GAPS – and bone broth

Dr Natasha Campbell McBride believes that there is a biochemical background to every behavioural condition in both children and adults and that the both cause and treatment lie in the gut. Her approach is to eliminate allergens, detoxify, address nutritional deficiencies and thereby reestablish normal gut flora. One of the foods that she particularly recommends is bone broth.

Dr Natasha McBride has had a great success is her treatment of a wide range of behavioural conditions from autism to substance abuse, in both adults in children. She has called the gut-brain connection GAPS - Gut and Psychology Syndrome – and has detailed her approach to both the syndrome and how to address is in a lengthy article that you can read here and in her book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome – Natural treatment for Autism, ADD, Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Depression and Schizophrenia. For a quick introduction see our report below from a conference in 2005.

The GAPS approach

In her clinic Dr Natasha Campbell McBride sees children with autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, learning difficulties, behavioural and social problems or a mixture of all of these. She feels that they are vulnerable, if untreated, to psychoses as adults and may develop substance abuse, depression,obsessive/compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder disease or schizophrenia. She maintains that there is a biochemical background to every illness. (Remember - schizophrenia used to be associated with coeliac disease.) The patients that she sees are physically unhealthy:

• They have digestive problems.
• Allergies are very common.
• Asthma and eczema are common in infants.
• Malnutrition is present because they don't digest and absorb food properly.
• Bed-wetting is common, often into adulthood.
• Thrush is very common and it is difficult to diagnose in the gut.
• There is often chronic cystitis with regular infections.
• There may also be viruses: cyto-megalovirus, herpes and measles.
• There is an overgrowth of abnormal gut flora and a dearth of good gut flora.

Gut flora
Gut flora are essential for cell regeneration, detoxification, immune system modulation, digestion, absorption and synthesis of vitamins - especially B vitamins. Good gut flora are especially vulnerable to broad-spectrum antibiotics, allowing an overgrowth of candida and clostridia, which can produce neurotoxins and alter sulphate levels by ''eating' sulphur (see Dr Hinder's talk below).

The gut/brain connection
The gut can become a major source of toxicity, producing brain altering substances such as acetaldehyde and alcohol, dermorphin and deltorphin, gluteomorphin and casomorphin and clostridia neurotoxins. These can be identified by testing the urine for organic acids.

A typical scenario in her clinic involves a mother who has gut dysbiosis herself (probably encouraged by oral contraceptives) so her baby does not develop normal gut flora (especially if not breast-fed).

The baby may then become immune compromised and get ear infections for which it is given antibiotics which further damage the gut flora. Vaccinations and poor weaning diet may add to the problems and the result is gut dysbiosis in the child. The gut then produces toxicity instead of nourishment which reaches the brain via the bloodstream.

Key treatments
• Re-establishment of a normal gut flora.
• Diet with no starches or sugars. Ample carbohydrate is obtained from fruit and vegetables.
• Fresh meat (not preserved), ripe fruit, nuts, seeds, eggs, and animal fats to help control cravings.
• No processed food (it feeds abnormal flora).
• Nutritional deficiencies should be addressed with easily absorbed supplements including a probiotic, cod-liver oil, essential fatty acids, multivitamins/mineral/amino acid liquid, digestive enzymes with hydrochloric acid and pepsin.
• Detoxification - best achieved by fresh juices twice-daily.
• Bone and meat broth and raw cabbage juice help increase stomach acid and improve digestion.

Bone broth

Adherents to the GAPS diet have been very worried recently by a study published in January in the journal, Medical Hypotheses, suggesting that bone broth can be contaminated by lead. Given that GAPS patients are going to considerable lengths to eliminate dangerous toxins such as lead from their diets and from their bodies, the thought that one of their prime treatments could be re-introducing it has sent shock waves through the community.

However, considerable question marks have been raised over the validity of the study which looked at bone broth made from organic chickens – suggesting that it lacked sufficient rigour to have any genuine value and certainly should not deter patients from using one of their most nutritious foods.

If you would like to follow the argument in more detail you can read an excellent post on the Weston Price blog by Dr Kaayla Daniel, Bone Broth and Lead Contamination: a very flawed Study in Medical Hypotheses.


March 2013

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