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A Little Known Yet Powerful Cause (And Treatment) for Childhood Autism

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In a past article on the Better Baby Blog, you learned how the right gut bacteria and lifestyle interventions could reduce your child’s risk of autism.  Breaking research is showing that a new intervention may be even more powerful – glutathione.

A New Possible Cause of Autism

New research is beginning to show that toxins and oxidative stress contribute to autism.  These toxins and oxidative stress damage brain cells and upset the delicate balance of neurotransmitters in the brain, which can cause neurological damage, and in extreme cases, autism.  Glutathione is the most powerful antioxidant in the body.  One of its key functions is to reduce oxidative stress and remove toxins.  If you don’t have enough – bad things start to happen.  Things like oxidative brain damage.

Children with autism have low levels of glutathione, and often have impaired glutathione detox pathways.  The causes of this are many.  Increased mercury levels in the environment, bad gut bacteria, and poor diet can all decrease glutathione levels.  However, knowing this also lets you attack the problem.

A large-scale review published in the journal of Nutrition & Metabolism looked for possible mechanisms by which glutathione levels could affect autism risk.  They found that reduced glutathione synthesis could easily be a key contributor to autism.  This theory has sparked a new field of research focused on optimizing glutathione levels as a way to treat autism.

Glutathione for Autism

If children with autism have low levels of glutathione, could increasing their glutathione levels decrease their symptoms of autism?

To answer this question, researchers from Stanford University decided to test the effects of N-acetyl cysteine supplementation on autism symptoms in children.  N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is a precursor to glutathione that increases the body’s production of this vital antioxidant.  NAC may also reduce the formation of glutamate, and excitatory neurotransmitter that kills brain cells in excess.

In this new study, 33 children were randomized into two groups.  One group consumed 900 milligrams of NAC per day for 4 weeks, and the dose was increased by 900 milligrams every 4 weeks for 12 weeks.  At the end of the study, the kids in the intervention group were consuming 2.7 grams of NAC per day.  The other group took a placebo for the same amount of time.  At the end of the trial, the kids who consumed NAC had a reduction in irritability scores by 80%.  There were also minimal side effects.

This was an early study, and more trials are needed to confirm the results.  However, there’s no reason you can’t take advantage of this new evidence and start Bulletproofing your child against autism before he or she is even born.  In a future article, you’ll learn how to fight autism with glutathione.

There are three ways to increase levels of glutathione, 1) take precursors like whey protein and  N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) (quality variations may interfere with raising glutathione levels); 2) get glutathione injections (expensive and inconvenient); and 3) take an oral glutathione supplement, particularly liposomal glutathione.  Liposome capsules protect the glutathione from the digestive process and allow it to be absorbed into the body.

Liposomal glutathione is the form we used during both our pregnancies, and we still take it regularly as it helps with inflammation and aids in detoxification of your body.

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By Dave Asprey

  • Chris

    Great info Dave,

    Is there simple a way to know if the glutathione you are taking is having the intended effect? For example, better sleep, more energy, more alert, etc (something other than blood tests for toxins/metals)?

    Also, what is the difference between reduced glutathione, L-glutathione, and the version you sell?

    I ordered the other two from NOW before realizing you had your own concoction. I am going to try yours next.

    Thanks for the great info. I feel better than ever after upgrading my fats! I am more focused than ever studying for my law school finals (thanks to loads of GF butter and chocolate). I am hormone producing matching right now.

    Looking forward to more articles and info.

    All the best Dave,


    • Hi Chris,

      There is a blood test you can take that measures reduced glutathione (the good part) and oxidized glutathione (used up part) amongst other things. See here for more information:

      To my knowledge this is the only lab that has it because of a patented process.

  • Dosing recommendations for young kids?

  • Jonathan

    Little known but powerful cause of autism
    At this stage that statement is jumping to conclusions, to say the least. Try putting a question mark on the end of it.

  • MTHFR mutations provide a piece of the puzzle, too. Methyl-folate can help, as well as methylation co-factors.

    • Dave Asprey

      Yes! We recommend them in the book!

      Sent from an iphone. That means it’s spelled wrong…and I’m probably lost. You understand… -Dave

    • Esther Sule-okeugo

      dr dan, pls can you help me explain further how i can go about methlation ? i have a 6 yr old autistic son and living in nigeria . it is difficult getting experts in the field here.

  • JJ’s mom

    Hmmm, so where do these healthy babies get such a large hit of toxins from in such a short time period to trigger autism and CAUSE gluthoine levels to be so low. Low gluthoine is not the cause of autism but a symptom of low g. levels. Find the toxin trail, that is the cause. Great if this stuff can help kids in the meantime.

    • Toast

      Think about it, the toxin trail is vaccines with their high levels of mercury and aluminum etc.

    • Amy

      Vaccines. It’s pretty obvious to anyone with any intelligence.

    • Manikuntala Monika Klinger

      Giving acetaminophen to babies for fever after vaccines, uses up their bodies stores of glutathione, so therefore their bodies cannot detox the toxins in the vaccines.
      Acetaminophen or paracetamol, as it is also known in other countries, is one of the worst culprits in exhausting glutathione levels.

  • Look at Dr Bradstreets research. He has found higher levels of viral activity, causing higher levels of nagalase, across the board in his patient trails. Viruses release toxins. Some of these viruses are linked to the blood/brain barrier as well as the gut. By improving the immune system, the body is able to fight the viruses and 85% of patients show improvements in speech, cognitive ability, socialisation. 15% of these go on to lose the label of autism as they no longer exhibit autistic traits. How does he improve the immune system? By a course of First Immune GcMAF from http://www.gcmaf.eu. There is plenty of information on their website, or google Dr Bradstreet.

  • Kariann

    Dave- Where can you get Liposomal glutathione? Any specific brand you recommend? You mentioned above that you and your wife take this regularly. what is your recommended dose?

    • Dave Asprey

      Upgradedself.com has a form with proprietary liposomes. I use it! 1-5 squirts/day based on my daily stress levels.
      Sent from an iphone. That means it’s spelled wrong…and I’m probably lost. You understand… -Dave

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  • O

    I have a son with high-functioning autism. If I could go back in time to instruct my wife to do everything possible to “bulletproof our child against autism”, I would simply choose not to. My son is amazing and his autism is a big part of what makes him the way he is. Sure there are challenges, but a happy life is certainly not a life without challenges. He makes life so much more interesting and teaches me, and many others, so much about interactions, imagination, communication and the human species in general. I would decline a pill that would make him “normal”. I think most parents in my situation would. Just something for you to think about. Being perfect and being normal are not the same thing.
    I also would like to point out that research on any enviromental causal factors in autism is, although interesting, still very sketchy and has in the past mostly led to quacky woowoo treatments. Overwhelming evidence points to a disorder of neural development with strong genetic underpinnings.

    • Cooper

      I’m glad you enjoy your child’s autism. Speaking as someone diagnosed with ASD, I assure you that your child does not similarly enjoy it. Painful sensitivities aside, the difficulties he will have in connecting with people will stunt his personal and professional opportunities throughout his entire life–long after you are gone.

      You wouldn’t choose to prevent it if you could have? You wouldn’t give him a cure if it were in pill form today? You are a selfish prick and a horrible person.

      • Emily

        It’s difficult to know what the answer is isn’t it? As a parent of a child with ASD, any mention of wanting a “cure” is seen as not loving my child the way that he is. Apparently NOT wanting a cure is also not loving enough. I feel like I can’t win. I’m sure many other parents feel the same way. Most of us are trying our best to do whatever we feel that our children need. If only more people were supportive and understanding of that. We are people too.

        • Rainman

          It’s not different from having a kid with a broken leg. That you want to get him to the doctor to heal his leg doesn’t mean you don’t love him. Same with autism. Don’t confuse love for your kid with love for autism. His soul is not the autism. The soul is beneath the autism and that soul is what you love.

        • Eric Iron

          I would suggest we look at this from another angle. Emily said:

          “. I feel like I can’t win. I’m sure many other parents feel the same way.”

          So what I can derrive from this is that from this point of view there are only 2 outcomes of this argument; winning or losing (positive or negative Jing).

          Relating these to the outcomes shows us that there may only be a very limited amount of paths to take such as: Giving the pill or not giving the pill. I would suggest however that we approach this in a more Miyamoto Musashi way and view the Jings as two antipodals of each other on a scale. From this more realistic apprach to the acctual act of utilizing a “biohack” such as liposomal glutathione. we can see that FAR more paths of action are avaliable to us then simply Winning or losing.

          Going from a “doing OR not doing” to a “doing AND not doing” is what Im trying to get at here. I guess this is what would be “the void attitude ” according to Musashi (“By knowing things that exist, you can know that which does not exist.”).

      • Rhonda Spellman

        Hi Cooper,
        Both my husband and my 13 year old son have Asperger’s. Yes, it’s extremely painful at times for them and yes, it’s extremely hard for those around them to try and understand the internal pain and frustrations they are suffering through.

        However, I think it was unfair for you to attack ‘O’ – he is doing the best he can to accept his son for who he is. Isn’t that what you and I and anyone else would want? I don’t think he or anyone else would ‘choose’ autism… but we have to look at the gifts people with autism give to the world. My son is one of the smartest and most creative people I know. Almost every person I have met with autism (I’ve connected with many thousands in my work) is gifted somehow.

        I hope and pray that you have peace Cooper.

      • Serena

        If more of the humans in this world don’t think like this and don’t be so selfish, we would have a better world and less people suffering!
        Live is a choice, is not an obligation, and if you have to live you have to live well and free, not depending of anyone.
        And if you really want, love and go give birth to a human life, you can’t be so selfish thinking only in yourself.

    • Rhonda Spellman

      Hi O,
      Thanks for sharing this. We HAVE to have a positive attitude and love our children as they are – for their sakes as well as our own. I complete agree with you that perfect and “normal” are not the same thing… ha ha. I have come to believe that here is NO such thing as “normal.”

    • patrick danforth

      Research Parasites that pass placenta and you may come across the genic link.

    • patrick danforth

      I agree our family is our family not guinea pigs> we love them the way they come. I am not against healthy prevention as long as it doesn’t consume us. Money brings out the Quacks especially since the internet can promote their QUACKERY so fast. Everyone has opinions and that’s what they remain. Choose your path wisely. You still reap what you sew plant a seed and that’s what you get fruitage of that seed. Enjoy your family.

    • Juan Fermin

      My son has Autism and up until recently he had been hurting himself, literally punching bruises into his own arm and no one could tell me why. His therapist said that it was all just “Behavioral”. After doing some research, I started him on a Regiment of Effervescent N.A.C in his drinks. First 1 tablet per day, then 2 after a couple of weeks then 3 after another month. Additionally I started giving him Epsom Salt baths to replenish his Liver’s Sulfate Stores and improve his Neural receptors Magnesium levels. Epsom salt is also a great Detox. Additionally I’ve started him on Cod Liver Oil, to improve his DHA Levels in his brain and vitamins with no Copper, since most kids with Autism have abnormally high levels. Finally I also added some good probiotics to help with his Digestive health.
      He is definitely much happier, doesn’t self mutilate anymore and is finally starting to mouth some words for the first time in 5 years (he is 9). Should I have done nothing to ease his suffering? Would I love him more if I didn’t desire a cure for him?
      Truth is if there was some magic pill that would completely eliminate his Autism, I would have him take it immediately. Why? Because I WANT him to have a Wife and a Family. I WANT him to be able to have a social life. I WANT him to be able to take care of himself and those he loves. I don’t quite see what it is that you think is so Noble about you wanting your son to stay just as he is?

      • Irene Aiello

        Juan ,Can you please tell me what is N.A.C that you put in your son drinks.And where can i buy it.I have a 18 your old son who has Austim,And whom is non verble..And he has some melt downs..And may be this would help my son,And what probiotic are you useing..Thank you

        • zaya amad

          NAC is an amino acid that helps with detoxification. There is a brand called pharmanac that is effervescent and that was researched to help with autism

      • Queenbee

        You are definatly a loving father who wants his son to be normal , not for your own peace of mind but for your son’s own peace of mind , knowing that he can do things independently puts our mind at ease without worrying and thinking, is my son alright or is he eating well and looking after himself. That’s a loving father and that is what you are, a loving father who cares.

      • zaya amad

        I totally agree. I think people who say they won’t have their children’s autism any other way are selfish

    • Matt Whisnant

      My son is also high-functuoning autistic. I absolutely love him just the way he is, and I agree that he teaches me and others quite a lot. He truly amazes me. But if I could take away his autism I would do it in a heartbeat. Make no mistake, autism causes difficulty and pain, both in the lives of those who have it and in the lives of their caregivers. As human beings, we are capable of finding meaning and value in a life afflicted with autism. But that doesn’t mean autism is desirable. It is not.

    • Frasier Linde

      Curing autism doesn’t erase the effects it has had on someone’s personality development and suddenly make them “normal.” Going back in time would, of course, but that’s a moot point. Successful treatment (holistic and probably not just a pill) reduces challenge and suffering and opens up new possibilities and a higher potential for the child (or adult), changing who they can become, but not who they are.

  • irene

    I found a study, done on rats, where pregnant rats were given doses of mercury. The resulting rat pups failed to develop any mechanism to produce glutathione in the brain. The glutathione system is the most important detox for the brain, so the result would be devastating damage if any toxins were present in the environment. The link to autism seems clear because mercury exposure is increasing due to coal burning. Florescent bulbs are another possible source of exposure.

    My son has autism. I think that my love for sea food could have been a root cause. All species of fresh and salt water fish contain levels of mercury that are dangerous for pregnant women. Genetics simply do not change fast enough in a population to account for the dramatic increase in autism rates. People must wake up to the environmental sources.

    • Juan Fermin

      1 broken Compact Fluorescent Light bulb has 100X the safe levels of Mercury set by the EPA, and that’s for adults!

  • who New

  • Dave

    Stop! You don’t know the cause! Everyone makes claims they can’t back up. The only things that are proven to work are ABA and IBI.

    • smooth

      There a better programs than ABA. TRy the Empowered Learning Transformation Program. WOrks five times as fast as ABA.

  • Erin Postle

    I have an incredible cleanse system that I use, totally organic, supports the liver etc.. and my kids love it… Also they have an organic undenatured whey protein shake everyday. Highest quality from New Zealand… Topped off with a shot of ionix supreme which helps with removing heavy metals.. I love it! So happy to be giving my kids what they need. gets delivered to my door every month. Love it!

  • guest

    you need alpha lipoic acid and terminala chebula to raise glutathione.

  • Alessandra

    I’ve been looking for a liposomal GSH supplement and found yours. I’m surprised you included Polysorbate 80 as everything I’ve read about it links it to toxicity?

  • Rob

    The human brain needs specific nutrients to develop while in its mothers womb,
    I’m sure that while there may well be mercury links to Autism Spectrum Disorders, a mother on the modern American High Carb, Low Protein, Low Fat
    Diet will not ingest enough Macro Nutrients Protein & Fats for a Healthy Brain
    Development, what is needed is plenty of Protein Flesh, Whey & Casein plus
    plenty of FAT Saturated Dairy Cream & Butter, Coconut ,Avocado & Animal,
    plus Vitamin Dense foods with High B Group like Liver, Wheat Germ & Malt etc.
    Lecithen is important found plentiful in Eggs & all manner of Fruits & Vegetables.

  • After seeing the results of the study on Autistic children supplementing NAC. It is a wonder that more people are not choosing this as a complementary or even primary treatment for their children. Beyond the benefits for behavioral symptoms, the overall health benefits are so immense, and crucial for these children with already compromised immune systems. You can also supplement Glutathione orally with Acetyl Glutathione. It, much like Liposomal Glutathione, is not destroyed in the gut. However you don’t have to worry about shelf-life quite the same way as you do with Liposomal.

  • Lea

    Hi, I have been undergoing IVF as I have fertility issues with my left ovary and left tube. I also have low ovarian reserve and possibly PCOS. I got pregnant on my own and ended up losing the baby to spina bifida at 19 weeks. I did genetic testing and found out I had one MTHFR mutation. I eat pretty healthy I try to eat organic when possible. Reduce dairy and wheat. I take a lot of supplments many of which I read about in the better baby book. My husband ordered the Glutathione liposome but I haven’t tried it yet. Can you give me an idea of what is extremely important for me to supplement or do. I am in the middle of my two week wait… waiting to see if one or two of the embryo’s transferred takes. Pregnant or not I want to always do what I can to mitigate the effects of my MTHFR factor. In the past my blood work has shown really really high B12 numbers. I now take 4mg Thorne Folate which is the Methyl kind. In addition to prenatal and other supplements. My mother died of breast cancer at 28 so I am always concerned about reducing my chances of following in her path as well. I am 32. Any advice or peace of mind would be very helpful!!! I have been thinking about calling to do a one on one consult with lana but would like to hear from you first if possible.

  • Cori

    I know this an old article, but I found the last line very interesting as it briefly discusses the use of Liposomal glutathione during pregnancy. I have been searching high and low for safe supplement(s) to use during pregnancy to help counteract the high levels of stress pregnancy “creates” in my body. I have two kids so far (and want more) but it seems as if pregnancy throws my body into a state of severe adrenal fatigue. I am currently 2 years postpartum and almost feeling normal again.

  • blavatsky3

    If you the PEOPLE DO NOTHING EVIL will triumph..
    Changing vaccines/shots into MIND CONTROL AGENTS see Penatgon FUN-VAX.
    Changing vaccines/shots into BIRTH CONTROL AGENTS. Don’t give away your
    RIGHTS to corrupt New World Order. Scientists like Prof David Austin
    reveal more lies from BIG PHARMA …there are still dangerous amounts of
    Mercury in newborn Hep-B vaccine at 10 micrograms particularly to the 1
    in 500 in the population with difficulty clearing mercury from their
    systems/bodies.. Watch the new DVD, “Trace Amounts” it is a game
    changer. exposing corruption at the highest levels of government.

  • Angela Cravens

    Wouldn’t slow and low amounts of ala be better/safer than NAC if there was a Mercury concern? Sometimes Mercury is playing a large role in what’s going on and we can’t always know if it’s there or not. Wouldn’t ala also address the glutathione?

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