The Role of Oxalates in Autism and Chronic Disorders


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A mummy that had been preserved for a couple of thousand years in the high desert of Chile was discovered upon X-ray examination to have a very large oxalate stone in the kidney, about the size of a golf ball. The discovery of this ancient sufferer is testimony to the fact that kidney stones and oxalate toxicity have afflicted humans for a very long time.

Oxalates (the salt form of oxalic acid) are extremely painful when deposited in the body. About eighty percent of kidney stones are caused by oxalates and they are by far the most common factor in kidney stone formation. There is also a large degree of genetic variability in the ability to detoxify the chemicals that produce oxalates. Perhaps twenty percent of the population has a genetic variance that increases their likelihood of producing oxalates, even when not consuming a high-oxalate diet.


Oxalates can form all throughout the kidney and the urinary tract, and can also form in the ureter as well as in the bladder. These star-shaped crystalline stones cause pain as the pressure in the urinary filtrate builds up, and perhaps also by tearing into the walls of the urinary tract itself.

spr10-oxal1bSome kidney stones acquire a stag horn shape, while some oxalate crystals resemble pieces of coral. The crystals do have a lot of calcium in them just as coral does. Oxalate crystals appear in different colors. Some are black and almost look the color of Indian arrowheads made of obsidian. On page 41 is shown a picture of a kidney with one of the oxalate crystals imbedded in it. You can see that the crystal is very pointed. Some of these have extremely sharp ends that cause severe pain.

Kidney stones are one of the most common medical ailments—ten to fifteen percent of adults will be diagnosed with a kidney stone in their lifetime. One million Americans develop kidney stones each year and most of these are oxalate related. Seventy-five to ninety percent of kidney stones are made of oxalic acid bound to another compound, usually calcium.

Once you have experienced a kidney stone attack, you have a very high chance of having another unless you change your way. The common symptoms are pain in the side and the back below the ribs. The episodes of pain last between twenty to sixty minutes, and it is common to hear women who have suffered kidney stones claim that they are more painful than childbirth.

The pain radiates from the side and the back to the lower abdomen and groin. There may be bloody, cloudy and foul-smelling urine. If there is infection, there may also be fever and chills. Pain with urination may accompany nausea and vomiting, and the sufferer may have a persistent urge to urinate.

This last symptom is a common factor in autism. It has been noted that many children with autism urinate perhaps fifty times a day, but only release a small amount of urine each time. After I did my research it became clear that the behavior arose because these children were suffering from kidney stones and high oxalate concentrations. The children would urinate only a small amount at a time since when urinating normally the pressure of the stream causes pain. Frequently releasing small amounts of urine causes much less pain to the child.


Even though oxalate crystals are most common in the kidney, they also can form in virtually any other tissue in the body, including the brain and the blood-brain barrier. Oxalate crystals resembling pieces of glass can form in the heart muscle. As the heart muscle contracts, these pieces of oxalate crystals actually tear into the tissue. If these crystals are deposited in skeletal muscle, normal movement and exercise can be very painful. I’m convinced this is also one of the factors responsible for fibromyalgia. Oxalates may also cause thyroid disease as they react in thyroid tissue.


Star-shaped kidney stones can cause great pain in the kidneys and bladder.


Typical stag-horn shaped kidney stone.


A kidney stone resembling glass embedded in the kidney.


Oxalate stones resembling glass embedded in the heart.

Oxalate crystals can form in the bone. The oxalate crystals can become so dense they actually push the bone marrow cells out of the bones, leading to severe anemia. Deficiencies of red blood cells as well as white blood cells may result due to the oxalate depositions in the bones. Oxalates can likewise cause osteoporosis. The oxalates form in the bone marrow and alter the structure of the bone matrix so the bone is much weaker and prone to breakage.

Other diseases in which oxalates may play a role include arthritis, joint pain and interstitial cystitis.


The shape of the crystal will depend on which metal the oxalate combines with. Calcium is one of the most common but it can combine with virtually any metal. There are cobalt oxalates and zinc oxalates. The cobalt ones are spear shaped whereas the zinc oxalate resembles thin disks. These are extremely thin and very sharp.

Oxalates in the gastrointestinal tract have a tendency to bind essential elements. If you have a lot of oxalates, you won’t be able to utilize essential elements like calcium, magnesium and zinc because they will also form deposits with oxalates. If you have excess oxalates, you may have to increase your intake of calcium, magnesium and zinc. In addition, rather than acting as antioxidants, oxalates are prooxidants, so they encourage the oxidation of your fats, forming rancid fats in your body.


An unexpected finding is the fact that oxalate crystals are produced in very high amounts by molds and fungus. Aspergillus—a common organism that causes infection in humans and also is found in the black fungi that you see in your bathroom—produces oxalates.

I remember I was in San Juan, Puerto Rico, at the old fort that overlooks the sea. There was a lot of black mold on the walls and I could see stalactites coming down. The stalactites in this case were formed from calcium oxalate. Aspergillus produces these oxalates, and these stones will form any place that has infection by the fungus.

In the case of sinus infection, mold and fungus, not bacteria, are the most common causes of infection. A colleague of mine, who is an eye, nose and throat specialist, X-rayed a patient’s sinuses and found large oxalate crystals in her sinuses, which disappeared after anti-fungal treatment.

Large oxalate crystals have also been isolated from the lungs of people who had Aspergillus infection of the lungs. The deposits can also form in the skin where they create black areas and necrotic lesions in people with very high oxalate levels.


I first became interested in this topic because of improvements that were noted in autistic children by the researcher Susan Owens. It was Owens who collected the data showing that many autistic children had frequent urination of small volume and found that the phenomenon was associated with oxalates. She also found that these children often manifested gastro-intestinal symptoms such as diarrhea and stomach pain. They may also have pain in the urinary tract. That pain is relieved when a low oxalate diet is instituted. Owens also found that children had improved cognitive, academic and motor skills once the amount of oxalates in their diets was sharply reduced. The same dietary measures helped reduce pain in their muscles and feet, and also brought about a reduction in abnormal behavior and self-abuse as well.

Eighty percent of people with genetic diseases that cause them to produce kidney stones die before the age of twenty. These genetic diseases, which belong to a class of disorders called hyperoxaluria, are frequently fatal unless the victim receives both a liver and a kidney transplant. Sometimes even after the transplants people die because the oxalates are deposited in tissues all throughout the body. The oxalates will come out of the bones or the muscles and then form in the transplanted kidneys and still kill the person.

More than a third of children with autism have oxalate values as high as people who have these rare genetic disorders, even though these autistic children do not have the disorders. The question naturally arose: If they don’t have this genetic disorder, why are their oxalates so high?

We correlated the amount of oxalate in autistic children with other biochemical parameters and found there was a high correlation with the sugar arabinose, which is a Candida marker. It appears that the main reason for the high oxalates in children with autism is because of the Candida problem, which is prevalent in autism. Arabinose is very low in normal children and very high in those with autism. We found in my earliest research that treatment with the anti-fungal drug Nystatin markedly decreased this compound. In addition, autistic symptoms such as hyperactivity, lack of eye contact, and aggressive behavior markedly decreased as well. Because of the dramatic reduction in symptoms, anti-fungal treatment has become one of the most common therapies in autism in the world today.


Another condition associated with oxalates is vulvodynia, or pain in and outside the vagina. The oxalate crystals act like tiny pieces of glass, which are deposited in the tissue. The oxalate is extremely acidic so it is corrosive as well. The pain is often described as burning or stinging, with a feeling of rawness or irritation.

One of the published studies on the treatment of this condition states that this is due to a reaction with yeast. There is indeed a connection of vulvodynia with yeast, most often Candida. There are about a dozen different species of Candida yeast normally associated with humans, the most common of which is Candida albicans. It was found that the main way to treat volvodynia was anti-fungal treatment to get rid of Candida, along with a low-oxalate diet. These two approaches have been very effective in correcting this condition.

Children who take oral antibiotics will frequently have much higher amount of oxalates. Antibiotics severely disrupt the balance of normal flora in the gut, with a consequent exponential proliferation in the growth of Candida, which is resistant to antibiotics. Oral antibiotics first appeared in the early 1950s, and the pharmaceutical companies actually included antifungal drugs along with the antibiotics because they knew about this problem. The FDA disallowed the addition, declaring that there was no approval for the prophylactic use of anti-fungals, thereby washing their hands of the whole business. It is significant to note that if individuals are given the same amount of antibiotics intravenously, their oxalate values do not rise because there was no effect on the GI tract. In some ways the old medical treatment—a shot of penicillin—was a lot safer.


Yeast is a common factor in chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, and antifungal therapy is very useful in treating these problems. Jacob Teitelbaum has written several books about the treatment of fibromyalgia and indicates two-thirds of individuals improved their chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia after anti-fungal therapy.

A Dr. Eaton in England found that individuals who had chronic fatigue would actually produce alcohol from their sugar intake. He describes patients who would do a baseline blood-alcohol test, then take some glucose dissolved in a flavored drink, and measure the blood alcohol one or two hours later. The blood alcohol would be substantially higher if the person had a severe Candida problem.

The OH component readily attaches to minerals like calcium, zinc and mercury, forming oxalates. Oxalates in the body come from food, can be formed in the gut by yeasts and fungi, or can result from an interruption in the glycolate pathway. Nutritional deficiencies and inborn errors of metabolism cause the formation of oxalates rather than the protein glycine.

Oxalates: Implications for control of autistic symptomsEaton found that by using this test he could monitor patients undergoing different treatments for chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia and found that 42 percent of patients improved just with sugar restriction alone. If he combined a low-sugar diet together with anti-fungal drugs, he had about a 78 percent success rate.

The most comprehensive study was that of a Dr. Jessop in California, who treated over one thousand people with chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia using a single anti-fungal drug, ketoconazole. Eighty-four percent of the patients improved. Of the 1,100 patients, 685 were on disability payments. After the treatment with anti-fungal treatment, only twelve remained on disability. It was an extremely effective treatment!


High amounts of oxalates have also been found in persons with a metabolic disorder called Zellweger syndrome, which causes the reduction or absence of an intracellular organelle called peroxisome, leading to mental retardation and severe metabolic problems. In one study, nineteen of twenty-three patients exhibited high amounts of oxalate, and there was a direct relationship between the degree of mental impairment in children and their levels of oxalates. The children with the highest amounts of oxalates were the ones who were the most mentally impaired.


Oxalates also come into play in cancer treatment. One of the drugs used to treat cancer, oxaliplatin, contains a combination of platinum and oxalate. In many of the people taking this drug, their cancer improved, but they also experienced severe neurotoxicity and nerve damage. While undergoing treatment, patients developed high amounts of oxalates which were coming from the drugs. Researchers found the effect was specific to the oxalates. If they gave the drug without the oxalate the toxicity did not occur; the toxicity was a result of the oxalate combined with the drug.

Research has also found that people with genetic variations called polymorphisms experienced much more neurotoxicity when exposed to this drug. Alanine-glyoxylate aminotransferase (AGXT) is the enzyme responsible for moderating the production of oxalates in the body. People with a genetic variation that leaves them deficient in AGXT are much more likely to suffer severe reactions. They suffer peripheral neuropathy, the disease of the peripheral nerves that causes superficial and deep sensory loss; sensory ataxia, which means not feeling a sense of balance; and functional impairment.


People who are vegetarians really have to be aware of all the oxalates they take in. The biggest culprit for all vegetarians is soy protein, and the second is spinach. Virtually everybody who eats a large spinach salad every day is going to succumb to kidney stones. I’ve tested them over and over again and the people who have the highest oxalate values invariably tell me that a cornerstone of their daily diet is a large spinach salad. If they add nuts to their salad and textured soy protein, both of which are very high in oxalates, you’ve got a cocktail made to produce kidney stones. Spinach is so high I would not recommend eating it even cooked, as a main course. Lettuces, by the way, are very low in oxalates. The biggest problem vegetarians face is eating a diet high in soy protein and spinach.

Once after I gave a talk a physician came up afterwards and told me that a few months earlier he had decided to get healthy. He decided to forswear all the McDonald’s and the like. He was going to start eating healthy and eating healthy meant a very large spinach salad with lots of pecans on it every day. Within two months he had kidney stones.

Cooking does not destroy the oxalates; they are extremely stable. Cooking may reduce the oxalates in foods as they precipitate into the cooking water, and if you discard that water you are likely reducing the oxalates remaining in the food. If you drink that pot liquor, however, you will absorb the full amount.

Peppercorns are very high in oxalates, but not many people eat a pound of black pepper every day. However, if you like pepper-coated steaks, pepper may contribute to your oxalate load. The same goes for parsley, it’s very high in oxalates but you don’t eat very much of it.

Peanuts and peanut butter are problematic because some kids eat them every single day. Peanut butter is not a poison, so eating it occasionally isn’t going to bother you. The problems come when you make a few highoxalate foods the staples in your diet.

Dr. Massey at Washington State University found that textured soy protein is very high in oxalates. There are 638 milligrams of oxalate per 85-gram serving, which is about the size of one of these small soy burgers and as much as you would find in a typical serving of spinach. The recommended amount of oxalate for people who have kidney stones is less than 30 mg a day. One soy burger contains twenty times the recommended daily dose in just one single portion. This, I would say, is a major problem for the soy producers. The soy cheese does not have nearly as much. It’s the textured soy protein, the soy burgers, the soy bacon that have such high levels. Some soy companies recommend that you pour textured soy protein on your breakfast cereal. You really don’t want to do that.

How much oxalate is in the typical diet? There’s a very large range— from 97 to 930 mg a day. To reduce kidney stones you should consume less than 30 to 50 mg a day.


Even though we can avoid the worst offenders—soy foods and spinach— if you are enjoying a varied diet, it is difficult to reduce dietary oxalate levels to near zero because they occur in so many foods—grains, nuts, vegetables and fruits.

The most effective way to get rid of oxalates is the use of calcium citrate. This supplement exerts a double potency action in eliminating oxalate. The calcium part of calcium citrate binds to the oxalate and causes it to precipitate out in the stool so it will not be absorbed. But part of the oxalate escapes. The citrate is a second line of defense, which competes directly with the oxalate for absorption.

For the treatment to be effective, the calcium citrate must be taken at the same time as the oxalate-containing food. If you have problems with any of conditions caused by oxalates—kidney stones, autism or vulvodynia— then taking calcium citrate with each meal can be very effective. If there is an adequate amount of calcium in the diet—if supplementing with calcium citrate, for example—it will combine with the oxalate in the GI tract, precipitate out in the stool, and then be eliminated in the stool.

The optimum dosage is approximately 300-350 mg calcium as calcium citrate for a total of 1000 mg (one gram) of calcium a day. If you’re taking this you don’t need additional sources of calcium. An even better approach would be to use magnesium citrate. The adult dosage is about 300-400 mg a day. Some practitioners recommend up to 1000 mg but many people report problems with diarrhea if they exceed 400 mg. Again, a divided dose would be best, taking the magnesium citrate with each meal.

Some other supplements that can be very useful include probiotics and anti-fungal medication to help to control Candida. The probiotic bacteria have enzymes that break down oxalates.

The amino acid arginine helps to prevent the depositing of oxalates in the tissues. The omega-3 fatty acids and cod liver oil are also very effective in preventing oxalate deposition. The omega-6 fatty acids, mostly from commercial vegetable oils, behave in the reverse, and accelerate the deposition of oxalate.

The supplement that is most helpful is vitamin B6. This costs only pennies a day and is extremely safe. I take 100 mg every single day. I recommend just the pyridoxine form. I know the type called P5P is also used but personally I don’t think you get the additional benefit by the P5P.

There are a number of medical tests for oxalate status that we use at Great Plains Laboratory. We have a urine panel to measure oxalates and we can also test for yeast markers. We typically find that where the yeast marker is very high, the oxalate marker is also very high. We also test for vitamin B6.

With these measures, kidney stones are largely preventable. This is good news because oxalate buildup can do a lot of damage.



Oxalate refers to the salt form of oxalic acid. All acids follow the same convention of nomenclature. The salt of citric acid is citrate, for example. The salt form simply means it is missing hydrogen atoms. Instead, the salt form has a negative charge attached to it. When the acid has the hydrogen attached to it, it has the suffix –ic. When the hydrogen atoms are removed so that it is negatively charged, it has the suffix –ate. The critical thing about this, from the chemist’s point of view, is that the pH, which is a measure of the acidity of the molecule, of oxalates is the lowest of all the organic acids. (A low pH rating corresponds to a high level of acidity.) It’s the most acidic, most corrosive organic acid there is because of its very low pH value. For example, citric acid might have a pH of 5—mildly acidic in comparison, and hundreds of times less acidic than oxalate. The molecule of oxalic acid could lose two hydrogen atoms so it can become doubly negatively charged and this is the form in which oxalate is predominantly found in the blood and the urine. This form in which there are two negative charges makes it much more likely to bind to a number of metals. Calcium, zinc and mercury are examples.

What is very interesting from the chemist’s point of view is the fact that oxalate binds most tightly to toxic metals such as mercury and lead. One might think this strong chelating action is beneficial, but it is quite the opposite. Once oxalate binds with mercury or lead it immediately becomes insoluble and precipitates out of the bloodstream and forms crystals in the bones and other tissues. Rather than attaching to these toxic metals and escorting them out of the body, the oxalate traps the toxic metals within the body. This is one aspect of oxalates that I believe should be more closely examined as it may explain why oxalates are associated with so many diseases. They will trap heavy metals and enhance their toxicity.

The oxalate itself is water soluble, but once it binds with a metal ion it becomes insoluble and then precipitates out to be deposited in tissue. In a comparison of the different strengths of reaction of oxalates with various metals, the metal with the highest reactivity is mercury. When oxalate reacts with mercury, even if there is only a tiny amount present, it will preferentially bind with mercury compared to calcium or other metals. The oxalate almost seems to seek out and trap toxic metals. The reactivity of oxalate with calcium and magnesium, on the other hand, is very low, and the lowest reactivity is with magnesium. One of the treatments to help people get rid of excess oxalates is to take very high doses of magnesium, or in some cases, actually give intravenous infusions of magnesium. Because it has the least solubility with oxalates magnesium will help to dissolve them, so to speak.


About fifty percent of oxalate comes from the diet and the other fifty percent comes from what your body makes itself. Oxalic acid in the diet is first converted to glycolate, then glyoxylate, and then at this point glyoxylate can either bind to a mineral to form oxalate or it can be transferred and form glycine.

If you have a genetic deficiency in the enzyme AGXT, the glyoxylate primarily forms oxalate because reduced amounts of AGXT do not function adequately to override this process. One in five people in the population has this genetic variant in which they cannot detoxify this compound. Instead it predominantly forms oxalate.

It has been found that one third of the people with oxalate toxicity have this genetic variant, and 53 percent of them are likely to have acute, very severe neurotoxicity versus only 4 percent in those with normal genotype expression. Probably a high percentage of people who have kidney stones are in this group of 20 percent of individuals with this genetic variant.

One of the body’s energy production factories called glycolysis is inhibited by oxalates. The enzyme pyruvate kinase is involved in the last step in the body’s energy production and is strongly inhibited by oxalate. It is very interesting that the same enzyme inhibition is largely responsible for Tourette syndrome. People with Tourette syndrome, however, have strep antibodies that inhibit this enzyme. Oxalates also strongly inhibit the same enzyme.

The critical factor here is that this enzyme works much better in the presence of high amounts of vitamin B6. This is another one of the holistic treatments for people with kidney stones. In fact, vitamin B6 treatment is also used by the mainstream medical community for people with kidney stones.


What about the controversy surrounding vitamin C therapy? Vitamin C has been shown to be very helpful in kids with autism, although theoretically vitamin C can form oxalates. I say theoretically. Vitamin C can increase your risk of kidney stones if you take extremely high doses, in the range of 100 grams (100,000 mg) a day.

A double-blind study found that very high doses of vitamin C was very effective in reducing autistic symptoms. A study showed that a person taking 2000 mg (2 grams) of vitamin C a day for ninety days did not cause a significant effect or change in oxalate levels.

Another study evaluated forty-five thousand men who took vitamin C and vitamin B6 over six years and examined the effect this supplementation had on their kidneys. In the six years of follow up they found 751 cases of kidney stones out of 45,000 men. There was no association, however, of vitamin C or vitamin B6 intake with the kidney stones. In fact, men who took more vitamin C had less risk of kidney stones than men who took less than 250 mg vitamin C.

The real problem with vitamin C is the metals that the person may be taking. If one is taking high amounts of copper or iron, these can accelerate the breakdown of vitamin C to form oxalates. Someone with high copper or iron levels may be at risk for higher oxalate formation if also supplementing with vitamin C. The vitamin C may be broken down to form dehydroascorbate and then oxalate. Knowing your copper and iron status can be very important.

If, for example, you have copper pipes in your home, which is very common, and you have acidic water, that water will dissolve your copper pipes so that most of the water coming out of your faucet will contain high amounts of copper. In turn, the high copper may cause you to degrade your vitamin C. There is a problem with forming extra oxalates, but this also means that even if you take high doses of vitamin C, it may not be useful because the copper can degrade it so rapidly. It is the free copper that is so toxic.

Copper is bound to a protein in the blood called ceruloplasmin. Isolating ceruloplasmin from blood was one of the first things I did after earning my PhD. I went to the Red Cross and obtained outdated plasma and I didn’t even have to test it. All I had to do was look at the color of the plasma. Donors who had high copper had serum that was green. I could pick out the samples with high copper just by looking at them in the freezer and choosing the green color.

Almost invariably the samples were from women who were on birth control pills. The estrogen causes the body to make more of this protein. We test this copper-zinc profile in the Great Plains Laboratory and the most important value is the free copper. A person with autism can have ten times the value of free copper compared to normal individuals. In some individuals with autism this can be most significant; but this copper-zinc imbalance is important in almost every chronic disease: ADD, schizophrenia, arthritis, chronic fatigue, and many others. When you have too much copper and not enough zinc, vitamin C will not be utilized, it will be destroyed.



Spinach Lime peel Chocolate
Soy protein Rhubarb Instant coffee
Tofu Swiss chard Leeks
Peanuts Parsley Tea
Peanut butter Sweet potatoes Okra
Pecans Pokeweed Wheat germ
Lemon peel Black pepper

This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Spring 2010.

William Shaw, PhD, is Director of The Great Plains Laboratory for Health, Nutrition and Metabolism, a laboratory specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of metabolic disorders of adults and children along with autism, PDD, hyperactivity, inborn errors of metabolism and adult disorders such as depression, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue.

48 Responses to The Role of Oxalates in Autism and Chronic Disorders

  1. Rebecca says:


    Hello, I really like your article, but I need sited documentation. I am having a debate with a person who is vegan and she brought up this link,
    We are debating over is it safe to reuse the water from our steamed or boiled veggies, like broccoli, spinach,or oxalate cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and kale also release toxins into their cooking water. etc. I told her that it isn’t a good idea because of the oxalic acid or oxalate in the water.

  2. Shannon says:

    I’ve heard that most synthetic vitamins are not good for you. How does B6 fit into this synthetic scenario? What is it made from? Does the Weston A Price foundation support B6 supplementation?

  3. Annie Dru says:

    Annie’s Secret Spot

    I find the author’s recommendation to supplement with various laboratory produced vitamins and minerals to be at odds with the philosophy of the Weston A. Price Foundation and it’s president Sally Fallon.

    Perhaps the reasoning behind publishing this article was to demonstrate yet another danger of soy. Nonetheless, it flies in the face of the basic premise of the organization; to nourish and heal ourselves with whole, unadulterated foodstuffs grown in nutrient dense soils and prepared thoughtfully and carefully in our own kitchens according to the wise traditions of our ancestors. Where does “Let FOOD be thy medicine…” come into play in this article?

    I am surprised and dismayed that an article such as this would be published by this organization. I fear it will cause much in the way of confusion and disappointment for those looking to the foundation for information and support in their attempt to implement a diet in line with research and conclusions of Dr. Price.

    When did WAPF become a sounding board for the supplement industry?

    Those with the goal of healing from disorders caused by a deviation from these wise food traditions (including the disorders highlighted in the above article) will find little in the way of wisdom here.

  4. Luc Chene says:


    In response to Annie Dru, I agree supplements are not the best choice, but in many situations, it is the only solution. By example, in Canada raw dairy from grass fed cows cannot be found, so Green Pastures oil from butter made from milk is the only available solution.
    When reading all the articles I wonder how I can properly feed myself !

  5. S. Kathleen Mills says:

    A year has passed since the publication of this article. As a mother of an ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) child, I think it is important that we keep up-to-date on the latest information. The idea that we are to avoid oxalate foods, and ingest synthetic “nutrients” goes against current research. Research – solid research – has shown that oxalate production occurs in the body when antibiotics destroy a very important probiotic bacteria – O. formiegenes. ASD children are known to have digestive and bowel issues – for which mainstream “health” care practitioners regularly prescribe antibiotics (ABX). While ABX may provide a short-term relief, they destroy O. formiegenes in the “gut”, giving free-reign to oxalate-producing fungi.

    Please update your information, as this type of information may put ASD chidren at-risk for bladder and kidney stones, as well as increasing Candida yeast infections.

    O. formiegenes populates a child’s “gut” when the child is allowed to crawl in the grass, on the soil. O. formiegenes is common to cows, available to them through the soil, through the grass, as it is to humans. Antibiotics wipe O. formiegenes from our system, and they need to be repopulated with a supplement. There are less than a handful of companies creating a reliable supplement. I will not post the names I know as I haven’t thoroughly researched them, but any good ND should be aware of them.

    When O. formiegenes is destroyed by ABX, Candida increases. O. formiegenes is one of the “limiters” of Candida bacteria, and without it, they have free reign in our bodies.

    S. Kathleen Mills

    • Lena Martin says:

      I am thrilled that this article summarizes for me information that has taken me years of trial and error (and lots of testing) to discover as a person with Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, kidney pain and blood in my urine but other wise “normal” tests. I have painful lumps and swelling all over my body, and realized that when I did the veggie smoothies, everything got much more painful for me, and I actually gained weight while eating less calories. I am very magnetically sensitive and I wonder if the metal deposition from oxalate binding has something to do with it. If I fail to take Calcium Citrate or Magnesium Citrate in the proper doses, my pain and body functions deteriorate.

      I am eagerly awaiting the day that the probiotic companies are able to reproduce O. formiegenes so many people can get well again. Only by inheriting the bacteria or by “eating the right dirt” are people able to acquire it.

      • Melinda Keen says:

        I am also eagerly awaiting the day that the probiotic companies are able to reproduce O. formiegenes so many people can get well again. A low oxalate diet works pretty good but so much good food is eliminated. I seriously miss chocolate!! The cookbooks, “Low Oxalate Fresh and Fast Cookbook” and “Real Food Real Results” were written for people suffering from oxalate issues and have to follow a low oxalate diet. Many great recipes.

    • Kelly says:

      “O. formiegenes populates a child’s “gut” when the child is allowed to crawl in the grass, on the soil. O. formiegenes is common to cows, available to them through the soil, through the grass, as it is to humans. ”

      Reference please? Susan Owens says that formiogenes is an anerobic bacteria, so that it could not possibly survive in an oxygenated environment, i.e., in the soil, or especially on grasses and vegetation.

      And note please that there is NO mention of endogenous oxalate production in this article. A glaring error.

    • Lena T says:

      Have you read the article? It is said “intravenous” antibiotics, the ones that bypass GI. The articles does not suggest avoiding all oxalate foods, only soy and spinach (in large quantities and daily). The article does not advocate artificial vitamins, only vitamins. You can find vitamins derived from food. What is your goal? To devalue the article or to make use of its information for the benefits of your child?

      Ultimately, high oxalates indicate heavy metal toxicity and autims and heavy metal poisoning has been proven by research. Check tennantinstitute (google dr tennant and autism)

  6. Gary_P says:

    Any port in a storm

    I am willing to bet that those who are speaking so vehemently against the notion of taking supplements have never dealt with the “worse than labor” pain of kidney stones.
    If one is a stone sufferer and against supplements the article still contains a wealth of info on the underlying causes and a little research could provide dietary versions of Ca, Mg, Zinc, or B6 enhancement along with the oxalate avoidance. As for me, I am more than happy to “cheat” that little bit to avoid another incident.

  7. Jakob says:

    I’ve understood that about 1 tablespoon of lemon juice will provide as much citric acid as what is found in a calcium citrate supplement providing 300-350 mg of calcium. Calcium can of course be found in many other foods such as cheese – which I believe is okay for autistic children once their GI tract is somewhat healed (cf “the specific carbohydrate diet”). I should add that spinach provides numerous important nutrients, so overall perhaps these advantages far outweights the disadvantages, even for autistich children. 100 gram spinach provides also 100 mg of calcium and 100 mg magnesium (which perhaps prevents the oxalic acid problem in the first place), but it provides a lot components that is not so well know. A 100 gram serving provides a whopping 550 mg betaine. One study showed that: “Compared to those consuming 360 mg per day of betaine had, on average: 10% lower concentrations of homocysteine, 19% lower concentrations of C-reactive protein, 12% lower concentrations of tumor necrosis factor alpha” (source I believe many autistic children get too little betaine (and choline). Spinach is also one of the richest sources of chlorophyll. Chlorophyll could be a very beneficial nutrient for autistic children to detoxify toxic buildup in their systems. Furthermore, according to “Research studies in humans have found that damage to DNA by aflatoxin can be decreased as much as 55% through supplementation with chlorophyllin at 100 milligrams, three times a day, for four months. This amount of chlorophyllin, 300 milligrams per day, is the same amount of chlorophyll found in one weighted ounce of spinach (a little over 1/2 cup of chopped raw spinach).”

    • Sheila says:

      It is obvious that you do not have a problem with oxalates. I do. When I eat spinach it takes me many days to recover form it. I began to hurt all over and get terrible brain fog. I get crust stuff on my eyes when i get up in the morning and have trouble urinating and much more.. Please do your research before you think you have the answers!

  8. Kate says:


    Just noticing that the problem is when people make something like spinach a main dietary staple. I bet that having some spinach dip or spinach in with your mixed greens is not a problem…

  9. Greta F. says:

    Wow, so many reommendations in the sidebar. These articles are interesting but they always lead to a so many recommendations for supplements that you end up going broke. It’s an indication that we don’t really know what really helps.

  10. Georgina says:

    Also, Kidny stone pain can last for a few hours. Last night my Kidney Stone pain lasted 3 hourse before I went to Emergency to receive Morphine. The pain lasted another because it was noticeable after I got back from radiology.

    Anyone out there who has Kidney Stones. Don’t let the ER staff and Physician pressure you into a CT scan. A KUB x-ray has less radiation but try to avoid that as well. No matter what the results of imaging the rule is to send KS sufferers home. They do not admit for pain management.

  11. Georgina says:

    The article says that kidney stones ahve been around for thousands of years. Autism, as we know it today, is a recent phenomenon. How does the author reconcile this fact?

    Mercury and vaccines are the cause of “Autism” The symptoms and traits of mercury poisoning are identical to “autism” All these theories about oxalates and Gluten only serve to obfuscate the real cause, HEAVY METALS

    • Maggie says:

      YOU GO GIRL! Thanks for stating this. Dr. A. Kalcker, an expert in healing the symptoms known as autism explains, that it is the parasites in the GI tracts of autistic children that produce the oxalates. (There are a few mentioned here, but the large worms really put out them along with drug like substances causing many of the autistic like behaviors. In his protocol for healing he includes an gentle herb Chanra Pietra, or ‘Stonebreaker’ formula to clear out the oxalates.
      After a vaccine the immune system is virtually destroyed by the heavy metals and other neurotoxins and injected bacteria, virus, and foreign DNA. We don’t even know what these vaccines are contaminated with (whatever disease that monkey,dog, cow, chicken, aborted fetus had you are giving when you jab a child with a vaccine.. The producers have NO LIABILITY and no incentive to make them safe. INSANITY

      • Kelly says:

        Actually, parasites are not the bad guys. Sure, some parasites are, but when they’re systematically wiped out by insane things like chlorine dioxide and other anti-parasiticals, then 10-20 years down the line, the patient is overwhelmed with allergies.

        Researchers are finding the helminth (parasite) therapy — giving specific ‘friendly’ parasites to chronically ill patients, including those with autism — are sometimes resulting in recoveries and/or remissions. They’re definitely also helping with food intolerance, including oxalates.

        Think ‘hygiene hypothesis’ and go a step further. Non of these chronic illnesses existed 100 years ago, and it’s not because of shorter life spans. We’ve become too ‘clean’. Too many antibiotics, hand sanitizers, bleach, too little playing in the dirt, eating barely washed organic vegetables, like they do in non-industrialized countries where these conditions almost don’t exist.

        A google search will turn up more info on helminth therapy.

  12. Debbie says:


    Hello,does fermenting foods that are high in oxalates significantly reduce the oxalate levels?

  13. Samia says:

    What foods?

    Hi, Debbie. Re your post of June 24/12. What particular high oxalate foods did you have in mind to ferment (or purchase already fermented)? If you mean soybean miso, well, nobody consumes pounds & pounds of this. It’s used about 2 tsp. at a time in soup or salad dressing or sauce.

    While I really appreciate Dr. Shaw’s hard work and his article and his great knowledge, I really think that sometimes we need to just go traditional. Not ignore science, mind you, but look at what they did a long time ago. Spinach, wild lambs quarters, swiss chard, etc. – all these ‘nasty’ high oxalate greens, were, I read in a nutrition book, prepared with dairy product. That’s good enough for me.

  14. sandy says:

    what fungal treatment was used?

    In the paragraph headed with A FUNGAL ORIGIN as i believe that i have an infection stemming from aspergillus or another fungus, and had to cut out citrus, and now i have kidney stones, well, i would like to get the medicine that helped the woman become cured of the fungus and also the oxalic crystals.

    thank you,


  15. s says:

    i really appreciate this article. it brings to light many things. for those dismayed by the use of supplements, sometimes therapeutics are necessary for those that have manifestation of a disease. diet can achieve a great deal, but sometimes extra help is needed. personally, if there is a supplement treatment that could help me escape conventional treatment, i would jump on supplement ship in a dash! i think anyone with the ailments listed would too. thanks, william, for the contribution of the in depth knowledge on oxalates.

    • Steve Alcorn says:

      I really liked this article a great deal. The autistic suffer from high oxalates, high mercury, a porphyria, and low vitamin D levels. The autistic are also low in glutathione which is natures way to get rid of mercury in the body as it chelates or binds mercury. Glutathione is controlled by vitamin D as glutamyl-cysteine ligase gets made at higher vitamin D levels for this reason mercury and oxalates combine and precipitate. Citrate can chelate a kidney stone thus combining a higher level of vitamin D. The result may be the way to remove the highly insoluble mercury oxalate

  16. Patricia says:

    Thank you for your article. Very informative! I just found out an article or two back that the spinach I’ve been eating practically religiously every morning to heal my condition may very well have been making it worse! I wish dietary supplement companies were aware of this. It’s hard to believe they’re not, but every mineral compound on the shelf, even if iron-free, includes copper. The trace mineral drops I just purchased contain traces of both. Perhaps it’s difficult in a compound to separate them. In any case. Much appreciation. Yesterday I didn’t know what oxalates are, “today I are one.” (Hopefully tomorrow less so.)

  17. I am all in favor of going back to our roots and eating real traditional food but often we need therapeutic levels of nutrients to do the initial healing and to support those of us who have genetic predispositions to certain things, been exposed to mercury, have candida etc. Great article Dr. Shaw – this is a very important topic and oxalates are not to be taken lightly! Removing high oxalate foods from my diet completely eliminated my excruciating foot pain – it was like walking on hot coals mixed with shards of glass! Thanks to Julie Matthews, author of “Nourishing Hope for Autism” for helping me figure this out. A number of my clients are also seeing benefits on low oxalate diets. Now to get to the root cause – candida, mercury etc – so nutrient dense leafy greens, berries and nuts can be reincorporated.

    • Dan says:

      Thanks for posting that Trudy — that’s encouraging. I’m not sure if I have salicylate issues (although I’m pretty certain), but do wonder if oxalates are a problem too. I agree with what someone else said above, that ABX use can wreak havoc on the microblome, and worsen the problem, or even cause it.

      And yes, then there’s metals, environmental toxins (including those with sals/phenols), pesticide and fungicide use, and on and on and on…

  18. rethema says:

    I just had kidney stones crushed they were the high oxalate and one of my granddon is autism so I want to no if there is a superfood that I can do to help us.

  19. julia says:

    Most interesting article. I am suffering from cfd and epstein bar, and only recently showed a recovery in iGa levels after taking beriglobin injection regularly. Start celiac diet 6 weeks ago and still on it. But, I am living on farm with sandstone water woth extremely low ph, AND chloride I. Water is also rel high. My husband is a geologist and said that you do get sandstone with chloride in them (although not sure in what form and if it leaches into the fountain water somehow). We do have a natural grassland that is suppose to filter the water higher up, but somehow I think the low ph of the water hampers it. What influence will this water have on human consumption. No-one in RSA not even at bemlabs could give me any answers on my questions. I am afraid this will have neg impact on human metabolism, since I had this ebv in acute form for the last 6 months and active for the last 5 – 6 years. There is a possibility the the celiac had also an influence on my health and if one sees how delicate one’s bodily systems are, especially when you are non-secretor, it worries me a lot when my drinking water is not healthy. Water is such a given, that people never really questions it enough (due to it being colourless and almost tasteless). Can you tell me more on low acid fountain water and effect on human health.

  20. Manny says:

    WOuld washing the spinach leaves a bunch of times take care of the mold substances or will it wash away the nutrients as well?

  21. James Trog says:

    I believe it is an error to assume that oxalates cause autism (“If you have problems with any of conditions caused by oxalates — kidney stones, autism or vulvodynia.”) Rather, if there is a relationship, autism may lead to a predisposition that allows oxalates to form kidney stones. Oxalates are not the cause but the effect.

    • Mark Musselman says:

      James, I have no idea. this is new to me. After reading this however, I started wondering, why the spike in autism? Might this be a result of so much antibiotic usage, increase in sugar intake, increase in phosphoric acid intake, etc. If we could find some timeline data, we might find cause and effect after all.


    • Alethea says:

      @James — Or, it could be that both autism and the tendency to form oxalate crystals share a common causal influence, i.e. vitamin B6 deficiency. B6 deficiency, in turn, is often caused by a metabolic defect in heme synthesis called Pyroluria.

  22. Greg Marlow says:

    Oxalates in the blood lower blood calcium levels and calcium is important for proper neuron function. This may explain why it helps autism to be on a low oxalate diet.

  23. Christi says:

    I have experienced kidney stones since I was 12 years old if not sooner. My jaw is still attempting to close from shock. I went through hell trying to find out what I could do to prevent stones, find a dr. That knew what they were doing, and what to eat and or not to eat. I am 37 year old and can say these stones always showed up when I was in the middle of accomplishing seething good or very important in my life and caused so many issues. Anyways, nobody could give me answers because we know they are genetic and told these types of stones are passed down and are pretty much unpreventable. Is this true or can a low oxalate diet prevent them? Plus, I have always suffered from chronic fatigue and thought it was depression but when I was younger knew I was more fatigued than normal. Please send me info in this

  24. Teri says:

    My doctor talked to me about oxalates. I was making green smoothies with high oxalate veggies. Lots of kidney pain but didn’t have the extreme pain associated with stones. He is putting all his patients on the low oxalate diet and getting great results. He treats people with chronic fatigue and arthritis. After dumping oxalates on the low oxalate diet, I feel much better. Check out the Trying Low Oxalate group on Facebook.

  25. Preston Pope says:

    I have had kidney stones and have taken Chanca piedra for relief with the last three. Chanca piedra works for me. I usually pass them or they dissolve with in a weeks time of taking it. I can tell an improvement with in a day. If I feel anything that resembles a kidney stone, I take it for a month. Once the pain hits hard, you will try anything to get relief.

  26. jeanne says:

    I took alot of oral pennicillin between ages of 5&6 for toncillitis. At 30 I was diagnosed with Pernicious anemia which didnt appear to be genetic in source. I have taken b12 injections for over 35 years as I am now 67. For the past 6 months I have craved kale salads & have practically lived on them. My blood now shows I am not anemic, have plenty of B12 but my red cells are enlarged , and Im tired & achy for last several months. Could the oxalates in kale be the cause & how can I get rid of them? Any help please?

  27. rob staunton says:

    Are you meant to take mag citrate with meals or before?

    • Amy O says:

      The article says to take it with meals, especially if eating high oxalate foods. Also, I take it on an empty stomach with no problems. Taking 325 mg mag citrate twice daily has helped tremendously with relieving muscle tension, reducing stress/anxiety, improving bowel movements, and helping me sleep. I’m thrilled to know now that it can help reduce oxalates too!

  28. Keith says:

    Last year I had knee replacement surgery and my body reacted with sever inflammation probably Gout, that put me in the ICU for four days. After that I changed my diet to exclude high Purine foods and began taking Allopurinal to reduce uric acid. My Uric Acid level came way down, below average levels. Still I was having very painful “flareups”. My own research led me to High Oxalates, and I realized the Oxalate crystals deposited in my joints had the same painful inflammatory effects as the Purine crystals. I then realized that in order to have a low-Purine diet AND a low Oxalate diet was tricky because often a low Purine food is also a high Oxalate food, and vice-versa. However, once I came up with a diet both low in Purine and low in Oxalates, I also added B6, Calcium Citrate, selinium and Magnesium supplements. The results were dramatic, I was amazed: within a few months all my inflammation problems that had plagued me for most of my life simply went away. And I was able to begin reducing some of the medications like NSAID’s Meloxicam and Colchicine that can have severe long-term side effects including heart problems. My body has also responded by giving me more energy and increased muscle mass with the same amount of exercise. I realize some people don’t want to get involved with supplements but as another comment noted, get the calcium citrate, magnesium, zinc, selinium, etc. from wherever you like.

  29. Sandor herskovits says:

    I m interested to know about oxalate and autism,schizophrenia,,,asthma

  30. Raquel says:

    Hi Thank you for this important information.
    Is there any test that can show if someone has a problem with assimilating Oxalates foods?
    Thanks, Raquel

  31. GeeVee says:

    Check out this link which saved me much pain and something I would never have thought of as the cause of my pain.

  32. Raquel says:

    Thank you very much GeeVee! I’ll check it out

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