Epilepsy and Diet
IMPORTANT NOTE: I have been studying idiopathic epilepsy extensively since April of 2000. When I began, I pretty much knew only what I have been taught in veterinary school- that no one knew what really caused epilepsy and that once seizures reached a certain frequency or severity, medication was needed to help control them. But over the past 8 years, I have learned so much more than that, including the food connection, environmental factors, the role of viruses and even about seasonal influences. This study has been done in a progressive fashion and each step was built upon previously acquired knowledge.
Therefore, the papers I have written reflect this progression, with the latest dealing with the important role of the virus. So, please read as much of this section as you can handle to get the most complete view of the picture of epilepsy. It is a “syndrome” with many factors coming together, all of which need to be dealt with effectively in order to achieve optimal results.
You can click on any of the following links to read these important articles on epilepsy in both pets and humans. They can also also be found in the Epilepsy and Diet section of DogtorJ.net. Be sure to check out the Testimonials section and read the success stories from numerous pet owners as well as a rising number of people who have employed this diet for their own or their child’s epilepsy.
In This Section:
The Epilepsy Diet Made Simple - Out of necessity, this is the same introductory paper I have on the G.A.R.D. section of this Website. It is a summary style piece that explains the logic behind the diet I have developed to help manage epilepsy. It is filled with “med-speak”, however, and may be a bit more difficult for the layperson to understand than the following papers. I wrote this article in response to a request by doctors who were asking for a more concise, medically-oriented explanation of the diet to offer to their epileptic and pain suffering patients. It is about 5 pages long when printed out….a step in the right direction, anyway. I decided to lead this section with this paper even though it jumps right into topics that the rest of this section builds up to. Consider it an outline for what you will find in much greater detail in the papers and addendums that follow.
How to Control Idiopathic Epilepsy Naturally - (3-06) This paper is another work in progress. I will be updating this section as my studies continue. I have been successfully treating pets with epilepsy using diet changes alone for nearly 5 years now. The results have been as astounding. At first, I knew very little about how and why the response could be so dramatic when a patient was place on this restricted diet. But over the past 5 years, I have come to understand many of the pathomechanisms of food intolerance as well as other secondary factors that lead to this “syndrome” we call idiopathic epilepsy. I have also been pursuing research into supplements and other auxiliary therapies as well as helpful diagnostic testing in an attempt to insure and speed recovery. This paper helps to summarize my findings.
Food Intolerance, Epilepsy, and “The G.A.R.D.” - This is the transcript for my lecture at the 2007 NAVC (North American Veterinary Conference) in Orlando. It was the second hour that followed a talk on food intolerance in general. This speech on epilepsy briefly covers most aspects of the “syndrome” we call epilepsy and introduces the role of viruses in the development and perpetuation of idiopathic epilepsy.
Idiopathic Epilepsy – The Dietary Solution – This 13-page paper chronicles the discovery that limiting the diets of epileptic dogs will halt their seizures. It takes the reader through the step by step process that I went through to arrive at this conclusion. I do not claim to be the first nor the only one to have made the connection between food and epilepsy. However, this story describes exactly how I arrived at this independently of anyone else’s work other than reading that celiac children (those with gluten intolerance) showed significant improvement in their seizures once wheat was eliminated from the diet. The rest was arrived at by my own medical research and “intuition”, which was followed by even more research. For specific diet recommendations, see the section DogtorJ’s Food Handout.
Veterinary Diets to Control Seizures - The response of epileptic dogs (and people) to the elimination diet (The G.A.R.D.) has been one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. The papers in the Epilepsy and Diet section explain this incredible phenomenon. You can go here to see DogtorJ’s Recommended Pet Foods.
My Current View of Epilepsy in a Nutshell - This letter to a client basically sums it all up. I will be writing an entirely new paper in the near future that will contain all of this information- and more. I think the following letter will serve this purpose for the time being. It has most of the elements of the “syndrome” we call epilepsy.
An “Epilephany” – Viruses, Serotonin, and Light Boxes to Help Treat Epilepsy - This is a letter that I wrote to my friend and colleague Dr. Jean Dodds today (1-12-06). It started out…innocently enough…as a question that I was posing to her brilliant mind asking whether she thought that light therapy could help epileptics as it does people with seasonal affected disorder (SAD). Once we understand the vital serotonin connection, which this letter goes into more deeply, then we can see how light therapy…the right kind of light therapy… may benefit those with epilepsy by boosting their serotonin levels. BUT, as I am prone to do, I got a little off topic and unloaded some other loaded questions and thoughts on her. It turned out to be a pretty good summary of everything I know and believe about how diseases…yes all diseases…occur. Hope you get something good from it.
Seasonal Seizures? – (New as of 1/07) This a collection of Emails and posts that address this important observation. Yes, many epileptics (both human and veterinary) experience an increase in seizure frequency and severity during the shorter days of the year (November to April). Serotonin and vitamin D levels are two of the key factors.
More Epilepsy Articles…
I have been studying idiopathic epilepsy extensively since April of 2000. When I began, I pretty much knew only what I have been taught in veterinary school- that no one knew what really caused epilepsy and that once seizures reached a certain frequency or severity, medication was needed to help control them. We knew that certain breeds were more prone to epilepsy than others but no one spoke of diet, viruses, environmental factors, and the things I now write at length about .
This has been a continuous learning process, beginning with the amazing discovery of the celiac-epilepsy connection in the early days of my research. This was the doorway into a mansion filled with rooms of answers that I knew nothing of in my first 20 years of veterinary practice. Each time I opened a door, another room presented itself, each complimenting the other. The information that I was gaining built upon itself in a phenomenal way, not canceling out the previous discoveries but rather completing them.
The malabsorption syndrome caused by the “big 4″ (gluten, casein, soy, and corn), which I first described in
Idiopathic Epilepsy- The Dietary Solution, was and still is integral to the development of this “syndrome” we call epilepsy. The role of lectins added a new dimension to the damage being done by “the four horsemen”.
But it was the information concerning viruses that put it all in perspective. The reader will find a number of articles in this section that speak to the importance of the role of viruses in the pathogenesis of seizures.
In fact, I am now convinced that “idiopathic epilepsy” is ultimately viral in origin, some of which are acquired while others are embedded in our very genome. Researchers tell us that nearly 40% of the genetic codes in our nuclear DNA are viral codes, placed there over the years by acquired viruses (e.g. retroviruses) and passed down through the generations. This helps to explain “genetic diseases” that run so true through human families and dog breeds.
The diet does play a huge role in why these viruses cause seizures but the reason why one individual with severe food intolerance develops seizures while another doesn’t is likely to be the viral status of the glial cells (and neurons). To support this idea, there are over 25 viruses known to cause seizures in man, many of which are ubiquitous and latent in nature (e.g. Epstein Barr, Herpes simplex, varicella, measles, mumps, Coxsackie virus and many others). These viruses have a real affinity for the glial cells (“nurse cells” to the neuron, if you will) that control the levels of the neurotransmitter glutamate at the synapse, among other things.
Therefore, the relationship between the diet and epilepsy becomes one step more complex than I described in my earliest works once we see the role of the virus. Yes, the malabsorption and maldigestion syndrome that results from the food intolerances play a HUGE role in the disease of the neurons as well as the demise of the immune system, both of which set the stage for the viral involvement. Then, add to the mix the effect of the lectins on these same cells, as well as those of the thyroid gland (with low thyroid levels being capable of dramatically lowering the seizure threshold) and the picture becomes clearer. Next come the negative effects on the liver, kidneys, and intestines, all of which are vitally involved in glutamate metabolism. Now throw in the environmental toxins that are known to be neurotoxic and you have a situation that is ripe for the onset of seizures.
So, I would encourage the reader to examine all of the evidence presented in this section if they truly desire to understand this life-altering yet fascinating condition. In addition, we can use this knowledge of epilepsy to understand other related conditions that afflict so many individuals. These same principles can be applied to ADHD, insomnia, pain syndromes, and many other neurodegenerative disorders (MS, ALS, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and more) both in our understanding or their origin and their treatment. Our knowledge of epilepsy can then be the doorway into a fuller understanding of many of the diseases that plague man and his companions.