The Nemechek Protocol was developed by Patrick Nemechek, DO, to help children with neurological and developmental disorders. Dr. Nemechek believes that many symptoms of cognitive dysfunction are a result of cumulative brain injury and/or bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine (SIBO).
Patients who’ve experienced success with the protocol report that it has “reversed the symptoms” of autism in their children. The protocol is designed to reduce inflammation and bacterial overgrowth through the ingestion of olive oil and fish oil and the prebiotic inulin or, in older patients, the prescription antibiotic Rifaximin.
Prior to developing the protocol, Dr. Nemechek had a long career in HIV research. Along with his wife Jean Nemechek, an attorney with a background in child advocacy, Dr. Nemechek authored a book on the protocol which offers detailed explanations of the science behind it: The Nemechek Protocol for Autism and Developmental Disorders: a How-to Handbook for Restoring Neurological Function.
Successful reports of use of the protocol usually refer to its effectiveness for treating the symptoms of autism. However, adult and pediatric patients with other forms of cognitive dysfunction and/or brain injury including concussions, ADHD and Lyme Disease have reported success with the protocol. Dr. Nemechek is adapting the protocol to address symptoms of depression, anxiety and Alzheimer’s.
How It Works
The Nemechek Protocol involves the administering of fish oil, extra virgin olive oil, and the prebiotic inulin (in older patients, inulin is replaced with Rifaximin, a prescription antibiotic). Dr. Nemechek uses these to reduce gut inflammation, restore omega 3:6 balances, and aid in cellular repair.
Dr. Nemecheck believes many children with neurological dysfunction and developmental delays are suffering from inflammatory damage that leads to cumulative brain injury. This inflammation may lead to a build-up of proprionic acid, which leads to white cell dysfunction (also called “microglia”), which causes neurons not to “prune” correctly, creating developmental delays.
Undiagnosed SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth) is one type of this inflammatory damage. With the addition of inulin to their diets, Dr. Nemechek believes that a fermentation process occurs that produces a substance that fights the propionic acid, which acts like a sedative to the neurological system. As a result, patients experience a cognitive “awakening.”
On his website, Dr. Nemechek explains how the inflammatory response of bacterial overgrowth can cause developmental delay:
Excess inflammation from leaky gut, microglia priming and omega 3:6 imbalances prevents otherwise healthy microglia from pruning fast enough, and results in developmental delay. The priming effect from the bacterial overgrowth causes many microglia to shift into the M1-phenotype, and results in the brain being less able to fully repair itself from commonplace physical (falls and bumps to the head), emotional (fear, abuse, neglect) and inflammatory (surgery, infections, vaccines) brain injuries.
A small residual amount of damage will remain after each injury, and each new injury leaves residual damage upon the prior injury in a process referred to as cumulative brain injury. The abnormal neurological functioning from cumulative brain injury can occur slowly over time and or rapidly depending on the intensity of the brain injury. Damage to different portions of the brain will result in different outward symptoms such as ADHD, chronic anxiety or gait abnormalities.
He also offers a concise overview of the Protocol in this YouTube video.
Parents report that young children on the Protocol often show improvement in speech, sensory issues and social interaction within two months, while teens and young adults may take longer.
Things To Consider
Dr. Nemechek has applied for a patent for the Protocol. Given the protocol’s natural substances, there is little risk for adverse side effects. For the chemical reactions to occur as designed, patients must discontinue other supplements while on the protocol, including probiotics and vitamins. Patients may continue to use prescription medications, however. For optimal results, be as thorough as possible in asking Dr. Nemechek and his staff how to adapt your supplement intake, medication, diet, and lifestyle while on the protocol.