High Fat Diets To Treat Epilepsy
Okay, so nobody has done whatever kind of research they need to do to figure out why fatty diets work so well at controlling epilepsy. But it works, and it seems safe, and it seems to be saving lives by inductive reasoning; watching and gathering data. So let’s do it when and where we can. People have a hard time believing that food can serve as medication. Maybe they would have an easier time believing it if they believed how much fat there is in a brain. One of my earliest comedy bits, when I was just beginning to read about the brain, was trying to convince people that “fathead” was the world’s greatest compliment.
It is generally estimated that about 2/3 of the average human brain is made of fat.
There are plenty of reports of Omega 3 fat supplementation improving seizure control. I have seen patients who have been told that, and for whom it has worked, although I never prescribed that treatment when I was a neurologist. After all, the human brain is not completely “myelinated” until age 28. Myelin is the sheath around nerve fibers that is as necessary for the conduction of electrical impulses as the insulation on electrical cords for your appliances.
But the success of this particular high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diet suggests that there may be some necessary element of turnover in the fats that coat nerve cells. As is sometimes true, nobody knows for sure. However, there is no “fat industry” to finance clinical trials and the pharmaceutical industry that makes and sells epilepsy drugs doesn’t have any incentive to investigate.
Side-note: If you are wondering why the government doesn’t take the initiative and investigate this treatment since it could help a lot of people – I will continue typing when I finish laughing.
Meanwhile, here is a nice review — simple enough to read without spending a few years in medical school — about the role of fats in the brain, from the Franklin Institute folks.
The “fat phobia” in our culture has done little good (since dietary fat has little effect on cholesterol) and possibly a lot of harm (since fat is essential for many body functions).
Fat doesn’t make you fat – carbohydrates do. Fats can – and do — heal.