This article recently came out: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/31/magazine/a-fathers-search-for-a-drug-for-down-syndrome.html?_r=3&pagewanted=3&emc=eta1
"Memantine works, Costa hypothesizes, not by boosting the growth of brain cells but by normalizing how existing cells use the neurotransmitter glutamate. Because people with Down syndrome have three copies of all or most of the genes on Chromosome 21 instead of just two, they have about 50 percent more of any proteins encoded in that chromosome. One result, Costa has shown, is that the NMDA receptors of Ts65Dn mice are “hyperactive” — they overreact to stimuli. By responding to too many things, they learn too little; the signal is lost amid the noise. But giving memantine to quiet the noisy NMDA receptors, Costa has found, makes the brain cells react almost normally."
Since removing nightshades from Kaiden's diet stopped his seizures and had the side effect (if you can call a side effect!) of waking him up - this article has me fascinated. There are nicotinic receptors in the brain that work with the acetylcholine and the glutamate and I've come across some interesting studies and information about how that all works together. Nobody has applied it to T21, I'm sure . . . or at least if they have it certainly hasn't hit the internet.
Just based on my preliminary readings I think I was wrong about assuming nightshades dampened Kaiden's nervous system, not allowing enough sensory input - this has me now thinking that it allowed way too much sensory input and he couldn't filter it with the extra glutamate. Less (or no) nightshades = less sensory input = less "noise" = sensory input he could handle.
In case you are wondering WTF I am talking about, nicotine is a glycoalkaloid found in nightshade foods. (Yes, tobacco is a nightshade. No smoking cigarettes for you kiddo, ever. Don't even try it.) The glycoalkaloid solanine is blamed for arthritis pain, among other things. I wondered why Kaiden couldn't have nightshades but blueberries, which also contain solanine, and can affect those with arthritis pain - didn't affect his seizures at all. Blueberries don't appear to contain nicotine. And blueberries are touted as a brain food and sold as supplements for Alzheimer's patients. There are studies out there for both solanine and nicotine as individual alkaloids being useful in treating Alzheimers. But, nightshade foods contain them BOTH, not just one or the other. There are no studies that I can find that uses them both, together, in regards to Alzheimer's or Down Syndrome. My current theory is that the two alkaloids work synergystically together, meaning that because they are ingested TOGETHER, they have a different outcome than if they were ingested SINGLY.
I have a ton of reading to sift thru to attempt in figuring this out. But at least I have another avenue to look at because I was pretty much stalled where I was at. Something to do with glutamate, acetylcholine, and nicotine in the brain. I almost wish I had a degree in neurology; it would make for less work on my part in trying to understand what looks like English, but is almost completely unfamiliar to me. Lots of new words to look up and then to understand what they do within the brain.
Should I care? I don't know. I think some parents would just be thrilled their child was doing so amazingly well in spite of the predictions thrown at them, and leave it at that. No, darn it, I want to KNOW what the heck is going on in there . . . because if I can figure it out and have evidence & research to back it up, maybe I can get more parents to understand about nutrition and that western medicine, with its side effects, doesn't have to be the way to go. There are better, healthier choices out there.