A diet high in fruit and steak could cure a deadly form of epilepsy, scientists have found.
Super-refractory status epilepticus (SRSE) is the most severe classification of the brain condition, killing 60 per cent of sufferers.But new research suggests that a ketogenic diet could be used in future as a life-saving treatment for patients.
High in fats and low in carbohydrates, the diet alters the activity of brain cells to prevent deadly fits, scientists claim.
In general, after a patient has experienced 24 hours in a seizure and they will be placed in a coma if drugs aren’t working.
They are then awakened after another day to see if the seizures return. If so, they are then considered to have SRSE.
The patient will then return to a coma and continue on other medications to try find a treatment method.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University recruited 15 patients between the ages of 18 and 82 who were hospitalized with SRSE.
The scientists gave them a ketogenic diet, consisting of four parts fat to one part carbohydrates and protein.
Each were fed through a feeding tube over 72 hours, with their calorific needs based on their weight.
They were then weaned off of the drugs to see if their seizures had stopped.If the fits did not return at this point, patients continued with the diet for several days until they could eat on their own.
At which time they were switched to a modified Atkins diet, which is high in fat and low in carbohydrates as well.
If a patient’s seizures continued, they were kept on the feeding tube and given additional drugs.
A drug used to treat epilepsy could end the migraine misery for millions of sufferers, Canadian scientists claimed earlier this week.
Known as Lyrica, it relieves a seizure-like phenomenon believed to be the underlying cause of the blinding headaches.
It works by stopping a wave of brain cells, preventing the debilitating symptoms of migraines, the study found.
And in research on genetically-engineered mice, the drug was shown to boost calcium levels, with a diminished supply known to spark headaches.
One patient among the 15 was taken off the diet when family members requested to withdraw care and died.While super-refractory seizures stopped for 79 per cent of the patients on the ketogenic diet, the study published in Neurology found.Two thirds of the patients experienced adverse effects of the diet, such as constipation, weight loss and high cholesterol, they found.
Further research is needed to support the idea that the ketogenic diet should be widely used in treating epilepsy, the researchers noted. Study author Mackenzie Cervenka said: ‘We can only state that it appears to work in some patients to halt status epilepticus and reduces the frequency of their seizures.
‘What we can say is that the ketogenic diet is promising for at least a subset of patients.’Any safe means we have of getting patients off of anesthesia and out of a coma quickly will be welcome.’