19 November 2010

Drug Resistant Epilepsy Responds To High Fat Diet

A diet very low in carbs and very high in fat as a proportion of daily calories, called "keto" because it "tricks his body into a starvation state in which it burns fat, and not carbs, for fuel. . . . called ketosis" reduces seizures by 90% for seven out of ten children with drug resistant epilepsy and significantly in many of the remaining thirty percent of them. The results are less striking but significant for epilepsy cases as a whole, including but not limited to drug resistant cases: "38 percent of patients on the diet had their seizure frequency reduced more than 50 percent and that 7 percent had their seizure frequency reduced more than 90 percent." And, if the drug resistant cases were seperated out, the results would be considerably less impressive.

This is a big deal: "About a third of the nearly 3 million epileptics in the United States have drug-resistant seizures, and doctors estimate that at least 250,000 of those drug-resistant patients are children."

Studies of the effects of the diet in adults with drug-resistant epilepsy, and on other progressive brain disorders, are underway.

It is not a cure, it is a disease management approach. It is effective and doesn't require lots of expensive drugs that pose other problems, but since these individuals often have a lot of seizures before, a 90% reduction still means very regular seizures even with this diet.

WARNING: Keto has important side effects that must be dealt with by other means. "It is constipating, so . . . [one must] take daily stool softeners. And it lacks so many essential nutrients . . . [so one must] take a multivitamin and a calcium-magnesium supplement every day[.]" Serious side effects can result from going high fat without addressing these problems. Overdoing it can also lead to potentially deadly ketoacidosis.

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