Respen-A: a new treatment (and hope)

Medical, Treatments

January 29, 2011


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In my recent forays into scouring the web for information on new (or, really, any & all) approaches for ASD, I stumbled across a new treatment that’s been introduced in the last couple years: Respen-A. Here’s a solid overview pulled from the news release (click here to read the full text)

Respen-AA new, homeopathic treatment for autism, Respen-A, improves symptoms of autism associated with communication, speech, emotion and bonding, according to the researcher who created Respen-A, Elaine DeLack, RN. Unlike theories that center on negative reaction to vaccinations, DeLack considered data regarding exposure to a commonly used drug used during delivery in combination with brain enzymes that affect infants’ brain at birth, and again in early childhood.

DeLack’s hypothesis (which can be viewed in slide show format at, connects children with autism to the mother’s use of epidurals during childbirth. Epidurals were introduced into this country in the 1960’s. By the mid-80’s, 22 percent of women received an epidural during delivery. In the mid-90’s, the number grew to 67%. Today, nearly 90% of women receive an epidural during pregnancy.

DeLack contends that the development of autism is not due to the actual epidural procedure, but rather the effect of a “cocktail” of drugs used throughout the procedure, including one drug commonly used in conjunction with the epidural to induce labor: Pitocin. In combination, the drugs have the potential of skewing the brain if the infant is unable genetically to process the drugs quickly through their system.

Pitocin crosses the placenta to the infant’s system during childbirth. The drug requires adequate production of an enzyme found in the liver (CYP 3A4) in order to rid it from the body. If the infant has a genetic inadequacy of the CYP 3A4 enzyme (found more often to be lacking statistically in boys than girls), the drug’s intensity elevates in the infant’s system, builds with another naturally occurring neurotransmitter that plays a key role in very early brain development: the hormone Ocytocin.

Ocytocin builds naturally in the brain during the first 7 – 10 days of life, ensuring that nerve patterning develops as it should in the brain. Once Oxytocin levels reach a naturally predetermined level, the development of the brain’s nerve system (HNS system) ceases.

DeLack theorizes that the addition of Pitocin and epidural-related drugs into the bloodstream of infants without adequate CYP 3A4 genetic enzymes, causes brain development to “shut off” early, stunting crucial neuro-development.

A second enzyme may explain why autism shows up in many children around the age of three or so. The enzyme MAO-A is essential in regulating serotonin levels in the brain. Unaffected by the drugs used in childbirth, MAO-A levels remain high in the first years of life, assisting brain function. The impact of MAO-A may, in fact, cover symptoms of brain impairment in infants and toddlers.

MAO-A levels diminish as the child ages – allowing serotonin levels to rise, impacting the areas of the brain associated with communication, speech, emotion and bonding. Many parents of autistic children don’t realize their child has been affected until their child shows issues with speech, communication, and bonding.

Respen-A curbs the level of serotonin in the autistic brain, allowing for more normalized function. Respen-A is being prescribed by physicians – and many parents are seeing dramatic improvement. If further study upholds the theory, birthing procedures could change. “We see promise in all of this,” DeLack says. “Further study will determine if simple modification during childbirth could be all that is needed to stem the surging tide of autism,” states DeLack. And for those who have autism?

“Respen-A could give them a quality of life that they – and their parents – deserve.” Respen-A is administered via a topical disk. A prescription is needed, and a daily calcium supplement is also required.

I was, and remain, very excited by the potential this new treatment offers, as DeLack’s theory really struck a chord with me. Ben’s birth was a difficult one, with his mother being induced (with heavy, heavy doses of Pitocin) and also received an eipdural as well. It’s not so much that I’m globbing onto this because I need to know the “how” or the “why” Ben ended up on the Autism spectrum, but more so the logic behind this theory just seems to resonate with me and (obviously) hits close to home.

The fact that Respen-A is (essentially) a homepathic treatment is also a plus – I’ve always struggled with the fact that Ben’s been prescribed a series of heavy pharmaceutical in our efforts to help him. I have never considered his ASD to be only an issue with his brain, not to mention the unknown long-term side effects of heavy meds on his still-developing brain) Respen-A offers a new approach that appears to address the key challenges Ben is facing right now: focus, socialization, and irritability.

Ben’s doctor had not heard about Respen-A before, but after reading through the materials I provided him, he agreed that this treatment will not harm Ben in anyway, so he is open to prescribing it so long as we keep him informed as to Ben’s progress, as well as having a plan for how much time we intend to “try” the Respen-A for (before deeming it helpful or not)… which is a totally reasonable request.

While Respen-A (by all accounts) is “safe,” there are some key things parents need to be aware of, the most notable being that kids taking the treatment must ensure they also take significant amounts of calcium carbonate to ensure they don’t become calcium depleted. (Thankfully, the pharmacy that is filling Ben’s prescription also includes a specially-compounded mixture specifically for Respen-A kids.) As well, the best success has been seen with kids who limit the amount of certain types of vitamins and supplements they’re taking, which is very good and timely to know as I embark on my immersion into all types of helpful approaches to dealing with ASD. All of this, and more, is explained in great detail in the Frequently Asked Questions section of the Respen-A web site.

So, with much hope and excitement, our first batch of Respen-A was delivered to us yesterday, and Ben will begin treatment within the hour. Again: I’m not looking for that one magical solution to Ben’s challenges, but I admit to being very hopeful that this exciting new treatment could bring some of the positive results so many other ASD kids have been fortunate enough to experience.

Also worth noting: Elaine DeLack, the creator of Respen-A, has been incredibly helpful and responsive with my many (many) questions about Respen-A and the potential conflicts with other medications, vitamins and supplements. She’s clearly someone who cares.

2 Responses to “Respen-A: a new treatment (and hope)”

  1. Antoinette says:

    Hmm… that hypothesis really doesn’t address children born with Autism that had an “all natural birth.” Since Autism is a world-wide epidemic and drugs aren’t given in every birth, I’d see that as a big flaw. It also ignores the genetic factor with the MIND Institute has already proven to be very real. Autism’s not like cancer or any other disease, it’s more like Down Syndrome (in its origins.)

    Also, just because it’s homeopathic, doesn’t mean it’s safe. Ditto for vitamins. Make sure you talk to your Dr. before trying anything like this.

    Personally I feel early interventions such as social skills, occupational and sensory therapy are worth their weight in gold. Hang in there papa! You’re doing great!

  2. Ben's Dad says:

    Completely agree with all your points – I (nor the creator of Respen-A) never said/thought/claimed that this is the ONLY trigger for Autism, just that it COULD possibly be one of them… but more importantly, this new treatment COULD potentially help Bennie as it’s helped so many other kids, and that’s my focus.

    Per my post, we did indeed talk to our doctor and he agreed this was safe for Ben – not going down any dark, scary, unapproved pathways to treatment here.

    And, as mentioned elsewhere on the blog (and well you know), Ben’s been in 4+ years of therapies, so not backing away from those – they are indeed essential!

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