What is PANDAS/PANS + Diagnosis and Treatment


PANDAS stands for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Strep. PANS stands for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsyschiatric Disorders. The main differences between the two acronyms are the specificity of acute onset and association with the pathogen strep in PANDAS. The clinical presentation overlaps significantly.

How common is PANDAS/PANS?

According to PANDASnetwork.org, 1 in 200 children experience the clinical symptoms of PANDAS/PANS.

How is it diagnosed? What are the common symptoms?

There are no reliable biomarkers or lab tests to make the diagnosis of PANDAS/PANS. Diagnosis is based on symptom presentation. Clinicians worldwide are working to establish a list of the criteria for the diagnosis. At this time, there is no consensus regarding these criteria. Most practitioners look for common symptoms including the acute onset of neuropsychiatric symptoms.

These symptoms include:

  • Obsessive compulsive behaviors and thoughts
  • Intrusive thoughts or phobias 
  • Tics 
  • Anxiety
  • Personality changes

Behavior changes including sleep disturbances, rage, sudden attachment anxiety, loss of appetite,
involuntary movements and "potty accidents" in a previously trained child. Some children stop talking completely. The severity of these symptoms varies significantly from child to child, and it is rare for a child to have every single symptom associated with PANDAS/PANS.

Are there any objective tests to help with the diagnosis and to track treatment efficacy?

Cultures for strep should be used to assess patients with suspected PANDAS. Checking for antibodies to common infections including viruses and streptococcus can be helpful. Autoimmune markers, including those in the Cunningham Panel from Molecular Labs, are also useful. Labs looking for inflammatory markers can be used to track treatment response.

How is PANDAS/PANS treated in conventional medicine?

Treatment strategies focus on reducing inflammation in the brain and treating the triggering infections. Interventions include both short and long-term antibiotics, IVIG, plasmaphoresis, and steroids. Some psychiatrists also use sedatives, mood stabilizing medications, and anti-psychotic medications to manage symptoms. Once a patient is relatively stable, they may benefit from cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Are there natural treatments that can help a child with PANS/PANDAS?

Absolutely! Herbal medicine can be a very powerful tool for a more safe and effective, long-term antimicrobial approach. Specific herbal protocols are individualized for each patient to most accurately address the microbes out of balance. Functional medicine tools including nutrient therapy can also be very helpful for reducing inflammation and promoting healthy neurotransmitter levels.

How do you treat children with PANDAS/PANS?

In my practice, I look for the underlying cause of the inflammation for each patient. Viruses, vector-borne illnesses, mold exposure, and parasites are all infectious agents that can cause neuropsychiatric symptoms. Detox support and effective reduction of toxic burden is also critical to a successful approach. Correcting nutrient deficiencies can improve the immune response to allow the body to keep the opportunistic infections under control. Additionally, it is important to address the health of each family member to prevent re-exposure from an asymptomatic carrier. Finally, we recognize the significant stress involved in caring for a patient with PANDAS/PANS. It is very important to discuss supportive resources and encourage the caregiver to prioritize their own health in this process. Immune modulation, such as LDI (low dose immunotherapy), is another very successful therapeutic intervention. Treatment protocols using an integrative medicine approach are extremely effective and often result in dramatic improvement in symptoms.

The Impact of EMF, RF, and ELF on Human Health

What are EMF, RF and ELF?

EMF stands for Electro Magnetic Fields.  There are two types of EMF’s - ELF (extremely low frequency fields) and RF (Radio Frequency fields). They are both used pervasively in our modern environment. ELF’s are produced by all electronic devices. RF’s are non-ionizing radiation signals produced to communicate with antennas including cell phone, WI-Fi and Bluetooth.  

How do EMF’s relate to human cell function?

Our cells have an electrical charge. Cell-to-cell signaling and changes in cell structure and function occur when there are very small changes in the electrical charge on the surface of the cell. The electrical potential of our cells is extremely small compared to the electrical fields in our environment.  EMF’s activate voltage gated calcium channels on the membrane of the cells.  When we are in the presence of strong electrical fields, our cells have to invest energy in maintaining their electrical gradients. This diverts resources away from other processes including immune response and cellular repair. 

Is there any evidence that these fields are harmful for human health?

Extensive research indicates that EMF exposure is likely carcinogenic. Unfortunately, many people have attempted to claim that EMF exposure is not harmful because they have only looked at the thermal effects of the devices. Pulse modulated signals, produced by cell phones, have no impact on tissue temperature but still have a biological effect on cells, tissues and organs. (C. Blackman, Pathophysiology.) In addition to EMF’s being carcinogenic, they negatively impact the endocrine system, the reproductive system, the neurological system, the immune system and cardiovascular system. They damage DNA leading to genetic defects. EMF’s also cause fatigue by damaging mitochondria, the organelles responsible for energy production in the cells. Accelerated aging occurs in EMF exposed individuals because of an accumulation of excess nitric oxide in the cells caused by activation of the voltage gated calcium channels.  

What are the symptoms that can be experienced by sensitive individuals?

Common symptoms worsened or caused by EMF include fatigue, infertility, brain fog, neuropathy, headaches, heart arrhythmias, anxiety, learning difficulties, memory problems and insomnia.    There has been a spike in cases of Alzheimer’s disease, autism, depression, fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism, osteoarthritis and sleep apnea – these increases are occurring as the EMF exposure simultaneously increases in our environment.  

Practical solutions to our modern environment?

  • Discontinue the use of CFL’s in the home (Switch to incandescent, there is conflicting information about LED’s).
  • Place the WI-FI router as far as possible away from people, especially in the sleeping location.  Get a faraday cage for the router.  
  • Cell phones should be a minimum of 12 feet away while sleeping.  Ideally, these would also be placed in a faraday cage.  
  • Unplug all devices from the electrical outlets in the bedrooms.
  • Turn off all fuses to the home at night.
  • Wear EMF protective clothing during the day. 
  • Consider Earthing technology for computer and sleep locations.

What are the best resources that you know of to learn more about EMF dangers and purchase tools to reduce exposure?

  • Magdahavas.com – many articles discussing EMF impact on human health
  • LessEMF.com – great resource for EMF shielding clothing and devices
  • Earthing.com – tools to bring healthy frequencies to the body