Respen-A and Autism - An Important Treatment To Consider For Anyone On The Autism-Spectrum

Saturday, February 26, 2011 by: Kurt Woeller
Tags: Respen-A, autism, health news

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An exciting new therapy called Respen-A is showing great benefit for individuals on the autism spectrum with respects to some of their core issue such as language delay, socialization, self-stimulatory behavior and cognitive dysfunction. Respen-A has been available since 2008, but not until recently has increased interest been recognized within the autism community of its benefits. So what is Respen-A and what does it do?

Respen-A is a small disc (about the size of a nickel) applied to the skin once daily for 12 hours. In the disc is an ingredient called reserpine in a small dose that helps to activate a particular enzyme in the human body called Monoamine Oxidase A (MAO-A). MAO-A helps metabolize three primary neurotransmitters called histamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. In autism, serotonin is greatly affected which results in issues such as poor mood regulation, tantrums, and anxiety. Also, fine and gross motor skills, self-regulation problems, and sensory system imbalances such as touch, sound, etc. are prevalent too.

Reserpine is a known as a MAO-A agonist which means it promotes MAO-A activity, and in doing so helps to turn serotonin over into what's called its active aldehyde form. This aldehyde form called 5-hydroxyindoleacetaldehyde (5-HIAL) complexes with the post-synaptic serotonin receptor to influence the physiological effects of serotonin.

Reserpine comes from an Indian herb called Rauwolfia serpentina or snakeroot. In 1955, the FDA approved reserpine for the treatment of hypertension at a dose of 0.1- 0.5mg. The actual amount of reserpine found in Respen-A is .01 mg, which is about 10 to 50 times less than was used in the other forms of reserpine products.

Respen-A was first introduced in November 2008 as a viable therapy for autism-related disorders. The impetus for this therapy came from research that was published in 1957 in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. A study had been done with reserpine in a group of autistic children using an oral elixir dose between 3 - 7 mg (much higher than is found in Respen-A). What they discovered in these kids was better verbal communication, improved eye contact, much less self stimulatory behavior, improved general awareness, willingness to play, and willingness to socialize. These are the same types of things I am seeing with many autistic children who are doing the Respen-A therapy.

There are two main areas that appear to be helped the most with Respen-A. These are speech and socialization problems, but it must be understood that others area related to autism described above can be improved as well. Speech improvements with Respen-A seem to manifest as more complex speech, expressive and specific. As some parents have described to me, their child's speech has become more purposeful and deliberate. Socialization seems to manifest with children becoming more aware of others around them (particularly other children), and they are more interested in interacting and happier to do so. Mood has also been improved with this therapy as well.

Side effects of any therapy are an important part of the discussion and Respen-A is no exception. Thankfully, side effects from this therapy have been minimal and easy to deal with. In the early use of reserpine at high dosages such as the case in the 1957 study some children experienced excessive sleepiness, dry mouth, and fatigue (possibly from lower blood pressure). When the dosage was pushed upwards of 10 aa??' 12 mg some kids started to take on adverse neurological complications similar to Parkinson's with impaired gait, slowed physical movements and tremors. With Respen-A the main side effect is initial hyperactivity in a small number of children which is easily remedied by decreasing the size of the patch application. Also, calcium supplementation is necessary with Respen-A to help prevent against irritability which can happen as reserpine has a tendency to drop blood calcium levels a bit. Finally, individuals on Respen-A need to eat some protein every day, i.e. fish, chicken, beef, turkey, or take an amino acid supplement such as 5-HTP to help replenish lost stores of serotonin via MAO-A activity. Overall, the side effects of Respen-A are minimal and easily accounted for with these additional steps.

Respen-A therapy has been very helpful for individuals on the autism-spectrum, and in my experience has shown a positive response rate of 75-80% and greater. These are exceptional numbers and I consider it to be one of the higher ranking therapies used in treating many of the core issues in autism. For more information about Respen-a please visit (

About the author:
Kurt Woeller, D.O., has been an autism biomedical specialist and complementary medicine physician since 1998. He is an author, lecturer, clinical practitioner and medical director for Stillpoint Center for Integrative Medicine, in Temecula, CA. offering specialized testing and treatment for individuals with complex medical conditions like autism, mental health disorders, Lyme Disease and neurological conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson's Disease. Dr. Woeller serves as a clinical consultant for BioHealth Diagnostics and Great Plains Laboratory providing patient and physician education through training programs and monthly webinars. Dr. Woeller has lectured nationwide regarding the benefits of biomedical therapies for autism, as well as maintaining an extensive educational resource for parents and clinicians on his membership website at and free video blog site at Dr. Woeller can be reached at 951-461-4800 or

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