to
enhance the immune system is not in the daily diet planning of the Westerners.
Lisa Lewis’ book, Special Diets for Special Kids has made a tremendous impact in the
treatment of autism using food. It is not the purpose of this paper to offer an alternative
to this monumental contribution to the treatment of this disorder. Rather, this portion of
the presentation will compare the current food therapy of choice to that of one of the
eight branches of Chinese medicine – dietary therapy. Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
In the book Pediatric Acupuncture, May Loo devotes a chapter on dietary management,
combining the wisdom of Chinese dietary principles with modern nutritious dietary
living. Here are her recommendations:
Dietary Recommendations for Children
Diet for Health Maintenance
· Give children fresh, nutritious foods that have a balance of five flavors
· Keep a regular eating schedule as much as possible
· Eat foods appropriate to the seasons as much as possible
· Avoid junk/greasy, artificially sweetened, artificially colored foods
· Avoid excess energetically Hot or Cold foods
· Institute healthy manner and habits for eating
Diet as Treatment
· Food as medicine works slowly, therefore they do not produce quick and
instantaneous changes
· Treat general conditions and deficiency states with tonics
· Tonics are contraindicated:
o During the course of an active infection
o When there is a digestive problem, as the child may throw it up, or not
absorb it. First correct the digestive problem, then give appropriate tonics
· Supplement acupuncture treatment of Cold and Heat conditions with
thermoregulatory foods
· Decrease the common foods that many children today prefer. This table lists the
five types of food and the corresponding injuries to organs:
Type of food Injury to specific organ
Excess artificially sweetened Spleen/Pancreas
Excess salt Kidney
Greasy, fried Liver
Phlegm-producing Spleen
Thermoregulatory “Cold” SpleenDebra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
· Treat specific organ imbalance with corresponding flavors:
o Increase that flavor if there is deficiency, and
o Decrease the flavor if the child is consuming excess amount
· Discontinue detrimental manners of eating
· Explore individual and family reason for excess emotions during meals and treat
underlying emotional problems
· Also consider involving child and/or family in therapy
Once again, autism is an imbalance of the Heart, Spleen, and Kidney with phlegm
accumulation. The “cannot eat” list of foods recommended by Special Diets for Special
Kids is lists of food allergies to the autistic child. Food allergies must be taken
inconsideration when planning a diet therapy for any person. As beneficial as balancing
the five flavors and suggesting foods that will enhance the Organs, the practioner should
not be blinded to the fact that food allergies exist. The lists recommended by Special
Diets for Special Kids will be analyzed according to Chinese diet therapy to show the
correlation between this effective diet therapy and that of Chinese medicine principles to
treat autism: transform Phlegm, clear Heart Fire, open the orifices, tonify Spleen Qi,
nourish Heart Blood and Yin, secure Kidney Essence, and quiet the Spirit.
Foods You Cannot Eat on a Gluten Free (GF)/Casein Free (CF) Diet
Always Avoid:
DAIRY PRODUCTS i.e. Milk, Half and Half, Cream Cheese, Sour Cream, Cream,
Cottage Cheese, Yogurt, Hard and Soft Cheeses
Wheat, Bulgar, Durum, Spelt, Triticale, Oats, Oat flour, Barley, Barley flour, Rye,
Semolina, Couscous, Wheat Pasta, Baking Powder (unless specified GF), Soy Sauce
(unless specified GF), Bouillon Cubes or Powder, Starch, Vegetable Starch, Sauce Mixes
(read labels carefully, often contain wheat), Malt, Barley Malt, Modified Food Starch,
Rice Syrup (unless specified GF it contains barley enzymes), Spices and Herbs (buy only
those specified free of wheat fillers), Artificial Colors.Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
ITEMS MADE FROM WHEAT OR FLOUR i.e. Bread, Crackers, Pasta, Pizza, Pretzels,
Cake, Cookies
Foods You Can Eat on a GF/CF Diet
Fresh Fruit (If on anti-yeast diet, eat only fruits that can be peeled, no more than 2/day),
Fresh Vegetables, Dried Fruit (without sulfites), Coconut (without sulfites), Potato Chips
(Read labels – some have wheat or starch), Popcorn (not buttered), Rice cakes (read
ingredients, some are not GF), Rice Crackers (Ka Me, Hol Grain and others), Fresh Meat,
Poultry, Fish, Shellfish and Game, Corn, Millet, Teff, Rice and Rice Products, (pasta,
bread, etc.), Quinoa (noodles and flour), Amaranth, Potato (fresh, starch, flour),
Buckwheat flour and Groats (Kasha), Millet (pilaf and flour), Soy (unless intolerant),
Corn flakes (if specified GF), Yams, Sweet Potatoes (and flours), Sorghum Flour
(Jowar), Corn Meal (and polenta), Most Nuts (if not allergic), Eggs (if not allergic or very
PST deficient), Beans, Lentils, Tapioca.
The following recommendations are based on the patterns seen in autism.
Spleen Qi Deficiency with Phlegm accumulation.
Protection of the Spleen is extremely important in Chinese diet therapy for the Spleen
transforms and transport the qi of food to the rest of the body. Following the principles
of Chinese diet therapy one should:
· Avoid the consumption of cold foods. This stresses the Spleen because the
Spleen likes warmth and dryness.
· Avoid eating damp-causing foods and drinks. “Dampening foods are milk and
dairy products, citrus fruits and juices, pineapple juice, tomatoes, sugar and
sweets, and fatty, greasy, oil foods.”
· Avoid chemically treated food.
· Keep food combinations simple in meal planning.
· Avoid late night eating and overeating.
· The preferred food for infants is mother’s milk.Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
· Flours (especially wheat) promote infant mucus and allergies. Avoid them for the
first two years.
· Foods that encourage the drying of dampness that are on the “can eat” list:
amaranth, corn, aduki beans, celery, lettuce, pumpkin, scallion, turnip, kohlrabi,
white pepper, raw honey, all bitter herbs such as chaparral, chamomile, and pau
d’arco; and micro-algae dunaliella and wild blue-green.
· Beneficial foods to correct deficiency of spleen-pancreas qi:
o Carbohydrate rich vegetables: winter squash, carrot, rutabaga, parsnip,
turnip, garbanzo beans, black beans, peas, sweet potato, yam, and
o Pungent flavor vegetable and spices: onion, leek, black pepper, ginger,
cinnamon, fennel, cherry and date.
o Natural sweeteners in the form of cooked fruit: cherry and date.
o Meats in the form of soups for extreme deficiency: mackerel, tuna,
halibut, beef, beef liver or kidney, chicken, turkey, or lamb.
Heart Blood and Yin Deficiency, Phlegm (hot or cold) invading the Heart
“Both the yin and blood have similar effects on the spirit (shen). A yang principle the
spirit needs the yin and blood for stability; otherwise it “escapes” from the heart, causing
incessant wandering of the mind.”
The proper balancing of foods to nourish the blood
comes from nourishing the Spleen, which was discussed. To tonify Heart yin, mung
beans are suggested. To prevent the phlegm from invading the Heart, phlegm-forming
foods should be avoided: milk and dairy products, ice cream, eggs, meats, sugar,
peanuts, and refined foods such as white flour.
In the prevention of hot-phlegm or in
cases of yin deficiency, avoid foods and substances, which warm the body: coffee,
alcohol, tobacco (including second-hand smoke), lamb, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and
other hot spices.
Bitter is the flavor associated with the Fire Element and the Heart.
Celery has a bitter flavor that clears heat of the Heart.
Foods that quiet the spirit and anchor it in the Heart are:
· Oyster shell – builds yin of the heart and lowers floating yang.Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
· Grains calm the mind. Note: brown rice is the only grain that is on both the
GF/CF diet list and Chinese diet therapy list.
· Mushrooms are an immune tonic, which nurtures the heart, soothes the spirit, and
calms the mind.
· Silicon foods: Cucumber, celery, lettuce and celery/lettuce juice help strengthen
nerve and heart tissue.
· Fruits: Mulberries and lemons calm the mind. Schisandra berries (wu wei zi)
calm the spirit.
· Seeds: Jujube seeds (suan zoa ren) clam the spirit and nourish the heart
· Spices: Dill and basil used in food and teas are calming.
Kidney Essence Deficiency
“In children, severe jing deficiency manifests as stunted growth, mental retardation,
learning disability, sluggish movement, skeletal weakness and deformities, and failure of
the fontanel (skull bones) to close. For these conditions, deer antler is a specific remedy.
Tortoise shell is preferred in cases of failure of the fontanel to close; it also treats stunted
skeletal development.”
Foods and herbs, which nourish essence, are suggested:
· Micro-algae (chlorella, spirulina, wild blue-green), fish, liver, kidney, brain, bone
and its marrow, human placenta, and cereal grass.
· Solomon’s seal, almonds, nettles, royal jelly and bee pollen.
· Dodders seeds (tu si zi), prepared rehmannia root (shu di huang), deer antler (lu
rong), tortoise shell (gui ban), chicken, and mussel.
· The color and flavor associated with the Kidney and the Water Element are black
and salty, respectfully. Black beans cooked with seaweed and sea salt is believed
to nourish the Kidney.
· Other foods that nourish the Kidney are millet, black sesame seeds, black
soybeans, chestnuts, mulberries, raspberries, strawberries, and walnuts.Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Chinese Herbal Treatments
The treatment methods used for autism, depending on the differential diagnosis, will be
· Transform Phlegm
· Clear Heart Fire
· Open the orifices
· Tonify Spleen Qi
· Nourish Heart Blood and Yin
· Secure Kidney Essence
· Quiet the Spirit
Dosage recommendations: “Age is always a factor in dosage. Children between 5-19
years of age are usually given ½ of the adult dosage; those between 2 -5 years of age 1/3
dosage; and infants even less.”
1. Preferred Herbal Formulas for the Treatment of Autism
Mary Cissy Majebe, O.M.D. writes of two basic autism formulas in her article “Chinese
Medicine and Autism”, one for deficiency patterns, one for excess patterns. The
percentages of the herbs were provided via email correspondence from Dr. Majebe’s
Office Manager, Ted DeLong. All bulleted commentary are direct quotes from Chinese
Herbal Medicine: Materia Medica (1993). The formulas are available in tincture from
Nicole, owner of Chinese Herbal Medicines, Route 1, Box 109, Santa Fe, NM, 87501,
phone (505) 455-7539.
Dr. Majebe’s Deficiency Pattern Autism Formula
Shi Chang Pu (Rhizoma Acori Graminei) 5%
· Opens the orifices, vaporizes phlegm, and quiets the spirit
· Harmonizes the middle burner and transforms turbid dampness
· “The most frequently used herbs for treating phlegm obstruction that causes
mental disturbance are ploygala (Yuan Zhi) and acorus (Shi Chang Pu).”
58Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Yuan Zhi (Radix Polygalae Tenuifoliae) 15%
· Calms the spirit and quiets the Heart
· Expels phlegm and clears the orifices
Tian Zhu Huang (Concertio Silicea Bambusae) 15%
· Clears and transforms phlegm-heat
· Clears the Heart and arrest convulsions
Qian Shi (Semen Euryales Fericus) 15%
· Strengthens the Spleen and stops diarrhea (especially useful in children)
· Stabilizes the Kidneys and retains the essence
Long Chi (Dens Draconis) 5%
· Especially effective for palpitations with anxiety, insomnia, and dream-disturbed
Bai Zhu (Rhizoma Atractylodis macrocephalae) 20%
· Tonify the Spleen and augments the qi
· Strengthens the Spleen and dries dampness
Tian Nan Xing (Rhizoma Arisaematis) 5%
· Dries dampness and expels phlegm
· Disperses wind-phlegm in the channels and stops spasm
Bei Xie (Rhizoma Dioscoreae) 5%
· Separates the pure from the turbid
Bai Zi Ren (Semen Biotae Orientalis) 5%
· Nourishes the Heart and calms the spirit: for irritability, insomnia, forgetfulness,
and palpitations with anxiety due to Heart blood deficiency
Xi Yang Shen (Radix Panacis Quinquefolii) 5%
· Benefits the qi, generates fluids, and nourishes the yin: for yin deficiency with
heat signs, and chronic, unabating fever. Also for the aftermath of a febrile disese
with such symptoms as weakness, irritability, and thirst
Chuan Xiong (Radix Ligustici Wallichii) 5%
· Invigorates the blood and promotes the movement of qi: for any blood stasis
patternDebra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
This formula is used for children that show signs of deficiency with no heat signs. The
tonification herbs focus on the Spleen and Heart channels to tonify qi and yin along with
herbs that expel phlegm.
Dr. Majebe’s Excess Pattern Autism Formula
Shi Chang Pu (Rhizoma Acori Graminei) 5%
· Opens the orifices, vaporizes phlegm, and quiets the spirit
· Harmonizes the middle burner and transforms turbid dampness
Yuan Zhi (Radix Polygalae Tenuifoliae) 15%
· Calms the spirit and quiets the Heart
· Expels phlegm and clears the orifices
Tian Zhu Huang (Concertio Silicea Bambusae) 15%
· Clears and transforms phlegm-heat
· Clears the Heart and arrest convulsions
Qian Shi (Semen Euryales Fericus) 15%
· Strengthens the Spleen and stops diarrhea (especially useful in children)
· Stabilizes the Kidneys and retains the essence.
Long Chi (Dens Draconis) 5%
· Especially effective for palpitations with anxiety, insomnia, and dream-disturbed
Huang Lian (Rhizoma Coptidis) 10%
· Drains fire and relieves toxicity
Suan Zao Ren (Semen Ziziphi Spinosae) 15%
· Nourish the Heart yin, augments the Liver blood, and quiets the spirit
Dan Zhu Ye (Herba Lopthatheri Gracili) 10%
· Clears heat and eliminates irritability
Yu Jin (Tuber Curcumae) 10%
· Clears the heart and cools the blood: used when hot phlegm obstructs the Heart
orifices with such symptoms as anxiety, agitation, seizures, or mental
derangement.Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
The formula for excess patterns is used for children that exhibit heat and phlegm signs,
excess conditions, and aggressive tendencies.
· Heart Fire: Add Zhi Zi
· Signs of wind (seizures or “hand-waving): Add Tian Ma (Rhizoma Gastrodiae
Elatae) and Di Long (Lumbricus)
· Nourishing Heart Yin and Blood: Bai He (Bulbus Lilii), He Shou Wu (Radix
Polygoni Multiflori), and Dang Gui (Radix Angelicae Sinensis)
· To warm the Kidneys and fortifies the yang, to lead the fire back to its source use
Rou Gui (Cortex Cinnamomi Cassiae) “The use of Rou Gui and Huang Lian in
combination establishes communication between the Heart and Kidneys.”
· To arrests tremors and palpitations and calms the spirit Hu Po (Succinum). Hu
Po is used for childhood convulsions and seizures.
To gain a better understanding of the herbal formulas available to the practioner to treat
the patterns of autism, the following list of raw herbal decoctions and herbal patent
formulas have been gathered from the following reference books:
The Practice of Chinese Medicine by Giovanni Maciocia
Practical Therapeutics of Traditional Chinese Medicine by Yan Wu and Warren Fischer
Chinese Herbal Medicine: Formulas & Strategies by Dan Bensky & Randall Barolet
K’an Herbals Formula Guide by Ted Kaptchuk
Chinese Herbal Patent Medicines by Jake Paul Fratkin
Spleen Qi Deficiency
p. 266
Tonifying the Spleen Decoction (Gui Pi Tang)
Actions: Tonify Spleen Qi, nourish Heart-Blood and calm the Mind.
Yan Wu
p. 496
Ginseng, Poria and Ovate Atractylodes Powder (Shen Ling Bai Zhu San)
Actions: Fortify the spleen and boost Qi.Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
p. 256
Restore the Spleen Decoction (Gui Pi Tang)
Actions: Augments the qi, tonifies the blood strengthens the spleen, and
nourishes the Heart.
Grow & Thrive Pediatric formula – Chinese Modular Solutions (K’an
Actions: Strengthens the spleen and stomach, tonifies Qi and blood,
regulated fluids, regulates the intestines, and protects against invasion of
Wind, Damp, and Summer Heat.
Four Gentlemen Teapills (Si Jun Zi Wan)
Actions: Tonifies spleen and lung qi, dispels damp.
Six Gentlemen Tablet (Liu Jun Zi Pian)
Actions: Tonifies spleen qi, transforms phlegm, harmonizes the stomach,
stems counterflow ascent of stomach qi, moves damp, stops vomiting
Prosperous Farmer (Basis: Liu Jun Zi Tang) K’an Herbals
Actions: Tonifies the Middle Burner; strengthens the spleen Qi; expels
Dampness; moves stagnant Spleen Qi
Damp or cold phlegm
Maciocia Not Addressed.
Yan Wu Not Addressed.
p. 422
Liquid Styrax Pill (Su He Xiang Wan)
Actions: Warms and aromatically opens the orifices, promotes the
movement of qi, and transforms turbidity.
Lucid Channel (Basis: Er Chen Tang) K’an Herbals
Actions: Transforms Phlegm by drying internal Dampness; regulates the
function of the Spleen and StomachDebra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Hot Phlegm
Maciocia Not Addressed.
Yan Wu
p. 507
Children’s Return-of-Spring Elixir (Xiao Er Hui Chun Dan) prepared
Actions: Clear heat, transform phlegm, open the orifices, and relieve
In case of vomiting, add:
Jade Axis Elixir (Yu Shu Dan) prepared formula
In cases with food stagnation, add:
Harmony-Preserving Pill (Bao He Wan)
p. 421
Return of Spring Special Pill (Hui Chun Dan)
Actions: Opens the orifices, arrests spasms and convulsions, clears heat, and
transform phlegm.
Pearl, Amber Protect Baby Elixir (Zhu Po Bao Ying Dan)
Actions: Dispels wind, drains fire, transforms phlegm, settles the liver and
extinguishes wind, subdues yang, calms she, opens the orifices, relieves
Wind Phlegm
p. 241
Pinellia-Atractylodes-Gastrodia Decoction (Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma
Actions: Resolve Phlegm, open the orifices and calm the Mind.
This formula is used for Wind-Phlegm, i.e. when Phlegm is combined with
internal Wind.
Yan Wu
p. 508
Amber Dragon-Embracing Pill (Hu Po Bao Long Wan) prepared formula
Cinnabar Spirit-Quieting Pill (Zhu Sha An Shen Wan) prepared formula
Actions: Relieve convulsions and quiet the spiritDebra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
p. 424
Scour Phlegm Decoction (Di Tan Tang)
Actions: Scours out phlegm, opens the orifices, and tonifies the qi.
Head Clear Pill (Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Wan)
Actions: Tonifies spleen, dispels damp, transforms phlegm, extinguishes
Heart Blood Deficiency
p. 245
Nourishing the Heart Decoction (Yang Xin Tang)
Actions: Tonify the Heart, nourish Blood and calm the Mind.
Yan Wu
p. 243
Heart-Nourishing Decoction (Yang Xin Tang)
Licorice, Wheat and Jujube Decoction (Gan Mai Da Zao Tang)
Actions: Strengthen Spleen Qi, nourish Heart Blood Boost Qi, quiet the
p. 378
Emperor of Heaven’s Special Pill to Tonify the Heart (Tian Wang Bu
Xin Dan)
Actions: Enriches the yin, nourishes the Blood, tonifies the Heart, and calms
the spirit.
Calm Spirit Teapills (Gan Mai Da Zao Wan) Plum Flower Brand
This formula has been modified from the classical formula: tonifies heart qi,
nourishes heart yin and blood, soothes the liver, and calms the shen.
Compassionate Sage (Basis: Hu Po Yang Xin Dan) K’an Herbals
Actions: calms, nourishes, and stabilizes spirit; nourishes Heart Blood
Gather Vitality (Basis: Gui Pi Tang) K’an Herbals
Actions: Strengthens Spleen; benefits qi; tonifies Heart; nourishes Blood;
composes spleen Thought; calms Heart spirit; focuses and strengthens
Spleen/Heart communicationDebra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Heart Yin Deficiency
p. 246
Biota Nourishing the Heart Pill (Bai Zi Yang Xin Wan)
Actions: Tonify the Heart, nourish Yin and calm the Mind
Yan Wu
p. 243
Two Yin Brew (Er Yin Jian)
Actions: Nourish yin, downbear fire, quiet the spirit, and stabilize emotions
p. 379
Sour Jujube Decoction (Suan Zao Ren Tang)
Function: Nourishes the blood, calms the spirit, clears heat, and eliminates
Tonifying the Brain Pill (Bu Nao Wan)
Actions: Nourish the Heart and Heart Yin, calm the mind, tonify the
Kidneys, move Blood, open the Mind’s orifices.
Clear Mind (Basis: Bu Nao Wan) K’an Herbals
Actions: Nourishes Heart Yin and Blood, nourishes Liver Blood, clears
heart Phlegm, calms the Shen, nourishes the brain, strengthens the Kidneys,
extinguishes Liver Wind.
Celestial Emperor’s Blend (Basis: Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan) K’an Herbals
Actions: Nourishes yin and blood, tonifies the Heart, calms the Spirit
Rescue Formula (Basis: Gan Mai Da Zao Tang) K’an Herbals
Actions: Nourishes the heart, calms the Spirit, harmonizes the Middle
Burner, nourishes the Liver Yin, relieves Liver Qi depression
Heart Fire
p. 258
Eliminating Redness Powder (Dao Chi San)
Actions: Clears Heart-Fire
Yan Wu Not addressed.
p. 379
p. 382
Zizyphus Seed Formula (Suan Zao Ren Tang)
Actions: Nourishes the blood, calms the spirit, clears heat, and eliminates
Coptis and Ass-Hide Gelatin Decoction (Huang Lian E Jiao Tang)
Actions: Enriches the yin, cause fire to descend, eliminates irritability, and Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
calms the spirit.
Zizyphus Sleep Formula (Basis: Suan Zao Ren Tang) K’an Herbals
Actions: Supplements the Blood, calms the Hun and Shen, clears Heat,
calms irritability, benefits sleep
Phlegm misting the Mind
P. 242
Restoring the Mind Decoction (Gui Shen Tang)
Actions: Opens the Mind’s Orifices, resolves Phlegm, Tonifies Spleen,
Heart and Kidneys.
Yan Wu
p. 242
Qi-Normalizing Phlegm-Abduction Decoction (Shun Qi Dao Tan Tang)
Actions: Rectify qi, resolve stagnation, transform phlegm, and open the
Note: “Prior to administration of this prescription, the prepared medicine
Liquid Storax Pill (su he xiang wan) can first be prescribed to open the
p. 448
Arrest Seizures Pills (Ding Xian Wan)
Actions: Scours out phlegm, opens the sensory orifices, and extinguishes
Pinellia, Atractylodes, Macrocephalae and Gastrodia Pills (Ban Xia Bai
Zhu Tian Ma Wan)
Actions: Tonifies Spleen, dispels damp, transforms phlegm, extinguishes
Phlegm fire harassing the Heart
p. 241
Warming the Gall-Bladder Decoction (Wen Dan Tang)
Actions: Resolves Phlegm-Heat and dampness, calms the mind.
Yan Wu
p. 244
Iron Flakes Beverage (Sheng Tie Luo Yin)
Actions: Settle the heart, transform phlegm, drains the liver, clear fire.Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
p. 386
p. 436
Iron Filings Decoction (Sheng Tie Luo Yin)
Actions: Sedates the Heart, eliminates phlegm, and calms the spirit.
Coptis Decoction to Warm the Gallbladder (Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang)
Actions: Eliminates phlegm, heat, soothes irritability and restlessness, clears
the Gallbladder, harmonizes the Stomach.
Warm Gallbladder Decoction Pills ( Wen Dan Tang Wan)
Actions: Normalizes qi, transform phlegm, harmonizes gallbladder and
Liquid Styrax Pill (Su He Xiang Wan)
Actions: Opens the Orifices
Kidney Qi Deficiency
p. 276
He Che Da Zao Wan (Placenta Great Fortifying Pill)
Actions: Tonification of Essence.
Yan Wu Not addressed
p. 264
Six-Ingredient Pill with Rehmannia (Liu Wei Di Huang Wan)
Actions: Enriches the yin and nourishes the Kidneys “This formula is a
variation of Kidney Qi Pill (shen qi wan) from Essentials from the Golden
Cabinet. The author of this script, Qian Yi, omitted the yang-tonifying herbs
to create a formula for treating Kidney yin deficiency in children
characterized by an open anterior fontanel, lack of spirit, and a shiny, pale
complexion. Because of its elegant and well-balanced formulation, it is
considered to be an exemplary formula.”
“Liuwei Dihuang Wan (Pill of Six Ingredients Headed by Rehmannia; used
for kidney deficiency leading to impaired maturation of infants). The primary
use of Rehmannia Six Formula described by Qian was the treatment the
group of developmental disorders called the five delays: delay in standing up,
delay in walking, delay in growth of hair on the head, delay in development
of the teeth, and delay in speech development. In addition, the formula was
indicated for delay in closure of the fontanels.”
61Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Restore the Left Kidney Pill (Zuo Gui Wan)
Actions: Nourishes Kidney yin, benefits Kidney, nourishes and increases jin,
strengthens tendon and bone.
Restore the Right Kidney Pill (Restore the Right Kidney Pill)
Actions: Tonifies Kidney yang, warms mingmen fire, nourishes Kidney yin,
nourishes blood, benefits jing, strengthens tendon and bone.
Quiet Contemplative (Basis: Liu Wei Di Huang Wan) K’an Herbals
Actions: Nourishes Kidney yin; builds Essence; roots empty Fire
Dynamic Warrior (Basis: Jin Gui Shen Qi Wan) K’an Herbals
Actions: Tonifies and warms Kidney yang; builds Essence; firms Kidney
Essence; roots qi
Miscellaneous Formulas
Acorus Tablets are available from Institute for Traditional Medicine, Portland, OR. The
formula contains acorus, polygala, fu-shen, alpinia, curcuma, raw rehmannia, dragon
bone, dragon teeth, oyster shell, bamboo sap, tortoise shell, and succinum. This formula
is based on studies done in China for treatment of ADD. The emphasis of this patent
formula’s function is to resolve phlegm obstruction.
Cyerus 18 are available from Institute of Traditional Medicine, Portland, OR. This
formula contains cyperus, perilla leaf, bamboo, uncaria, saussurea, bupleurum,
aurantium, fu-shen, pinellia, chih-shih, coptis, ginseng, ophiopogon, tnag-kuei, cnidium,
ginger, arisaema, and licorice.This formula is used to treat mental depression that arose
from the syndrome of heart fire, liver qi stagnation, and poor conductance of food
essence by the spleen, with resultant phlegm obstruction.
Er Chen Wan plus Acorus Tablets
The two formulas are used for those patients that exhibit the need for qi and blood tonics.Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Pediatric Diarrhea Teas from Chinese Medicinal Teas by Zong xiao-Fan and Gary
Pediatric Diarrhea Green Tea (Ying Er Xie Xie Lu Cha)
YunNan Lu Cha,(Green Tea from Yunnan, i.e., Yunnan Folium Camelliae Theae) 1 gram
Method of administration: Grind the tea into a very fine powder. For simple infantile
diarrhea, use 1 gram of tea powder 3 times per day. Stir this into warm water or mother’s
milk. Administer it continuously for 1 –4 days.
Functions: clears heat, disperses food, and stops diarrhea
Indications: This tea is suitable for the treatment of infantile diarrhea due to heat
transformed from stagnant food.
Mugwort & Ginger Tea (Ai Ye Jiang Cha)
Ai Ye, ( Mugwort, Folium Artemiseae Argyii) 6 grams
Sheng Jiang, (Uncooked ginger, uncooked Rhizoma Zingiberis) 2 slices
Method of administration: boil these two ingredients and strain off the liquid. Take this
as a tea.
Functions: Warms the middle and scatters cold
Indication: This tea is suitable for the treatment of cold diarrhea. When cold pathogens
settle in the intestines and stomach, the intestines rumble with abdominal pain, there is
watery diarrhea, and the infant cries and is uncomfortable. After burping, the crying
Umeboshi & Terminalia Stop Diarrhea Tea (Wu He Zhi Xie Cha)
Wu Mei (Umeboshi, Fructus Pruni Mume) 2 grams
He Zi (Fructus Terminaliae Chebulae ) 3 gramsDebra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Method of administration: Rinse these two ingredients well and then steep them in
boiling water in a teacup. Use 1 packet per day. Take the resulting liquid warm, 5-6
does per day.
Functions: Astringes the intestines and stops diarrhea
Indications: This tea is suitable for the treatment of chronic, incessant infantile diarrhea.
In this case, enduring diarrhea has damaged the kidney qi’s securing and stringing
function, remembering that the kidneys govern the anus and urethra and also govern
opening and closing.
Contraindication: This tea is not suitable for infantile diarrhea of only a few days
duration. Otherwise, evil qi may be retained to smolder and fume internally.
Leaky Gut Syndrome
Leaky Gut Syndrome was mentioned on page 5 of this paper under Dr. Jeff Bradstreet’s
list of possible causes of autism. Jake Fratkin, O.M.D. has written an article “Leaky Gut
Syndrome: A Modern Epidemic” for the Great Smokies Diagnostic Lab. Dr. Fratkin
The epithelium on the villi of the small intestine becomes inflamed and
irritated, which allows metabolic and microbial toxins of the small
intestines to flood into the blood stream. This even compromises the liver,
the lymphatic system, and the immune response including the endocrine
system. Leaky Gut Syndrome is often the real basis for chronic fatigue
syndrome and pediatric immune deficiencies.
Dr. Fratkin has addressed the condition of Leaky Gut Syndrome in terms of TCM
herbology. Based on the results from testing done at the Great Smokies Diagnostic Lab,
the levels of Candida are determined. The following herbal formulas are suggested for
Candida levels +3 or below:
Coptic Decoction to Relieve Toxicity (Huang Lian Jie Du Tang)
Huang Liang (Rhizoma coptidis) 9 g.
· Drains fire from the Heart Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
· Drains fire from the middle burner
Huang Qin (Radix Scutellariae) 6 g.
· Clears heat from the upper burner
Huang Bai (Cortex Phellodendri) 6 g.
· Clears heat from the lower burner
ZhiZzi (Fructus Gardeniae Jasminoidis) 6-12 g.
· Drains heat from the three burners through the urine
· Relieves irritability
Actions: Drains fire and relieves toxicity.
The patent formula is available through K’an Herbals Copidetox or Plum Flower Brand
Huang Lian Jie Du Teapills (Huang Lian Jie Du Wan).
Dr. Fratkin’s alternative to the traditional formula is as follows:
Fratkin’s Candida Formula
Atractylodes Bai Zhu 6%
CodonopsisDang Shen 9
Pinellia Ban Xia 9
Coptis Huang Lian 9
Phellodendron Huang Bai 9
Houttuynia Yu Xing Cao 9
Isatis Ban Lan Gen 6
Cinnamomum Rou Gui 6
Amomum Sha Ren 4
Coix Yi Yi Ren 6
Artemisia Yin Chen Hao 6
Poria Fu Ling 9
Melia Chuan Lian Zi 6
Mume Wu Mei 6Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
The intestinal lining repair is the responsibility of the Spleen, says Dr. Fratkin. To
facility the healing process, the following formula is given to encourage this healing
Fratkin’s Intestinal Inflammation Formula
Astragalus Huang Qi 12%
Dioscorea Shan Yao 9
Ginseng Ren Shen 9
Paeonia Chi Shao 9
Glycerrhiza Gan Cao 5
Cimicifuga Sheng Ma 6
Coptis Huang Lian 9
Pulsatilla Bai Tou Weng 9
Benincasa Dong Gua Ren 9
Cyperus Xiang Fu 9
Sanguisorba Di Yu 9
Lotus Lian Zi 5
Other patterns are observed in Leaky Gut Syndrome as mentioned in the outline of
patterns seen in autism. The reader should refer to the formulas suggested in this
presentation as they reflect Dr. Fratkin’s suggestions for Leaky Gut Syndrome.
The last formula suggested for the treatment of autism comes from the concept that
autism is a form of mercury poisoning. This formula comes from a Chinese language
book New Edition of Herb Formulas, translated for this writer by Dr. Jonathan Song.
Treatment of Mercury Poison
Chuan Jiao (Dry-fried) Pericarpium Zanthoxyli (fruit of Szechuan pepper)
Use a few Jin (1 jin = 16 liang, 1 liang = 30 grams, 1 jin = 480 grams)
Spread the dry-fried Chuan Jiao on the patient’s bed. Have the patient sleep on top of the
Chuan Jiao-covered bed overnight without clothes on. This will extract the mercury
from the patient’s body.
Contraindicated in cases of yin deficiency with heat signs.Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
75Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Acupuncture Treatments
The modality of acupuncture to treat children is being used throughout the world,
although it is not as popular as using Chinese herbal remedies. Possibly, it is the parent’s
fear of needles that prevents this modality from being utilized to its potential. One of the
greatest benefits to the patient is that the knowledgeable and versatile practioner works
within all eight branches of Chinese medicine. Within the branches of Chinese
medicine, the practioner has a wide array of “tools” from which to provide a beneficial
course of treatment. The needle-shy patient can benefit from the knowledgeable
practitioner’s skill even without the insertion of the needle. The balancing of qi can be
done without the insertion of the needles; it is the practioner’s intent that can mean the
difference between a mediocre treatment and a great treatment. Medical qi gong
acupuncture, electro-stimulators, tui na, manual point stimulators, and magnets have all
been used to tonify or sedate the acupuncture points. This portion of the presentation will
concentrate on the point selection and acupuncture; it is at the discretion of the practioner
which modality to use in conjunction with the points selected to best serve the patient.
Treating children requires different techniques than those used when treating adults. Two
books have been selected to illustrate these special considerations when treating children,
Acupuncture in the Treatment of Children (pp. 82 –91) and Pediatric Acupuncture (pp.
96 – 111). Both were written by Western practitioners and contain advice to treat
Western children with Chinese medicine. For those readers who have an interest in
treating children, these two books are excellent resources. The following list of
“considerations when treating children” have been gleaned from these two reference
· Avoid Pain
o Young patients need a tender touch. Skillful, painless needling technique
needs to be developed. The practioner should practice needling herself to
better understand the quality of pain supplied by their style of needling. Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
o The practioner’s qi should flow without obstruction. Obstruction causes
pain. The practioner’s qi obstruction can easily disrupt the treatment of
their sensitive, young patients. The practioner should be prepared by
practicing self-enhancing medical qi gong.
· Quick insertion – Quick needle insertion through the skin will bypass the nerve
endings, producing less pain for the patient.
· Needle selection –Seirin® brand and Millennia® brand are the needles of choice
for delicate, tender skin. Seirin® provides a needle guide at the website,
Needle sizes
Acupuncture needles come in various strengths and lengths. The needle used depends on
the type of patient (child or adult) and the area of the body treated (face, ear etc.). The
following table serves as an example:
Body Face Ear
Adults B-type:0,30x30mm
Children C-type:0,25x40mm
Babies C-type:0,16x30mm C-type:0,16x30mm C-type:0,16x30mm
Sport Pyonex large Pyonex small Pyonex middle
Sensitive Patients C-type:0,25x40mm
Millennia® brand and other Chinese style needles can be used with the following
gauge and length suggestions:
Babies age birth to 5 years: 0.5 – 1 inch long, 32 – 34 gauge.
Children age 5 – 12, use 1 inch long, 32 gauge needles. Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Julian Scott and Therese Barlow suggest 32 – 34 gauge needles. Thinner needles
produced more pain and tended to bend easier than the 32 – 34 gauge needles.
· Insertion technique – Be quick and forceful to penetrate the outer layer of skin,
which is packed with nerve endings. If the practioner has no experience with
babies and children, one needs to be acquainted with these “bundles of wiggles,
kicks, and squirms.” The skin of children is much different than the skin of
adults, and the insertion techniques when working with adults need to be adjusted
when working with children.
· Further penetration – Once the needle is inserted and the patient stops wiggling,
insert the needle to the desired depth, remembering the cun measurement is
according to the patient’s cun measurement, not the practioner’s.
· Obtaining needle sensation (de qi) – The practioner uses her own intuition when
experiencing the patient’s de qi sensation. The limb will feel heavier or a tingling
sensation will be given from the patient’s body. The patient may cry or be
startled. Explain to the parent and/or the patient that this is normal and is not
necessarily pain, but rather the activation of de qi.
· Tonification and sedation – Manipulate the needle for the desired tonification or
· Needle retention – After manipulation the needle is withdrawn. There is no need
for retention of the needle for patients under the age of 10.
· Point selection – The young patients have insufficient channel and point function.
It is more of the intention of the practioner than the selection of points that
produces a fruitful treatment.Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
· Number of points – Infants should receive no more than 4 needles (2 points
bilaterally). Older children may receive up to 6 needles per treatment. The
exception is the treatment of paralysis in children.
· Treatment frequency – Acute situations will benefit with treatments every 2
hours. Chronic conditions will benefit the best with daily or every other day
treatments. This is the ideal treatment protocol.
· Moxibustion – Direct moxibustion is not allowed in the state of Wisconsin.
Indirect moxibustion may be used on children when the child is old enough to
inform the practioner when he/she feels the heat.
· Point irritation therapy – The application of herbs on points is an alternative to
needling. Crushed garlic is applied to Li-4 (he gu) for two hours for the treatment
of tonsillitis. Crushed garlic can be applied to Ki-1 to treat nosebleeds.
· Problems
o Parents fear the needles – Parents need to be reassured that the treatment
will not be harmful or painful to their child. Offer to needle the parent to
calm their fears.
o Child fears the needles – There are some children (and adults) who are
extremely afraid of any type of needle. No form of coaxing will allow the
practioner to needle the child. In this instance, find an alternative to
needling. Remember, it’s the intent that produces the superior treatment.
o Wiggly child – The parent needs to be in control of the child to prevent
needle injury. Have the parent hold the child on their lap and hold the
limbs securely to prevent injury. An adult should accompany all children
under the age of 18 at all times.Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Alternatives to needles
· Tui Na – The skillful practioner trained in tui na can deliver an excellent
treatment alternative to needling.
· Point locator/stimulators “Tickle machines” – This hand-held unit locates the high
energy level of the points and with a push of a button, the practioner stimulates
the point. The mild “tickle” feeling of the activation provides a stress-free
· Laser Therapy – Laser pens are mobile units that deliver a high-energy,
concentrated light treatment. The therapy is painless and provides an adequate
· Electro-stimulator with magnets – The practioner strategically places the North or
South pole of the magnet on a point and securing the electo-stim lead to the
magnet with tape. This practioner strongly advises against the use of magnets as
a treatment alternative but needs to mention the therapy as suggested in the
reference books.
Point selection using the 2 point, bilateral treatment protocol
Spleen Disharmonies – use reinforcing method
St-36 (Zusanli) (alternative name: Gui Xie Ghost Evil)
He-sea point, earth point on the Foot Yang Ming channel, command point of the
abdomen and Heavenly Star point
St-36 is the strongest point in the body for general tonification. The power of St-36 pulls
energy inward and downward. It frees stagnation, courses the qi, regulates stomach Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
functions, regulates constipation (when combined with Sp-15) or diarrhea (when
combined with St-25), dispels dampness and calms the mind (as indicated in it’s
alternative name). If the practioner does not feel comfortable needling abdominal points
on infants or children, treat the points with moxibustion.
Combine with:
Sp- 6 (Sanyinjiao) with St-36 is “the vitamin pill” treatment: tonifies qi and blood and
supplements Spleen and Stomach Qi. Sp- 6 resolves dampness due to Spleen Qi
deficiency, calms the spirit, and harmonizes all functions of the Spleen.
St-40 (Feng Long) is used for all phlegm conditions of the body and especially useful in
treating phlegm disruptions of the Heart. St-40 is the Luo connection point of the Foot
Yang Ming channel making a connection between the interior-exterior related channels of
Foot Yang Ming and Foot Tai Yin (Spleen), thereby strengthening the treatment of the
Spleen. Phlegm is an excess condition, which requires a sedation method.
Li-11 (Qu Chi) is the he-sea point of the Foot Yang Ming channel and St-36 is the He Sea
of the Arm Yang Ming channel. St-36 and Li-11 are combined to create a total body
tonification. Remember, “Yang Ming is full of qi and full of Blood.”
CV-6 (Qi Hai) supplements the original qi of the body. CV-6 fosters the pre-heaven qi
and St-36 fosters the post-heaven qi.
CV-12 (Zhongwan) is the Front-Mu point of the Stomach and the Hui-meeting point of
the Fu organs. Use CV-12 and St-36 to tonify the Spleen and Stomach.
GV-26 (Ren Zhong) is named one of the 13 Ghost Points by Sun Si-miao. It is an
important point to restore consciousness and equally important to calm the spirit.
Sp-3 (Taibai) is the Earth point, Shu-stream point, and the Yuan-source point on the Foot
Tai Yin channel and has a strong function of tonifying the qi of the Spleen and Stomach. Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
UB-20 (Pishu) is the back-shu point of the Spleen. Back-shu points deeply tonify their
associated zangfu organ especially with the Yuan-source points of the yin channels; in
this case, combine UB-20 with Sp-3.
UB-21 (Weishu) ) is the back-shu point of the Stomach. Back-shu points deeply tonify
their associated zangfu organ.
Ht-7 (Shenmen) is the premier point to calm and regulate the spirit. Ht-7 is the Shustream, Yuan-source point, and Earth point of the Hand Shao Yin channel. The shustream points have a profound affect on diseased zang organs.
Heart Disharmonies use reinforcing method
Ht-7 (Shenmen) is the premier point to calm and regulate the spirit. Ht-7 is the Shustream, Yuan-source point, and Earth point of the Hand Shao Yin channel. The Shustream points of the yin meridians have a profound affect on diseased zang organs. Ht-7
nourishes Heart Blood.
Combine with:
UB-15 (Xinshu) is the back-shu point of the Heart. Combine the Yuan-source point and
the either the back-shu or front-mu point for tonification of the associated organ.
CV-14 (Ju Que) is the front-mu point of the Heart and is the primary point to treat
disorders of the Heart due to phlegm, stagnation, blood deficiency or yin deficiency.
UB-20 (Pishu) is the back-shu point for the Spleen, which is the source of Blood
UB-17 (Geshu) is the Hui-meeting point for Blood. Use moxibustion at this point to
tonify the Blood and/or combine UB-17 with any of the other back-shu points to treat the Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Blood of the associated organ. To tonify Heart Blood, combine UB-17 with UB-15. To
encourage the production of blood, combine UB-17 with UB-20. Use a dispersing
method to cool Blood Heat. UB-17 and Ht-7 tonifies Heart Blood.
St-40 (Feng Long) is used for all phlegm conditions of the body and especially useful in
treating phlegm disruptions of the Heart. Phlegm is an excess condition, which requires
a sedation method.
Ht-8 (Shaofu) is the ying-spring point and fire point on the fire channel. Its actions are to
clear heat from the Heart, be it deficiency heat, full heat, or heat with Phlegm. Use
dispersing method for heat patterns.
Sp-6 (Sanyinjiao) calms the spirit and nourishes the yin, since it is the meeting point of
the three yin channels of the leg. Combine Ht-7 and Sp-6 to nourish yin and calm the
PC-7 (Daling) is the Yuan source point, and Shu-stream point of the Hand Jue Yin
channel. It has the ability to clear Heart heat, nourish Heart Blood, just like Ht-7 with the
additional function opening the Heart orifices. This point would be an alternative to Ht-
Kidney Disharmonies – use reinforcing method
UB-23 (Shenshu) is the back-shu point of the Kidneys. This point alone will strengthen
Kidney essence.
Combine with:
Kid-3 (Taixi) is the Yuan source point, and Shu-stream point of the Foot Shao Yin
channel and treats both Kidney yin and yang. The Yuan-source/back-shu point
combination is extremely strong to strengthen the Kidney.Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
UB-15 (xinshu) is the back-shu point of the Heart. The Mind is stored the Heart and the
Essence is stored in the Kidney. The Mind and Essence have the same root. UB-23 and
UB-15 will provide support for the Mind and Essence.
Du-4 (Mingmen) reinforces Yuan-source qi and strengthens Kidneys. Du-4 and UB-23
are on the same vertebral level (below the spinous process of the second lumbar
vertebra). Together, these points supplement Kidney qi and essence.
CV-6 (Qihai) tonifies and regulates qi of the whole body. The building of Kidney qi
comes from the use of CV-6 with UB-23.
CV-4 (Guanyuan) nourishes the original qi of the body, yin, blood, and Kidney Essence.
UB-23 and CV-4 are two excellent points to nourish Kidney Essence and Kidney Qi.
Chong Mai Disharmony
Sp-4 (Gongsun) is the master point of the Chong Mai. One of the functions of the chong
mai is the Heart’s functioning on the physical and spiritual level. Accessing the power of
the extraordinary vessel of the Chong Mai may regulate disharmonies of the spirit.
PC-6 (Neiguan) is the couple point used with Sp-4, the master point of the Chong Mai.
In itself, PC-6 has the functions of regulating the Heart and calming the spirit, regulating
qi. PC-6 has a dual function of regulating the physical function of the Heart as well as
the spiritual functions, such as calming the spirit and treating emotional disorders.
Lingering Pathogen
TW-5 (WaiGuan) is a luo-connecting point of the Hand Shao Yang channel and the
master point of the yang wei mai. TW-5 has the capability to expel pathogen stuck in the
Shao Yang channel. A pathogen can be lodged in between the exterior and interior
WithDebra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
GB-41( Zulinqi) is the Shu-stream and wood point of the Foot Shao Yang channel and the
couple point of the yang wei mai. Combining Foot and Hand Shao Yang points is an
elegant balancing of points: balancing hand and foot, top to bottom, Shao Yang to Shao
Yang. The points are used bilaterally to expel hidden pathogens.
TW-5 (Zhigou) clears heat and has the ability to expel a pathogen from the body.
Du-14 (Dazhui) “This is an important point to use as it is particularly effective in
clearing chronic, “hidden”, and lingering Heat.”
The two points expel pathogenic heat
from deep within the body.
Simple, General Immune Tonification Protocol for Children from Pediatric
Acupuncture by May Loo
· St –36 (Zusanli) is the most frequently used overall immune point
· Li –4 (Hegu) if used together with St-36
Shu points associated with Wei Qi production and movement
· UB-13 (Feishu) Lung Shu
· UB-18 (Ganshu) Liver Shu
· UB-20 (Pishu) Spleen Shu
· UB 21 (Weishu) Stomach Shu
· UB-23 (Shenshu) Kidney Shu
Outer Bladder Points from The Practice of Chinese Medicine
· UB-42 (PoHu) Window of the Corporeal Soul
“This point, in correspondence with UB-13 (Feishu) Back-Transporting point of
the Lungs, strengthens and roots the Corporeal soul in the Lungs. It calms the
Mind and settles the Corporeal soul to make the person turn inwards and be
comfortable with oneself.”
75Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
· UB-44 (Shentang) Hall of the Mind
“This point, in correspondence with UB-15 (Xinshu) Back-Transporting point of
the Heart, strengthens and calms the Mind. It stimulates the Mind’s clarity and
intelligence. If left in a long time (over 15 minutes) it calms the Mind and clears
· UB-47 (Hunmen) The Door of the Ethereal Soul
This point is level with the (Ganshu) UB18 and is used to settle and root the
Ethereal Soul in the Liver. “It strengthens the Ethereal Soul’s capacity of
planning, sense of aim in life, life-dreams, and projects. It is a “door”, so this
point facilitates the “coming and going” of the ethereal should and Mind, i.e.
relationships with other people and the world in general.”
· UB-49 (Yishe) Hut of the Intellect
“This point, in correspondence with UB-20 (Pishu) Back-Transporting point of
the Spleen, strengthens the Intellect, clears the Mind and stimulates memory and
concentration. It also relieves the Mind and Intellect of obsessive thoughts,
brooding, mentally going round in circles.”
· UB-52 (Zhishi) Room of the Will Power
“This point, in correspondence with UB-23 (Shenshu) Back-Transporting point of
the Kidneys, strengthens will-power, drive, determination, and the capacity of
pursuing one’s goals with single-mindedness, spirit of initiative and steadfastness.
I often use this point, if there is a Kidney deficiency, in combination with one of
the above points, as a solid mental-emotional foundation for the other aspects of
the psyche.”
Jin’s Three Needle Technique
Professor Jin Rui of the Guangzhou University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, P.R.C.
has created a multitude of acupuncture point combinations based on over 20 years of Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
clinical research and observation. The complete set of point combinations is available to
practioners via Professor Jin’s CD-video, “Jin’s Three Needle Technique.” Three of
these point combinations may be beneficial in the treatment of autism.
The 3 Points for Intelligence
These three points are GB-13(Benshen)bilateral and Du-24 (Shenting).
Professor Jin Rui says “all points on the head are capable of treating headaches, dizziness
and delirium. Of all those points there are only 6 points that have shen (spirit) or nao
(brain) in the characters of the name of that point. There are only five on the front of the
skull. Du-24 (Shenting) and GB13 (Benshen) are capable of treating those of low
intelligence, frontal headaches, and even eye disease. These 3 points are situated on the
forehead lobe of the brain and are capable of healing intellectual difficulties as well as
those of the shen (spirit).
The 4 Spirit Points
The four points are located 1.5 cun from Du-20 (Baihui), front, back, and sides –
needled outward.
The traditional points located 1 cun from Du-20 are called Sishencong. Professor Jin Rui
has done extensive clinical research comparing the affects of his 4 Spirit Points with
Sishencong. The use of 4 Spirit Points is more affective when treating metal retardation,
impediments to consciousness and headaches than the use of Sishencong.
The 3 Points to Stabilize the Shen
Point 1 is located 0.5 cun above Yintang (extra).
Points 2 and 3 are located 0.5 cun above Yangbai (GB-14).
Professor Jin Rui states: “This technique is useful for those whose minds are not at ease,
thus lacking the attention span to concentrate or who suffer from ocular trembling or
vertigo because for such patients, the simple task of acquiring a new skill through study is
nearly impossible. Points are needled .5 cun above Yintang and GV14 because there is a
relationship between the inability to concentrate one’s attention and the ophthalmic Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
nerve. Following the treatment, youths who have been needles with these points
displayed a greater ability to calm down and learn. When one spoke with a child after
treatment, the child was able to look at the practioner. Before the needling, the child was
able to answer a question, but the eyes were off on a tangent making conversation nearly
81Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Other Modalities
Auricular Therapy
Yan Wu and Warren Fischer’s book, Practical Therapeutics of Traditional Chinese
Medicine provides a protocol for treatment of Dian Kuang (mania and withdrawal)
using auricular therapy points.
Main Points:
· Heart –Tranquilizes the heart and eases the mind, regulates ying-blood, relieves
pain and itching.
· Subcortex – Reinforces marrow and replenishes brain, relieves pain and eases the
· Kidney – Reinforces Kidney and promotes hearing, strengthens bone and fills up
· Occiput – Sedates and analgesic eases the mind and removes wind.
· Forehead – Sedates
· Ear Shen Men – Sedates, eases the mind, relieves pain, clears heat.

Method: “Select three or four points per session and needle to elicit a mild sensation for
depressive patterns and a strong sensation for manic patterns. Retain the needles for
thirty minutes.”
A variation of the above ear points was used in a case study of 86 cases of autism. The
case study, “Ear-pressing in Treating Autism: Observation of 86 Cases” was reported in
the International Journal of Clinical Acupuncture, Vol. 11, No. 2, 2000. The study took
place at the Department of Rehabilitation for the Mentally Handicapped, Yuhua Hospital,
Nanjing Municipality, Jiangsu Province. The subjects of the study involved 63 males and
23 females, with the age ranging from 1.5 to 14 years. The study states the use of
vaccaria segetalis seeds with tape on the selected auricular points is a painless therapy,
one that is easily accepted by the pediatric patients.Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
The course of treatment was 10 sessions with the application of ear seeds 2 – 3 times per
week, alternating ears each treatment. Great care was observed in the treatment
preparation to avoid infection of the auricle. 75% alcohol was used to swab the selected
ear. After application of the ear seeds, the parents were instructed to stimulate the points
by pressing the seeds 3 – 4 times per day, eliciting a sensation of slight discomfort or
distention in the auricle. After 2- 3 days, the tape and seeds were removed and after a
few hours, the next treatment was performed on the alternate ear. To allow proper blood
circulation to the ear, the clinician allowed for the time delay between treatments.
The main points used were Heart, Kidney, Brain spot, Shenmen, Liver, Spleen,
Endocrine, Subcortex, Occiput, Tongue and Lung. The points on the back of the auricle
used were Upper Ear Root, Root of Ear Vagus, and Insomnia.
The results:
Of the 86 cases of autism, 34 patients had only the original symptom of losing the ability
to speak, 27 had the original symptom of only able to pronounce a single sound, and 25
were able to speak in single sentences.
After 1 ½ year s of treatment with ear-pressing, 26 patients were able to learn from others
the single sound or call their parents, 46 patients improved clearly with increased ability
in speaking, questioning, and singing songs for children.
71 of the 86 patients had the original symptom of unable to focus their eyes on people
smoothly. The patients improved with increased smiles, responding to calling, following
instructions given by parents, and expressing emotions.
53 of the 86 patients had the original symptom of being unsociable to other people. After
the treatments, 31 patients displayed affection to their parents, played “peek-a-boo” with
people and shake hands with other children.Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
31 of the 86 patients had the original symptom of obsessive preoccupation with objects or
the preoccupation with repetitive body movements. After a half year of treatments, the
overall improvements were as follows: 30 patients improved in 3 or 4 categories, 23
patients improved in 1 – 2 categories, and 33 patients showed no improvement.
89Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Tongue Acupuncture
The University of Hong Kong performed a study on the effectiveness of treating autistic
children using tongue acupuncture. The study was headed by Professor Virginia (Chunnei) Wong, Doctor in charge of Division of Child Neurology & Developmental Pediatrics
at the University of Hong Kong and Dr. Sun Jieguang, a private practioner in Hong
Kong. Their findings were reported at the XVII World Congress of Neurology, in
London, Jun 17 –22, 2001. “Randomized Control Trial of using Tongue Acupuncture in
Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder” describes the results of a double-blind
randomized controlled trial consisting of 30 children with autism. Their conclusion:
“We observed overall improvement in intellectual quotient and communication abilities
in these children. Even the teachers who were blind did find improvement in children in
terms of behavior, communication skills and also higher intelligent quotient, have more
imagination – draw better, more coherence in their composition and writing up to stories,
and become more initiative.”
Prof. Wong believes tongue acupuncture does not
produce a cure for the disease, but rather changes the manifestation of the disease.
Dr. Sun has been studying the use of tongue acupuncture for the treatment neurological
disorders for over 20 years and has discovered over 40 acupuncture points on the body of
the tongue. Dr. Sun bases his Tongue Acupuncture (TAC) on the Yellow Emperor’s
Classic of Internal Medicine with the principle that the tongue is the meeting place of all
14 meridians.
We hypothesize that there is a “Human Map” in our tongue, which is connected
via rich neural-vascular pathways inside the tongue to different regions of the
brain, especially the cerebellum. Neuro-imaging with PET and functional MRI
has demonstrated the possible role of the cerebellum and other brain region
dysfunctions with ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder). The cerebellum can be
viewed as having its own internal topography, one that is directly linked to the
modulation of emotions and social behavior, thought, language and the ability to
plan. Is autism part of the system dysfunction of the cerebellum and its
connecting pathways?
91Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
As intriguing as this treatment may sound, practioners should not expect to implement
this technique in their own practices. Dr. Sun is keeping the secret of the acupuncture
points to himself and his family, as he is not planning on making his technique public,
teaching only his son. “People have tried to copy me after my visit to the United States
where I gave lecture about my work,” Sun said.
This practioner finds it ironic that Dr.
Sun does not prescribe to the all the theories mentioned in the Yellow Emperor’s Classic
of Internal Medicine:
Yet it is said: Those who have the true wisdom remain strong while those who
have no knowledge and wisdom grow old and feeble. Therefore the people
should share this wisdom and their names will become famous. Those who are
wise inquire and search together, while those who are ignorant and stupid inquire
and search apart from each other.
93Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Treat the Mother to Treat the Child
The Five Element theory goes a step further from figurative to literal in this example of
treatment in children. The Generating Cycle in Five Element theory is that of the mother
element generating the son element. Wood generates Fire, Fire generates Earth, Earth
generates Metal, Metal generates Water, and Water generates Wood. Wood is the
Mother and Fire is the Child, Fire is Mother and Earth is the Child, and so on.
The concept of treating the Mother to treat the Child is borrowed from the Five Element
theory; it is brought from the figurative to the literal application. Julian Scott and
Therese Barlow bring this concept of treating the ill mother to help cure the ill child.
Their example of this application was that of an asthmatic child brought in repeatedly by
his father for treatment. After 10 treatments, the child’s health did not improve. Only
after the mother brought the child in for additional treatments and also received treatment
for her lung condition, did the asthmatic child make improvement.
This practioner suggests a treatment strategy of offering a dual treatment plan for the
mothers and autistic child. The physical, mental, and spiritual well being of the mother,
according to Julian Scott and Therese Barlow, is crucial in the prosperous health of the
During the first years of life a child receives energy from its parents (usually the
mother) to supply any deficiency in time of illness. It is therefore normal for a
mother to feel ill and exhausted when her child is ill. This is clearly seen in
clinical practice, where it is not unknown for the mother to feel benefit from the
treatment of her child even before her child does.
On the other hand, the energy that a mother supplies to her child will reflect the
mother’s imbalances: if the mother is ill, her baby will more easily become ill.
When treating young children, one should therefore always consider the mother
and child as a single unit, each dependent on the other.
95Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
This concept of treating the mother to treat the son can be emphasized by the experience
of Karyn Seroussi’s own health condition and how it echoed her son’s condition. The
following is an excerpt from Karyn Seroussi’s book Unraveling the Mystery of Autism
and Pervasive Developmental Disorder, pp. 118 – 119:
At twenty-three, I was diagnosed with CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) after a
virus that resemble hepatitis. After that, my energy seemed to have been
permanently sapped. Ten years later I still woke up feeling exhausted.
After a chat with Bill Shaw, I decided to ask my gynecologist for a prescription
for oral nystatin, and I carefully avoided all cookies, candy, fruit, and other
sources of sugar that could aggravate a yeast problem.
The first two days were almost unbearable, as my cravings for sugar reached new
heights. I hung in there, imagining that I had a colony of parasites in my body,
causing me to crave the only food that would keep them alive, regardless of its
damage to my well being. However, I was only half joking when I told Alan that
I could knock a kid over in the street for a chocolate bar.
By the third day, the cravings had gone down. At the end of a week I found
myself turning down a slice of birthday cake with genuine disinterest. After a
month, my appetite had decreased, my clothes fit me better, and I felt healthier
than I had in years. My other complaints remained, but my energy level and
feeling of well-being increased noticeably.
I presented this information at the next meeting of the dietary support group I had
started in my living room, which now included about twenty families. I was
surprised to discover that a few of the mothers in the group had also responded
well to an anti-yeast program, and several had also been diagnosed with
something I had never heard of – fibromyalgia syndrome. They explained that Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
FMS was characterized by chronic fatigue and pain. It had been theorized that it
was the second stage of CFS rather than a separate disease.
“Doesn’t this seem like a bit of coincidence?” I asked. “ That fifty percent of this
group has fibromyalgia?”
Kath Terrillion laughed. “Not really,” she said. “FMS is probably an immune
system disorder. They predisposition to it is probably genetic. Our kids must
have the same predisposition, but in their cases it just combined with other factors
to manifest as autism.”
“Wait, I just had a thought,” I said excitedly. “What if the age of onset determines
the ultimate diagnosis? Like, if a whole family has the predisposition, some kind
of “global immune dysfunction syndrome,” and a virus or something is the
trigger, then a one-year-old ends up with autism, a seven-year-old girl gets
ADHD, and an adult gets chronic fatigue?”
There were murmurs of assent, and then I amended by thought. “On the other
hand, I may be oversimplifying. I think that the autistic kids are being much
further impaired by the problem. Maybe autism is the ultimate disease state.
Like, if whatever caused autism happened to an adult, they would probably
get….” I thought hard for a moment, and then was struck by the answer.
“Which is the disorder that Dr. Cade was studying when he first found the urinary
gluten and casein peptides,” Kathy added, following my thoughts.
“In caring for Miles, I admitted to myself that I had probably neglected my own
heath, and I decided to follow up.”
96Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Case Studies
Case Study 1
He was a typical looking teen-aged boy. His facial hair was just starting to sprout,
changing him from a little boy to a gangly, uncoordinated teen. His khaki-colored Boy
Scout shirt was neatly tucked into his blue jeans and his neckerchief was correctly folded
and bound by his hand-carved neckerchief slide, probably carved at one of the many
summer camps he had attended. His rank in his troop was that of Life Scout, one step
shy of the coveted Eagle Scout rank. This merit badge workshop, which he was
attending, was just another stepping stone for him to reach the rank of Eagle.
I watched him as he slouched in the chair, half-listening to the merit badge coach give a
lecture on minerals. The hands-on portion of the Geology Merit badge would be more
interesting for the group, I thought. He sat in a corner by himself. I wondered why. He
dozed off during the lecture and the other boys whispered and giggled (yes, boys can
giggle) at the sight of him sleeping. When it was time for the hands-on portion of the
training, he kept to himself, not out of shyness, but as if he was being repelled from the
group, like the positive sides of two magnets repel each other.
He earned his merit badge that day, passing all of the tests and producing all of the
projects just like all of the other boys. His success was just a little bit sweeter because he
has pervasive developmental disorder. Through my years in scouting, I would see this
young man at various district activities: campouts, merit badge workshops, charitable
service projects. He was part of the high adventure portion of scouting also: learning to
scuba dive at the Boy Scouts of America, Florida Sea Base and trekking the mountains of
New Mexico at BSA’s Philmont.
Now that he is in his early twenties, he is no longer a member of a Boy Scout troop. His
parents are still extremely active in all layers of the Boy Scouting hierarchy. Still active
in volunteering, he assists weekly at a local animal shelter and attends classes in animal
care at a local community college. He does not drive so he relies on transportation from Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
his parents and public bussing. An avid reader, he will devour a paperback in a few
evenings. I loaned him an introductory book on Traditional Chinese Medicine, which he
consumed in an evening.
I met with him and his mother one afternoon shortly after he read the book. We talked
for two hours about acupuncture and Chinese herbs. He was ready for a treatment so we
scheduled an appointment for the following week. Everything must be planned and
nothing can be spontaneous in his life.
He arrived at the clinic with his mother. Travel time was longer than they had expected
especially after getting lost on the way to the clinic. My patient was mildly upset with his
mother due to the travel experience but he soon settled down when I started the intake.
History: This 19 year old male has been diagnosed by Western medicine with Pervasive
Developmental Disorder: Not Otherwise Specified (PDD: NOS), ICD-9 code: 299.80).
The patient was born with an electrical conductance disorder of the heart. His only
sibling, a brother, also has PDD: NOS. His mother states the patient has “mind
blindness” and incomplete emotional development; he is emotionally detached from
people. He has “sensory defensiveness.” The patient describes himself as angry. He is
easily “annoyed and disgusted” by people. (He amazes me by casually leaning over to
me and whispers that his mother should be treated, “Treat her too. She’s always so
crabby.” We exchange smiles and he looks at his mother in a teasing way, proud that he
told someone that she is crabby.)
Heat/cold: No preference
Perspiration: Not an issue
Head/Body: Not an issue, no pain
Chest/Abdomen: Not an issue, no discomforts, no pain
Hunger/Thirst: The patient does not eat on a regular schedule, carves chocolate,
and doe not eat a balanced diet, “eats a lot of junk food”. Patient drinks a variety of
liquids: water, juices, and soda. Patient has no preference for hot or cold drinks.
Urination/Stool: Patient does not have urination or stool disharmonies
Vision/Hearing: Not an issueDebra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Sleep: Patient likes to stay up late (12 am – 1 am), sleeps on the average
of 6 – 8 hours, Occasionally has difficultly falling back to sleep after waking midway of
his sleep cycle.
Reproductive: Not an issue
Constitution: High energy, patient enjoys camping, hiking, working with
animals, especially at his volunteer job at a wild animal shelter. The patient is taking
classes at a local college.
Other issues: The patient has nose bleeds 3 – 4 times per year, frequent bleeding gums,
and currently has a varicose vein in his lower lip, which requires corrective surgery. The
patient is allergic to penicillin and is on a variety of medications, of which were not
divulged by him or his mother during the interview. The patient was mildly upset with
some of the questions and argued with his mother during questioning. He was especially
upset about talking of the possibility of surgery to his lip.
Tongue: Red body, rough edges, and indented tip; Difficult to protrude; White coating.
Pulse: Slippery, irregular. Rate: 60
Assessment: Heart Qi Deficiency, Spleen Qi Deficiency, Kidney Qi Deficiency, Liver Qi
Plan: Tonify Heart, Spleen, and Kidney Qi, Disperse Liver Qi, Calm Shen
Points selected with reinforcing method:
UB-15 Back-shu point of the Heart- (Xinshu) Heart Shu
Tonifies and nourishes the Heart, regulates Heart qi, calms the spirit,
unbinds the chest and resolves blood stasis, clears heart fire
UB-44 Outer-shu point of the Heart (Shentang) Hall of the Mind
“This point, in correspondence with UB-15 (Xinshu) Back-Transporting
point of the Heart, strengthens and calms the Mind. It stimulates theDebra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Mind’s clarity and intelligence. If left in a long time (over 15 minutes) it
calms the Mind and clears Heart-Fire.”
UB-23 Back-shu of the Kidney (Shenshu) Kidney Shu
Tonifies the Kidneys and fortifies yang, Benefits essence, Nourishes
Kidney yin, Firms Kidney qi
UB-52 Outer-shu point of the Kidney (Zhishi) Residence of the Will
“This point, in correspondence with UB-23 (Shenshu) Back-Transporting
point of the Kidneys, strengthens will-power, drive, determination, the
capacity of pursuing one’s goals with single-mindedness, spirit of
initiative and steadfastness. I often use this point, if there is a Kidney
deficiency, in combination with one of the above points, as a solid mentalemotional foundation for the other aspects of the psyche.”
Ht-5 (Tongli) Penetrating the Interior
Calms the spirit, regulates heart rhythm
PC-6 (Neiguan) Inner Pass
Regulates qi, regulates the Heart and calms the spirit
St-36 (Zusanli) Leg Three Mile
Fortifies the Spleen, calms the spirit
Sp-6 (Sanyinjiao) ThreeYin Intersection
Combined with St-35 tonifies Spleen and Stomach, calms the spirit
Intersection of the Spleen, Liver and Kidney
Li-4 (Hegu) Joining Valley
Command point of the face and mouth – used for this patient’s mouth painDebra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Kid-3 (Taixi) Supreme Stream
Nourishes Kidney yin, tonifies Kidney yang, anchors the root of Liver and
Patient’s response: “Feels good.”
The patient returned for two more treatment, and encouraged his mother to receive a
treatment for her diabetes. The patient and his mother declined herbal treatment and
nutritional counseling. The patient and his mother discontinued treatments at the school
clinic due to the lengthy drive (45 minutes one way). The family will consider treatments
when this practioner has a private practice.
Personal notes: The opportunity to work with this patient was a great experience.
Observing this young man for a few years at various activities in scouting helped this
practioner relate to him when he came in for treatment. The rapport with this patient
developed with mutual interests in scouting and the patient’s curiosity in Chinese
medicine. It is essential to develop a trust between patient and practioner prior to the
treatment. This trust was made evident when the patient confided in the practioner that
his mother needed a treatment too. The trust was gained before the insertion of the
needles.Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
Case Study from China – November, 2002
How can I ever forget the scene in the hallway of the second floor acupuncture floor of
the GuangZhou University First Affiliated Hospital? Plastic, turquoise chairs lined the
window-side of the hallway; treatment tables lined the treatment-room side. Mothers,
fathers, and grandparents would be seated in the chairs holding their infant or toddler
waiting patiently for the student-interns and doctors to begin the treatments. The older
children would be seated next to their caregiver. The adults would swab down all the
body parts of the children with alcohol: scalp, under the chin, arms, hands, legs, feet.
Some of the children reacted before the needles came with screams and shrieks. Tears
flowed; parents talked calmly, some loudly to the children to calm down. Other parents
slapped the children to curb their resistance.
Then the needling began. The student-interns quickly inserted needles: Kid-1, PC-8, St-
36, Sp-6, Ki-3, TW-5, Li-4, Jin’s Three Needle Technique Points (the four spirit points,
the 3 points for intelligence, the 3 points to stabilize the shen, 3 points for aphasia, 3
needles for intelligence). The treatments varied by individual. After the interns finished
the body points, the doctor would insert the scalp needles – quick thrust and a bit of
stimulation. Some patients received elecro-stim, others received moxa cones attached to
the needles. Windows were wide open to ventilate the profusely smoking moxa. Tears
began to dry, sobs began to stop, screams diminished. The adults sang songs to the
children, made them giggle, stroked the areas that had no needles. The children looked
like little pincushions. Some children talked and smiled others moaned with soft
whimpers. Treatments lasted 45 minutes to 1-½ hours. This was the treatment for the
Five Delays (crawling, walking, talking, holding head up, thinking) or The Five Soft
Syndrome (soft head, soft arms, soft legs). The patients received treatments 2 –3 times
per week for weeks to months. I asked a student-intern if the treatment worked. She said
the treatments usually took 2 – 3 years before the patients were strong again – it all
depended on the child.
After the parents pulled the needles, the student-interns reappeared with Seven-star
hammers for treatments along the back shu points and Hua To Jia Ji points: up and down Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
the spine from the base of the skull to the coccyx. The patients were also given Lui Wei
Di Huang Wan herbal formula to build essence. The babies were carried out, some older
children with atrophy were carried out too, and the ambulatory walked out waving and
smiling to the student-interns and doctors.Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
My Best Treatment for Autism
The signs and symptoms of autism leads the practitioner to the basic assessment of
Spleen Qi Deficiency, Heart Qi Deficiency, Kidney Qi Deficiency with Phlegm
Accumulation or a combination of such.
The treatment plan is a combination of the following: Transform Phlegm, Clear Heart
Fire, Open the orifices, Tonify Spleen Qi, Nourish Heart Blood and Yin, Secure Kidney
Essence, and Quiet the Spirit.
Best Diet/Five Element Nutrition
Successfully, parents have treated their autistic children with diet therapy. The book
Special Diets for Special Kids is a profoundly wise collection of diet modification and
recipes that reflect the Five Phase Nutrition recommendations for patients with phlegm
accumulation due to Spleen Qi Deficiency. There is hardly a better guide that provides
healthy choices for the autistic child. The book wasn’t written with the background of
Five Phase Nutrition but the recommendations in this book mirrors these teachings. To
successfully treat autism using Five Phase Nutrition, the goal is the elimination of
phlegm. This guidebook does exactly that.
Best Herbal Therapy
Dr. Majebe’s years of experience working with autistic children has produced two
exceptional formulas. The formulas are available in an easy-to-administer tincture form.
Dr. Majebe’s Excess Pattern Autism Formula available in tincture
· Shi Chang Pu (Rhizoma Acori Graminei)
· Yuan Zhi (Radix Polygalae Tenuifoliae)
· Tian Zhu Huang (Concertio Silicea Bambusae)
· Qian Shi (Semen Euryales Fericus).
· Long Chi (Dens Draconis)
· Huang Lian (Rhizoma Coptidis)Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132
· Suan Zao Ren (Semen Ziziphi Spinosae)
· Dan Zhu Ye (Herba Lopthatheri Gracili)
· Yu Jin (Tuber Curcumae)
Dr. Majebe’s Deficiency Pattern Autism Formula available in tincture
· Shi Chang Pu (Rhizoma Acori Graminei)
· Yuan Zhi (Radix Polygalae Tenuifoliae)
· Tian Zhu Huang (Concertio Silicea Bambusae)
· Qian Shi (Semen Euryales Fericus)
· Long Chi (Dens Draconis)
· Bai Zhu (Rhizoma Atractylodis macrocephalae)
· Tian Nan Xing (Rhizoma Arisaematis)
· Bei Xie (Rhizoma Dioscoreae)
· Bai Zi Ren (Semen Biotae Orientalis)
· Xi Yang Shen (Radix Panacis Quinquefolii)
· Chuan Xiong (Radix Ligustici Wallichii)
Best Acupuncture Point Combination
St- 40, St-36, UB- 15, UB-21, UB-23, Ht-7
The combination of these points succeeds in transforming phlegm, tonifying Spleen,
Heart, and Kidney Qi, and Quieting the Spirit. The practioner uses the sedation method
in treating the excess of phlegm and calming the spirit and the reinforcing method when
tonifying the organs.Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132

Karyn Seroussi, Unraveling the Mystery of Autism and Pervasive Developmental
Disorder, (New York: Broadway Books, 2000), p. 126.

Thomas Fields-Meyer, “The Secret Sharer,” People Magazine, (December 23,
2002), p. 99.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Facts About Autism, Available May 12,
2003, http://www.cdc.gov/nip/vacsafe/concerns/autism/autism-facts.htm.

California Department of Developmental Services, Autism Spectrum Disorders:
Changes in the California Caseload – An Update: 1999 to 2002, April 2003, Available
May 15, 2003, www.dds.ca.gov/Autism/pdf/AutismReport2003.pdf, Table 3, p. 8.

Michael D. Powers, ed., Children with Autism: A Parents’ Guide 2
(Bethesda, MD: Woodbine House, 2000), p. 9.

Jeff Bradstreet, “Overview of Autism/PDD The Clinical Evaluation and
Research Treatment Options,” Available May 16, 2003, http://www.gnd.org/.

Stephen M. Edelson, “Fragile X Syndrome,” Autism Research Institute, Available
May 13, 2003, http://www.autism.com.

The Tuberous Sclerosis Association, Available May 16, 2003, http://www.tuberoussclerosis.org/publications/tsc.shtml.

Clayton L. Thomas, ed., Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary 18
(Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Company, 1997), p. 1698.

Sallie Bernard, et. al., “Autism: A Novel Form of Mercury Poisoning,” July 2000,
Available December 20, 2002, http://reform.house.gov/mercury_paper.htm.

Center for Disease Control, “Availability of Thimerosal-free Vaccines,” Available
April 7, 2003, http://www.cdc.gov/nip/vascsafe/concerns/thimerosal/faqs-availfree.htm.

Brian Vastag, “Thimerosal Provision Repealed,” Journal of the American Medical
Association, Vol. 289 No. 5, February 5, 2003, Available April 7, 2003, http://jama.amaassn.org.

Teresa Binstock, “Immune Panels for Autism Spectrum Children,” Available May
15, 2003, http://www.jorsm.com/~binstock/tests.htm.Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132

Bernard Rimland, “Parent Ratings of Behavioral Effects of Biomedical
Interventions,” Autism Research Institute, Publ. 34, April 2002, Available May13, 2003,

Mary Cissy Majebe, “Chinese Medicine and Autism,” The Journal of Chinese
Medicine, No 66, June 2001, p. 7.


Zhu Ming, trans. The Medical Classic of the Yellow Emperor, (Beijing: Foreign
Language Press, 2001), p. 126.

Julian Scott and Teresa Barlow, Acupuncture in the Treatment of Children,
(Seattle, WA: Eastland Press, 1999), p. 3.

Ibid, p. 4.

Ilza Veith, The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, Berkeley, CA:
University of California Press, 1972), p. 208.

Giovanni Maciocia, The Practice of Chinese Medicine, (New York, NY: Churchill
Livingstone, 1994), p. 200.

Ibid, p. 201.

May Loo, Pediatric Acupuncture, (China: RDC Group Ltd. for Churchill
Livingstone, 2002), p. 10.

Scott, p. 5.

Bob Flaws, Chinese Medical Psychiatry, (Boulder, CO: Blue Poppy Press, 2001),
p. 95.

Yan Wu and Warren Fischer, Practical Therapeutics of Traditional Chinese
Medicine, (Brookline, MA: Paradigm Publications, 1997), p. 241.

Scott, p. 4.

Ming, p. 126.

Joanne M. Bartelmo, et. al., ed., Springhouse Nurse’s Drug Guide, 4
(Springhouse, PA: Springhouse Corporation, 2002), p. 154.

Ibid, p. 976.

Z’ev Rosenberg, “A Chinese Look at Western Pharmaceuticals,” available May
19, 2003, http://acupuncture.com/Herbology/Pharm.htm.Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132

Loo, p. 146.


Andrew J. Wakefield, et. al., “Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific
colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children,” The Lancet, Vol. 351, No.
9103, February 28, 1998, Available May 22, 2003: http://www.thelancet.com.

Seroussi, p. 196.

Ming, p. 129 – 130.

Veith, p. 220.

Majebe, p. 10.

Ming, p. 226.

Vieth, p. 222.

Ming, p. 259.

Majebe, p. 7.

Autism Network for Dietary Intervention, Available May 19, 2003:

Zhang Yu Huan and Ken Rose, Who Can Ride the Dragon?, (Brookline, MA:
Paradigm Publications, 1999), p. 53.

Loo, p. 144.

Lisa Lewis, Special Diets for Special Kids, (Arlington, TX: Future Horizons Inc,
1998), p. 90.

Ibid, p. 89.

Bob Flaws, The Tao of Healthy Eating, (Boulder, Co: Blue Poppy Press, 1998), p.

Paul Pitchford, Healing with Whole Foods, (Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books,
1993), p. 305.

Ibid. p. 302.

Ibid. p. 293.Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132

Ibid. p. 295.

Ibid. p. 318.

Ibid. p. 273.

Ibid. p. 298.

Ibid, p. 325

Ted J. Kaptchuk, K’an Herbals – Formulas by Ted Kaptchuk, O.M.D., (San
Francisco: Andrew Miller Publisher, 1999), Chapter 1, p. 26.

Subhuti Dharmananda, “Autism,” Institute for Traditional Medicine, Available
July 19, 2002, http://www.itmonline.org/arts/autism.htm

Majebe, p. 11.

Bensky, p. 264.

Subhuti Dharmananda, “Rehmannia Six Formula: Liuwei Dihuang Wan,”
Institute for Traditional Medicine, Availiable May 28, 2003,

Dharmananda, “Autism.”


Zong Xiao-fan and Gary Liscum, Chinese Medicinal Teas, (Boulder, CO: Blue
Poppy Press, Inc, 1996), p. 200 – 202.



Jake Fratkin, “Leaky Gut Syndrome: A Modern Epidemic,” Available May 15,
2003, http://www.drjakefratkin.com/pdf/lgs.pdf .

Bensky, p. 78



Xiang Wao Bao/ ZiZao Mei (Qin Dynasty), Herb Formulas, New Edition,
(Beijing: People’s Health Press, 1990), p. 398.Debra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132

Seirin®, Available May 31, 2003,

Maciocia, p. 636.

Loo, p. 157.

Maciocia, p. 228.



Ibid. p. 229.


Professor Jin Rui, “Jin’s Three Needle Technique” Lecture notes taken November
5, 2002, GuangZhou University of Traditional Chinese Medicine.


Cheng Xinnong, ed. Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion, (Beijing: Foreign
Languages Press, 1999), p. 541.

Ibid, p. 539.

Ibid, p. 540.

Ibid, p. 539.


Ibid, p. 537.

Wu, p. 246.

Wen Shao-hua, “Ear-pressing in Treating Autism: Observation of 86 Cases,”
International Journal of Clinical Acupuncture, Vol. 11, No. 2, 2000, p. 111-113.

Virginia Wong, et al. “Randomized Control Trial of using Tongue Acupuncture in
Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder.” Abstract issue date November 12 –15, 2000.
Available June 8, 2003, http://www.iccaom.net/data/2000/hongkong.htmDebra J. Onsager, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Franklin, WI 53132

Virginia Wong, “Can Acupuncture of the Tongue Help Autism?,” Asperger’s
Digest, September – October 2002, p. 25.

Chee-may Chow, “Acupuncture offers hope for brain disorders,” New Sabah
Times, February 21, 2001, Available May 24, 2002,

Veith, p. 121.

Scott, p. 6.


Seroussi, p. 120.


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