Although the idea of treating epilepsy through diet is not a novel one, recent studies with adults have demonstrated some valuable results. Epileptic children have benefited from following the ketogenic diet for many years. This diet is one consisting of fasting and very restricted amounts of fluids and carbohydrates. It works so well that it can even completely eliminate seizures in children. The diet builds up ketones or compounds in the body that are produced mostly from fat calories.
The secret to this science remains unknown to date; however, recent research suggests that a similar diet could be a saving grace for epileptic adults who are unable to benefit from medication.
In 2002, John Hopkins began research with a modified version of the Atkins diet, which did not have a fasting component nor a restricted fluid or carb intake. The diet consisted of about 15 grams of carbohydrates. Research proved to be beneficial for children so they turned to adults. What was found?
Those who had been suffering on average 10 seizures per week had vastly reduced their episodes. After only 1 month half displayed a 50% reduction in seizures and after 3 months, one third had reduced their seizures to half. Nevertheless, roughly one third had to quit the diet after 3 months due to an inability to follow the regimen. Fortunately, side affects appeared to be minimal. Although, I feel that more studies are needed to test long-term affects of such a restricted diet.
Most striking is that fourteen of those in the study chose to continue this alternate form of treatment beyond the 6 month trial proving that, although not everyone will benefit from or stomach this type of diet, for some it could be a way of life for those forced to make the choice between medication, surgery and electrical stimulation.