Autonomic Dysfunction

I mentioned in my last post that Sara is not FULLY recovered yet and still has 1-3 rough days a week where she has moderate Autonomic Nervous System Dysfunction, and today I want to explain why that is, as it was explained to me by Dr. Nemechek.

I have been fortunate to have been able to Skype with Dr. Nemechek and, while doing so is not vital to recovering your child, it certainly is an amazing experience and one that REALLY allows you to get a sense of the “behind the scenes” healing your child is going through based on their issues.

In our particular case, we had been on the protocol for about 7 months and while it was undeniable that she was substantially healed, there was still some lingering ANS Dysfunction that would just not go away.  It seemed that every 3-4 weeks there would be a few “bad days” where Sara struggled with mild nausea, headaches, fatigue, brain fog, confusion etc.  She was also full swing back into school and it was apparent that she still had some visual processing issues and mild learning difficulties.  I would like to point out that we 100% did not even CARE!!!  This was a child that was profoundly better.  If this was the best we could get – we were still thrilled!

But, the healthier Sara got the more annoyed she became when the “rough” days flared up.  She was no longer used to feeling sick and hated it.   She was also frustrated when she did not understand a class assignment.  So we reached out to Dr Nemechek to see if he could help us understand if this was something to be concerned about or if we just needed to be more patient.

The evening that we were scheduled to Skype just happened to fall on one of the days that Sara was having a flare up.  It had started the day before.  He immediately asked when she was due for her next menstrual cycle.  It was in a few days and while I was aware her “bad” days often seemed to appear close to that same time frame, I was also aware that what she was dealing with was not typical PMS.  These bad days were in fact, a much less magnified version of exactly what she went through before starting the Protocol.

That was when Dr. Nemechek blew my mind.  I will try to summarize his explanation based on memory as I did not take notes (yes I am kicking myself!).

He explained that my daughter’s Autonomic Nervous System had healed to the point that it was now providing her brain the BASE LEVEL of oxygen required to be symptom free most of the time.  But he was clear that it was JUST base level.  He explained that in the days leading up to a woman’s period there is a surge of progesterone in the abdomen/uterus.  That surge creates a deficit in the level of oxygen that is available to the brain.  The resulting deficit is what is responsible for the appearance of my daughter’s symptoms 2-3 days each month.

The brain NEEDS oxygen to perform a million tasks.  When there is an inadequate supply the brain THINKS IT IS DYING!!!!  (And yes he yelled that part!)

The brain doesn’t know why there is no oxygen, just that it is now in a “fight for it’s life” and desperately tries to trigger the body into doing things that will increase the supply of oxygen.  For some it could be fidgety ADHD behavior, craving carbs/sugars, or full on aggression because all of these behaviors in fact increase oxygen levels and blood pressure.

He then asked a few questions and was spot on about every one of them.  Does she get headaches?  Yes.  Does she struggle in class? YES!  And on and on.  It was like he was inside my head!  He instinctively knew what issues she was likely struggling with and- it goes without saying – that he also knew WHY.

All brain functioning requires oxygen and when the brain is JUST getting the bare minimum it needs –  it is not about to waste it on things like calculating math, logging information into long term memory storage, or focusing on tasks.  It is going to delegate the little oxygen it has to things like breathing, heart rate, digestion etc!!  Remember the brain thinks it is DYING!!  It is primarily concerned with getting oxygen to all the vital organs and make sure all immediate needs are being met.  Memorizing the 12 times table gets ZERO attention when oxygen is in low supply.

So, in order to resolve Sara’s symptoms and improve her cognition, we have to heal her ANS to the point that it is not just delivering the BASE level of oxygen to her brain, but is instead capable of providing AMPLE levels of oxygen – which can also be used for all that executive functioning and higher level thinking.   Once the brain is receiving that increased (sufficient) level of oxygen it can stop sending S.O.S messages to the body to overeat, tap it’s feet or become hyperactive.  There also needs to be further brain healing and anything that improves neuroplasticity will help but this blog post will just focus on the ANS and oxygen.

I was aware that the ANS was responsible for all the “behind the scenes” workings of the body, and I knew from reading the book that lack of oxygen to the brain was responsible for the food cravings, excessive thirst and the ADHD symptoms, but speaking with him personally just connected the dots for me in a way that I needed!  Now I am really looking forward to the adult Protocol book because I know it will more deeply address Autonomic issues.  There is soooo much more to learn!

** Edited to add – I almost forgot!  He also asked if she had something called “coat-hanger pain”?  I immediately said “No – but I do!!”  I did not know there was a term for it but in fact, I often get a pain in my neck and shoulders that feels like a wire coat hanger is embedded in there!  Apparently this is the result of an inadequate delivery of oxygen into the muscles.  Dr. Nemechek discusses this in his other book “A Simplified Guide to Autonomic Dysfunction” and says:  “Low blood pressure into the head and neck can also cause fatigue, poor cognition (i.e. brain fog, ADD, ADHD), anxiety, numbness of hands, face or neck (i.e., neuronal ischemia), fidgety behaviors (toe tapping, sitting cross legged or with a leg folded underneath, frequent changing of body position while seated) and the symptoms referred to as “low blood sugar”.

Sure enough when I asked Sara if she gets “coat hanger pain” she said “Is that what it’s called??” and immediately knew what I was talking about!  Again – mind blown!!

Like I said earlier, Skyping with Dr. Nemechek is not NEEDED to heal your child!  When people ask me if they need to Skype with Dr Nemechek before starting I tell them:

1)  Save your money,  buy the book and just get started!  It has everything you need to understand the science behind the protocol, what doses and products, and how to proceed step by step.  It also tells you what to look for in terms of relapse.

2) Allow your child to start recovering and if at some point along the way you see something that concerns you, or you plateau, or you have a relapse and can’t get back on track – Skype with him then!  That is when you will get the most bang for your buck!  Unless of course you have a medically complex situation and in such case you might want to consider it before starting.

I often say the Protocol is the most confusing “simplest” thing EVER! and hopefully this helps remove some of the confusion for others 🙂








  1. Ok, so are there two different books? one for dysautonomia and one for autism? My daughter is suffering badly with pots, I need help so bad..Thank You


    1. Yes the first book published was The Nemechek Protocol for Autism and Developmental disorders (which includes info on Autonomic Dysfunction!) and the second smaller book that came out is “A Simplified Guide to Autonomic Dysfunction”. It is JUST about Autonomic Dysfunction. There will also be a third book (no release date that I know of) that will be an adult Protocol book and will delve even deeper into the Autonomics (I think!).


  2. Hi Kelsey, I can’t thank U enough for your blog posts and your videos about your daughters recovery and your interaction with Dr. Nemechek. So, did he say that you just need to continue with the protocol to heal her ANS further or was there any advice you can give you about how to help her get more oxygen to her head?

    Thanks so much, Paula Perez, 17 year old daughter, high functioning ASD with mitochondrial dysfunction.


  3. Hi there. Do you know if both books contain the full protocol so as to just get started? I’m an adult keen to try the protocol for my own autonomic dysfunction. Many thanks.


  4. Wow this is so interesting! I have autonomic dysfunction & always thought oxygen was involved somehow. I get a flare similarly prior to menstrual cycle, I can always predict when it is coming. This is the first doctor able to explain why, amazing!


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