I have loved watching the growth in Gabi’s passion for learning about the intricacies of the biochemistry of Trisomy 21, and how to support it health wise, since she had her beautiful daughter. Gabi has always been so generous in sharing her extensive knowledge within the DS community online, and I am grateful for her writing this guest post for us.
If you have a child with Trisomy 21 (T21) and are consulting a naturopath practitioner for your child’s health, there are two simple reasons why it is more beneficial to see a practitioner with specific knowledge of this trisomy:
1) The unspoken connection; and
2) Trisomy 21 biochemistry is complex.
The Unspoken Connection
Increasingly, naturopathic practitioners who specialise in T21 are often parents or relatives of people with T21. They may have witnessed similar health problems and used natural therapies for their own loved one to avoid medical interventions where possible. They also may have been through the same highs and lows as we have: the stress of learning the diagnosis, the side-ways glances at the supermarket trolley, the sleepless nights spent in ICU, hearing someone call your loved one a ‘Downsie’. It’s sad but true that these experiences create an unspoken connection.
The unspoken connection means these practitioners understand how much you want your child to achieve their full potential in life. Practitioners specialising in Trisomy 21 are often more aware of your child’s needs:
They understand your child’s unique health requirements and are qualified to write letters to your GP/Paediatrician in support of your decisions i.e. requesting a reverse T3 test, or switching thyroid medications.
They can advise which drugs are better tolerated during surgery e.g. Methotrexate is a folate antagonist and toxic to children with T21.
They understand nutrient and drug interactions and can advise which supplements to avoid or continue pre- and post-surgery e.g. fish oils and Vitamin E should be stopped three to five days prior to surgery as they are potential blood thinners.
T21 practitioners can recommend supplements to support your child’s immune system prior to vaccination, as well as support your child through detoxification post vaccination.
They can provide unbiased information on vaccination and support your decision to vaccinate or not. They may be trained in Homeopathic Prophylaxis, a safe and natural form of immunisation, should you choose not to use other forms of vaccination.
A typical appointment with a naturopath may include recommendations for genetic, biochemical and pathology testing and assessment of results. They will advise you which supplements can improve results and recommend supplements that are of high quality, and free from fillers and heavy metals.
Specific complementary therapies can be recommended to support your child’s optimal development. These include Neurodevelopment, Osteopathy, Chiropractic or other techniques with known positive effects, so that you can invest your precious time and money on only the best possible treatments.
They can support your child’s emotional and spiritual development by recommending yoga, qigong, bach and bush flower essences and essential oils. Overall, their approach to treatment will be much more specialised.
You should feel comfortable requesting this information from your practitioner. It is part of their job to provide it.
Trisomy 21 is described as a complex genetic disorder, as four hundred and seventy seven genes are attached to the 21st chromosome. Having a third chromosome means that these genes are expressing themselves 50% more than a typical gene. Having too much activity in certain genes creates imbalances in a person’s biochemistry as the genes which aren’t over-expressed are having a hard time keeping up with the ones that are!
A typical practitioner may not understand the basic biochemistry which underlies T21; genes are over-expressed and several areas of biochemistry are out of balance as a result.
They may not be aware that particular supplements are effective at regulating the over-expressed genes and balancing the biochemistry. This is known as nutrigenomics – a targeted approach to health which balances genetics. T21 is a chronic degenerative condition which may decline without nutrigenomic intervention.
Practitioners who do not specialise in Trisomy 21 may not be familiar with diseases associated with T21, such as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and may not know to order such tests as a thyroid auto-antibody test to confirm the extent of the problem.
They may prescribe doses of supplements that are inappropriate for people with T21, who generally require tiny doses. They may recommend amino acids like cysteine, methionine and phenylalanine which are inefficiently metabolised in those with T21 and should be avoided.
If they aren’t up to date with methylation research, they won’t be able to support your child’s health effectively. Supporting the methylation cycle can improve immunity, particularly in relation to leukaemia and autoimmune issues.
They may lack awareness of effective reflex therapies for people with T21 such as Cold Laser and MNRI, and may not be able to recommend suitable support groups for families with a child with T21.
Many parents have sought advice from practitioners who aren’t familiar with T21, or who specialise in Autism and, unfortunately, they often leave feeling their time and money were not well spent. Practitioners who specialise in Autism often have specific knowledge of genetics, but lack the subtle knowledge which defines T21 from autism. There is no doubt, a naturopathic practitioner specialising in Trisomy 21 biochemistry is an asset to a T21 family. Even if you only consult your practitioner once or twice a year it will be money well spent and an investment for your child’s future.
Gabi Giacomin is a Naturopath (MClP (Comp Med) BHSc (Comp Med)), wife and mother of two beautiful girls, including one with Down syndrome, and she is passionate about helping people achieve optimum health. After taking time off to focus on motherhood, Gabi has returned to private practice in the Northern Rivers area. If you’d like to ask her any questions or make contact regarding a consultation, Gabi can be contacted by email or please leave a comment below.