Written by Nancy O’Hara MD, a functional-medicine doctor with decades of experience in treating children with complex medical conditions such as autism, this book is a helpful guide for practitioners looking to learn more about treating children with these conditions.
What Are PANS/PANDAS and Basal Ganglia Encephalitis?
The diagnoses of conditions such as PANS/PANDAS and Basal Ganglia Encephalitis (BGE) are typically caused by pathogenic infections in the brain that can be triggered by immunological and environmental assaults. A diagnosis should be considered if there is:
- A sudden, dramatic onset or recurrence of OCD
- An acute onset of restrictive eating
- And the simultaneous presentation of at least two other symptoms such as:
- Separation anxiety
- Behavioral/developmental regression
- Emotional lability/regression
- Irritability, aggression or opposition
- Sensory abnormalities
- Gross-motor abnormalities
- Cognitive changes
- Sleep disturbances
Dr. O’Hara reminds us that PANS/PANDAS/BGE are clinical diagnoses only and that the extensive list of lab tests that she recommends cannot be used to confirm or deny a diagnosis. A child could test negative for any or all of potential infections such as Lyme disease, Bartonella, strep, Mycoplasma or Babesia and still have this diagnosis if the symptoms warrant.
A Functional-Medicine Approach
Many of the lab tests that Dr. O’Hara recommends are used to check for potential underlying inflammation, gut dysbiosis, mitochondrial dysfunction, genetic mutations and nutritional deficiencies. By using this root-cause approach, a more holistic picture emerges of how to support and treat a child. She writes that “It is simply not enough to diagnose a child… and use pharmaceuticals and therapy to treat (the condition).” She gives specific recomendations for herbal remedies, pharmaceuticals, dietary changes, probiotics and nutraceuticals in the book.
Dr. O’Hara has a unique perspective about PANS/PANDAS/BGE in that she addresses:
- Mold as a potential trigger
- Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS)
- The potential use of helminth (HDC) therapy to help correct Th-2 skewing of the immune system
- Mast Cell Activation Syndrome
- Cerebral folate deficiency
Healthcare practitioners that really want to dig in to specifics and more thoroughly understand these conditions can benefit from reading and implementing the thought processes laid out in this comprehensive book. While the book certainly can’t answer every single scenario, Dr. O’Hara’s copyrighted PANS/PANDAS integrative treatment flowchart, of which there is a sample in the book, can guide treatment protocols.
In addition, the cases studies she provides give enough detail for practitioners to learn about the complexity of these conditions and why a functional-medicine approach is truly needed. The impressive depth and breadth of knowledge that Dr. O’Hara displays about these conditions makes this book an indispensible reference that practitioners will likely turn to again and again.
Dr. O’Hara is a board-certified pediatrician who specializes in treating PANS, PANDAS and BGE and other neurodevelopmental disorders. She is a leading trainer and mentor of clinicians in the U.S. and globally, educating medical professionals to recognize, diagnose and treat PANS, PANDAS and BGE.
Dr. O’Hara graduated with highest honors from Bryn Mawr College, as part of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
She earned her Master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Pittsburgh, and completed her residency, chief residency and general pediatric fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh.
Before she began her medical career, Dr. O’Hara taught children with autism. From 1993 to 1998 Dr. O’Hara was a practicing general pediatrician and partner in a group practice. In 1999, she began her consultative, integrative practice for children with special needs, dedicating her practice to treating children with neurodevelopmental disorders, ADHD, PANS/PANDAS and BGE, OCD, Lyme, and Autism Spectrum Disorder.
She is the author of Demystifying PANS/PANDAS: A Functional Medicine Desktop Reference on Basal Ganglia Encephalitis. You can find out more about her at her website drohara.com
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