Practitioner Profile

John Pietryka

John Pietryka - All Natural Advantage Adv. Dip. Health Sc. (Naturopathy)
B. App. Sc. (Medical Laboratory Science)
Adv. Dip. (Applied Biology)
Member ANPA, ACNEM, MINDD
I am a qualified Naturopath completing my Naturopathy qualification at the Melbourne College of Natural Medicine in 2002. I am also a qualified Medical Scientist and have worked for over 20 years in various areas of medical science, including Biochemistry, Haematology and Blood Transfusion Science, both in Private Pathology and Public Hospitals.

My interest in natural medicine began after contracting glandular fever and developing chronic fatigue syndrome (“Yuppie Flu” in those days). Following years of feeling unwell, I finally tried natural alternatives and was amazed at the results. My interest was further prompted when one of my sons was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). I was totally ignorant at the time what the diagnosis meant. The medical professionals said that, apart from early intervention, nothing else could be done. We took their advice. Initially he seemed to do well with early intervention, but once he hit primary school, basically all hell broke loose. Within a month he was no longer welcome at the school, and the paediatrician recommended Ritalin. We tried Ritalin for a week, when his appetite markedly decreased and his sleep deteriorated, I finally woke up to the fact that something had to be done.  See more of our ASD journey below.

Since then I have come to realise that although we have seen some amazing advancements in medicine. At the same time the majority of family general practitioners, paediatricians, and other health specialists are ill informed when it comes to transferring the latest clinical research into general practice. An article in the New England Journal of Medicine (Clinical Research to Clinical Practice — Lost in Translation? Claude Lenfant, M.D. N Engl J Med 2003;349:868-74.) found that doctors rely on what they learnt 20 years ago or more, if they have been in practice that long, and are uninformed about current scientific findings. My brother was a GP, now retired, so I know that most of the updated clinical information they receive is via their pharmaceutical representatives or drug company sponsored conferences. More alarmingly I am finding that GP’s are not aware of new pathology tests that are available (i.e. PCR parasitology testing) and have difficulty interpreting routine pathology tests. I constantly see pathology tests and patients have been told that they are normal, when they clearly are not. There are some great Intergrative medicine doctors, but they are few and far between.

Therefore the onus is on ourselves to do what we can to be healthy. If I break my leg then yes I will go to the Emergency Department of a hospital. When I get sick with a virus I know I need to get over it quickly, otherwise my chronic fatigue returns and I know that conventional medicine can’t help me. Except to perhaps suggest an antidepressant! As with my son, if I had followed the advice at the time, I am in no doubt that he would probably be on a cocktail of pharmaceutical drugs and on welfare. We need to be informed and take responsibility for our own health. I am passionate about what I do, especially making a difference to ASD children and their families.

As a result of my personal experiences, I am very aware of the overwhelming amount of information (and misinformation), regarding natural/alternative therapies, that is available today on the internet via “Dr Google”. That is why I base my treatment protocols and information provided on my website on scientifically proven natural remedies and treatments. For those that wish to take advantage of an integrative medicine approach in their recovery or their children’s health, I will work with you (and your medical doctor if needs be) to achieve the best outcome for either you or your child’s health.

Our ASD Journey

My son received a formal diagnosis of autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at the age of 3. When reviewing his old medical assessments from that time, it almost doesn’t seem possible that it is the same person that has grown up into the independent, social and hard working adult that he is. Reading from his paediatric assessment from then:

  • “.. is approximately 12 months delayed in most respects”
  • “mild intellectual disability”
  • “he was able to name four pictures but could not proceed with items beyond that”
  • “During the testing situation even in a 1 to 1 environment it was extremely difficult to keep him on task”
  • “he uses language in an idiosyncratic way which appears to be unconnected to the context. He does not initiate social conversation and his parents have to pose a series of simple questions to illicit information from him. He is inclined to repetitively recant phrases and statements and invents words if he does not know the name of the object”
  • “exhibits unusual attachments to objects at times and for example will cling to a supermarket docket and become very distressed if his parents take it from him.”
  • “fussy eater”
  • “established eye contact only on his own terms”
  • “fulfils the DSM-IV criteria for the diagnosis of autistic disorder”

He went to Irabina for early intervention and enjoyed it as well as kinder.
His entry into primary school? Basically he got kicked out within two months of starting Prep. Minutes from the Parent Support Group Meeting read:

  • “School is unable to meet his needs at this point. Safety concerns for him and other children cannot be met”
  • “His behavior is inconsistent and invasive. This cannot continue.”

Yes it was a “fun” time.
It was soon after that we trialed Ritalin for a week. When his appetite markedly decreased and his sleep deteriorated, I finally woke up to the fact that something had to be done. I was a medical scientist, I knew how to research, there had to be something we could do for him surely.

At the time, anecdotally, on-line ASD parent discussion groups were reporting success with diet and supplements. The medical profession said that there was no evidence that supported any of these “alternative” interventions. Indeed they considered them as being potentially dangerous. I thought at the time that “I was a Medical Scientist for God sake, there had to be something that could help”. I began my research and started with diet and saw an immediate improvement in behaviour with the removal of artificial colours and preservatives. Removal of dairy and sulphites eliminated his asthma. AND so the journey continued, limiting salicylates, a trial of removing gluten, adding in magnesium, fish oils, vitamin B6, etc. At that stage I decided that I really did not understand what I was doing with diet, and the supplements that I was giving him and enrolled to study Naturopathy. The research into ASD continues to increase at a phenomenal rate. Many of the anectdotal parent reports of treatments trialled by parents that have benefited their children, now have solid scientific evidence explaining why they have been so beneficial. Did it make a difference for my son? Today, he is independent, just finished his educational studies, academically he did very well, is very social and has friends. AND yet medical professionals STILL say that nothing can be done! AND STILL ignore research that is clearly showing that ASD children do suffer from co morbid medical conditions, preventing them from achieving their full potential in life.

Do I have any regrets? Only one, that I didn’t start healing my son sooner and believed that mainstream medical professionals knew best. Years of reading research papers has taught me otherwise. More recent ASD research is expanding, looking at the long term outcome of ASD adults. The studies are showing that ASD adults have difficulty with being independent, struggle with mood issues and continue to rely heavily on family support. Clearly the mainstream model is not working.

Although not offering a cure, Biomedical intervention has made an enormous difference to my sons quality of life, and has enabled him to fulfil his full potential. I say that he is not cured, as every so often something quirky will pop up, which only a parent would notice. All ASD children are unique and some children do better than others, but they do get better. The ASD studies are available and continue to be published. The American College of Pediatrics published a consensus report in 2010, which recommended that children on the spectrum should have a more comprehensive medical evaluation and agreed that there was anecdotal evidence for dietary intervention, but stopped short of recommending dietary intervention as a “primary treatment for individuals with ASD’s”. The same report concluded that there was a “high incidence of gastrointestinal problems in ASD requiring thorough assessment.”  The UK and NZ  governments have issues similar guidelines and recommendations. This is more than Australian Paediatricians and other medical professionals are are willing to recommend to parents.

If you don’t look for the research, then you will never know and certainly not be in a position to offer advice to parents.

It is lazy way to practice medicine!

ASD children have only one start in life, and they should be supported with the best medical and nutritional care, so that they can achieve their optimal potential in life.

 

As a result of these experiences, I am very aware of the overwhelming amount of information (and misinformation), regarding natural/alternative therapies, that is available today on the web. Hence I provide scientifically proven natural remedies and treatments, that are fully explained, for those that wish to take advantage of an integrative medicine approach in their recovery or their children’s health, working with both natural and orthodox medicine.

For advice or to book a consultation call (03) 8802 7687 or email me.