Inositol vs Gluten

The serotonin push from Respen-A Blended Chord is so great that we previously were stating that a small amount of gluten (about 1/4 to a whole wheat cracker, depending on the child) was needed every 1.5 to 2 hours throughout the day to keep up with the push.  We recently have discovered another avenue of keeping up with the serotonin push, besides supplementing gluten, and that is supplementing Inositol.

Inositol can be used in place of gluten and early reports show it may be superior.  500 mg to 1,000 mg a day has been adequate in the release of serotonin to keep up with the turnover stimulated by Respen-A Blended Chord.  Inositol is available in a powder or capsule from various manufactures.  It virtually is tasteless and dissolves well in water.  Early reports show that a once a day dosing has been adequate, but depending on the child, you may find that dividing the dose up into three servings a day may be beneficial.

Respen-A Blended Chord Availability

We have developed a new formulation of the Respen-A, which you will hear referred to as Respen-A Blended Chord and it will be available, and take the place of the original Respen-A, July 1, 2011 via all pharmacies currently compounding the original Respen-A.

The rationale behind going from the original Respen-A to the Respen-A Blended Chord is the following:
There are two forms of MA0: MAO-A and MAO-B. The MAO-A:MAO-B ratio is much like a teeter-totter in that environmental factors that inhibit MAO-A activity usually boost MAO-B activity. Decreased activity in MAO-A is common in autism. A decrease in MAO-A results in a dysfunction in the mitochondria resulting in lactic acid production. This results in calcium phosphate being pulled from the compartmental stores in the body such as the bones. The phosphate neutralizes the acid, leaving high amounts of unbound calcium. This free calcium goes into the cells, such as mast cells, causing an inflammatory response and tissue damage. Tissue damage stimulates cholesterol production because cholesterol is needed for tissue repair. Thus, research shows that an MAO-A deficiency is associated with high cholesterol levels. But interestingly, many children with autism have low cholesterol levels. This may be explained by the fact that when MAO-B activity gets really high it inhibits production of cholesterol. This may also explain why high cholesterol levels often precede low cholesterol levels. Stress inhibits MAO-A. The decrease in the MAO-A:MAO-B ratio causes an increase in cholesterol. But as stress continues and becomes prolonged, the MAO-A activity becomes very low and the MAO-B activity becomes very high and this can result in very low cholesterol levels due to inhibition of cholesterol synthesis.

So we hypothesized that it may be beneficial to try and work on both sides of the MAO-A:MAO-B ratio. The Respen-A 4X formulation is aimed at increasing the MAO-A, but would Respen-A have a greater effect on the symptoms of autism if it worked on both sides of the equation; increasing the MAO-A and lowering the MAO-B? Thus, the Respen-A Blended Chord formulation was adopted. One of the metabolites of reserpine appears to boost MAO-A activity and decrease MAO-B activity. Thus the Respen-A Blended Chord is a 4x homeopathic dilution of reserpine and a 12C dilution of a reserpine metabolite.

The Respen-A Blended Chord was first tested in a small sample of 3 patients who had used the original Respen-A 4X formulation for 6-12+ months. On the Respen-A Blended Chord, they reported more initiation of language, better attention, better motor planning and dexterity, more affection, more empathy and awareness of others emotions and needs and a desire to help and respond to others. They also reported that a little bit of gluten every 1 1/2 -2 hours was an absolute MUST with the Respen-A Blended Chord.

We then increased the sample size of the Respen-A Blended Chord to 20 patients to see if these same benefits were consistent in a larger sample since often the response to a treatment can vary from individual to individual. The majority of the larger sample reported similar benefits as seen in the small 3 patient sample. Parents reported that they felt the Respen-A Blended Chord was superior to the Respen-A 4x.

So as of July 1, 2011, all pharmacies will begin compounding and dispensing the Respen-A Blended Chord and the original Respen-A 4x will no longer be available. The patient instructions are the same for Respen-A Blended Chord as for the original Respen-A 4x:

  • 2000 mg of calcium each morning with breakfast MUST be taken prior to putting on the disc.
  • All supplements that will negate the original Respen-A 4x will still in fact negate the new Respen-A Blended Chord (such as EFA’s, oils, Enhansa, high Vitamin D, etc)
  • A serving of meat must still be eaten daily to keep up with the serotonin turnover. (If meat cannot be eaten, you may supplement with 500mg of L-Tryptophan daily or100-150mg of 5-HTP 3-4 times a day.)
  • Also, a small amount of gluten (such as a 1/4-whole cracker, depending on the child) MUST be taken every 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours throughout the day if they are on a strict Gluten Free Diet.

    THE DIFFERENCE in the Respen-A 4x and Respen-A Blended Chord however, is that with the Respen-A Blended Chord it is recommended to start with only a 1/2 disc of the Respen-A Blended Chord as most patients have found the 1/2 disc to be the optimal dose of the Respen-A Blended Chord. Thus, if the patient is careful when opening the individual disc packages, so as to not tear the paper/foil backing, they can remove the disc, cut it in half with a pair of scissors and then place one half of the disc back into the package and reseal the paper/foil backing and place the package back in the refrigerator to be used the following day. Thus, a month’s supply of Respen-A Blended Chord may provide treatment for 2 months. (Note that if you are using less than 1/2 disc, you can only get the packaging to effectively reseal one time.)

    We are also holding a webinar on June 28, 2011 at 4:00pm Pacific Time to address the new formulation and our findings from those children that have tried both formulations. If you would like to join this webinar, please contact us at with your email address and we will make sure you are listed on the recipient list of our webinar invites. From what we have seen, we are very excited about the new Respen-A Blended Chord coming soon!


Constipation is common in autism due to the lack of gastric motility.  H2 receptors stimulate the production of gastric acid and digestive enzymes, which in turn stimulate intestinal motility.  So if the MAO-A activity is deficient, the H2 receptors don’t get adequate stimulation.  Many children or adults with autism are taking magnesium supplements orally or in the form of Epsom Salts baths to counteract the constipation. 

 Many parents have reported that their child’s constipation is resolved within days of starting the Respen-A.  It is recommended to stop the increased magnesium supplements when starting Respen-A as these can result in loose stools or diarrhea.  Also the increased magnesium intake can interfere with the calcium absorption that is necessary when using Respen-A.

Digestive Enzymes

Gastric disturbances such as decreased production of gastric acid, decreased digestive enzymes, poor absorption of nutrients, and dysbiosis are common in autism.  These gastric problems can be the result of deficient MAO-A activity.  MAO-A metabolizes histamine into the active H2 agonist.  H2 receptor stimulation by the H2 agonist stimulates the parietal cells in the stomach to secrete hydrochloric acid.  The hydrochloric acid helps breakdown the food in the stomach.  The low pH in the stomach as a result of hydrochloric acid secretion closes the sphincter from the esophagus into the stomach and opens the sphincter from the stomach into the duodenum, which is the beginning of the intestinal tract.  The intestines are alkaline so the acidic chyme (food from the stomach) lowers the pH of the duodenum.  The low pH of the duodenum stimulates the sphincter between the pancreas and the duodenum to open.  The opening of the sphincter between the pancreas and the duodenum stimulates the pancreas to contract and secrete digestive enzymes and secretin into the duodenum.  Secretin is the bicarbonate molecule for the intestines raising the pH of the duodenum back up to an alkaline pH.  The higher pH in the duodenum activates the digestive enzymes in the duodenum so that the food can be further broken down releasing the nutrients for absorption across the intestinal membrane.  So if MAO-A activity is deficient, the histamine is not converted to the H2 receptor agonist and the whole digestive process is hindered. 

 The active ingredient in Respen-A stimulates MAO-A activity resulting in H2 production, which in turn stimulates gastric acid and digestive enzyme production.  Many parents have reported that their child no longer needs the digestive enzymes after starting Respen-A.  Digestive enzymes can be taken with Respen-A but they may not be necessary.

Soy Free Diet

The soy free diet has shown benefit in Autism Spectrum Disorders.  Soy is high in phyto-estrogens which have been shown to stimulate the estrogen receptors.  High estrogen receptor stimulation inhibits MAO-A.  Children with an ASD have decreased MAO-A activity and so by decreasing their estrogen, such as through a soy free diet, this will help prevent further inhibition of their MAO-A.  Unlike gluten and casein that may be added back into the diet in small amounts with children on Respen-A, soy should be avoided even though the child may be on Respen-A.

Casein Free Diet

The casein free diet has shown benefits similar to the gluten free diet in children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Casein is a protein found in dairy products.  It is not a natural protein found in humans. The scientific rationale for the benefits seen from the casein free diet, is due to the hypersensitization of the mast cells that line the intestines causing them to over-react to this foreign protien, casein, when ingested.  The etiology of the hypersensitization of the mast cells is the mitochondrial deficiency caused by MAO-A deficiency, resulting in lactic acid production.  The build-up of lactic acid causes calcium phosphate to be pulled from storage compartments in the body such as the bones.  The phosphate neutralizes the acid, leaving free-unbound calcium in the blood.  The free-unbound calcium goes into the mast cells and excites them, causing them to become hypersensitive.  Normally, mast cells detecting casein in the gut would not react, but because of them being put on red-alert by the calcium, they actually over-react.   This results in an inflammatory response which contributes to digestive absorption problems.  This irritation in the gut results in more serotonin production by the gut.  (Please see the Gluten Free Diet post for the effects of increase serotonin production by the gut in ASD).

 The active ingredient in Respen-A is reserpine, which increases the activity of MAO-A, thus reducing the production of lactic acid.  This reduction in lactic acid production reduces the amout of free calcium influx into the mast cells.  Respen-A also, has an added benefit, reduces calcium by pushing it into the urine and into the bones, which in turn reduces the hypersensitivity of the mast cells.  Consequently, a child using Respen-A, overtime may find that they can tolerate some dairy products in their diet once again.

Gluten Free Diet

Many children, with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, have seen benefit from a gluten free diet.  The scientific rationale for this benefit is because gluten stimulates serotonin production and mobilization (release).  In ASD there is a deficiency in MAO-A activity, resulting in a build-up of serotonin because MAO-A breaks down serotonin into it’s active aldehyde.  This build-up of serotonin inhibits oxytocin nerve growth, increases in cortisol production, and increases beta-endorphin production, all of which are seen in ASD.  So gluten compounds the problem by stimulating the gut to produce and release more serotonin into the blood stream.  This is why a gluten free diet has been beneficial to many children with a spectrum disorder.

The active ingredient in Respen-A is reserpine.  Research shows that reserpine will double the activity of MAO-A.  Thus by increasing the activity of MAO-A with Respen-A, the serotonin level is decreased and converted into its active aldehyde metabolite.  Because of this breakdown of serotonin by MAO-A, serotonin must be replenished, such as through eating meat or taking the supplement of L-Tryptophan daily.  We have found that in some children on a gluten free diet, just eating meat or taking L-Tryptophan, isn’t adequate after being on Respen-A.  These children often show improvement in the first month to six months of using Respen-A and then they start to exhibit a return of their symptoms or become withdrawn, depressed, and sad.   We find that these children have needed to add back into their diet a little bit of gluten.  The reason is, L-Tryptophan from meat is the precursor to producing serotonin.  The serotonin that is produced, is then stored in vesicles in the cell.  The serotonin must then be released or mobilized from these vesicles into the synapse (the nerve junction), where it can be converted by MAO-A to its active aldehyde.  Gluten triggers the mobilization and release of the serotonin from the vesicles.