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There are many types of seizures, usually categorized by the symptoms that occur during the episode. The cause of many types of seizures is unknown, and for some no permanent medical cure is available. Past head injuries, vaccine reactions, allergies, chemical exposures, post-prandial low blood sugar levels and excessive stress are often disclosed in the clinical assessment. Medical treatment focuses on reducing the frequency and severity of seizures. Nutrition, including supplements, when properly applied, can often improve both frequency and severity of seizures.
What are the symptoms of seizures?
There are many types of seizures labeled as epilepsy. They are categorized as either partial or generalized, depending on how much of the brain is involved. Some types of seizures are characterized by convulsive muscle contractions of all or some parts of the body. Other types can involve momentary loss of consciousness, amnesia, unusual sensations or emotions, and other symptoms. Symptoms that indicate an imminent seizure (called auras) may occur. Similarly, non-convulsive symptoms, including deep sleep, headache, confusion, and muscle soreness (called a postictal state), may follow a generalized seizure. Some people can converse, but their conversation lacks spontaneity, and the content is somewhat sparse. They may be confused and disoriented. This state may last for several minutes. Most people do not remember what happened during the seizure (a condition called postictal amnesia).
While seizures persist, other comorbidities such as developmental delay and abnormal EEGs are often not evident until the second or third year of life. Of all childhood seizure A genetic basis for epilepsy has been hypothesized for decades, but the first evidence of a genetic component emerged from epidemiological studies that reported an increased risk of epilepsy in relatives of affected individuals [citation]. Studies of twins showed that monozygotic twins have a higher concordance rate for both GGE and focal epilepsy than dizygotic twins, supporting the hypothesis that epilepsy has a genetic basis [6, 7]. Human genetics approaches that applied linkage analysis and gene mapping in large families in the 1990s yielded a steady trickle of gene discoveries, beginning with the finding that mutations in CHRNA4, encoding a subunit of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, cause ADNFLE . Mutations in other genes encoding ion channels, such as KCNQ2 in benign familial neonatal seizures  and SCN1A in Dravet syndrome, led to the “channelopathy” hypothesis, which postulates that dysfunction or dysregulation of ion channels is a common mechanism underlying epilepsy syndromes. Dravet‘s syndrome is a rare form of seizure disorder that begins in the first year of life with frequent and/or prolonged episodes. Previously known as Severe Myoclonic Epilepsy of Infancy (SMEI), it affects 1:15,700 individuals, 80% of whom have a mutation in their SCN1A gene. Food sensitivities and other neurotoxicins have been shown to trigger seizures in these susceptible individuals. We recommend both a Neurogenomic mouth swab and a urinary neuroamine test to determine the proper diet and supplements most helpufl with children having seizures.
Medical options for seizures
Prescription drug therapy focuses on reducing the frequency and severity of seizures. Agents prescribed depend on the type of seizures experienced by the patient. Multiple drug therapy might be necessary for some individuals. Commonly prescribed drugs include benzodiazepines, such as clonazepam (Klonipin®), clorazepate (Tranxene®), and diazepam (Valium®), as well as phenytoin (Dilantin®), lamotrigine (Lamictal®), carbamazepine (Tegretol®), oxcarbazepine (Trileptal®), valproic acid (Depakene®, Depakote®), gabapentin (Neurontin®), levetiracetam (Keppra®), and phenobarbital. About 10 to 20% of epilepsy patients do not respond to drug therapy and are offered corpus colossus (brain separation)surgery.
Dietary changes that may be helpful
The ketogenic diet was developed in the early twentieth century when few drug treatments for epilepsy were available; until recently, it had been used only when drug therapy was ineffective. The dietary approach was based on the observation that ketosis (increased blood levels of chemicals called ketones) is associated with reduction of seizures. Ketosis can be produced by a diet high in fat and very low in carbohydrate and balanced protein. The ketogenic diet has been evaluated in several preliminary and a few controlled trials. According to a 1996 review, the ketogenic diet appears to be very effective in one-third to one-half of epilepsy cases in children, and partially effective in another one-third of cases.
Recent trials continue to support this success rate; one preliminary trial demonstrated a 50% reduction in seizure activity in 71% of children in a group after 45 days on the diet. There is little research on the effects of the ketogenic diet in adults, but it may be effective in those who are able to comply with the strict dietary guidelines. The diet is usually initiated by fasting under close medical supervision, often in a hospital, followed by introduction of the diet and training of the family to ensure successful maintenance.
Possible side effects of the ketogenic diet include gastrointestinal upset, dehydration, anemia, low blood protein levels, high blood levels of fat and acidity, kidney stones, and signs of liver toxicity. Vitamin and mineral supplementation is necessary due to the many deficiencies of this unusual diet.10 The ketogenic diet should not be attempted without the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional. Practical information about the ketogenic diet is available in recent texts and articles, as well as on the Internet.
Alcohol consumption and low blood sugar have been shown to contribute to seizure disorders. People who are sensitive to sweets should avoid alcohol in all forms and quantities due to the likelihood of the liver having congestion. Since low blood sugar alone can causes prolonged fixated staring, sugar and fermented or distilled alcohol should be completely avoided.
The Atkins diet is similar to the ketogenic diet, in that they are both high in fat and very low in carbohydrate. The Atkins diet, however, is easier to follow than the ketogenic diet, as it allows more liberal amounts of protein and has fewer calorie restrictions. Since the Atkins diet can produce ketosis, it has the potential to benefit people with epilepsy. In a preliminary study, three of six individuals with treatment-resistant epilepsy experienced marked improvement on the Atkins diet; two of these people became seizure-free.14
Allergic reactions to food have been reported to trigger epileptic seizures in individual cases, some of which were proven with double-blind testing. One report found people with epilepsy to have significantly more biochemical evidence of allergy than do non-epileptics.18 A study of children who suffered from both epilepsy and migraine headaches found that a diet low in potential food allergens reduced seizures in the majority of cases; however, children who had epilepsy alone without migraines did not respond to the diet.19 Another report confirmed that children who have epilepsy without migraines do not improve on a low-allergen diet. Some doctors recommend that people with epilepsy and other allergic symptoms, such as asthma or hay fever, should be checked for food allergies that may be causing seizures.
Nutrient supplements I have found to be helpful
Shaklee Vita E has been studied as a possible add-on to conventional drug treatment for epilepsy. A double-blind trial found that adding 400 IU per day of vitamin E reduced seizure frequency in children without side effects. Other preliminary trials23 24 have reported similar results, and, while some preliminary research suggested this effect might also be achieved in adults, a double-blind trial found no effect of vitamin E supplementation on adults with epilepsy.
B Complex supplementation (5 mg folic acid per day) was reported to reduce epileptic seizure frequency, though the effect was not significantly better than with placebo. Folic acid supplementation of as little as 800 mcg per day has also been reported to interfere with the action of anticonvulsant medications, resulting in an increase in the frequency and/or severity of seizures;28 29 30 31 this effect occurs only in a small number of cases. People taking anticonvulsant medications should consult with the prescribing physician before deciding whether to use folic acid.
Vitamin B6 has been used to treat infants and small children who have seizures related to a genetic enzyme defect. However, this condition is not considered true epilepsy, and whether people with epilepsy would benefit from taking vitamin B6 supplements is unknown.
Taurine is an amino acid that is thought to play a role in the electrical activity of the brain; deficits of taurine in the brain have been associated with some types of epilepsy. However, while some short-term studies have suggested that taurine supplementation may reduce epileptic seizures in some children, the effect appears to be only temporary.
Case reports have suggested that Evening Primrose Oil (found in Shaklee GLA) may worsen symptoms in adults and children with temporal lobe epilepsy. Until more is known, people with this type of epilepsy should avoid using evening primrose oil supplements, except perhaps under the supervision of a qualified physician.
In a preliminary study, supplementation with 3.25 grams (3 capsules) per day of a mixture of omega-3 fatty acids (primarily eicosapentaenoic acid [Shaklee OmegaGuard] and docosahexaenoic acid [DHA]) for six months markedly reduced the frequency of seizures in five severely retarded epileptic patients. Additional research is needed to confirm this report and to identify which people with epilepsy are most likely to benefit.
A small, preliminary trial found that 5 to 10 mg per day of melatonin improved sleep and provided “clear improvement of the seizure situation” among children with one of two rare seizure disorders. More research is needed to determine whether or not melatonin could benefit other people with epilepsy.
Herbs that may be helpful
The Chinese herb bupleurum is included in two similar Chinese herbal formulae known as sho-saiko-to and saiko-keishi-to; these combinations contain the same herbs but in different proportions. The other ingredients are peony root, pinellia root, cassia bark, ginger root (Shaklee Stomach Soothing Complex), jujube fruit, Asian ginseng root (Shaklee CorEneergy), Asian scullcap root, and licorice root. Both formulas have been shown in preliminary trials to be helpful for people with epilepsy.43 44 45 No negative interactions with a variety of anticonvulsant drugs were noted in these trials. The usual amount taken of these formulas is 2.5 grams three times per day as capsules or tea. People with epilepsy should not use either formula without first consulting with a healthcare professional.
One older preliminary trial in India found an extract of banaba leaf (Shaklee Glucose Regulation Complex) reduced the frequency of epileptic seizures in a small group of people. However, another similar preliminary trial gave inconclusive results. Controlled research is needed to properly evaluate whether bacopa is helpful for epilepsy.Join those who want true natural healthcare for themselves and their childrenand get your Build A Better You evaluation report or give the gift of health to someone you love. Call Kathy or Kristyl : (503) 631-4184[/box