The ketogenic diet (high fat, low carbs) is now an alternative treatment for epilepsy. It is a more natural and holistic approach to help those who not responding to pharmaceutical intervention.
Around 65 million people in the world have epilepsy. In America around 2.3 million adults and 1/2 million children are now being affected. Every year about 150,000 new cases are added.
This means that as many as one out of every 26 people in America will at some time be diagnosed with epilepsy. And every year the disease costs mount. That means about $15.5 billion in medical expenses and loss of productivity and earnings annually.
The 2010 New England Journal of Medicine, reports that 30% to 35% of epileptics are resistant to some extent to treatment. Those most at risk are children suffering from epilepsy who have an increased chance of death, if their disease is not controlled within five years.
Treatment for epilepsy includes a variety of prescriptions, sometimes even a combination of medications. And as a last resort, surgery will be required. Hopefully, the patient’s condition will improve using therapeutics. Or a change in diet must be made.
What is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that is marked by misfires of the activity in the brain.
The only symptom that is visible with this disorder are seizures. Basically, this is like an electrical storm or short circuit in the brain. Seizures occur on a sudden sporadic basis. They can last a few seconds to a few minutes.
There are different kinds of seizures. When the brain activity gets off track behavior problems often result. Sometimes even the loss of consciousness or the loss of memory takes place.
Seizures often result in involuntary movements or convulsions.
A generalized seizure means the entire brain is being impacted. A partial or focal seizure is when the seizure starts in a specific part of the brain.
There are many causes of epilepsy, including brain injury, infection, brain tumor, stroke and genetic defects or conditions. There are many causes. Sometimes diagnosing a specific cause is impossible.
The Ketogenic Diet as a Treatment for Epilepsy?
For centuries, the only treatment for epilepsy were some ineffective bromides of various types. In 1912, phenobarbital was the first real anti-epileptic drug developed. It is still on the market today.
In 1920, Dr. Bernarr Macfadden, spoke at an American Medical Association convention. He reported his success in treating epilepsy with a fasting diet. He called this diet the “ketogenic” diet. McFadden was the first Dr. to see the correlation.
Medical research studies done throughout the 1920’s validate keto as a diet therapy for treating seizures. Most of the research involved children.
More recently Maryland researchers published a meta-analysis of keto dieting as a treatment for epilepsy in The Journal of Neurology (JON). It says a ketogenic diet is “profoundly helpful” in treating both adults and children. A research study confirms the hypothesis.
The JON research estimates that in 32% of the patients there was a 50% reduction in the number of seizures who consumed a high fat, and low carbohydrate diet. About 10% of those patients had a 90% reduction of seizures.
This is not a complete cure, but it is a significant reduction. And it’s very good news.