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Diet & Seizures

Research Menu Page ||| Update 8/1/2010

Listed in reverse date order:
NOTE: Research on the Ketogenic Diet is included below with research on Feingold-type diets. For more information on the Ketogenic Diet, see the Charlie Foundation website or call them at (310) 395-6751. Unlike the Feingold Diet, this is not a do-it-yourself diet and requires careful monitoring and care to minimize side effects.

Cysneiros 2009 Epilepsy and sudden unexpected death in epilepsy? Eat more fish!
Gaby 2007 Natural Approaches to Epilepsy.
Murphy 2006 The ketogenic diet causes a reversible decrease in activity level in Long-Evans rats.
Kielb 2000 Nephrolithiasis associated with the ketogenic diet.
Najbauer 2000   The aspirin metabolite sodium salicylate causes focal cerebral hemorrhage and cell death in rats with kainic acid-induced seizures.
Panico 2000   No Title - article about Ketogenic Diet, in Spanish.
Mak 1999 Clinical experience of ketogenic diet on children with refractory epilepsy.
Freeman 1998The efficacy of the ketogenic diet-1998: a prospective evaluation of intervention in 150 children.
Schiff 1998Ketogenic diet--an alternative therapy for epilepsy in adults.
Egger 1989Oligoantigenic diet treatment of children with epilepsy and migraine.
Ikonomidou 1988Differential effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs on seizures produced by pilocarpine in rats.
Maher 1987Possible neurologic effects of aspartame, a widely used food additive.
Egger 1985Controlled Trial of Oligoantigenic Treatment in the Hyperkinetic Syndrome.
Egger 1983Is migraine food allergy? A double-blind controlled trial of oligoantigenic diet treatment.
Inoue 1983Folate supplements and phenytoin-salicylate interaction.
Chen 1980Potentiation of noise-induced audiogenic seizure risk by salicylate in mice as a function of salicylate-noise exposure interval.
Chen 1980Potentiation of acoustic-trauma-induced audiogenic seizure susceptibility by salicylates in mice.
Haavik 1979Effects of the Feingold diet on seizures and hyperactivity: a single-subject analysis.





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  1. Potentiation of noise-induced audiogenic seizure risk by salicylate in mice as a function of salicylate-noise exposure interval, Chen CS, Aberdeen GC, Acta Otolaryngol 1980;90(1-2):61-5
    " Audiogenic seizure risk can be induced in genetically seizure-resistant BALB/c mice by exposure to an intense noise. . . . the greatest potentiation effect was obtained when animals were exposed to the noise 6 hr after the intake of salicylate. The findings were taken as indirect evidence suggesting that the ototoxic action of sodium salicylate could potentiate vulnerability of the mouse cochlea to noise damage."

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  2. Potentiation of acoustic-trauma-induced audiogenic seizure susceptibility by salicylates in mice. Chen CS, Aberdeen GC, Experientia 1980 Mar 15;36(3):330-1
    " Combined exposure to noise and salicylates was found to produce greater acoustic trauma induced audiogenic seizure risk than exposure to the noise alone. The result suggests that salicylates could make the mouse cochlea more vulnerable to the traumatic action of noise."

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  3. Epilepsy and sudden unexpected death in epilepsy?: eat more fish! A group hypothesis., Cysneiros RM, Terra VC, Machado HR, Arida RM, de Albuquerque M, Scorza CA, Cavalheiro EA, Scorza FA., Arquivos de Neuro-Psiquiatria 2009 Sep;67(3B):927-9.
    "Epilepsy is the commonest serious neurological disorder and individuals with epilepsy are at higher risk of death than the general population and sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) is the most important direct epilepsy-related cause of death. Potential pathomechanisms for SUDEP are unknown, but it is very probable that cardiac arrhythmias during and between seizures play a potential role. The ultimate goal of SUDEP research is to develop methods to prevent it and nutritional aspects such as omega-3 fatty acid deficiency may have an interesting role in this scenario. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk of cardiovascular mortality and are important for treating or preventing some neurological diseases, including epilepsy. A dietary modification or nutritional supplements increasing the ingestion of omega-3 fatty acids may help to ''save the brain'."

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  4. Is migraine food allergy? A double-blind controlled trial of oligoantigenic diet treatment., Egger J et al., Lancet 1983 Oct 15;2(8355):865-9
    "93% of 88 children with severe frequent migraine recovered on oligoantigenic diets; ... the role of the foods provoking migraine was established by a double-blind controlled trial in 40 of the children. ... Associated symptoms which improved in addition to headache included abdominal pain, behaviour disorder, fits, asthma, and eczema. In most of the patients in whom migraine was provoked by non-specific factors, such as blows to the head, exercise, and flashing lights, this provocation no longer occurred while they were on the diet."

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  5. Controlled Trial of Oligoantigenic Treatment in the Hyperkinetic Syndrome, J.Egger, P.J.Graham, J.F.Soothill, C.M.Carter, D.Gumley, The Lancet, March 9, 1985
    62 of 76 selected overactive children (81.6%) improved; other symptoms such as headaches, abdominal pain, and fits, also improved.

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  6. Oligoantigenic diet treatment of children with epilepsy and migraine, Egger J, Carter CM, Soothill JF, Wilson J, Journal of Pediatrics 1989 Jan;114(1):51-8
    Of 45 children with epilepsy and recurrent headaches, abdominal symptoms, or hyperkinetic behavior, 36 [80%] improved on an oligoantigenic diet; 25 [55%] ceased to have seizures and 11 had fewer seizures during diet therapy. "Headaches, abdominal pains, and hyperkinetic behavior ceased in all those whose seizures ceased, and in some of those whose seizures did not cease." ..."Of 24 children with generalized epilepsy, 18 [75%] recovered or improved (including 4 of 7 with myoclonic seizures and all with petit mal), as did 18 of 21 [85%] children with partial epilepsy. In double-blind, placebo-controlled provocation studies, symptoms recurred in 15 of 16 children, including seizures in eight; none recurred when placebo was given. Eighteen other children, who had epilepsy alone, were similarly treated with an oligoantigenic diet; none improved."

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  7. The efficacy of the ketogenic diet-1998: a prospective evaluation of intervention in 150 children. Freeman JM, Vining EP, Pillas DJ, Pyzik PL, Casey JC, Kelly LM, Pediatrics 1998 Dec;102(6):1358-63
    " . . .One hundred fifty consecutive children, ages 1 to 16 years, virtually all of whom continued to have more than two seizures per week despite adequate therapy with at least two anticonvulsant medications, were prospectively enrolled in this study, treated with the ketogenic diet, and followed for a minimum of 1 year. . . . Three months after diet initiation, 83% of those starting remained on the diet and 34% had >90% decrease in seizures. . . . At 1 year, 55% remained on the diet and 27% had a >90% decrease in seizure frequency. . . . It is more effective than many of the new anticonvulsant medications and is well tolerated by children and families when it is effective."

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  8. Natural approaches to epilepsy. Gaby AR., Alternative Medicine Review., 2007 Mar;12(1):9-24.
    " This article reviews research on the use of diet, nutritional supplements, and hormones in the treatment of epilepsy. Potentially beneficial dietary interventions include identifying and treating blood glucose dysregulation, identifying and avoiding allergenic foods, and avoiding suspected triggering agents such as alcohol, aspartame, and monosodium glutamate. The ketogenic diet may be considered for severe, treatment-resistant cases. The Atkins diet (very low in carbohydrates) is a less restrictive type of ketogenic diet that may be effective in some cases. Nutrients that may reduce seizure frequency include vitamin B6, magnesium, vitamin E, manganese, taurine, dimethylglycine, and omega-3 fatty acids. Administration of thiamine may improve cognitive function in patients with epilepsy. Supplementation with folic acid, vitamin B6, biotin, vitamin D, and L-carnitine may be needed to prevent or treat deficiencies resulting from the use of anticonvulsant drugs. Vitamin K1 has been recommended near the end of pregnancy for women taking anticonvulsants. Melatonin may reduce seizure frequency in some cases, and progesterone may be useful for women with cyclic exacerbations of seizures. In most cases, nutritional therapy is not a substitute for anticonvulsant medications. However, in selected cases, depending on the effectiveness of the interventions, dosage reductions or discontinuation of medications may be possible."

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  9. Effects of the Feingold diet on seizures and hyperactivity: a single-subject analysis. Haavik S, Altman K, Woelk C, J Behav Med 1979 Dec;2(4):365-74
    " The effects of a dietary manipulation on seizure frequency and activity level of a 3 1/2-year-old male with tuberous sclerosis, mental retardation, and uncontrolled seizures were assessed. . . . Every application of the K-P diet resulted in substantial reductions in seizure frequency. During a 21-week follow-up, seizure frequency remained low despite the phasing out of one drug, and seizures were reportedly eliminated 1 year later. Brief objective measures of hyperactivity failed to show any effect due to the diet changes."

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  10. Differential effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs on seizures produced by pilocarpine in rats, Ikonomidou-Turski C, Cavalheiro EA, Turski L, Bortolotto ZA, Kleinrok Z, Calderazzo-Filho LS, Turski WA, Brain Res 1988 Oct 18;462(2):275-85
    " . . . Pretreatment of rats with sodium salicylate, ED50 103 mg/kg (60-174), and phenylbutazone, 59 mg/kg (50-70) converted the non-convulsant dose of pilocarpine, 200 mg/kg, to a convulsant one. . . ."

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  11. Folate supplements and phenytoin-salicylate interaction. Inoue F, Walsh RJ, Neurology 1983 Jan;33(1):115-6
    " We found biphasic fluctuations of serum phenytoin level when aspirin was added to chronic phenytoin therapy for an epileptic patient. The total serum phenytoin level was lowered initially by addition of aspirin. However, after 4 months on phenytoin-aspirin combination therapy, he showed elevated serum phenytoin levels, mild nystagmus, and serum folate deficiency."

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  12. Nephrolithiasis associated with the ketogenic diet, Kielb S, Koo HP, Bloom DA, Faerber GJ, J Urol 2000 Aug;164(2):464-6
    " The ketogenic diet induces several metabolic abnormalities that increase the propensity for stone formation. Urologists should be aware of this potential complication. Fluid liberalization and bicitrate are recommended as prophylaxis."

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  13. Possible neurologic effects of aspartame, a widely used food additive, Maher TJ, Wurtman RJ, Environmental Health Perspectives 1987 Nov;75:53-7
    "... Since phenylalanine can be neurotoxic and can affect the synthesis of inhibitory monoamine neurotransmitters, the phenylalanine in aspartame could conceiveably mediate neurologic effects. If mice are given aspartame in doses that elevate plasma phenylalanine levels more than those of tyrosine . . . the frequency of seizures . . . is enhanced. ... Perhaps regulations concerning the sale of food additives should be modified to require the reporting of adverse reactions and the continuing conduct of mandated safety research."

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  14. Clinical experience of ketogenic diet on children with refractory epilepsy., Mak SC, Chi CS, Wan CJ, Taiwan Erh Ko I Hsueh Hui Tsa Chih 1999, Mar-Apr;40(2):97-100
    " Thirteen children with refractory epilepsy received a ketogenic diet. . . Clinical observation one month after the diet revealed that 53.8% of the patients had a > 75% reduction in seizure frequency and 76.9% of the patients had a > 50% reduction in seizure frequency. Six patients had some degrees of improvement in cognitive function and/ or school performances. The most common side effects were body weight loss (n = 6) and diarrhea (n = 5). Others included bad temper (n = 1), abdominal cramps (n = 2), nausea (n = 2), bad body smell (n = 1), and renal stones (n = 1). . . . We concluded that the ketogenic diet deserves a trial in children with refractory epilepsy."

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  15. The ketogenic diet causes a reversible decrease in activity level in Long-Evans rats. Murphy P, Burnham WM., Experimental Neurology, 2006 Sep;201(1):84-9. Epub 2006 Jun 5.
    " Individuals with epilepsy also often exhibit symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The ketogenic diet, which is a high fat, low protein, and low carbohydrate diet used in the treatment of intractable epilepsy, also appears to improve symptoms of ADHD in individuals with both disorders. Previous research suggests that the diet decreases the activity level of rats. ... adult male Long-Evans rats were placed on either a ketogenic diet or a control diet. The results of the first experiment show that the ketogenic diet can cause a decrease in activity level within 24 h and that the results are reversible. The results of Experiment 2 show that the decrease in activity level is not linked to a change in anxiety level. The ketogenic diet may be of use in the treatment of ADHD."

    Note: A word of caution is needed here. Every dietary manipulation which involves removing all or most "processed" foods approaches the Feingold diet by inadvertently eliminating all the many additives used in such products. We are therefore not surprised to see that removal of "only" milk, wheat, sugar, or protein/fats from the diet will "work," at least somewhat, in relieving hyperactive behavior.

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  16. The aspirin metabolite sodium salicylate causes focal cerebral hemorrhage and cell death in rats with kainic acid-induced seizures, Najbauer J, Schuman EM, Mamelak AN, Neuroscience 2000;99(1):107-17
    " Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid), and its main metabolite sodium salicylate, have been shown to protect neurons from excitotoxic cell death in vitro. . . . We report that sodium salicylate did not protect neurons from seizure-induced cell death, and to the contrary, it caused focal hemorrhage and cell death in the hippocampal formation and the entorhinal/piriform cortex of rats with kainic acid-induced seizures. . . .These initial observations may have important clinical implications for patients with epilepsy who take aspirin while affected by these conditions, and should promote further investigation of this relationship."

    Note: People with epilepsy may be well served by remaining on Stage One of the Feingold Program, thus avoiding exposure to aspirin, sodium salicylate, and other forms of salicylate.

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  17. No Title - article about Ketogenic Diet, in Spanish, Panico LR, Demartini MG, Rios VG, Carniello MA, Rev Neurol 2000 Aug 1-15;31(3):212-20
    " ... 13 patients aged between 1 and 19 . . . evaluated for an average period of 22 months. . . . There was over 50% reduction in the number of crises of 84.5% of the children. Complete control was attained in 30.8%. The electroencephalographic recordings showed improvement in 100% of the children. The families involved reported a 58.8% reduction in the side effects observed. . . . CONCLUSION: The clinical and electroencephalographic improvement and minimal side-effects seen confirm that KD is beneficial in refractory epilepsy in children."

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  18. Ketogenic diet--an alternative therapy for epilepsy in adults, Schiff Y, Lerman-Sagie T, Harefuah 1998 Apr 1;134(7):529-31, 591
    " . . .We present a 20-year-old man with intractable epilepsy since early childhood who is being treated with great success by a medium-chain triglyceride ketogenic diet. It has not only controlled the seizures but has also improved quality of life. We recommend a therapeutic trial of the ketogenic diet in intractable epilepsy for all ages."

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