By Jennifer Copley (Last Updated 30 March 2012)
Dimethylglycine (DMG), also known as calcium pangamate, pangamatic acid, pangamic acid, and vitamin B15, provides benefits for many individuals with autistic spectrum disorders. Proponents of DMG claim that it can:
- Improve eye contact, frustration tolerance, speech, and interest in interacting socially
- Decrease self-harm and aggressive behaviour toward others
- Improve immune function
- Boost athletic performance
Research Findings for Use of DMG as an Autism Treatment
Although two clinical trials of DMG for the treatment of autism found no improvements, one of these used a very low amount of DMG and a small subject pool. A third clinical trial conducted more recently, involving 84 subjects, found that DMG decreased problematic behaviours in those with autism (Edelson, 2002). There is also anecdotal evidence from parents, medical professionals, and caretakers suggesting that DMG does provide benefits for some children with autism (Autism Research Institute, 2011).
Of 5,807 Autism Research Institute ratings provided by parents of autistic children, 42% saw improvements with DMG supplementation, 51% saw no change, and 8% said symptoms worsened (total is higher than 100% because percentages are rounded up to the nearest whole). Of 230 parent ratings of DMG for treating Asperger’s syndrome symptoms, 40% reported improvements, 49% found no effect, and 11% said that their children grew worse on DMG.
Some believe that autism stems from deficiencies in certain nutrients, though there is not sufficient evidence to prove this hypothesis at this time. DMG does help with certain conditions that often occur in those with autistic spectrum disorders. For example, many of those with autism have dysfunctional immune systems and some have seizures. DMG boosts immune function and has been shown to decrease seizure activity in some cases (Autism Research Institute, 2008).
DMG is relatively safe, with no known serious side effects, though a few parents have reported hyperactivity or agitation after giving their children DMG. Taking a folic acid supplement reduces the likelihood of this symptom occurring and may even increase the effectiveness of the DMG itself (Edelson, 2002).
According to Dr. Stephen M. Edelsen, the recommended dose for DMG for a child is one to four 125-mg tablets per day; for adults, the dose is 2-8 tablets. The daily amount should be gradually built up, starting with just a single tablet for an adult and half a tablet for a child, increasing the amount in increments of one tablet every couple of days. DMG is also available in capsule and liquid forms.
Always consult a qualified medical practitioner before taking supplements or giving them to your child. Many supplements are toxic at certain doses and may interact with some medications or create problems for people with certain medical conditions.
Trimethylglycine, or TMG, is a supplement that breaks down into SAMe (a nutritional supplement used to treat depression and other mood disorders) and DMG. There have been no published studies regarding this supplement’s efficacy, though anecdotal reports from parents suggest that it may help some children with autistic spectrum disorders (Edelson, 2002).
More Information on Autism Supplements
For more on the effectiveness of other supplements for treating autistic spectrum disorders, see the main Autism Supplements page. For a full list of articles on autism and Asperger’s syndrome, visit the main Autistic Spectrum Disorders page.
This article is not intended as a substitute for medical consultation or care. Health concerns should be referred to a doctor.
- Autism Canada Foundation. (2011). “DMG/TMG: Treatment Overview.” AutismCanada.org.
- Autism Research Institute. (2008). “Dimethylglycine (DMG) for Autism.” Legacy.Autism.com.
- Autism Research Institute. (2008). “Parent Ratings for Autism” and “Parent Ratings for Asperger’s Syndrome.” Autism.com.
- Edelson, S. (2002). “Di-methyl-glycine (DMG).” Autism Research Institute, Legacy.Autism.com.
- ResearchAutism.net. (2011). “Dimethylglycine and Autism.”