Among patients with epilepsy who follow a ketogenic diet, complete seizure control after two years of treatment is achieved in 24%, while a 90% reduction in seizures is achieved in 52%. In other words, the reward for being able to tolerate this stringent, mathematically calculated diet that is high in fat and low in protein and carbohydrates is at least a 90% reduction in seizures in 3 out of 4 patients. These findings are part of a meta-analysis of 19 clinical trials of more than 1000 patients.
This is even more impressive when one considers that candidates for the diet are generally young children with medically intractable generalized seizures. It’s not easy. About 50% of patients drop out of the diet over time. The main reason given is that the diet was not effective. Other reasons include complaints that the diet is too restrictive, intolerability due to side effects, or just poor compliance that makes the effort not worthwhile.
The children and their parents and caregivers who stay with the effort deserve credit for their persistence and commitment, especially since the response is not immediate.
For more information on how the ketogenic diet works, go here. A good introduction is available here.
John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.