Epilepsy Specialist Old Hickory TN
By Kelli Rosen
Matthew Robinson, of Denver was just 20 months old when he had his first seizure. “He fell on the floor and shook for about three or four minutes,” his dad, Doug, recalls. “And then two weeks later he did it again.” A local neurologist scheduled an EEG (electroencephalogram); it revealed irregular activity in the brain of this otherwise healthy toddler, who, turns out, had suffered grand mal seizures. The frightening reality stunned Robinson and his wife Diane: Their son had epilepsy.
Epilepsy is a neurological condition that causes seizures—sudden surges of electrical activity in the brain affecting how a person feels or acts. Seizures can relate to a brain injury or family history, but in a majority of cases, the cause is unknown. In the US, 2.7 million people have been treated with epilepsy in the past five years. Children, especially those in their first year of life, make up most of the new cases, but epilepsy can develop at any age.
The standard method of treatment—anti-seizure medications—come with side effects, including fatigue, abdominal discomfort, dizziness, blurred vision, rashes, and bone loss, and unfortunately, these conventional drugs don’t always work. Matthew’s medications actually exacerbated his seizures—from one or two a day to a staggering 100 a day.
Unfortunately, Matthew’s experience isn’t out of the norm. “One-third of those with epilepsy in the US, that’s around a million people, do not respond to treatment with any of the existing therapies,” says Warren Lammert, the Boston-based chairman and co-founder of the Epilepsy Therapy Development Project (ETDP), which seeks to advance new treatments for people living with epilepsy. Luckily, the following seven natural strategies—which including dietary and lifestyle changes—hold promise for those who don’t respond to conventional drugs.
The ketogenic diet is the most ubiquitous of all epilepsy nutritional therapies. So much so, in fact, that Eric H.W. Kossoff, MD, associate director of the Pediatric Neurology Residency Program and assistant professor of Pediatrics and Neurology at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland, considers it mainstream. “The diet was exclusively developed for epilepsy back in the 1920s when doctors learned fasting improved seizures,” he says, “so they created this diet to mimic starvation.” Kossoff says that from the 1930s to the mid ’90s, drugs took over, “but now the ketogenic diet is back and very popular around the world.”
It begins with a 24-hour fasting period to cleanse the system. After that you restrict carbohydrates and instead get most of your calories from fats. People on the diet usually eat 3 to 4 grams of fat for every 1 gram of carbohydrate and protein. Nutritionists and neurologists tweak meals to induce ketosis, a state in which the body burns stored fat for fuel. Doctors don’t know why ketosis reduces seizures, but it produces positive results for lots of people. According to Kossoff, one-half to ...
Author: Kelli Rosen
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