our journey of hope and healing through autism

Book Review: Enzymes for Autism and Other Neurological Conditions by Karen DeFelice


When I first spotted this book, I was skeptical:


Food/Diets to help with autism just have to be hard, right?  Somewhere inside, I think I kind of believe that if it isn’t hard, how much of a difference can it make?  So I was skeptical that something simple, like digestive enzymes, could really make much of a difference.

Also, when it comes to enzyme info, some of the loudest voices are a few manufacturers.  Since I naturally distrust product manufacturers, I was glad to see that this book was written by  a parent with no ties to a manufacturer- just sharing what they’ve learned.

The author does a great job of sharing her families discovery of the relevance of digestive tract health, as well as explaining the biology of the digestive tract.  The pages reviewing research on GI problems in autism (p.54-55) was shorter than I would have liked.  The fact that many individuals with Autism do not produce typical amounts of digestive enzymes was mentioned only briefly.  Also, the author refers to the work on Wakefield among many others. Since there has been so much scandal surrounding his research, I think it would have been better to omit those sources.

Otherwise, I think this book is a great read & a really exciting alternative for families that aren’t ready to plunge into a diet like the gluten-free, casein-free diet, Fiengold diet, or the Specific Carbohydrate (that Hannah has had such good results with).

I think this book really shines in it’s explanations.  DeFelice has a brilliant way of explaining enzymes to kids to garner their co-operation in taking them, as well as 2 pages full of great ways to make it pleasant for kids to swallow them.  Our favorite is made into a little wafer  with carob chocolate and nut/seed butter.  Yummy!

Some interesting facts-

The gut mucosal lining, which controls what substances good or bad, are absorbed into the blood stream, replaces itself about every 5 days, so the gut begins to heal rapidly.

Enzymes have been studied extensively for general use, and have been found to be very safe.  Because of the way enzymes work, they are able to digest foods without harming digestive tract tissue.  (Sure that sounds weird, but it was something I was worried about!)

Trienza by Houston Enzymes is the current name of the enzyme product the author has most experience with.  Many families were able to see impressive improvements in tolerating an increased variety of foods (that was a huge challenge for Hannah before SCD)  using the enzymes with each and every meal and snack.  If the enzyme is taken in  a vegetarian capsule form, some will respond better if they take the capsule about an hour before a meal, giving the capsule time to dissolve, so the enzyme is ready to work right when food enters the stomach.

Based on data kept by the author, if  a child with autism is going to respond well to enzymes, parents will see  a difference within 1-3 weeks.  That’s a pretty quick time frame, compared to some other interventions.  Though it makes sense-I’m lactose intolerant, and consuming lactose without a lactase enzyme makes me feel miserable.  It stands to reason that any digestive discomfort we can relieve from a child, will help them feel better and function their best.

All in all, I found Enzymes for Autism  a really interesting read & would recommend it.  It would be perfect for those who are just  beginning to learn about the medical treatment of autism, or who’ve never considered enzyme supplements before.  I wish I’d read this book when Hannah was first referred for assessment for autism.  We later learned that so much of her night-waking was related to digestion pain, and I think enzymes would have helped.




3 comments on “Book Review: Enzymes for Autism and Other Neurological Conditions by Karen DeFelice

  1. glb21
    June 15, 2014

    We follow the gfcf diet and use enzymes based on this book and it has done wonders for our son. In fact people who just meet us do not believe me when I say my son was diagnosed with autism.

    • holdingtomorrow
      June 15, 2014

      That is so wonderful! Resolving GI related issues has made an amazing difference for my daughter as well. When you find a good thing, it’s worth sharing, huh?

      • glb21
        June 15, 2014

        Absolutely. I try and tell everyone that will listen what has helped with my son. The problem is not everyone will listen. Not sure if you knew Karen Defelise passed away in December of last year, sadly, she was only 51.

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This entry was posted on June 14, 2014 by in autism, biomedical, books, eating and tagged , , , .
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