The Artist’s Garden at Giverny, by Claude Monet, 1900
“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The root of many mental and physical health problems are vitamin, mineral, and amino acid deficiencies due to a combination of mineral-depleted farming soil (especially magnesium) and poor food choices in general.
Studies are showing amino acids have the ability to treat issues like sleep, anxiety, and depression. Here are some of the ones I believe have the most promise, and that have helped me the most in these areas.
Glycine for Sleep – See this Reddit discussion on glycine and collagen peptides. Many have low glycine intake from not eating as many tendons and cartilage as we used to. This can affect sleep quality, which can also lead to anxiety and depression. Taking 3g before bed has enhanced my sleep quality where I wake up feeling more refreshed and anxiety isn’t building up by noon-3pm like it used to. When sleep is fixed, many other issues often fall into place.
ALCAR for Morning Energy and Mood Boost – I take 1g in the AM for energy, it helps for getting through a work day or exercise (it’s in many workout and fat burning supplements). This also boosts mood. Before ALCAR it was hard for me to get out of bed and get going in the mornings, it’s one of my most important supplements.
DLPA for Mood Boost/Stabilizer and Sense Enhancement – I found this in the book “Mood Cure.” It boosts mood like ALCAR but also makes the 5 senses feel better, even makes food taste better, songs sound better. I take 1g in the late afternoon as the ALCAR is wearing off. It helps me feel happy naturally by supporting the brains neurotransmitters that are responsible for these feel good emotions (and ones like agmatine that prevent too many of the bad ones from responding).
Many people who do hard drugs I think are just trying to feel better but go too far, aminos are the perfect middle ground of feel-good sobriety.
Since those are all FDA approved supplements sold over the counter with science backing them, it is my belief they are better options to try for these issues over things like antidepressants, benzos, and sleeping pills that should be reserved for the most severe cases. Often it’s a nutritional deficiency causing the issue in the first place.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Hippocrates
I’m not a doctor, nutritionist, or an expert on autism. None of this is prescriptive, only sharing what’s helped me so far, everyone is different. Never change any medication or add supplements without talking to a doctor first. Don’t die a slow and painful death because of something you read on the Internet.
Here’s where I’m at after a few years of researching diet and supplements to try to be more healthy and ease things like anxiety, irritability, depression, and nerve pain. This article is best read while listening to Tchaikovsky.
General Diet and Exercise
Intermittent Fasting – 2-3+ days a week. It has many proven benefits. Consider making “snake juice” to replace electrolytes when fasting, especially for longer term fasts. Low-carb, high healthy fats, grass-fed beef, etc… (basically keto). Cut out most processed foods and lower sugars. Casein free/Gluten free (within reason, make sure you are getting enough calcium from other sources). I’ll still have cheat meals where I eat whatever I want. I’d like a milkshake right now actually…
Sunlight – If you aren’t able to get outside in the mornings, consider a therapy lamp 15-20 minutes to help with your circadian rhythm for a healthy mood and sleep cycle. Consider starting a small garden outside. I love growing plants from seed, it’s therapeutic and rewarding. I have plants all over the inside and outside of my house.
Gut Health –Your gut is like your second brain. Much of my anxiety and depression was eased when I addressed these issues. Much of the food and supplements I take are related to this.
Avoid Synthetics, Pesticides, Heavy Metals, and Parabens – I’ve done much better overall after researching the ingredients of everything I put on me and in me, avoiding environmental toxins when possible. I usually don’t even drink out of aluminum cans anymore. I realized for years as a child with ASD, I didn’t want to take a shower from anxiety. Much of that panic stopped when I switched to natural soap and shampoo. Some of course was the sensory overload from the water drops and noise. Dr. Bronner’s hemp and peppermint castile soap I’ve enjoyed.
Natural/Organic Ingredients – I use a lot of baking soda, vinegar, and coconut oil. Recipes are available for making your own natural deodorant.BonusTip: Soaking your feet in hot water with half a cup of Epsom salts and 1 cup of apple cider vinegar 15-20 minutes twice a week will help your feet not smell like feet.
Water –I mostly drink water, carbonated water, or green tea. Maybe a little 100% juice for some vitamin C or adding to my blender shake. Avoid soft drinks. Try and avoid caffeine/coffee after noon-3pm. I have cheat days with this also, especially if I’m eating out.
Daily Blender Shake
I don’t enjoy eating vegetables so I like to blend them all up drink it in a smoothie. I start to feel tired and depressed when I go a full day without this. Many would be surprised how vital these whole food sourced nutrients and amino acids actually are. After intermittent fasting and drinking this shake, I have most of the vitamins I need and then can eat whatever I want at night. I toss this all in, add water, blend it, then chug it down in 5 seconds. Get as many different colors (phytonutrients!) as possible.
Baby Carrots – A great source for beta-carotene (converts to Vitamin A). Regular carrots also work but not nearly as adorable!
Walnuts/Almonds – Also keep on hand for snacking, great fat/protein.
Vitamin C – I’m taking 1g 3x a day now and about to move that to 4g. The mood boost reminds me of the feeling after being out in the sun. I was surprised at the sense of happiness I started to feel after a few weeks of higher dose C. 43% saw improvements who were on the spectrum in one study.
CBD Oil – Successful in helping 80% of autistic children. Always look for 3rd party lab reports when buying CBD oil. Many “CBD” products on the market aren’t what they say they are since the FDA isn’t regulating this yet. I use Lazarus Naturals, they have great discounts for the Disabled and Veterans. 10mg under the tongue is a good starter dose; after tolerance I take around 30mg, 3x a day. It’s been the most beneficial thing I’ve ever taken and wrote more about endocannabinoid deficiencies and the plant in general here. I also find Flowerchild’s CBG oil helpful for social anxiety.
Omega 3 – (I look for high DHA) from fish/krill oil. Some with autism do well with fish oil, others may not. Only try one new supplement at a time so if something doesn’t work, so you know which one is helping or causing an issue.
NAC – Often take this a bit earlier in the afternoon when the AM one stops working.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) – 1Tbsp. I also cook with this rather than vegetable oils.
Zinc/B6 – Some use Mag/Zinc/B6 all together in a supplement called ZMA for sleep and muscle growth. I was already taking magnesium so I simply added a zinc/b6 supplement. I’d lean towards a lower dose like 15mg rather than the 50mg options and get most of the zinc in food (again, not a doctor).
Lemon Balm – Helps you stay asleep. Passion flower, valerian, and chamomile also can help. If you take melatonin, look for a small dose like .3mg (300mcg); I wouldn’t go above 1mg to avoid daytime drowsiness. Less is more with melatonin (also see black seed oil below).
Turmeric Tea – I drink Turmeric “Golden milk” tea most evenings. It has many health benefits like reducing inflammation, so I can use it over ibuprofen in most cases. If I’m lazy I’ll just quickly mix the turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, and black pepper together in water and drink it quick; maybe along a little olive or MCT oil for better absorption. If I have more time I’ll heat it up in almond milk and add a little honey.
Kombucha – I got a brewing kit online and just brewed my first batch and it’s helping a lot with gut health issues and I notice a boost in mental well-being. Definitely worth trying and a fun hobby. (edit 8/8/20 – Kefir might be even better)
Sulforaphane – This is found in broccoli and many are growing broccoli sprouts to raise glutathione and reduce symptoms with autism by reducing oxidative stress. See more in this podcast by Dr. Rhonda Patrick. I’ve had best results from sprouting with the Kitchen Crop sprouter tower, and “Broccoli and Friends” seeds (Todd’s seeds). As of 2021, I’m eating way more sprouts and not using my blender shake as much.
Psyllium Husk – A great fiber. Saves you a fortune on toilet paper and prevents mud-butt.