Food and Behaviour Research

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Ratings of the Effectiveness of Nutraceuticals for Autism Spectrum Disorders: Results of a National Survey

Adams J, Bhargava A, Coleman D, Frye R, Rossignol D (2021) Journal of personalised medicine Aug 31;11(9):878 doi: 10.3390/jpm11090878 

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Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often involves a wide range of co-occurring medical conditions ("comorbidities") and biochemical abnormalities such as oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction.

Nutritional supplements ("Nutraceuticals") are often used to treat both core ASD symptoms and comorbidities, but some have not yet been formally evaluated in ASD. The potential biological mechanisms of nutraceuticals include correction of micronutrient deficiencies due to a poor diet and support for metabolic processes such as redox regulation, mitochondrial dysfunction and melatonin production.

This paper reports on the results of the National Survey on Treatment Effectiveness for Autism, focusing on nutraceuticals. The Survey involved 1286 participants from across the United States. Participants rated the overall perceived benefits and adverse effects of each nutraceutical, and also indicated the specific symptoms changed and adverse effects. From these ratings the top-rated nutraceuticals for each of 24 symptoms are listed.

Compared to psychiatric and seizure medications rated through the same Survey, on average nutraceuticals had significantly higher ratings of Overall Benefit (1.59 vs. 1.39, 
p = 0.01) and significantly lower ratings of Overall Adverse Effects (0.1 vs. 0.9, p < 0.001). Folinic acid and vitamin B12 were two of the top-rated treatments.

This study suggests that nutraceuticals may have clinical benefits and favorable adverse effect profiles.