How Can Naturopathic Medicine Help People with Down Syndrome?

Whether you're the proud parent of a brand new baby with Down Syndrome or the seasoned parent of a feisty teen with Trisomy 21, naturopathic medicine can help your child live a longer healthier life.

But how?

Glad you asked.

Naturopathic medicine can help individuals with DS thrive in a number of ways. First off, if you don't know what naturopathic medicine is, then take a look at the linked post to get an explanation.

Naturopathic medicine can help people with DS through a number of different modalities like diet, lifestyle modification, supplemental and nutrition support, and herbal cognition enhancement. Just to new a few.

One of essential jobs of a naturopathic doctor is to address the root cause of a disorder, not just the symptoms, and encourage healthier lifestyle choices through education and support. I do this in a number of ways.

When I work with a client who has Down Syndrome, I have to take a number of factors into account. Are there any underlying nutritional deficiencies? How is sleep? Exercise? Support system? How is the body responding physiologically to the environment? How is the immune system reacting to possible antigens? Is there an immune system Th1 or Th2 dominance? Are there any thyroid deficiencies? Adrenal deficiencies? Amino acid deficiencies? How is cognition affected and is it exacerbated by underlying conditions like the ones above?

That's just a fraction of what I have to look at when working with a client with DS. As you see, there's a lot involved.

While it's not just lab tests and vitamins and/or endogenous (substances produced by your own body like CoQ10) supplements, all of these modalities do play a big part in helping me understand the bigger picture.

Diet and Nutrition

Correcting nutritional deficiencies through diet and vitamin supplementation can make a huge impact on the lives of individuals with DS. Many people are aware that Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome) is a genetic condition.

I don't claim that naturopathic medicine can somehow cure Down syndrome. No form of medicine that I'm aware of can do that.

Personally, I don't think that DS needs a cure, per se, since it's not a disease but rather a collection of physical features and intellectual challenges that an individual faces.

But people with DS do have a large number of nutritional deficiencies.

It takes a lot of nutrients to make all of those extra proteins coded for by the 3rd copy of chromosome 21. In essence people with DS are making more proteins and using more vitamins and minerals than typical individuals because their bodies have an extra set of instructions that typical individuals don't.

For example, if you were working in a factory and you had to produce say, 100 toy cars, before the end of your shift, you would be able to do that easily provided the materials are there to begin with. If you only had enough raw material to make 50 toy cars instead of 100, the production of the factory would be slowed down and stopped altogether if more materials weren't given to you quickly.

This is what it is like for an individual with Down Syndrome who isn't receiving the proper nutritional support.

Some of the most common vitamin and mineral deficiencies associated with Trisomy 21 include:

zinc, selenium, folate, vitamin A, and calcium (to name a few).

Adapting a diet early in life that is rich in dark leafy greens, fresh vegetables, whole grains (in moderation), fresh fruits, and lean proteins gives a great start towards life long health for people with DS. Often, even with a healthy diet, additional nutritional support is needed just because of the extra demands that the extra copy of chromosome 21 places on the body.

Lifestyle Modification

People with DS would do well to increase physical activ