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Autism Coach

Dr. Mary Megson's Cod Liver Oil Protocol

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Dr. Mary Megson’s protocol of Cod Liver oil and Bethanechol has helped many children, including my son. 

According to Dr. Megson’s theory, there is a subgroup a children within the autistic population who have a G Alpha Protein Defect, causing them to be unable to metabolize artificial forms of Vitamin A (found in infant formulas). This defect renders families with this defect susceptible to a variety of health issues including intestinal problems (such as ulcers, colitis, Crohn’s Disease) and night blindness. Dr. Megson theorizes that the combination of the G Alpha Protein Defect and immunizations which deplete the body of natural Vitamin A, triggers a chain of events leading in autistic children to the shutting down of retinoid receptor sites in the brain. She has found that the combination of natural Vitamin A found in Cod Liver oil and Bethanechol, a prescription drug, actually helps to reopen these receptor sites and unblock neural pathways.*

Bethanechol is an old drug, derived from Betel nuts, originally used to treat urinary retention, stimulate GI motility, and treat stuttering. We obtain a pure form of Bethanechol from a compounding pharmacy (there are several such pharmacies on the internet) that is free of artificial ingredients. We started with a commercial brand but found that the pure form of Bethanechol custom made for us by a compounding pharmacy worked much better. When my son began taking Bethanechol, we saw immediate improvements in his ability to verbalize his thoughts—he didn’t have to struggle as much to put his thoughts into words and his communication skills began to blossom. The vitamin D in Cod Liver oil is also beneficial for the uptake of calcium and Omega 3 content of the oil, which is Cod Liver oil has in a highly absorbable form, raises levels of neurotransmitters in the brain.

My son responds best to straight Cod Liver oil.** However, there is controversy over contamination in fish products (in particular mercury and pesticides). I have read some research on the internet indicating that in general, mercury is pretty much never found in Cod Liver oil because mercury is water soluble and would not be found in an oil-based product.  

We are now offering Cod Liver Oil in Strawberry and Lemon Flavors in Liquid or Gel Caps by Nordic Naturals which has the purest Cod Liver oil available on the market, using cod from the artic - this product is so highly filtered it has virtually undetectable levels of contaminants.  We have also used successfully used Carlson's unflavored brand of Cod Liver oil, which uses cod fished from the North Sea, among the least contaminated fishing grounds for cod in the world. According to Carlson’s, their oil is regularly tested to ensure that it is free of detectable levels of mercury, PCBs and 28 other contaminants.

We previously tried using other brands purified fish oil prepackaged in a gel cap, which did not seem to provide the benefit of pure Cod Liver oil.  ** 

At age 12, 90 pounds, my son took about about a teaspoon of Cod Liver oil twice a day, twice a week, and 12.5 mg Bethanechol twice a day, daily. We have found that this schedule kept him functioning at a consistently high level.

* For more information, see Dr. Megson’s site at

**  One technique we have used to get our son to take Carlson's Cod Liver oil, is to extract oil from a bottle of Cod Liver oil with an eye dropper and drop it into empty gelatin capsules.  He then can swallow a capsule without having to taste it.

The above statements have not been reviewed by the FDA and do not constitute medical advice.