ASD Support Basics: Functional Medicine

Dr. Tim Trodd simplifies the essentials of functional medicine.


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Dr. Tim Trodd is a founding partner and chairman of OT&P, a renowned healthcare provider in Hong Kong. Specializing in functional medicine, Dr. Trodd’s wealth of expertise includes working extensively with children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. He leverages his knowledge and skills to effectively address medical concerns.

How does functional medicine approach ASD in children?

Functional Medicine is about helping an individual function as near to their individual potential as possible, whether they are a child with developmental delays, an adult with fatigue, or a seemingly healthy person living in a modern environment. 

We put in place an evidence-based comprehensive program of diet and supplementation following nutritional and other testing. By addressing the underlying biomedical issues specific to each child, functional medicine allows us to find and treat underlying biomedical problems that cause autism.

How do you view the role of environmental toxins in contributing to ASD?

In the modern world, we are increasingly exposed to toxins from air pollution and food. These toxins can affect energy production and neurological functioning. In general, we propose a healthy lifestyle avoiding toxic exposure.

How do functional medicine practitioners diagnose and treat root causes of a child's ASD symptoms?

Functional medicine practitioners use various tests and assessments to identify underlying factors contributing to a child's ASD symptoms. 

In my experience all children with ASD have nutritional deficiencies when tested. These include iron, zinc, selenium, lithium, vitamin D and omega-3.

All ASD children are tested and treated for nutritional disorders. In addition to helping ASD symptoms, this will improve their resilience and resistance to infections.  It is also known that mitochondrial dysfunction is a contributing factor in many ASD children. Mitochondria are the powerhouses of cells and are essential for energy metabolism; since the brain is an organ that requires energy to function properly, its mitochondria are crucial.  We are fortunate to use a laboratory that allows us to test mitochondrial function and we’ve found that most children have a problem in this area. Functional medicine allows us to treat these problems using nutritional supplements.

There is considerable research showing that methylation biochemistry is disordered in ASD kids. This biochemistry, which is necessary for normal attention and neurological functioning, involves vitamins B6, B12 and folate. This area is tested and any abnormalities are corrected. We find that many children benefit from methyl B12 supplementation.

We also evaluate the gastrointestinal system in children with ASD. This may involve investigating issues such as constipation, diarrhea, abdominal distension, and pain. Tests may include assessing dietary intolerances, and most children will be placed on a gluten- and casein-free diet and given probiotics.


Can dietary interventions positively impact ASD in children?

Research suggests that a gluten-free, casein-free diet, customized vitamin and mineral supplementation, and essential fatty acid supplementation have demonstrated positive outcomes for children with ASD. 

It is important to note that individual responses to dietary interventions may vary, and it is advisable to consult with healthcare professionals before implementing any dietary changes.

What complementary therapies do you suggest for treating children with ASD?

As evident from studies, the biomedical approach demonstrates clear advantages for children with autism. In addition to the biomedical interventions, it is common for children on the spectrum to receive other forms of support, including ABA therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and medication for mental health.