For decades, one possibility of treating seizures in children has been the ketogenic diet. Once the mainstay of epilepsy treatment, the troublesome ketogenic diet faded to a lesser position with the advent of pharmaceutical drugs capable of controlling seizures with only minimal or moderate side effects.
Applying the same treatment to adults has never been a part of conventional treatment, and expectations for its success have only revealed what someone thinks about nutritional treatment in general, as the issue just has not been studied. Ketogenic diets have not been considered acceptable for adults…until recently.
The ketogenic diet is now widely discussed and even cherished by various individuals and experts, citing benefits far afield from epilepsy: weight loss, improved athletic performance, better mental clarity, reduced food cravings, improved metabolic markers, and more.
How timely, then, that a group of researchers in the UK report on an observational study with 23 adults, who seem to have taken the initiative – before it was ever officially proven – to try a ketogenic diet on their own. What they found was that about the same proportion of adults as children (39%) responded to the diet with a decrease in seizure frequency, often accompanied by a reduction in seizure severity and an increase in general cognitive function. Even without reducing seizures, the reduced severity and improved cognition was sufficient to motivate eaters to continue with ketosis, at times despite gastrointestinal symptoms. The ones who discontinued the diet were primarily those for whom it provided no benefit.
The great success of this observational study should inspire researchers to design an appropriate interventional study to learn more about the treatment’s potential benefits and risks. On the other hand, the great success of this study should inspire those with epilepsy to try the ketogenic diet on their own!
Is it safe? Is it doable? How perfectly timely: Jimmy Moore, with Dr. Eric Westman, recently released Keto Clarity, a book with the perfect amount of science (here’s why it’s safe and how it’s likely to help you) with practical information (here’s what to eat and how to cook it) to enable anyone to start their own trial of “Ketogenic Diet and Me.”