Summary – The ketogenic diet may help stop seizures an Advancing Psychiatry article by Chris Palmer, MD

dietary intervention

This dietary treatment, the ketogenic diet, based on ancient medicine, is making a comeback as a treatment for epilepsy.

The ketogenic diet controversy

  • The keto diet is one of today’s most controversial diets, so the idea of using the ketogenic diet to treat seizures sounds surprising.
  • Celebrities rave about it as a weight loss tool, while some health care professionals and organizations say that it is dangerous. 
  • Some medical clinics are opening up with serious, credible doctors using medical ketogenic diets to treat serious medical conditions such as diabetes.
  • The medical ketogenic diet has been an effective treatment for epilepsy for a century (1).  
  • Effective epilepsy treatment: 50% of patients were seizure-free, Another 35% were markedly improved with this intervention.
  • Compelling evidence exists illustrating that the keto diet helps children with treatment-resistant epilepsy. A Cochrane review (Martin et al, 2016)
  • Adults with treatment-resistant epilepsy don’t do as well. The evidence is much less compelling.
  •  Why? Any diet is difficult for people, and the medical ketogenic diet is even more difficult
  • Current keto education and support can make the diet easier to adhere to.

Connections between epilepsy and psychiatric illnesses

  • Well-documented commonalities exist between epilepsy and mental illnesses including depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.  
  • Psychiatric illnesses and epilepsy are often treated with the same anticonvulsant medications.
  • Psychiatry and neurology both treat brain disorders even though they are differently labeled as “neurological” or “mental” disorders.  
  • The ketogenic diet has profound effects on the brain

Ketogenic diet as a medical intervention

  • The ketogenic diet has a long history as a powerful medical intervention.
  • I strongly recommend you consult with a licensed healthcare professional if you are considering using the ketogenic diet as a treatment. Why? Because mental and medical disorders are serious – and sometimes dangerous – and you should have help, and medical supervision to implement any treatment in a safe and effective way.

Here’s the original article.

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