Notes on Downs Syndrome

As with many of my articles, this one started when I was investigating the problem for friends. (The remainder generally start when I’m investigating something for myself.)

  • How to Live Longer and Feel Better, by Dr. Linus Pauling, pg. 188-190:
    “There is no accepted medical treatment for Down’s syndrome. The physician who has made the greatest effort to ameliorate that condition is Dr. Henry Turkel of Detroit, Michigan. He has reported on his work in a paper communicated to the Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs of the United States Senate, Senator George McGovern, Chairman (Turkel, 1977), and in a book, New Hope for the Mentally Retarded—Stymied by the FDA (Turkel, 1972). In 1940 he had begun treating Down’s syndrome patients with tablets he had developed. The tablets contain mainly orthomolecular substances—ten vitamins, nine minerals, one amino acid (glutamic acid), choline, inositol. para-aminobenzoic acid, thyroid, unsaturated fatty acids, and digestive enzymes. These substances should improve the health of the patients. In addition his preparation contains several drugs, given in smaller dosages than those usually prescribed. One of the drugs is pentylenetetrazole, which stimulates the central nervous system. Another is aminophylline, a heart stimulant. I do not know enough about these drugs to permit me to comment on their value for these patients, but there is the possibility that there action as stimulants is beneficial.”I know Dr. Turkel, and I can testify to his sincerity and conviction. The results that he reports are striking. Many of the children show a reduction of developmental abnormalities, especially of the bones. Their appearance changes in the direction of normalcy. Their mental ability and behavior improve to such an extent that they are able to hold jobs and support themselves. Rapid growth (increase in height) occurs during the period when tablets are being taken, and the growth stops during the periods when they are not taken.

    “My conclusion is that there is little danger that this treatment or treatment with supplementary nutrients would do harm, and there is evidence that the patients would receive significant benefit. There are about 300,000 people with Down’s syndrome in the United States. I think that all—especially they younger ones—should try nutritional supplementation to see to what extent it benefits them.

    “Turkel treats Down’s syndrome patients in Michigan, but he is not allowed by the Food and Drug Administration to ship his tablets across state lines.”

(There is a good chance that the unsaturated fatty acids are the most important part of the supplementation. I suspect that many of the vitamins and minerals are co-factors for its use, although I’ll need more details to be sure. The digestive enzymes undoubtably increase uptake of the nutrients, and the stimulants may put them to work more quickly, so less is wasted. (Also, since the nutrients go where they are needed, a central nervous system stimulant would be like weight training for the nerves—it causes the body to build in those areas because they are more heavily used.) The thyroid supplementation is interesting, too, although I don’t know much about it, yet.)

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