Autism: Do Digestive Enzymes Help?

So what are digestive enzymes? Great question. They’re plant or animal proteins that are similar to the enzymes in our human gastrointestinal tract that help us digest the food we eat.

In 2009 the autism research Institute parents survey found that of the 2,350 responses 62% saw a benefit in using digestive enzymes for their child with autism. Digestive enzymes are usually one of the first supplements that are recommended by a healthcare practitioner when trying to heal your child’s autism. Many times they’re even recommended to use before making diet changes. 

And diet changes are one of the first things that any reputable and knowledgeable healthcare practitioner will suggest that you change in order to help heal your child with autism. So digestive enzymes are really important and pivotal in healing your child.

Indications Of Need

So how do you know your child would benefit from digestive enzymes? 

If your child has any gastrointestinal issues, they’re likely going to benefit from digestive enzymes. So if your child has anything like:

  • food sensitivities
  • gut dysbiosis
  • undigested food in the stool
  • increased stool fat content (a real quick and easy way to know if your child has increased stool at content is if their stool floats) 
  • diarrhea or constipation (or actually both)
  • IBS
  • any behaviors associated with GI distress (things like sleep issues, aggressive behaviors or injurious behavior, jumping, etc)

Those are all indications of need for digestive enzymes, and there are really no readily available lab tests to screen which digestive enzymes are needed. So usually a comprehensive digestive enzyme supplement is the best. So we call those broad-spectrum digestive enzyme supplements.

Taking Digestive Enzymes

It’s best to be taken at the beginning of each meal. Enzymes work in the stomach and the small intestines and the enzyme themselves are ventrally digested – just like food. Partially digested food can feed the wrong bacteria in your child’s gut microbiota (basically in the large intestine), and that leads to dysbiosis and inflammation. 

So you really want to be consistent when you’re giving digestive enzymes. Most manufacturers suggest having one digestive enzyme with each meal, but just read the label and follow the manufacturer’s directions. 

And initially, there might be a die-off period. So just be prepared for that.

Digestive Enzymes And Autism

I want to bring your attention to a clinical trial that was done in 2015 it’s a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. So that’s one of the best types of structures of clinical trials that there are. 

And this clinical trial was three months long, which is a decent amount of time to notice a change. There were 101 children with autism that were studied and they were given digestive enzymes, and the results were that there was reported significant improvements in autistic behaviors, emotional response, restrictive repetitive behaviors, and GI symptoms, all with digestive enzyme treatment. 

This study was actually done in Egypt with Egyptian children at an Egyptian hospital, but it involves scientists from Egypt, the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Norway. So there was a lot of expertise put into this clinical trial.

This is the latest scientific fact on digestive enzymes in autism in the high-quality clinical trial showing that digestive enzymes do show significant improvement in autistic behaviors, emotional response, restrictive repetitive behaviors, and GI symptoms.