The Autism Nexus: New Discovery of a Link Between the Gut Microbiome, the Immune System, Brain Dysfunction and Vitamin D and Vitamin D Binding Protein (GcMAF)

I am very proud of our recent work published in the highly regarded Journal of Inflammation.  By clicking on the hyperlink you browser should take you straight to the article which is available for no cost at the journal’s website. Once you are there click on the pdf button (the yellow arrow shows you where to click once you get to the article on the web).  Before you jump to article page let me explain in easier language why this article is so important. It is the first article any of us as authors have written that was accepted without any critique or changes, which means the reviewers thought very highly of it. While that is important, it is only part of the significance of our findings.  It has always bothered me that minor changes on the gut bacteria and yeast (microbiome) could result in wild and crazy changes in a child’s behaviors. While that observation is common among those of us treating the biology of autism, it was actually very difficult to understand mechanistically at the level of the child’s biology, at least until now.

We believe we have uncovered the nexus (intersection) of the observations regarding Vitamin D deficiency, GcMAF observed improvements in behavior, see: , immune dysregulation, brain inflammatory changes (mostly in microglial regulation), and the microbiome.  Briefly, the endocannabinoid system is part of the cell systems that regulate the immune system and the brain. In particular, it seems the CB2R (cannabinoid 2 receptor) reads the background environment of the individual (diet, microbiome, etc) and sets the tone of the immune defenses.  Last year we published the first observations of CB2 dysfunction in autism (J Autism Dev Disord. 2013 Nov;43(11):2686-95. doi: 10.1007/s10803-013-1824-9.). With this follow on work it seems likely that the endocannabinoid system is at the center of the complex biomedical disruptions underpinning the autism epidemic we are observing.  Now for your homework. Go the Journal of Neuroinflammation website and get the entire article. After you read it you can ask you questions. (use the link provided in the first paragraph).


JNI Article facepage

CDC data show continued rise in autism spectrum prevalence for Autism Awareness month



You can download the entire article and go over the statistics for yourself but here are a few of the outstanding observations these data offer us.

1) The ADDM site prevalence has risen to 2.38% of boys and 0.5% of girls, although in figure 4 of the report it goes as high as 2.75% of boys.

2) The median age of diagnosis of autism was 53 months (4 years 5 months).

3) The disorder is diagnosed more frequently in the white non-Hispanic population




You won’t be able to read this chart on your mobile phone very easily, but the data are certainly terrible for our children.

As a background in statistics, 10 case per 1000 in prevalence equals 1%, so the prevalence for both boys and girls combined in the sum of the ADDM areas was: White non-Hispanic 1.58%, Black 1.23%, Asian 1.23%, Hispanic 1.08%.  The overall ratio of boys to girls was 4.76 to 1.

Based on the available scientific literature it is difficult to explain the nearly 5 fold increased risk of ASD observed in the make population. The simplistic observation would be to look at the Y (male) and X (female) chromosomes and see what is happening there.  Very few autism risk factor genes have been identified on either chromosome apart from fragile X which accounts for only a small percentage of ASD cases. This implies some epigenetic (gene-environment) interaction wherein males show more vulnerability than the females. Finding these factors has been elusive, but a new study may give us some clues.


The American Journal of Human Genetics. 94, 415–425, March 6, 2014

This is a complex study, but the apparent observation is that females have significantly higher numbers of small copy-number variants (CNVs) in the DNA (more mutations) but have less risk of autism – meaning being female somehow lends protection to the gene variations and implies males are more sensitive to genetic variations.  As with previous studies these factors are NOT occurring on the sex chromosomes, but rather on the other chromosomes.  They also observed higher levels of neurodevelopmental risk factor genes in the mothers compared to the fathers of the children with ASD, which was again consistent with the view that females tolerate a higher burden of CNVs than males.


The odds ratio of having a neurodevelopmental associated gene CNV was 3 times higher for females than males (15% compared to 5%). However, only 308 of 4482 males (6.87%) tested in this study actually had CNVs detected.  So even this study fails to explain on a genetic basis the genetic risks of autism for the majority of cases.

This leaves us still searching for the combination of genes and environmental factors triggering this incredible and frightening rise in ASD observed in the most recent CDC study. I will be presenting more on this at Autism One in Chicago this year.

Bravo Probiotic – Actually a System for Making a New Ecosystem NOT Merely a Probiotic

One of the frustrating things in dealing with most chronic illnesses is related to the gut ecosystem. TV ads are now extolling the issues of a bad gut ecosystem so the message about gut flora (the protective bacteria of the intestinal track) is getting much more widely accepted. The challenges I have experienced with many patients, however, makes this far more complex than merely popping a few probiotic capsules.

In previous blogs I have written about fecal transplantation or fecal bacteriotherapy (FBT). Recently the FDA warned doctors to not attempt this without FDA approval making it all but impossible these days.  It has been a successful means of changing out a bad ecosystem in the got for a better one and in cases of life-threatening infectious diarrhea it has been published in the medical literature to be life-saving.

But given the impracticality and regulatory barriers, FBT is not a viable option. So what can we do? My choice is now Bravo and you can find it on the web at Bravo is a complex multistrain bacterial fermentation process; it is not merely a probiotic and technically it is a fermented dairy product you make in your kitchen by using their system and culture blends.  And if you have been around natural health very long you know most dairy is an issue for children with autism and many other health issues.  However, tests on Bravo at a major university indicate it does not contain casein and other milk proteins after the bacteria digest the milk in the process of fermentation. In my population of sensitive children it has been very well tolerated.

After answering hundreds of emails about Bravo I decided it may be easier to just post this information with detailed pictures of how I make it for myself.

Bravo Maker

You will need a yogurt maker and I chose this one which I ordered from the internet for about $40 US.  I also ordered extra jars because the standard volumes of yogurt suggested in the instructions yields more than the 7 jars will hold.

bravo 6

Extra jars for the yogurt maker I purchased.  You can get any yogurt maker you like – although Bravo suggests you use one with an automatic shut off.

bravo 1

I suggest you read the instructions all the way through at least once prior to starting the process and make sure you have all the suggested materials you need.  For me it meant a trip to Target to get a thermometer and a medium metal strainer and a other items like glass jars and special sized cooking pot for boiling the milk. The instructions give you a list of all the material you will need. The instructions talk about a smidgen as a unit of measure.  Technically that is 1/32 of a teaspoon and before you get worried the Bravo starter kit includes a smidgen measuring spoon which you can see on the plate next the to ladle spoon.

The US still uses the Imperial measuring system so for many of you the metric units in the instructions require conversion.  So her are a few tips: 1 liter = approximately 4.23 cups.  The instructions ask you to boil 2.5 litters of milk so that is 10.5 cups (actually a bit more so like 10.6) and there are 16 cups to a gallon so that is more than a 1/2 gallon of milk.  I recommend you use a non-homogenized milk but Bravo instructions don’t mind but they want the full fat milk (whole).  I also suggest you use organic milk. You can use cow or goat or sheep but you cannot use non-mammal milk – meaning almond, rice, soy are all NO-NOs.  You do not need to spend the extra money to buy non-pasteurized since you will boil the milk anyway. They suggest you NOT use the ultra-pasteurized milk now common in stores to increase shelf-life.

As you can see there is a bottle of Colostrum in the picture above.  Kirkman sells a high quality colostrum (milk derived) but again no worries. The dose of colostrum is a little tricky.  The initial suggestion is for 8oz (1 cup) of colostrum (not in the instructions) but that makes the yogurt a little runny.  You need to work on this as time goes on but consistency is not that critical to culture results and health benefits. Temperature conversion are in the instructions.

bravo 4

Preheating the yogurt maker and cups without their lids for 2 hours is critical.

bravo 5

In the front is what Bravo calls compound 1 and behind that is compound 2.


I find the taste good without any special flavoring required but then I like real yogurt which is not the sugary stuff we get in the US. You can add honey to it but not until you are ready to serve.  If your child or you are unaccustomed to real fermented food I suggest you go slow and start with small amounts like  a teaspoon and work your way up to large doses.  I suggest adults and teens can have 4 oz a day and medium children 2 oz and little children 1 oz (2 tablespoons are 1 ounce).

Bravo is very responsive to emails so if you have any other questions please contact them about specifics. I hope this is helpful to you all. 

Italian Inspirations for New Therapies for autism – reblogging

Unfortunately my newest blog was accidently deleted in my efforts to learn a new blogging software system (my bad). However it is fresh in my mind and I will take this opportunity to add to it.

Firenze (Florence) was the birthplace of the Renaissance (which in the Italian translation means rebirth) and is an appropriate term for the growing influence of Italy in the research of Autism related disorders. 

First and foremost I must comment on the amazing families who both invited me to Italy and also made the entire trip a huge success (at least from my perspective).  My staff worked long hours to collate  the data and to communicate with the families and especially with Grazia Ciatti who worked amazingly hard to both translate and assist the families in this process.  Professor Marco Ruggiero from the University of Firenze (Florence) graciously contributed to his expertise and new discoveries on GcMAF to the presentations made on the first Saturday of this trip. And without the support of my wife – who both worked with the moms to provide those special touches and supported my efforts and long hours without complain – the trip would have been far less enjoyable.

Ruggiero Lab

Professor Ruggiero in one of his laboratories at the medical school at University of Firenze (Florence).

Ruggiero teaches on GcMAF

Professor Ruggiero was kind enough to present my data to the Italian families (in the Italian language) and together we discussed the ongoing nature of the research and concepts of the autism – immune – brain harmonic linkages.

Ruggiero teaching me about TUS

My time in Italy included hands on training by the professor on the diagnostic process of transcranial ultrasonography – a painless non-invasive technique that can image the temporal lobe with sound waves.


The space between the two plus signs is the temporal (brain) cortical thickness.

J IiME. 6 (1): 23-28, 2012. Transcranial sonography in the diagnosis, follow-up and treatment of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Ruggiero M, Fiore MG, Magherini, S, Esposito S, Morucci G, Gulisano M and Pacini S.

Brain Stimul. 2012 May 29. Transcranial ultrasound (TUS) effects on mental states: A pilot study. Hameroff S, Trakas M, Duffield C, Annabi E, Bagambhrini Gerace M, Boyle P, Lucas A, Amos Q, Buadu A, Badal JJ.


TUS is an emerging treatment for the brain that will require more investigation to evaluate its roll in Autism, however it is another promising modality which will be undergoing development in a collaboration with Ruggiero and our group.


Professors Ruggiero and Pacini (above – also Husband and Wife) collaborated on the creation on a complex strain of multiple bacteria to induce mucosal immune responses similar to GcMAF and to help create a better ecosystem.   A product which is based on their published research is Bravo Probiotic and you can learn more about http://www.bravoprobiotic .com.  The early results from some of my patients throughout the World appear encouraging enough to warrant a formal  clinical study.

Ruggiero and I had some wonderful discussions leading to a plan to implement investigation of a proposed activated form of vitamin D that will have its transport molecule attached.  This will be intriguing and available for testing soon.  More to follow on this.

Florence is an inspirational city with a rich and remarkable history.  The people of Italy were charming and the families I became familiar with made the entire process an unforgettable experience.

Marco Ciatti is the Director of the institute charged with restoration of the amazing artifacts of the country.  Here he kindly is showing my wife (Jennifer) and I the technology used to restore daVinci’s unfinished masterpiece – the Adoration of the Magi. Although uniquely different the science of restoring masterpieces of art is reminiscent of the work we all put in to restoring our children from autism.

roof top view low

With respect and admiration for the city of Florence and the people of Italy.

Parents comment on “AMAZING” changes from new GcMAF protocol.

I met Sergio and his parents one day after the end of the First Immune GcMAF conference in Frankfurt, Germany (also the first conference ever dedicated to GCMAF).  During that conference I had a chance to interact with researchers from around the World and also meet parents from Russia, England and the Middle East. Professor Ruggerio and I had an opportunity to share our data and he demonstrated his ultrasonographic observations of immediate beneficial effects on the brain and vascular system from GcMAF.  Professor Morucci, also from the University of Florence, shared the cell culture results of GcMAF influencing neuronal stem cell development. My collaborator, Professor Siniscalco from the Second University of Naples, also presented some exciting new data on the effects of GcMAF on autistic immune cells.  These combined lectures along with my private conversations with them, inspired me to alter my original protocol for GcMAF therapy. I will be explaining this more in my talks at Autism One in Chicago this weekend.  I encourage you to get there. It is an amazing conference with lots of sharing of information.  I will also be spending 9 days in Italy in June to further our research (I know what your thinking, and yes I intend to enjoy Italy and more importantly – the wonderful Italian friends and colleagues I have come to know).

I am just now hearing back from the parents after the first month of treatment.  This is an example of a common response.

“Dr. Bradstreet,

Following up on our call today, we wanted to give you some feedback on Sergio’s progress with GcMAF. We started on 4/22/13 at your office, and are doing shots twice a week. We just finished our fourth week.

Sergio was diagnosed with high functioning autism 3 years ago. He is 5 years old now and will be going to Kindergarten this next school year. His mayor struggles have been language, socializing, and extreme rigidity, needing to have full control of decisions, situations, demands, etc.

We started seeing improvement right away with his language after a couple of shots. IT IS ABSOLUTELLY AMAZING!!! Overall we are seeing Sergio more present. He now often responds to questions the first time and using HIS OWN LANGUAGE, not just yes or no. This is huge for us. He is picking and using his own words in a correct way, not just using simple words or repetitive phrases.

Prior to GcMAF, we always had to repeat ourselves several times before he would pay attention to us. Now is, “good morning, Sergio” and he replies right away, “good morning, mommy, daddy”. Also, “Sergio, how are you?” before after several times he would say just ok. Now he replies “I am fine, mommy”. He is playing with his toys and narrating what is happening in his pretend play. He is also playing more with his sister. Just Sunday he wanted to play hide and seek and was asking me to play with him and his sister. The habit for me is to help him with his phrases. I told him, “Why don’t you ask daddy if he wants to play too. Ask him, daddy do you want to play hide and seek”. Then he went to daddy and told him, “daddy, we are playing hide and seek, do you want to join us?” I just started laughing, crying, and giving high fives to my husband after telling him what just happened. I told my husband. “We are getting Sergio back, we are getting Sergio back”!

His rigidity has up until now also compelled him to always try to have control of decisions or situations. Before, he would do anything to make sure things are getting done his way, even to try and fool us, teachers, therapist, etc. And he would fool many into thinking he was doing what they wanted when he actually had changed the demand to be more in his favor. He constantly had to change demands to make it more his way and not the other persons way. School implemented “my way” card system, where every time he wanted to change a demand, he would have to use one of these cards. The school reported the other day that they stopped using the cards to see what would happen. Sergio did great 95% of the day. He only had just one minor instance.

Sergio has 4 different speech therapists. There is one who he has been seeing for a year already. She is really good but Sergio always had a lot of behavioral issues with her because he could not get it his way with her at all. The last 3 weeks Sergio has been absolutely wonderful at her therapy.

Family members keep telling us how amazed they are with Sergio’s change. It is a wonderful feeling. We just cannot find the words to say thank you. But THANK YOU!!! We have been doing many things to improve Sergio’s life for more than 3 years. We are not there yet, but we are so much closer. Now that he is more “present,” we can focus on improving rather than just treading water. Nothing has made an improvement this fast and this HUGE.”

A Special THANKS to this family for sharing. 

Solutions for the Dysfunctional Interplay of Immunology and Neurophysics in Autistic Syndromes

I am pleased to announce my association with The Brain Treatment Center (BTC) in Newport California.  Dr. Jin and his associated staff and researchers have made incredible breakthroughs in complex areas of brain functional restoration.

In 1998, Carol Stock Kranowitz wrote a book called the Out of Sync Child. It detailed her observations of sensory processing disorders in children she had taught over the prior 20 years. Although I am sure she didn’t intend the book to describe asynchronous neurophysics – her observations were true and ultimately insightful.

It turns out the brain cannot perform its many complex tasks without a high degree of synchronous electrical activity. Very much like computer circuitry – asynchronous brain activity uses too much energy to be efficient. That means those areas of the brain demand more oxygen and glucose, which results in excessive production of oxidative stress and mitochondrial overload.  It also means they don’t share data effectively with other brain centers.

When it comes to autism, most of the observations from the BTC reveal 50% or more the brain in autism functions asynchronously, and we label those issues as autism.

The good news is a technique has been developed to restore synchronous activity and with that many children are seeing remarkable and rapid gains in language and cognition.


Figure 1. Major areas of the left hemisphere of the brain.  Wernicke’s area is where words start to form and Borca’s area is where they are finalized prior to the message being sent to the motor cortex with the command to speak. The temporal lobe adjacent to Wernicke’s area is where the primary auditory cortex resides.


Figure 2. fMRI of the synchronous activity of the brain required to speak novel words.

Many areas of the brain connect simultaneously to create spoken language and it is easy to see how minor aberrations in these areas could result in difficulty with expressive language typically observed in autism.

Figure 3. This represents a color translation of the mathematical transformation of the EEG into a power-frequency map; meaning how much energy is present at different wavelengths.  As you can see only about half the brain picks up this synchronized waveform.  In the color map the left side of the brain shows the language and auditory cortex is not in sync and also includes the frontal cortex including the primary social cortex of the R frontal lobe area.


Figure 4. This imaging shows the out of sync areas of the brain are consuming the highest amount of oxygen, yet they are not effectively functioning.

Figure 5, Represents the same child’s brain after 3 treatments with magnetic resonance therapy – a special form of rTMS (external magnetic therapy). The color map shows very substantial changes in synchronized brain activity and with that language and eye contact showed very impressive changes.

This is a dramatic change in the sync pattern and with it a remarkable change in language, eye contact and reduced self-stimulatory behaviors. This child had been treated with GcMAF and with that it appears the brain was primed to rapidly respond.  Its not that all children need some form of immunotherapy to respond to MRT, but in this case the response was particularly dramatic.

So how did the asynchronization of  the brain happen in the first place?  the evidence points to a immunologically mediated alarm signaled through the connections of the perivascular macrophage>endothelial (blood vessel) cells>astrocyte and microglial cells. These cells create the immune axis of the brain and it designed to nurture and protect the neurons (brain cells).  If it triggers an alarm brain cells stop talking and so do kids with autism.


Figure 6. Represents this complex dynamic, but it does depict the extremely important interneurons that regulate the harmonic synchronization of the brain.


Figure 7. Here we see the intensely important relationship of the large electrical circuit cell (pyramidal) to the double bouquet interneuron cells.

The DB interneurons create the GABA that inhibits noisy signals and regulates the pyramidal cell’s activity. Those same DB cells also create reelin which build networks and connections for the brain.  DB interneurons are very sensitive to immune alarm signals and appear to be a primary source of the immune axis disruption of normal brain harmonic signals.

It appears to me that with correction of the immune signals to the DB interneurons and then using MRT to capture the DB sync, child can be rapidly restored to higher function.

I will write more about this exciting breakthrough in coming weeks but for now I hope this starts you thinking and hoping.

Introducing an Enhanced Way to Treat Allergy in Extremely Sensitive Individuals.

At a minimum, 8 million Americans suffer with significant allergies. This costs each one of them annually about $2000 in OTC and prescriptive copayments (if they have insurance) and results in far more expensive complications like sinus infections, asthma, poor sleep, lost school or work attendance, and even up to 15 points on standardized IQ testing. That’s a lot to give up for overreacting to dust mites, pollens or the family pet.

Picture of one of my patients after simple prick testing for 58 antigens and 2 controls.

allergy reaction skin test 1

As you can see, several of these are remarkably severe reactions.

Antihistamines can causes drowsiness, increased risk of infections, and increase the risks of seizures. Nasal steroids also increase the risk of infection and can cause adrenal suppression with the loss of bone strength. 

With all of these potential risks, it makes sense to try preventing the allergic reactions.

One of the ways we block the body’s allergy response is to create immunity to the allergy with chronic exposure via either injections or sublingual antigens (the medical term for the thing causing the allergy). This process is called immunotherapy and its various forms (primarily shots and drops under the tongue) have been subjected to rigorous scientific evaluations and numerous publications.

Despite these well published and accepted desensitization techniques,  I have faced extraordinary challenges in treating children with allergies when they are combined with autism, PANDAS, PANS or ADHD type of issues.  Repeatedly I have observed remarkable behavioral reactions to even low dose sublingual (under the tongue) therapy.  Children with these disorders often respond to allergy desensitization with increased self-stimulatory behaviors, worsened inattention, and increased hyperactivity, so obviously this defeats the purpose.

The problem is the doses required in standard protocols expose these very sensitive children to far too much provocation with resultant adverse clinical responses.

Below is the accepted protocol for sublingual immunotherapy, rapidly escalating the dose of antigen to the maintenance dose of 15-25 micrograms of antigen per dose.  The  dose for shots is less but equally harmful to this population.





Despite the level of scientific evidence favoring drops under the tongue (SLIT) your insurance company will claim this is unproven and experimental.  They are stuck in past and are actually financially incentivizing doctors to expose your child to the severe reaction potential of shots (known as SCIT).  Allergy shots have a known risk of death and severe asthmatic reactions.  This prompted the many governments is Europe to move away from paying for SCIT in favor of the far safer SLIT.  We in the US are unfortunately stuck with our anachronistic insurance system.  However, the out of pocket costs for SLIT are less than the costs of OTC allergy medications and with much better long term results.

From the same article:


But even standard SLIT protocols present the very reactive child (or adult) with far too much antigen in the early phases of the protocol.

So about a month ago I called Susan Harris, a pharmacist at Greer Laboratories (a leading pharmacy producing allergy therapies). I explained my observations about excessive reactions in my special needs population to all  of the standard protocols. After some productive discussions, we developed what I call the Harris-Bradstreet SLIT allergy desensitization protocol.

This protocol involves 5 steps from very dilute exposures leading eventually to the traditional maintenance levels as published above. There are 5 levels until maintenance; with each level lasting 5 weeks, and within each level there are 5 step-ups.  So it takes 25 weeks to reach maintenance levels.

The cost of the Harris-Bradstreet protocol will very based on the number antigens required, but most families find it very affordable and worth the difference based on the reduced side-effects. If you are interested in this safe alternative for special needs cases please contact my office at 470-253-7445. 


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