Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that results from abnormal activities in the brain. Brain's abnormal activity could be due to an inherited genetic condition, trauma to head, or diseases and developmental disorders of the brain. Commonly noted symptoms include temporary confusion, episodes of staring blankly, jerking and/or twitching of arms and legs.
Causes of epilepsy vary by age of the person. Some people with no clear cause of epilepsy may have a genetic cause. But what's true for every age is that the cause is unknown for about half of everyone with epilepsy.
Some people with no known cause of epilepsy may have a genetic form of epilepsy. One or more genes may cause the epilepsy or epilepsy may be caused by the way some genes work in the brain. The relationship between genes and seizures can be very complex and genetic testing is not available yet for many forms of epilepsy.
About 3 out of 10 people have a change in the structure of their brains that causes the electrical storms of seizures.
Some young children may be born with a structural change in an area of the brain that gives rise to seizures.
About 3 out of 10 children with autism spectrum disorder may also have seizures. The exact cause and relationship is still not clear.
Infections of the brain are also common causes of epilepsy. The initial infections are treated with medication, but the infection can leave scarring on the brain that causes seizures at a later time.
People of all ages can have head injuries, though severe head injuries happen most often in young adults.
In middle age, strokes, tumors and injuries are more frequent.
In people over 65, stroke is the most common cause of new onset seizures. Other conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or other conditions that affect brain function can also cause seizures.
• Avoid steroids such as dehydroepiandrosterone. • Check for hormonal imbalances; low progesterone can be trigger for seizures. • Practice good sleep habits; get between 8-9 hours of sleep every night. • Participate in a regular balanced exercise program that includes wearing a pedometer or FitBit tracker to encourage more movement and calculate steps taken, distance walked, and calories burned. High intensity short bursts (20-60 seconds) of activity during the day is recommended to enhance growth hormone release. Also engage in resistance training that works all major muscle groups (work each group at least 2 times a week). • Work towards self-care; try therapeutic body-based methods such as chiropractic and massage; consider Epsom salt baths. • Avoid or limit caffeine, alcohol and other potentially neurotoxic compounds like aspartame, nicotine and MSG. • Avoid exposure to chemicals; use organic and natural personal health care products and household cleaning products. • Consider testing for blood sugar levels, hormones, heavy metals, and toxins, nutrient levels, oxidative stress, and food sensitivities such as IgGs or ALCAT. • The levels of certain anti-seizure medication can be altered by hormonal changes, as some medications and hormones both effect liver glucoronidation. Certain medications, such as phenobarbital, can contribute to specific nutrient deficiencies (folate, carnitine). Adjust and supplement medications accordingly. • Rule out any head trauma; consider neurofeedback.
Dietary Tips and Caveats:
• Consider a ketogenic diet; it has been shown to be successful in children with chronic seizures. • Emphasize omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna) and omega-9 fats (olive oil, olives, almonds, hazelnuts, avocados, macadamia oil and coconut oil). • Choose lean, clean, quality protein at each meal such as chicken breast, turkey breast, lean beef, fish (especially salmon and tuna), eggs and whey protein. • Avoid genetically modified foods, food additives and colorings. • Limit or avoid trans fatty acids (hydrogenated vegetable oil, margarine and shortening). Cook with olive oil at low heat or coconut or avocado oil if using high heat. • Drink at least 64 ounces of filtered, bottled or non-chlorinated water every day. • Avoid gluten and dairy if sensitivity exists, as these can modulate brain health if not effectively digested due to the casomorphins and gliadorphin. • Strive to keep blood sugar optimal; snack on healthy fats such as coconut, nuts, seeds, avocados, food bars as needed to avoid hypoglycemia.
Neurofeedback and Epilepsy:
People with seizures can learn to regulate and stabilize their brains through neurofeedback and achieve lasting results. Neurofeedback helps stabilize the timing in the brain. The brain’s timing is the electrical response that can go awry when someone has a seizure. We use brain training to help people dramatically decrease their seizures by increasing their brain’s stability. When the brain begins to demonstrate stability more consistently, a patient’s doctor can often reduce seizure medication. Brain training is exercise for the brain. In helping the brain strengthen its interconnectivity and timing, many brain-related problems can be reduced or eliminated altogether. Like with exercise, it takes consistent practice to achieve results. Once the brain is more stable, often brain training can be stopped. In more complicated situations, some people benefit from periodic “maintenance sessions” to keep their brains operating smoothly.
Chiropractic and Epilepsy:
Epilepsy is classified as a brain disorder in which normal neuronal patterns become disturbed. In other words, the nervous system is interpreting and processing information incorrectly.
Because the entire premise and practice of chiropractic is dedicated to removing stress from the nervous system, it is no wonder that epileptic conditions and other nervous system dysfunctions have the potential to respond positively to chiropractic care. Vertebral subluxation is a misalignment of a vertebra causing neurologic stress and impairment. When these subluxations are corrected, normal nervous system function is restored, allowing the body’s health and function to normalize. The most likely source of subluxations that affect people with epilepsy are found in the upper neck, or cervical, region. With the proximity of the brain stem and other delicate and intricate central nervous system tissues, vertebral subluxation in this region can have profound impact on one’s health and function.