Autism. A View from Traditional Chinese Medicine

Autism in the Western medical sense does not exist in Chinese medicine. Instead, it is classified as the Syndrome of 5 Delays. The “delays” are observed in the areas of standing, walking, hair growth, teeth eruption and speech.

Chinese medicine sees the body and mind as part of the same system with the organs and the central nervous system. Western medicine has traditionally considered emotional influence on the organs as secondary, while Chinese medicine has always seen it as a key to understanding and achieving balance.
In Chinese medicine, reason and awareness, which are strongly affected by autism, are primarily ruled by three organ systems. A disturbance in these areas can lead to displays of any autism characteristic.

Imbalance in these organ systems may present as disturbed sleep, talking to oneself, uncontrolled laughing or crying, short temper and tendency toward constipation and aggression. There may also be autism symptom on different extremes such as lethargy and quietness, fidgety restlessness, or aggressive behaviors.

Deficiency in these organ systems can affect food intake (no interest in food, or an excessive hunger) or in poor mental development.

Nutritional treatments have shown great success in autism treatment. The Chinese medical diet is determined by flavor (pungent, sweet, salty), temperature (both physical and energy quality) and action on the body. Central to the philosophy and practice of Chinese medicine, it is thought that many, if not most, of our health problems are related to imbalances in our diet. Sensitivity to foods is not the cause of autism, but it does appear that certain components of foods exacerbate some of autism’s symptoms.
Dietary therapy, by creating a healthy autism diet, helps with illness and maintains health.

Next: The Question We Should be Asking about the Autism Diet