Viruses and Epilepsy
Here Is a post that I made on a human epilepsy forum in response to a question concerning a viral infection that later resulted in epilepsy. This is very explainable. I hope you get something important from it.
Viruses and Epilepsy- A Forum Post
I am sort of new on this forum but spent a fair amount of time on BrainTalk so many of you are familiar with my work in the area of epilepsy. Yes, I am “just” a veterinarian but now speak at both veterinary and human conferences on this topic. The response to the elimination diet that I talk so much about has been phenomenal and part of the reason it does work is that the immune system becomes healthy enough to deal with the viral “culprits” in epilepsy.
Many epilepsy sufferers have not been told that viruses are known causes of seizures. The fact is that there are over 25 viruses KNOWN to causes seizures in people, many of which are ubiquitous (e.g. the Herpes and paramyxovirus families, including Epstein Barr, Herpes simplex, measles, mumps, Coxsackie viruses,and many more) I would encourage all of you to do some creative Internet searches for “virus, epilepsy”, etc and see this for yourselves. There was a very recent news alert to this effect on Yahoo (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/medi…&nfid=rssfeeds ).
This should all make TOTAL sense to people. There is a myriad of viruses that love the central nervous system. And many of them have a real affinity for the glial cells (astrocytes and oligodendricytes) that support the neuron and regulate the levels of neurotransmitters (e.g glutamate) at the synapse. This is one of the main reasons why “the G.A.R.D”….the glutamate/aspartate restricted diet…works soooo well to help control seizures, as it dramatically reduces the work load of these dysfunctional cells and puts a great Band-Aid on the epilepsy situation. But, the long-term solution comes from the same diet that helps to reverse the immune failure and tissue ill health that set the stage for the viral uprising to begin with.
It is interesting and very explainable why people have histories like the one above. Many of our viral infections do not come and go but rather come and stay. As I am fond of saying, “If I could do a Star Trek type of scan on your body and give you a print out of the viruses you have in there, once you got over the shock of that news, you might just be motivated to take better care of yourself, eh?” Some infections are “diphasic”, with the initial infection causing some signs while other symptoms arise later once the individual fails to control the infection OR continues to bombard these viruses with things that “make them mad”, as explained below.
Latent viruses are involved in many of the disease “syndromes” with which we are afflicted, including epilepsy and cancer. I like to use cancer as the parallel to illustrate the difference between “causes” and “triggers”. For example, carcinogens do not cause cancer. (“Say what???”). No, they don’t. VIRUSES cause cancer. Carcinogens incite the virus into causing the cancer. I am convinced that most of you reading this will hear, in your lifetime, that all cancer is viral. Researchers have been saying this for years and years. It’s what viruses do. It is those ugly things we call “carcinogens” that trigger those viruses into causing cancer. But, that alone is not enough for us to develop cancer. We also have to experience some degree of immune failure in order to get the “big C”. So, it is a triad of factors…viruses, carcinogens, and immune failure…that come together to yield the resulting cancer. That is what we call a “syndrome”.
Epilepsy is also a syndrome and the parallel is probably already quite clear. We are loaded with viruses that have the potential to cause seizures. Epstein Barr is one such Herpes virus. 50% of our kids in the US have Epstein-Barr by age 5 and 95 % of Americans over age 40 have this guy in their body. Why don’t we all have seizures if he can cause them? Because we don’t have the right cofactors in place to make it happen. And there are many cofactors in epilepsy, including diet (HUGE!!!!), air quality (also HUGE), hormonal influences, lifestyles, and many other things that affect our immune systems and health of the central nervous system, liver, kidneys, and endocrine systems, all of which can play vital roles.
Of all of these factors, diet is clearly THE most important. This is very easy to see once we understand what is required for our brains, body’s and immune systems to stay healthy and operate optimally. The “big 4” (gluten, dairy, soy and corn) are the who’s who of what is wrong with foods, as they damage our gut’s ability to absorb nutrients (e.g. celiac disease), shower our body with damaging proteins (lectins), load us up with staggering levels of “excitotoxins” (glutamate and aspartate) and pound us with estrogens. As a result, tissue health suffers, immunity fails, enzyme systems go down, and the Pandora’s Box of viruses is opened wide. The bottom line is that viruses don’t like certain things hurled at them (e.g. lectins, chemicals, pollution) and when they react to these noxious stimuli, we had better hope that we have a competent immune system to put down their rebellion. If not, we suffer the full blown syndrome, whether it be epilepsy, cancer, or the myriad of things we love to call “autoimmune disorders”. These things are not as “idiopathic” as we have all been led to believe.
I think you will see how your medical histories all line up with this once you fully grasp the role (and ultimate purpose) of viruses in nature and our bodies. They are not the malicious critters that we have labeled them to be. They are just doing their job. It is what WE are throwing at them that is the real issue. We are literally forcing them into becoming pathogens.
As Pogo so wisely stated, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
I hope this helps,
Thanks for posting, Jen. That is a great testimonial and really helps to pull things together.
The study of lectins explains sooo much. (http://www.krispin.com/lectin.html). Once we see that these harmful glycoproteins (especially those from gluten, dairy, soy and corn) can cause tissue damage/inflammation ALL BY THEMSELVES, without an immune response, then things start really making sense. We can then see that the immune response is secondary to that damage, which helps to explain why we see such a variation in the measurable response by different individuals. Some will respond with an outpouring of antibodies yielding positive tests while others will not, explaining negative tests in individuals who end up responding well to the elimination diet when they go ahead and do it anyway in the face of those negative tests.
These dietary glycoproteins are also a big part of what we love to call “autoimmune disease”. Personally, I do like nor do I use that term anymore unless I put it in quotes. That term implies that the immune system is attacking it’s own body’s tissues for no good reason. I contend that this does not happen…ever. The immune system always responds appropriately and we simply do not fully understand why it does what it does some times, with the inflammation being incited by lectins being the prime example.
Lectins are antibody-sized proteins/glycoproteins. That makes them really tiny. How would we know they are there when they are that small? We can’t see them in a routine tissue sample. It would take biochemical analysis or, again, antibody tests to determine whether they are involved. Therein lies the rub. Once again, not everyone responds with what we might call an “appropriate” response…one that we can detect readily. We just have to know that these lectins can and do cause changes in the individual cells of the body (from neurons to nephrons to blood cells, etc) of susceptible individuals. I contend that the “big 4” (gluten, dairy , soy and corn) are not GOOD for anyone. They are simply better tolerated by some than others. This is the nature of “spectrum disorders”, which range in severity from the best of the best to the worst of the worst. I tell people to think “peanut allergy” when thinking about the worst of the worst. Whoa! Now that’s a sensitivity.
So, does gluten affect neurons? Definitely. Can it kill neurons? Yes! Do a search for “gluten, neurons” and you’ll find some interesting things. But how it does that is the interesting thing, and the clue is in the link above about lectins. A concurrent study of viruses helps to see the big picture and that is why I write so much about this on my site now.
It is logical that the viruses INSIDE that cell are the things that determine the response of that cell to the challenge by lectins, carcinogens, and other chemicals/pollutants, etc etc. Reading the Lectin Report above, one might ask what determines how a cell decides which of the ten different responses it will manifest once challenged by the lectin (from cell death to tumor formation). I believe the answer lies in the adaptive viruses found inside that cell. That’s what viruses do in nature…facilitate adaptation (as well as cause variation in nature).
The cool thing to see is that our very DNA contains these adaptive viruses. They now estimate that up to 45% of the genetic codes in our double stranded DNA is actually viral information. This is what retroviruses, in particular, do…they infect the cell and incorporate their genetic info into our DNA. That is why they are main viruses involved in cancer AND why cancer can be “genetic” (inherited). This info can be transmitted vertically to the offspring.
The other cool thing to see is that cancer itself is an adaptive process. The viruses that “cause” cancer are simply adapting to the challenges (e.g. carcinogens) that we keep throwing at them. When all else fails, they cause the cell they are designed to protect to start growing out of control in order to ensure the survival of that virus and the cell itself. So, I now look at a tumor as a protective cocoon. Radical idea??? Yup. Does it make sense when you understand what viruses do in nature that is good and vital? It does to me.
So, why don’t we all have cancer and have it early in our lives. Once again, because there is another part of the “syndrome” that is necessary…a weakened immune system. Yes, we are killing cancer cells right now (hopefully). The immune system recognizes when a cell is trying to do something that it deems inappropriate or harmful and send in the cavalry….hopefully. This could be just what we (incorrectly) label as an “autoimmune response”. No, the body DOES know exactly what it is doing each and every time it does something. I believe that down to my socks. We just don’t understand what it is doing sometimes, and this is one of those times.
How does this apply to epilepsy and other neurodegenerative diseases (e.g. MS, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS)? Again, as we stated above, some viruses love the central nervous system. The two most common brain tumors in vet medicine are the astrocytoma and oligodendroglioma, both viral and of those cells that control many of the supportive functions of the neuron, including the production of the myelin sheath and the control of neurotransmitter levels (glutamate). If there are viruses in there causing tumors, then through “reverse engineering”, we can see that there are going to be the processes (e.g. “autoimmune diseases”) that precede the formation of tumors, because these are the means by which the immune system controls the tumor production…until it gets overwhelmed by all that we are throwing at it.
I hope this make sense and helps in some way.
An “Epilephany”- Viruses, Serotonin, and Light Boxes to Help Treat Epilepsy
My Current View of Epilepsy in a Nutshell
Letter to a Mother of an Epileptic Child
Food Intolerance, Epilepsy, and “The G.A.R.D.”
The Epilepsy Diet Made Simple
How to Control Idiopathic Epilepsy Naturally