Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Some kinder, gentler options for epilepsy

Epilepsy is one of those disorders that I think we just assume is medical, and that medication and complex neurological procedures are the only options for treatment. This is where I have to disagree! A lot of epilepsy is metabolic and nutritional, and it's exciting to see colleagues researching some of these kindler, gentler options.

This particular study focused on children with mental retardation, a demographic where epilepsy is very common.

The bad news is, only 20% of these children were even given metabolic testing.

The good news is, twenty-eight percent of those children chosen in the study, who had been given metabolic testing, were shown to have some kind of metabolic abnormality. That percentage jumped to 75% when the seizures were originating from multiple locations! In 22% of the children studied, a carnitine deficiency was identified, and that was linked to their medication--valproic acid or Depakote. Carnitine is an easy to find, very practical supplement to use in situations such as this.

The researchers concluded that a systematic evaluation of mentally retardation would help to identify those who have a metabolic (and potentially treatable) component to their seizure disorder.

The good news is...if they can get the word out to other practitioners, the other 80% of those kids can also have the world of nutritional therapies opened up to them as treatment options.

Parikh S, Cohen BH, Gupta A, Lachhwani DK, Wyllie E, Kotagal P. Metabolic testing in the pediatric epilepsy unit. Pediatr Neurol. 2008 Mar;38(3):191-5.

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