Control Idiopathic Epilepsy Naturally
I have been successfully treating pets (and helping a rising number of people) with epilepsy using diet changes alone since the year 2000. 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 recent 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 facilitate recovery. This paper helps to summarize my findings.
The mainstay is The G.A.R.D. but there are other things that can be done to insure success and speed of recovery. I hope the work below helps.
How to Control Idiopathic Epilepsy Naturally
by Dogtor J.
1) Immediately institute The G.A.R.D. (The glutamate-aspartate restricted diet) This is the key. We want to rapidly reduce the amount of the two non-essential, neurologically active amino acids, glutamate and aspartate while eliminating the foods that can do harm to the lining of the intestinal tract. The above link goes into detail.
a) Avoid all gluten (wheat, barley, rye, and all forms of wheat including bulgar, durham, graham, spelt, spelta, kawmut, or triticale).
On the other hand, the healthy, gluten-grain-substitutes are tapioca, sorghum, millet, oats (although many are contaminated with gluten being harvested along side of gluten grains), rice (varieties), potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, buckwheat, quinoa, peas (although they can cross-react with soy), amaranth, and flax. However, all of the grains are rich in glutamic acid and and even those that are gluten-free should be avoided or eaten sparingly until seizures are under control.
b) Avoid all casein (cow milk products, including milk, cheese, and even some non-dairy creamers)
c) Avoid all soy (Read labels. It’s everywhere)
d) Avoid all corn
e) Avoid all MSG (60% of prepared foods have it, including soups). Here is a great reference: http://www.msgtruth.org/
f) Avoid all aspartame (Nutrasweet) and other artificial sweeteners (e.g. sucralose. For more info, Google “aspartame syndrome” and “Splenda sickness”.) The avoidance of aspartame is absolutely critical.
g) Severely limit (or avoid altogether) the consumption of the bean and lentil family (navy, black, lima, garbanzo, soy), which are rich in glutamic acid and may cross react immunologocally with soy. Once seizures are completely under control, some of these may be reintroduced if desired but observe closely for recurrence of symptoms.
h) Limit or curtail the consumption of nuts and seeds (especially peanuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios) until seizures are under control due to their high glutamate content. But, as with the bean family, once seizures are controlled, they can be reintroduced. For example, walnuts are a very healthy source of protein, omegas, some B complex, and magnesium while being some of the lowest in glutamate.
i) Avoid all high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a known neurotoxin.
j) Limit or, at least, drastically reduce consumption of refined sugar. Sugar is in direct competition with vitamin C by white blood cells and excess amounts will prevent uptake of this important vitamin by those cells.
For the dog, I used to recommend the IVD/Royal Canin potato-based diets until they added soybean oil to their formulas. I now recommend the Dick Van Patten Natural Balance line or those foods listed on my approved list. Home-prepared or raw diets that exclude the “big 4” (gluten, dairy, soy and corn) are even more ideal. For a more complete listing of foods that do no contain these potentially harmful ingredients, please read DogtorJ’s Food Handout. Remember, for epilepsy the most effective commercial dry diets have been the potato and sweet potato-based foods due to the high levels of glutamic acid in grains.
For people who are interested in pursuing this course, it is “simple”…but certainly not easy. But results can be swift and dramatic. You can get an idea of how I have accomplished this by reading my paper What in the World Do I Eat found here: http://dogtorj.tripod.com/id4.html. You can also read more about the benefits of this diet in The G.A.R.D. and Pain Management sections of this site.
For motivation, you can find a thread of testimonials here: http://lab-retriever.net/board/showthread.php?t=47643 . Although this is a breed forum for Labradors retrievers, the testimonies listed include both veterinary and human success stories.
Once recovery is well-established, an individual may find that they are able to resume eating more beans and nuts as long as they are clearly not legume intolerant or allergic to these foods. The avoidance of the “big 4” (especially gluten, casein, and soy) should continue indefinitely. Above all, be strict and consistent!
2) Begin vitamin and mineral supplementation. Remember that the “big 4” foods have been potentially causing the malabsorption of calcium, iron, iodine, B complex, C, and trace minerals such as zinc, copper, magnesium, manganese, and more by damaging the villi lining the small intestine. This supplementation should be done under the advice of a knowledgeable person and follow recommended dosages. Particular care should be taken in the use of the fat soluble vitamins A,D,E, and K which can be toxic in high doses, particularly A and E. I recommend that at least the following be considered for supplementation-
a) A multi-vitamin with Zinc
b) B complex, especially B1 (thiamine), B12 and B6*
c) Vitamin C
d) Magnesium- What I now call “The mineral of the century”. Adding magnesium has produced astounding results in some refractory cases of epilepsy. Put “magnesium, seizures” or “magnesium, epilepsy” in your search engine and read about the dosage and see the testimonials for yourself. This makes perfectly good sense as this vital mineral is one which is poorly absorbed by the small intestine in cases of food intolerance. Here is one good link: http://www.mgwater.com/rod07.shtml
e) Omega three fatty acids (Fish oil, specifically)- These are “the anti-inflammatory of the century”. Bioavailable omegas at proper doses are being used to treat numerous (idiopathic” inflammatory conditions as well disorders of the central nervous system. The best sources are from cod liver oil, krill, and the green lip mussel.
f) Vitamin D3- This is “the vitamin of the century” and I am a big fan of supplementing D3. I have read too much about the health benefits and how house-bound pets and humans could be deficient in this vital nutrient to not be. But there is some controversy over this subject. (See the Note below). I currently recommend 100-250 IU of D3 per cup of food fed to dogs. I strongly encourage the reader to do their own research on this matter.
g) For thyroid health, consider a good iodine supplement (e.g. kelp tablets) and a selenium supplement if not already included in other supplements. Iodine is crucial for the health of the thyroid glands and their ability to produce thryoid hormone while selenium is needed to convert T4 (the hormone released by the glands) to T3, the active form used by cells. Caution: Kelp is rich in glutamic acid and should be used only as directed, with the epileptic patient being observed closely for increased seizures after intitiating its use.
(* Deficiency in B6/pyridoxine, for example, has been associated with severe epilepsy and high levels of glutamate in the cerebrospinal fluid. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/94/3/318 )
Avoid chewable veterinary vitamins as they are usually loaded with offensive proteins (wheat, dairy, soy, corn) in order to make them palatable. Read all labels on vitamins and supplements in an attempt to avoid these same proteins in human products.
Note: Please read the latest research concerning vitamin D and D3 supplementation. Although deficiencies in this vital hormone have been reportedly linked to numerous medical conditions, especially those of the central nervous system, the newest work being done by Trevor Marshall, PhD refutes many of these claims ( http://bacteriality.com/2007/09/15/vitamind/ ). In fact, according to Marshall, too much vitamin D has the reverse effect, causing immune suppression and ultimately leading to worsening of chronic illnesses, many of which are driven by tiny “L-form” bacteria. This is explained in great detail on the following link- http://bacteriality.com/2007/08/15/l-forms/.
Others wholeheartedly disagree. For some pro-D3 information concerning humans, read this article from Mercola.com- http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/11/01/Vitamin-D-is-a-Key-Player-in-Your-Overall-Health.aspx )
I want to believe that vitamin D3 is “the nutrient of the century”. The reported relationship between low D3 levels (from lack of sunlight) and increased incidence of MS makes perfectly good sense to me. Marshall’s work may explain the fact that there are very few foods that are rich sources of D but I would like to think that is because D3 is free from the sun.
The bottom line: “Everything in moderation”. There is a delicate balance between many of the essential nutrients in our body. Taking large amounts of one vitamin or mineral may very well cause a problem with another. I encourage all who decide to use supplments to read about the interaction of that supplement with other nutrients. If we overdo the wrong thing, we can greatly disrupt the balance for which the body is striving. Think naturally and we can’t go wrong.
For a good book, check out Treating Epilepsy Naturally by Patricia Murphy. It can be found on Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0658013793/qid=1124813097/sr=8-1/ref=pd_bbs_1/103-5749131-8757400?n=507846&s=books&v=glance It contains a great section on vitamins and minerals.
3) Have blood tests done, particularly to evaluate thyroid and liver function. Hypothyroidism can lower the seizure threshold and the proper diagnosis of this common and oftentimes insidious condition can be crucial in the control of seizures. As the liver is integral in the control of blood glutamate levels, it is easy to understand how liver disease could worsen seizures.
a) Thyroid tests- For veterinary patients, I recommend the reader visit this site and have the thyroid tests done by Dr. Dodds and her lab ( http://www.canine-epilepsy-guardian-angels.com/DrDoddsInstructions.htm ).
b) Liver function- There are routine tests included in standard blood panels that help to evaluate liver function. However, there are specialized tests (e.g. bile acids tests) that can be done to better determine liver function/mass, especially in the case of chronic conditions such as chronic active hepatitis and liver shunts.
c) Test for Lyme Disease. Does your area have Lyme Disease? Lyme can cause refractory seizures. Treatment can be accomplished with doxycycline orally. Do not use any of the fluoroquinlone drugs (e.g. Batyril, Zenequin, Cipro) as they are fluoride- based antibiotics and can worsen seizures in dogs and people. As we come to understand the role of intracellular bacteria (L-form Bacteria and Mollicutes) in disease, we may elect to utilize a trial doxycycline in cases of refractory epilepsy. (Google “doxycycline, MS” for some interesting reading.)
4) Consider alternative/auxiliary therapies- Once the underlying causes of disease are better understood (e.g. food intolerance, seasonal changes, decreasing daylight/serotonin levels, etc), then we can more easily visualize other therapies that will aid in the recovery.
a) Light therapy- to improve serotonin levels. Read my paper An “Epilephany”- Viruses, Serotonin, and Light Boxes to Help Treat Epilepsy to help you see the rationale behind this approach. It can be found here: http://dogtorj.tripod.com/id2.html .
b) Melatonin ( http://www.canine-epilepsy-guardian-angels.com/Melatonin_info.htm ) But like D3 therapy, there can be a downside to the overuse of melatonin. It has been reported that melatonin can actually increase seizures as well as worsen migraines and insomnia in some cases. So please read up on this supplement and the variety of recommended doses before using it for epilepsy. (Start with low doses.) The use of the elimination diet is far more important.
c) Tryptophan and 5- HTP supplements- Please do lengthy Internet searches for the use of these supplements in epilepsy before utilizing them. As discussed in the vitamin section, this is not always a clear cut issue.
d) Taurine ( http://www.canine-epilepsy-guardian-angels.com/taurine.htm )
e) Antioxidants- The typical, natural antioxidants are vitamin C, vitamin E and grape seed extract, with the last one being the newest and most talked about. Antioxidants serve to neutralize free radicals, which are harmful substances (molecules, atoms, ions) that react electrically with cells, causing damage and dysfunction.
f) Chelation therapy- to reduce heavy metal loads on the body/brain.
g) Other metal-removing agents (e.g. Zeolite – Natural Cellular Defense, http://www.waiora.com/products/item26000-NCD.php . See Email below**.
h) Air filters to reduce inhalant allergies and environmental pollution
i) Water filters to remove fluoride and other impurities (very important!) See Recommended Products section.
5) Auxiliary testing- Again, once the underlying causes and secondary issues (such as serotonin deficiencies, food and inhalant allergies and their effect on the deteriorating blood brain barrier, and more) are better understood, then we will know better what to test for to insure and speed up our recovery.
a) Food allergy testing- For veterinary patients, I recommend VARL (Veterinary Allergy Reference Labs). Here is the Website: http://www.varlallergy.com/aboutus.html. Any veterinarian can submit this test for you. For humans, I recommend The Sage Systems Test (blood test). Here is the Website: http://www.foodallergytest.com/sageTest3.html as they test for numerous antibodies against a wide array of foods and additives. If only one test could be run on those who regularly contact me, this would be the one I would recommend.
b) Food Intolerance testing- Another good test for those concerned about celiac disease or casein intolerance (in humans) is the one done by Dr. Fine at Enterolab. Here is the Website: https://www.enterolab.com/Home.htm
c) Have vitamin D3 levels tested. This crucial vitamin has finally come into its own and testing an individual’s blood level of D3 would be one of the very first tests I would do on many patients if I were an MD, especially those suffering from immmune-mediated diseases and cancer.
d) Serotonin levels- I would love to see more MDs run this test on their epileptic patients. As far as I know at this writing, this test is not available to veterinarians. I am convinced that we will find that many epileptics are very low in this essential hormone, neurotransmitter, and mood/seizure moderator.
e) Hair analysis-http://www.drlwilson.com/Articles/epilepsy.htm
f) Unfortuntely, the only way to know if an individual is magnesium deficient is to test the cerebrospinal fluid levels, as the body will do everything it can to maintain blood serum levels (just as it does calcium). Of course, this is not routinely done and a trial of magnesium citrate may yield rapid results.
I hope this helps. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about what you have read or have any suggestions that would improve this paper or the Website.