Saturday, May 3, 2008

Ketogenic diet and epilepsy

I really didn't think this was news, but it was on the radio this morning

Diet treatment call for epilepsy
A special high-fat diet helps to control fits in children with epilepsy, a UK trial suggests.
The number of seizures fell by a third in children on the "ketogenic" diet, where previously they had suffered fits every day despite medication.
The diet alters the body's metabolism by mimicking the effects of starvation, the researchers reported in the Lancet Neurology.
The researchers called for the diet to be more widely available on the NHS.

A further story gives a case of a young child who improved with the diet and an example of it.

The abstract of the study is here.

Lyle McDonald explains the history of this diet:

The ketogenic diet has been used to treat a variety of clinical conditions, the most well known of which is childhood epilepsy. Writings as early as the middle ages discuss the use of fasting as a treatment for seizures. The early 1900's saw the use of total fasting as a treatment for seizures in children. However, fasting cannot be sustained indefinitely and only controls seizures as long as the fast is continued.

Due to the problems with extended fasting, early nutrition researchers looked for a way to mimic starvation ketosis, while allowing food consumption. Research determined that a diet high in fat, low in carbohydrate and providing the minimal protein needed to sustain growth could maintain starvation ketosis for long periods of time. This led to development of the original ketogenic diet for epilepsy in 1921 by Dr. Wilder. Dr. Wilder's ketogenic diet controlled pediatric epilepsy in many cases where drugs and other treatments had failed. The ketogenic diet as developed by Dr. Wilder is essentially identical to the diet being used in 1998 to treat childhood epilepsy.

The ketogenic diet fell into obscurity during the 30's, 40's and 50's as new epilepsy drugs were discovered. The difficulty in administering the diet, especially in the face of easily prescribed drugs, caused it to all but disappear during this time.

So it has been around since 1921 and it is now rediscovered...

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