Addendums- Epilepsy and Diet
New Addendum (as of 3-3-05)
I am inserting a rather urgent update at this point in time and this place in the site for a numbers of reasons. A recent event has taken place that has thrown my work into the spotlight and I need to make some things very clear. (The addendums that follow this one are also clarifying statements but not quite in the same category as this one.) Note that when I say “clarifying”, I do not mean that what I have written in the past is “wrong”. Incredibly, very little of what I have written from the beginning has required correction. I have simply added to what I have written in the past as my research has continued.
From the beginning, I have alluded to the role of viruses in the development of many of the conditions that befall us. The more I have studied, the more I have seen that this role is HUGE…much greater than I had ever imagined. For example, there are medical researchers that have believed for years that ALL cancer is caused by viruses: not just some, not just most, but all. “But what about all of those carcinogens we hear about all of the time?” you must be asking. To me, they can now best be described as secondary factors that either suppress the immune system, cause chronic damage tissue, or damage our DNA thereby facilitating the work of the real culprit…the virus. As preposterous as this may sound to the lay person, it makes all of the sense in the world to me now, after having studied what they do…their “M.OF.”…for the past 5 years.
It has also become painfully clear that viruses have major roles in the development of degenerative neurological conditions, such as epilepsy, autism, MS, and others. Certainly, there may be other organisms/agents involved (e.g. mycoplasms, prions) but we KNOW that certain viruses absolutely love the central nervous system. I have written about them many times in other areas of this site. The herpes viruses stand out (H. simplex, varicella, Epstein-Barr) but so do the paramyxoviruses, represented by the canine distemper virus as well as the human measles and mumps viruses.
I knew some of this when I formulated the G.A.R.D. (glutamate/aspartate restricted diet) and suspected that viruses were involved in some cases of seizures but the astounding results of employing the diet threw me off course a bit as to the percentage of epileptic individuals having viral infections as their underlying pathology. I feel that I know better now.
I now have to say that, as in the bold statement above concerning viruses and cancer, there is a possibility that viruses (or other infectious agents) are involved in all cases of epilepsy. Again, the rapid (and oftentimes complete) recovery of a seizing dog after being placed on the low glutamate diet threw me off for a while. How could a virus be involved if the pet was having 6 seizures a week…or a day in one case… and yet they suddenly went seizure-free within 24 hours of starting the diet, never to have another seizure? Could they get over a viral “infection” that quickly. Not likely, is it?
Ahhh, but that is where my own limited thinking comes in. Just because a virus causes a problem does not mean that it has to be an ACTIVE infection at the time we discover it. Immune-mediated diseases such as lupus, MS, thyroid illness, and rheumatoid arthritis present as “remitting-relapsing” conditions, don’t they? The ACTIVE infection comes and goes, doing harm to cells with each attack and then becoming dormant. Hmmm….
Could that be what is happening in epilepsy? Could those dramatic cases that I write about be individuals that had an episode (or episodes) of viral infection in the past that left the brain (the glial cells of the synapse, to be precise) compromised, leading to that individual’s inability to handle the dietary glutamate pouring into it for all of the reasons I wrote in the original paper? I think so. This happens in “autoimmune” thyroid disease, glomerulonephritis (kidneys), chronic active hepatitis (liver), and many other conditions that involve the immune system. The viruses rise up, cause a stir in the immune system, and the resulting attack on those viruses culminates in suppression of the uprising while unfortunately doing some harm to the host tissue at the same. Again, “autoimmune” is a misnomer. The immune system does not attack our tissue for no reason. There is always something there that it does not like. Viruses are a known candidate and likely to be involved in many, many cases of “autoimmune” disorders, just as I wrote in The Answer 4 years ago.
So, we can now see the reason for the spectrum of response to the diet in the large numbers of epileptics that I have dealt with over the past few years. Those that respond quickly and completely are either purely a victim of the physiological problems I describe in the main epilepsy paper OR they are those that have suffered a previous viral attack on the glial cells of their brain, which wiped out a number of those cells, leaving that individual incompetent to handle the abnormally high levels of glutamate in their diet. Those that respond more slowly are more likely to be in the throws of an active infection at the time the diet is instituted.
I still believe that all that I wrote in the original epilepsy paper is true and applicable…the gut-damaging foods leading to a state of malnutrition that compromises the enzyme systems controlling the conversion of blood glutamate to the inactive form. That is still highly likely to be a significant contributing factor. (Dogs with liver disease can have seizures and epileptics with concurrent liver disease can have the worst seizure patterns.) But, it may not be the primary issue in many dogs. The unhealthy or reduced number of glial cells of the brain from viral infections (or other infectious agents) may be a large factor in many epileptics. In either case, the high glutamate levels, chronic malnutrition through malabsorption, and compromised brain health and immune systems all play a significant role.
Note: I have had extremely few dogs that did not noticeably respond to the diet in a short period of time. I have never claimed that it has cured all dogs or even helped all dogs. But I do claim that it has helped the vast majority of dogs and totally controlled a very large number of dogs. I have been able to identify the dietary problem in the majority of dogs that have not been controlled by the diet alone. Non-compliance is the single-most important factor, usually “involuntary” non-compliance occurring through cheating on the dog’s part or through accidents happening through “polluted” supplements, treats, or overly friendly neighbors.
The questions that must be on many of your minds is “Where do these viruses come from?” and “Why do they rise up when they do, having this remitting relapsing pattern?”. There are VERY good answers to these and other questions. Other questions might concern the secondary factors I write about, such as air pollution, brain serotonin levels, and neurotoxins such as mercury and benzene. They all play a role and contribute to the spectrum of affliction as well as the age of onset of symptoms. I think you will see this in the following letter.
This letter was in response to an inquiry by a new-found friend concerning the role of mercury in autism and epilepsy. I have since realized that I have downplayed the role of mercury in light of other findings. I see now that it IS a serious factor but I still contend that it is a secondary one. I could be wrong but you can be the judge after reading this letter. Note: You can substitute the word “epilepsy” wherever you read the word “autism” and this letter should still make sense.
I know this will catch your eye. This article all but equates Autism with
My response was:
Thanks for the article. I wish it WERE that simple but I’m afraid that its
not. Everything points to other factors being (much) more important. I believe
that, once again, the immune-mediated food intolerances are the single most
important factor, allowing all of the other factors to come together to
cause the syndrome. That would explain the success stories of mothers with
autistic children having them make FULL recoveries on GFCF diets (gluten-free/casein free). Have you been to www.gfcfdiet.com ? Click on Success Stories. Get a box of Kleenex, though. Some are real tear-jerkers.
I believe that the viruses themselves in the modified live vaccines OR
viruses already present in the brain of that child are the real underlying
cause of the severe brain depression/dysfunction in autism. These are
ALLOWED to rise up and cause the problem as a result of the immune
suppression from the malnutrition caused by the villous atrophy in the gut.
THAT would explain the concurrent GI symptoms. It is true that only 1/4 of
celiacs have diarrhea/chronic GI problems BUT autism would HAVE TO BE a
glaring example of something that happens in the most severely affected
celiac/food intolerant, wouldn’t it? So, you would expect a high rate of GI
problems in these victims. They are in that “worst of the worst” category,
having become SO afflicted and at such an early age. They DO represent the
worst end of the spectrum.
NOW, add in the casomorphins and gliadomorphins from the dairy and
wheat…very depressing substances that they can/DO measure HIGH amounts of
in the urine of these kids. These are knocking them out like a morphine drug
because their brains are so affected, both by the malnutrition AND the virus
they have. Yes, there still HAS to be something individual about these kids
and a virus fits the bill.
The mercury is probably a factor as well, but I’m afraid we have a similar
situation in this issue that we do in whole milk issue. People want to blame
everything on lactose in the milk-related disorders and that little sugar is
the least of our worries. It is the proteins, hormones, and viruses (did you
get that?) in milk that are the real issues. Lactose is just an INDICATOR
that we shouldn’t be drinking the stuff. Mercury is likely to be the
same…a secondary (or even tertiary) factor but a significant one just the
There is another very important thing about how vaccines “trigger” autism.
Vaccines contain a number of things: modified live or killed viruses,
mercury, and adjuvants that POTENTIATE the vaccines, making them more
powerful. Unfortunately, the latter also potentiate EXISTING viral
infections that already exist in the body. Two glaring examples in vet
medicine are vaccine induced sarcoma and vaccine reactions that we see. In
the former, there is a virus ALREADY in the body of the cat that sets up
housekeeping in the site where we give vaccines. The vaccine does not CAUSE
the tumor but sets the stage for the virus already there to set up
housekeeping and cause a sarcoma. See that? The adjuvants do this. In
various other “vaccine reactions”, we see numerous “autoimmune disorders”
that occur following a vaccine. Usually, these occur a month or so after the
shot (just like epilepsy and autism does). I had a dog 6 months ago that
developed acute distemper encephalopathy ONE HOUR after a Rabies shot…ONE
HOUR. Fortunately, I had already done some study along these lines and had a decent idea that this COULD occur. I had read a great article on Mercola’s site about how the adjuvants can UNLEASH pre-existing viruses in the body
and that these reactions could occur within hours of the vaccines. This now
makes perfect sense.
So, to put it all together, what you likely have in autism are kids that
first and foremost some of the worst food intolerants (gluten, casein, soy,
corn). This is also characterized by their ADDICTION to these foods….most
are horribly addicted to dairy and wheat, an indicator that they are having
real problems with these foods. These kids are also immunologically
challenged by this food intolerance, which allows the viruses to run rampant
or for them to at least be a severe accident waiting to happen. Now, give
THEM a modified live vaccine and watch the fireworks happen. Ugh. They do
NOT handle that challenge well and the live paramyxoviruses of the MMR
vaccine go straight to their brain (or the adjuvants unleash the ones
already there.) The brain dysfunction makes them MUCH, MUCH more susceptible to the casomorphins and gliadorphins, which they have an over-abundance of in their brain because the are ADDICTED to the sources of these depressing substances, just like a drug addict. Throw mercury in there and you have a disaster.
But…BUT…put them on a GFCF diet (preferably gluten, casein, soy, and
corn free) and watch what happens. Because the food is doing SOOOOOO much, including providing the knock-out “drugs casomorphins/gliadomorphins), they make CAN make DRAMATIC recoveries…very dramatic in some cases, as read on the www.gfcfdiet.com. Now, not all will make a rapid recovery because the worst of the worst have the worst viral infection of the brain. Those with the mildest infection or who regain their immune competence the fastest recover the fastest. The worst take longer. Those who cheat on the diet will take even longer.
So, the testimonies are VERY explainable, aren’t they? Even the spectrum of
You can see why I use the mercury/lactose analogy, right? I think the dairy
industry could easily be fanning the lactose myth flames because they can
take that bad ‘ol lactose out of their product (thereby eliminating a very
important warning sign) or you can take a pill to help digest lactose, one
of the worst things you could do for the same reason. Could the vaccine
companies be doing the same? Could they be allowing he mercury issue to be
the main issue in autism as a scapegoat. They can take that stuff out or
better yet try to DISPROVE/DISCREDIT those that purport that mercury is the main guy (and they would be right, eh?). They would rather do THAT than
spend millions of dollars developing new vaccine technology that does no
harm. THAT is the exact same problem we have in vet medicine…getting the
drug companies MOTIVATED to change the vaccines.
We HAVE to accomplish this change in vaccines. We have all become too
unhealthy to take modified live vaccines. I’ll say that again. We have all
become TOO UNHEALTHY to take modified live vaccines. THAT is the real
I hope this helps. Keep in touch,
(Read: THE ANSWER- to “Why is the Plane of Our Nation’s Health in a Death
I think the reader can now see why I have felt compelled to put this issue in the spotlight. The G.A.R.D. has been a phenomenal success. However, it has been effective on a number of fronts, at a number of different levels. First of all, it is a major Band-Aid for the incompetent nature of these diseased brains when it comes to handling dietary glutamate. THAT is why the results can be so fast and even long-lasting. The glutamate did not belong in there to begin with, as it is a non-essential amino acid, one that the body can make from other amino acids. And yet, the pet’s diet (and ours) is absolutely LOADED with this amino acid (along with its sibling, aspartate.)
And what foods provide this “excitotoxin”? The main sources are the top 4 food allergens… those that damage the duodenum. This is no coincidence. Once again, the “big 4” are the gluten grains (wheat, barley, rye), casein (from cow milk), soy (errrrrrrh), and corn. I have concluded that none of these foods are actually “good” for us. It is simply that some individuals TOLERATE them better than others. There is nothing in the way of nutrients that we derive from these potentially harmful foods that we cannot get from numerous other food sources. I have a book that lists all of the individual vitamins and minerals and their food sources and there is not one single nutrient that can only be derived from one of these four food sources (yes, including everyone’s favorite…calcium). As I wrote in The Answer, think of those huge dinosaurs that NEVER got milk. We’re still digging their bones out of the earth and they never had osteoporosis. Animals in nature do not drink milk and they do not suffer from osteoporosis. ‘Nuff said.
The G.A.R.D. then has the second (and huge) beneficial effect of eliminating the foods that are damaging the gut. This is paramount in importance, as the damage done by the big 4 (and the resulting malabsorption of critical nutrients) leads to immune incompetence and unhealthy tissue…in this case, the central nervous system. This is not hard to imagine, as the levels of calcium, B complex, vitamin C, zinc and other critically supportive nutrients start to drop over time. In retrospect, I’m amazed that we last as long as we do! (Built to take a licking and keep on ticking.) The cool thing is that the body can and does reverse this with the G.A.R.D. in place.
This diet is also naturally low in allergens, estrogens, pain generators, and more. Allergens and estrogens both play roles here, which are discussed elsewhere on this site. There IS a good reason for catamenial seizures in women. There IS a seasonal influence on seizures that involves both allergens and the dropping serotonin levels that accompanies the shortening days. (This is discussed… along with air pollution… in the following addendums).
I hope this clarifies matters. This has been a phenomenal last few years. It has been a big, long learning process and I have documented it all along the way. You could call this site “The Dogtor J. Chronicles” (smile). But again, the cool thing has been that very few corrections have been necessary. It has been a matter of expanding the knowledge and emphasizing certain points as they became more clear. I believe the above letter summarizes things quite well, reducing its big brother, The Answer, down to a single page. (But I will be writing much more about mercury in the near future.)
Again, please feel free to contact me a firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions, comments, or testimonies. Your contribution cannot be over-stated.Dogtor J.
Here is a great site for looking up the nutritional profiles of food, including their glutamate and aspartate content. ( http://www.whfoods.com/foodstoc.php ). Simply click on the food you are inquiring about, then scroll down toward the bottom of the page until you see the chart in the Nutritional Profile section. There is a click-on link after that chart (just above the References section) that reads “In Depth Nutritional Profile for (chosen food)” . Click on that link and then just scroll done to the aspartate and glutamate listings. Make note of the serving size at the top of the chart so that you’ll be making an accurate comparison. You will quickly see the huge difference between the glutamate/aspartate content of healthy fruits/vegetables versus items such soy, wheat, barley, and the bean family (with the exception of green beans).
For example, recently my wife started eating peanuts and raisins as a late night television snack. Almost immediately, she started having very restless sleep and was complaining about soreness in her muscles and back. A quick trip to the chart showed very high levels of glutamate and asparate in peanuts.
I’m just glad that my canine patients don’t eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and down it with a big glass of milk like our ADHD kids do. Let’s see: wheat bread (with gliadorphins and plenty of glutamate and aspartate), peanut butter (LOTS more glutamate and asparate), jelly (“sugar gel”), and all of it washed down with cow milk (casomorphins and plenty of glutamate. Oh yeah. Don’t forget the arachadonic acid for you pain sufferers).
Hmmm….. It does all make sense, doesn’t it?
Foods rich in glutamate and aspartate:
1) Grains: Wheat, barley, and oats are highest. Corn and rice are lower than the previous three but higher than potatoes.
2) Dairy Products: All Cheeses (cheddar, Swiss, Monterey Jack, Mozzarella, PARMESAN) are very high. Casein is very concentrated in cheese and is 20% glutamic acid by composition.
3) Beans: Soy, Pinto, lima, black, navy, and lentils
4) Seeds: Sunflower, pumpkin, etc.
5) Peanuts: Very high, as are cashews, pistachios, and almonds. I have more detailed charts on the site to show exact values for the various nuts. Everything in moderation applies when eating nuts of any kind. So, I do not recommend you reach for nuts when you are really hungry unless you can stop after a few. Nuts are very good for you..in moderation. For example, seven almonds a day gives you what you need .
6) Diet drinks: Primary source of aspartate (aspartame)
7) Prepared foods, soups: 70% of prepared foods and many soups have MSG
8) Meats: Note- All meats are naturally rich in glutamate and aspartate. Lamb (and eggs) are the lowest, while rabbit and turkey are the highest.
However, I believe that the amount in a normal serving of meat should not be enough to cause problems. I think that it is all of the other “unnatural” sources when combined with the meats that are causing the problems.
One of my newest concerns is the presence of glutamate in the flesh of grain-fed animals, especially chickens, turkeys, and cattle. This is s topic of discussion on the celiac forums and we are now believing that this is a real concern and could explain why some celiacs are not responding to elimination diets. Catfish are also grain fed.
The fact is that 60-70% of the American Diet is wheat and dairy (with heavy emphasis on cheese). This combined with the amount of artificial sweeteners being consumed and the addition of SOY has led this country into an epidemic of pain syndromes, including fibromyalgia. Epilepsy is definitely on the rise in pets and the combination of wheat and soy in pet foods is playing a huge role. I am seeing first time epileptic dogs within three weeks of starting such diets.
Food low in glutamate and asparate:
4) Lamb and eggs are relatively low.
5) Tree nuts (e.g. pecans, walnuts, macadamias) NOTE: These are relatively low when compared to peanuts and cashews. I have more detailed charts on the site to show exact values. Pecans, for example, have half the amount of glutamate that peanuts have but that is still quite a bit. Again, everything in moderation applies when eating nuts of any kind. I do not recommend you reach for nuts when you are really hungry unless you can stop after a few. Nuts are very good for you..in moderation. 7 almonds a day gives you what you need.
Addendum #2: VERY IMPORTANT
Interestingly, I have been getting a number of Emails misstating the “theory” that my paper purports. I am very sorry and disappointed if the paper is not clearer than that. The main way that it has been misrepresented is in the underlying cause of the seizures themselves. Some have written to me questioning how gluten sensitivity can cause a reaction in the brain and thereby cause seizures. That, of course, is not what the paper states at all. But, there is at least one person on the net that has published a rebuttal of my “theory” based purely on this mistaken notion. I’m not sure how they got that idea if they, in fact, read the entire paper while actually trying to understand it.
So, I have decided to write another summary of the article and place it here for those that are still confused. The fine points of my “theory” are these:
1) The actual seizures in the idiopathic epileptic are caused by the neurostimulating amino acids glutamate and aspartate. These are non-essential amino acids, meaning that they are not required in the diet and are normally manufactured by the body from other sources. They are normally present in the brain and function as two of the primary substances involved in neurological transmission.
2) It is a know fact that MSG (monosodium glutamate) and aspartate (NutraSweet) cause seizures in some human individuals. MSG is the amino acid glutamate (glutamic acid) while aspartame contains the amino acid aspartate (aspartic acid). These substances are specifically used for their neurostimulatory properties. MSG stimulates the taste buds thereby making them more sensitive to the foods that are passing over them. It is therefore used as a flavor enhancer. Aspartame does something similar to the taste buds while imparting a sweet taste. Both are neurostimulants and are used for that express purpose. However, both are neurotoxic in excessive quantities. This is a known fact, not a theory. They have caused seizures, migraine headaches, pain syndromes and much, much more. Aspartame has also recently been investigated in its possible role in the rise of brain tumors and Alzheimer’s Disease.
3) My “theory” then suggests that idiopathic epilepsy is caused by a rise in these non-essential amino acids resulting in seizures, a known side effect of these two substances. The obvious question is why it occurs in some individuals and not others. A related question is why the onset of epilepsy is so variable, reportedly ranging from 6 months of age to 6 years or even older. Another question is why it is a progressive condition in most cases, starting with mild, infrequent seizures and often leading to uncontrollable daily seizures despite heavy medication. If this were simply a genetic defect of some sort, why don’t the seizures begin right away and why do they occur so sporadically in most cases.
4) The second part of the “theory” addresses these questions. While studying celiac disease, I found that celiac children with epilepsy often greatly improved once the gluten grains (wheat, barley, and rye) were removed from the diet. The fact is that MSG has been made from wheat and soy. They are obviously rich in this amino acid. But, the main characteristic of celiac disease is the damage that the gluten does to the duodenum, that first stretch of intestine after the stomach. The gluten coats the little absorptive villi of the gut (like “glue”), induces an immune response, and causes the destruction of those villi. This part of the bowel is responsible for absorbing calcium, iron, iodine, B vitamins, Vitamin C, manganese, magnesium, boron, chromium, zinc, and much, much more.
These vitamins are essential in the formation of the enzyme systems of the body, including those of the liver and the brain that are responsible for the regulation of the levels of the amino acid glutamate. Therefore, the “theory” states that it is the progressive malabsorption syndrome taking place in the duodenum that leads to the progressive inefficiency of these enzyme systems of the body that leads to the progressive rise in the levels of glutamate (and aspartate) that leads to the progressively worsening seizures.
The amino acids cause the seizures (as they have been proven to do) while the malabsorption syndrome (which has been proven to occur in people like celiacs) leads to the underlying cause of the progressive nature of the condition. That is the “theory” and it should be perfectly clear now, shouldn’t it?
5) The control of the seizures of the idiopathic epileptic involves restricting the diet of those food sources that are rich in these two non-essential amino acids. The “amazing” thing is that the sources of these non-essential amino acids are all of the primary food allergens in humans, dogs, and cats. Is that a coincidence? Of course not. It is those same foods that contain the “glue” and induce the immune response to dislodge it that the body becomes allergic to in the process. That is how the primary food allergens become so. The other common food allergens (peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, tropical fruits) are secondary allergens that are formed as they pass over that damaged area of gut, damaged by the primary foods dairy, soy, and the gluten grains (wheat, barley, and rye). This is obvious and factual.
By eliminating the sources of glutamate and aspartate from the diet, the seizures stop quickly, overnight in most cases in which the most thorough elimination possible has been made. I have had too many cases to keep track of now that have responded quickly and predictably both in my practice and on the Internet. Those cases that did not respond initially were investigated and found to be non-compliant to the diet. After further changes in the diet or the removal of supplements (mostly powders with wheat, barley, casein, soy, or kelp) or the removal of some medications (prednisone and veterinary NSAIDS such as Rimadyl), these pets came under control.
The FACT is that I have not had a pet with idiopathic epilepsy YET that has not improved applying this “theory”, that is why I keep putting the word theory in quotation marks. Whether the theory is totally accurate is less important than the results it produces. It works! AND, it has worked every time I have applied it. It also follows the “Golden rule of Medicine”…it does no harm. I simply recommend that clients stop feeding the foods that are also causing all of the allergies anyway and feed a high quality food that is also hypoallergenic. Who can argue with that?
The response of some individual pet owners has been totally baffling to me. Their unwillingness to try this approach and negative comments would suggest that I am recommending something that is radical and dangerous. That is, in a word, absurd…ridiculous…ludicrous. (Oops. That’s three words.)
Think now! “Think” is what I ask. What harm could it do? Most of these pets have concurrent allergies, which, in most cases, will improve phenomenally on this diet. We would be killing two stones with one bird, as I like to say. It cannot do harm.
And….. it will work. If it doesn’t help control the seizures then you need to Email me so that I can help you figure out what you are doing wrong. I love this part of the case history because it proves the “theory” over and over again.
Oh, the stories I could tell.
This section dives into yet another piece of the pie by discussing the role of the blood brain barrier: its normal function, its permeability to the “excitotoxins”, and how it becomes damaged by air pollution, allergic and immune-mediated reactions, hydrogenated oils, and more. This will make a phenomenal amount of sense to the reader while greatly supporting the “theory” of epileptic seizures being caused by the neuroexcitatory amino acids, glutamate and aspartate.
The Role of the Blood Brain Barrier in Epilepsy
I have actually written this in a hurry, so bear with me. I am going on vacation for a little while and wanted to get this important information on the site before I left. Plus, my passion for this subject is growing even more intense and I just can’t wait to tell you this newest stuff. So, here goes:
I have been studying a very important part of our anatomy. It is called the blood brain barrier (BBB), which is a protective layer of cells around the blood supply of the brain that functions to limit the entry of certain items into the brain. It normally prevents the passage of many drugs, microorganisms, toxins, and even amino acids into that all-important “command central” we call the brain.
However, there are certain things that damage the blood brain barrier, making it more permeable to these restricted items. For our application to epilepsy, the main insults that cause this to occur are air pollution, allergic reactions (the effects of histamine/mast cells), and our old friends the hydrogenated oils. Now, the latter does not play a huge role in veterinary epilepsy, but their consumption is a growing concern as the pets are fed our foods that do contain them. 90% of prepared foods have hydrogenated oils in them, including snacks, fried foods, candy, frozen dinners, cereals, cookies, and much, much more. “Fido” is getting way too many french fries and potato chips, I’m afraid. So, these trans fats are a growing concern to me.
The main issues in veterinary epilepsy would then be the other two: allergic responses and air pollution. The cells that produce our histamine are called mast cells. These cells and the histamine they produce make the BBB more permeable. I will not bore the reader with the physiology here. If you want details, then you can put the words “Mast cells, allergies, blood brain barrier” in your search engine and read all day about it. It is actually pretty cool stuff if you are into like I am. (Wait ’til you see what you find about how this applies to MS.) The second factor is air pollution. Once again, put “air pollution, blood brain barrier” in your search and read the bad news about what city living is really doing to our brains. I’m afraid that you may not sleep well afterwards, but the insomnia may be partly emotional and partly due to the pollution itself. Let me explain.
I have been writing about how the two excitatory amino acids, glutamate and aspartate, are the actual causes of the seizures themselves. They are neurotoxic in high enough quantity. (This is evident in Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS), in which the accepted pathophysiology is that the build up of glutamate at the synapse is what kills the adjacent neuron.) However, the blood brain barrier normally limits the amount of these amino acids that reaches the brain. Normally! However, is there anyone or his or her dog that is truly “normal” anymore? Perhaps there is someone who has never eaten wheat, dairy products, soy, or hydrogenated oils OR who has never breathed polluted air OR who has never had allergies of any kind but you won’t find many in this country. (You might be able to find them on some island off the coast of Japan, though. Is it really the coral calcium that is making them healthy, I wonder?)
Once we understand that air pollution and allergic responses (and hydrogenated oils) “open up” the blood brain barrier and allow more and more of the excitotoxins into the brain, we can see how the levels of these amino acids can reach toxic levels, levels that can contribute to a myriad of problems ranging from migraines to pain syndromes (including “aspartame syndrome” and fibromyalgia) to seizures. We can also then relate many of the patterns of disease incidence that we experience with the diseases themselves rather than to “coincidence”. For example, I have noted a rise in seizure incidence during certain times of the year but could not understand this phenomenon without knowing what is written here. Now I know that air pollution is often the key to these patterns, causing sudden changes in the permeability of the blood brain barrier. The fact that this happens can be seen in the astounding incidence of headaches in my clients (and myself) during this same time.
Now, the reader is ready for the phenomenal chain of events that leads to seizures in the susceptible individual. This is really cool, so pay attention. We start with the foods, the same “guys” that we have been picking on for three years now: cow milk products, wheat (and the other gluten grains: barley, rye, oats), and soy (errrrh). These are the three primary allergens. They do the damage to the duodenal villi that leads to the formation of antibodies to these foods (both IgE and IgG). They provide the coating (“glue”) and induce the dysfunction or destruction of those villi which leads to the malabsorption of the nutrients absorbed by those villi. Once again, the nutrients that are malabsorbed are calcium, B6, Folate, Magnesium, Vitamin C, and many more. I list these particular nutrients like this because these are the ones that we KNOW are particularly vital to the health on the brain’s neurons. When the brain is deficient in these nutrients, the neurons become MORE SENSITIVE to the effects of the excitotoxins. This is critical to understand, so make sure you grasp this right here and now. As the body becomes more deficient in these items, the brain becomes more sensitive to the excitotoxins. The same foods that are doing all of the damage to the gut are the ones providing the high levels of the glutamate and aspartate, remember?
So, do you see the “axis of evil” yet? This is really awesome! The wheat, dairy, and soy are the main sources of the “excitotoxins”. (Again, they make MSG from wheat and soy… remember?) They also damage the gut, cause the malabsorption of the vital nutrients (which sensitizes the neurons), generate the allergic response, and open up the blood brain barrier, allowing their excitotoxins to rush in and do their thing. Is that perfectly “evil” or what. Thrown in an unhealthy dose of inhalant allergens and the associated histamine release and you have nothing short of a disaster. It is like a really bad symphony of some sort, isn’t it?
Now and only now is when the genetics come into play. If genes “caused” this problem, then they would be epileptics right away, wouldn’t they? Why do the seizures wait until some time between 6 months and 6 years (or older) to start? The answer, as the primary paper describes, is that this is a progressive condition. The damage to the gut is progressive. The malabsorption of the vital nutrients is progressive. The increasing sensitivity of the brain’s neurons (“uploading”) is progressive. The allergies are progressive, with less and less allergen being required to trigger an immune response. AND finally, the damage to the blood brain barrier is progressive. The “symphony” is a work in progress, isn’t it?
As I have written in The Answer, genetics are only the road map that determines where you are headed when you get off the main road of good health. Until then, they don’t do much as far as the “causation” of disease. BUT, once you take that left turn off the main interstate of health, the road map pops out of your glove box and tells you where you are headed…diabetes, cancers, heart disease, and yes, epilepsy. Genetics do often play a role in the conditions to which we are prone, but only a secondary role, in my estimation. The life choices that we make (including diet) and the environment in which we live have much bigger parts in the development of degenerative diseases.
Now, is there any wonder why the breeds with the worst allergies are the main epileptics? But…BUT, do all epileptics have outward allergies? No. Do they have to in order to fit into this concept? Absolutely NOT! This is the bad news. Not all people with severe food intolerance (like celiac disease) have allergies… only the majority of them. Those with the allergies are the “lucky” ones, actually. They have an abundance of warning signs, don’t they? Too bad we horribly misinterpret these warnings.
I highly recommend a book I just found last week at Book-A-Million. It is titled Treating Epilepsy Naturally, by Patricia A. Murphy. It can be found on Amazon.com by clicking here: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0658013793/ref=lib_dp_TFCV/104-7402088-0108717?v=glance&s=books&vi=reader#reader-link
The foreword was written by Dr. Russell L. Blaylock, a recently retired neurosurgeon from the University of Mississippi Medical Center and author of Excitotoxins- The Taste That Kills. His book deals with the neurotoxic effects of aspartame and MSG, as well as many other food additives such as hydrolyzed soy protein. If you put his name in your search engine, you will find numerous articles dealing with these excitotoxins.
You see? There are plenty of well-respected doctors and researchers out there that know this stuff. It is only we and our family, our friends, our doctors, and our veterinarians that don’t know this…yet!
Addendum #4– A letter to a client in the U.K.
—– Original Message —–
Sent: Friday, December 19, 2003 8:43 AM
Subject: epileptic retriever
I live in the UK. I have a 3.5 year old golden retriever. She has 3-4 day cluster fits every 4 – 6 weeks (its in the family), the last session was very bad she lost her vision for a day and a half. She saw a neurosurgeon about a year ago and he says to minimize the protein content of her diet as this will help. He had hoped, even though it is in her genes, to work towards her being fit free. After a few visits and medication adjustments his verdict was, at best, a six week reprieve.
He was very good and her Vet is very good too. Now it seems I think, after much research that I must look to her diet. I found your web site and read you dissertation. Its brilliant, though I’m no scientist. I’ve told my Vet to have a look too.
I would like to ask for your help. I am keen to explore anything that will help my dog. She weighs about 30kg and is taking 150mg PB twice a day + KBr x 1000gm once a day + 1 teaspoon of cod liver oil twice a day. I feed her Bakers complete and half a can of Winalot or Pedigree tinned twice a day. Although after reading your site I am going to change this to a hypoallergenic brand call James Wellbeloved, as its gluten, soy and dairy free.
Any help or advice you can give me would be appreciated – I’m worried time is against us!
You are now on the right track. I have lost count of the number of dogs that have been helped with this dietary management. You will be hearing more about it through our profession, as the momentum is building rapidly.
The “theory” in the paper is logical and medically sound. That is why it works. The only question that remains is whether or not there is an inherent inefficiency in the cells of the brain to regulate the glutamate at the synapse or whether there is an organism of some kind that is affecting that function….or both.
The synapse in the brain where all of this is going on is actually easy to understand. Imagine two cells separated by a small space. The electronic transmission from one cell jumps to the next across the synapse through the use of the amino acid glutamate. However, if too much glutamate occurs at the synapse, it is neurotoxic, even neuro-lethal. In peripheral nerves, when the toxic levels occur, the nerve that would be receiving the electronic impulse is KILLED by the toxic levels of glutamate. This is what happens in Lou Gehrig’s disease ( ALS).
But, why does this happen? Why do the toxic levels of glutamate develop? The paper goes into how unusually high levels of this non-essential amino acid makes its way into our brain from what we eat. But why the level builds up to the level of killing the cell is a another matter.
There is another cell next to the previously mentioned cells called the glial cell. It is what regulates the amount of glutamate at the synapse. It removes the excess glutamate and converts it to an inactive compound. In this way, it is a “nurse cell” of sorts, isn’t it? Well, this is where some of the problems are, in people and dogs. In fact, they have now identified a mycoplasm (a weird microorganism, sort of like a bacteria) in that glial cell in some people with Lou Gehrig’s and they hope that this is the guy who is keeping it from doing its job. Perhaps treating these people with drugs to kill the mycoplasm will help their progressive disease.
Could this be what is going on in the dog with epilepsy? Could there be a microorganism (a virus, mycoplasm, bacteria, or others) in the glial cell of the dog’s brain that could be keeping that cell from regulating the glutamate levels? You bet. The consequence would be a build up of glutamate and this would result in a toxic reaction. The COOL thing is that the brain has a method to deal with this build up…its called a seizure. Yes, I believe that seizures are therapeutic. I believe that they occur to protect the brain from the neurolethal effects of glutamate. I would rather have a seizure than have a dead brain, wouldn’t you? So, the seizure occurs to “burn up” the glutamate and thereby prevent the lethal effects of that compound on the brain. Wow! Now, we also see why dogs on long term anticonvulsants often have problems, either with resistance to the drugs developing (the brain WILL find a way to save itself from our mistakes) or in the form of behavior problems in the dog….viciousness, lethargy, or ADHD-like manias. I am now convinced that the latter problems occur as a result of the gradual death of brain cells from the neurolethal levels of the glutamate that the anti-seizure medication has allowed to occur. Our Band-Aid worked for a while but ended up doing as much harm as good. This is what happens when we abuse symptomatic medication that simply covers up what the body is trying to do to heal itself (like those aspirin for fevers caused by viruses. We MUST stop doing this!).
So, the question is whether there is an organism in all dog’s brains with epilepsy or only some. I vote for the latter now, as I have had too many dogs now stop having seizures and never have them again. It does not appear to be a progressive disorder in most of those I have treated with diet. However, I must say that the diet makes the dog so much healthier that it may be allowing the dog to get these “infections” under control. So, there is a valid argument either way.
BUT, the point is somewhat moot in that the treatment is THE SAME….stop feeding the bad foods…the ones that cause all of the problems including allergies, pain, stomach upsets, ear infections, etc, etc…and watch them get better. They get healthier in general and their seizures stop. In some cases, however, the seizures appear to disappear more slowly than others, suggesting the possibility of the secondary invader situation.
WE are seeing the same sort of thing in many other areas of medicine. We have discovered the bacteria that worsens stomach ulcers (Helicobacter pylori), the mycoplasm in the joints of some people with rheumatoid arthritis, the mixed bag of organisms in the colon of people with Crohn’s, and on and on.
The “opportunists” (viruses, bacteria, fungi/yeast, mycoplasms, Rickettsia, and others) are just sitting there waiting for their chance to invade. Once your immune system crashes, up they come into the clinical picture and manifest in the syndromes we see. This is basic medical fact and we MUST come to grips with this. We must face the fact that viruses, for example, are “public enemy number one” and the latent ones (such as Epstein-Barr and other herpes viruses) that we acquire over time are vitally involved in immune-mediated disorders and (most, if not all) CANCER. (Yes, the latter is a very bold statement, but watch the news or do a little research. It is becoming very clear that this is the Truth. Watch my site for the next paper “Medicine Made Simple” or Viruses…the Real Terrorists.)
So, there may be opportunists in epilepsy. There probably are. I think I have been dealing with them in those cases that did not immediately stop have seizures. BUT, the main reason I have seen continued seizures is non-compliance with the dietary principles outlined in the paper. “Cheating” (or lack of understanding what all has the glutamate in it) is the main cause of continued seizures. However, I have had a few (very few) cases that did not get as well as expected or as fast as expected once on the right diet. THESE guys are the ones to look for the secondary invaders. On the other hand, I have not had ONE DOG that did not show some sort of response to this diet…not one, including some that have had BRAIN TUMORS. Yes, even they have shown some response to the diet.
Reduce the levels of those non-essential amino acids, glutamate and aspartate… those things that the dog would never get in their diet in the form of grains, dairy, or soy…those foods that are known to be the main food allergens and causes of gastrointestinal distress…and they get better. Now, how hard is that to believe or understand? Not very, is it? It does make sense and it does work.
I hope this helps. I will be looking forward to hearing from you.