“I want to free children with autism from disease and hope to be a grain of wheat in overcoming autism”; Results of autism treatment using Korean Herbal medicine, published in the international journal ‘Frontiers in Neurology.’
Children do not choose pediatric diseases, so adults in society should feel responsible. I wanted to give pediatric neuropsychiatric patients a chance to live a life not limited by their illness.”
This is why Dr. Kim Moonju, the director of ITOMATO Oriental Clinic, decided to open a clinic specializing in pediatric neuropsychiatric diseases. Dr. Kim studied biotechnology at Yonsei University before re-enrolling in Gachon University College of Oriental Medicine to pursue a career as an oriental medicine doctor.
Kim’s experience as an engineer helped him study oriental medicine
Children with various developmental disorders, including autism, often significantly improve if treated early in life. However, there is still a lack of evidence and treatment guidelines for these children to receive TCM treatment and care.
In response, Dr. Kim has been conducting ongoing research and clinical trials to create a standardized treatment for early intervention in developmental disorders through oriental medicine. In particular, her biotechnology background has helped her to make such a standardized treatment.
“The scientific way of thinking that I learned while majoring in biotechnology has been constructive in my research in oriental medicine,” says Dr. Kim. “The mindset of having to prove a treatment logically is also due to the scientific attitude I acquired while majoring in engineering.”
Discovering the key to treating autism in children with Chinese medicine
One area that Kim is mainly focused on is the treatment of autism through Chinese medicine.
“I have been researching the treatment of autism spectrum disorders in children with herbal medicines, but so far, there have been no clinical reports, let alone studies, on the use of herbal medicines to treat autism,” he said. “Moreover, the public’s distrust of herbal medicines has been a major obstacle to our research.”
However, through continuous research, Kim published a study on treating pediatric autism with herbal medicine in the international journal Frontiers in Neurology on the 4th of last month, which was evaluated as impossible.
The study was conducted in collaboration with Dr. Lee Boram of the Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine, who led a six-month clinical study on 18 children with an autism spectrum disorder.
The study found that the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) and Autism Behavior Checklist (ABC) survey values decreased from an average of 34.58 and 69.28 before treatment to an average of 28.56 and 39.67 after six months of treatment, respectively.
“Considering that a score of 30 or more on the CARS is diagnosed as ASD, and a score of 53 or more on the ABC test is diagnosed as ASD, it is significant that most of the children showed an effect of falling outside the diagnostic criteria,” said Dr. Kim.
Dr. Kim also emphasized the safety of herbal medicine, saying that many emerging or prevalent diseases today have not yet been fully understood, so they should be treated with herbal medicine, which has lower side effects than current medicine.
“It takes an infinite amount of time for the treatment of various diseases that are emerging in the modern world to be established,” he said, “and treatment with oriental medicine is an excellent approach that can produce effects without much risk.”
“Oriental medicine is a treasure trove of clinical information,” said Dr. Kim, who added that the final goal of the study is to create a ‘single guideline for treating developmental disorders,’ and emphasized that “if the usefulness of Oriental medicine is well established scientifically, it can be used extensively for various diseases that are emerging in modern society.”
Safe herbal medicines have advantages in treating modern diseases.
“We are still securing evidence that autism can be improved by Oriental medicine alone, and we are planning to conduct a prospective study to observe the changes when treated with Oriental medicine, diet, and some nutritional therapies without floor time,” said Dr. Kim. “We are also planning a study to observe that children with autism under the age of 20 months can reach the normal range by using Oriental medicine and diet alone.”
“I feel a great sense of responsibility and mission as a pediatric neuropsychiatric researcher and as a medical professional in charge of treatment,” said Dr. Kim. “I hope the treatment and research we are doing now will be a grain of wheat overcoming these diseases.”