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A Letter to the Mother of an Epileptic Child

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*Letter to a Mother of an Epileptic Child- (New as of 3/06). This letter summarizes what I believe causes this "syndrome" we call epilepsy and the logic behind my approach to treating this condition.

* Another Letter to a Mother of an Epileptic Child- (New as of 9/07). This letter also summarizes what I believe causes this "syndrome" we call epilepsy and the multiple benefits of The GARD  when employed for epilepsy, autism and other neurological conditions.

A Letter to the Mother of an Epileptic Child
Hi T.,
It's good to hear from you. I hope that I can be of some help.
Epilepsy is an interesting "syndrome"...multiple things coming together to produce the outcome. As you may know, epilepsy typically strikes humans between 2 and 14 years and then again after age 65. In the dog, it occurs mainly between 6 months and 6 years. Why does it wait? What is waiting? What triggers it to come out of hiding? Did these individuals catch something or were they born with it? If they were born with it or acquired it sometime earlier, why did it wait 'til 12 years to show up? These are all great questions and there are good answers, I believe. And, the answers to these questions not only tell us what may be causing epilepsy but also what to do about to best manage/cure it. 
I am convinced that THE main underlying cause of epilepsy is a virus. There are numerous viruses that are known to cause seizures so this should not be a stretch, many of which cause seizures as part of the clinical disease they cause or later after they have been latent for a while. They have cultured live measles and mumps viruses out of the brain of elderly people who have no associated symptoms. Viruses can be acquired through natural infection, casual contact, and even from mother (and father) to offspring prenatally. In fact, your DNA has more viral information in it than it does genes. Wow! The point of this is that viruses can have many presentations, from acute disease to chronic latency without symptoms to anything in between.
So, how hard is it to believe that a virus that has remained dormant for 12 years has suddenly arisen and is causing problems? It happens all of the time. Over 50% of our kid have Epstein Barr infection by age 5. Wow! 95% of Americans have this virus in their body by age 40. Wow again! And Epstein Barr is a KNOWN cause of seizures. When does mononucleosis show up more than any other time? In the teenage years. The question is, when it shows up between 12 and 18 years, is it a new infection or is it the one they got before age 5 showing up? Ahhh...great question. The main way to tell is the clinical course. If the teenager throws it off in a few days like my daughter did, then it is likely to be a new infection. If it takes 6 weeks to get rid of the guy, like it did me at age 13, then it could be either. But, I would bet that those who take soooo long to get rid of him acquired it early and he just surfaced. Why did he surface? Because something "unleashed" him. What? A sudden physiological insult or an incompetency in the immune system developed... or both.
Why does mono show up in teenage years? Well, what isn't happening in those years? They are under a lot of stress and their diets are horrible for the most part (fast food addicts) and their body is changing rapidly due to hormonal issues. It is a critical time in their lives. They are also starting to get closer to the opposite sex. Yes, they call mono the "kissing disease", although that is certainly not the only way they acquire it. Other things happen at this time as well...acne, epilepsy, and the second spike in lymphoma (lymph cancer). Yes, the first spike is at age 5-6, then 15, then 40, then the incidence shoots up after 65, a typical pattern for a viral illness (We KNOW that lymphoma is viral now. Epstein Barr causes a few of the rarer forms. Oh oh). 
I write all of this to set you up for what is likely to be the cause of epilepsy (virus), what unleashed it (the stress of the teenage years), and to then cover what we have to do about it. What do we have to do about it? Make you son as healthy as possible. That's how you "cure" epilepsy. What does that involve? We must STOP doing what we are doing that is dragging down his health and also do all that we can to build up his health. Simple, right? Yes, simple... just not easy.
First of all, one of the most damaging things to our entire body turns out to be some of the very foods we eat the most of. Millions of people are like me, intolerant of gluten, casein (cow milk), soy, and corn...the "big 4" that I write so much about. It is very important for you to understand this part. It is the entryway into the rest of the solution. This would be a good time for BOTH of you to read or reread The Epilepsy Diet Made Simple, found here ( ). That'll cut this Email length considerably. :):):)
Then, you are ready to read or reread How to Control Idiopathic Epilepsy Naturally found immediately after the paper above. About half way down that main page, you will find an addendum that has the food rich in glutamate listed. (I am sorry for the scrolling, but this is a pretty primitive Website but that will all be changed in the near future.)
Here is that section:


Here is a great site for looking up the nutritional profiles of food, including their glutamate and aspartate content. ( ). Simply click on the food you are inquiring about, then scroll down toward the bottom of the page until you see the chart in the Nutritional Profile section. There is a click-on link after that chart (just above the References section) that reads "In Depth Nutritional Profile for (chosen food)" .  Click on that link and then just scroll done to the aspartate and glutamate listings. Make note of the serving size at the top of the chart so that you'll be making an accurate comparison.  You will quickly see the huge difference between the glutamate/aspartate content of healthy fruits/vegetables versus items such soy, wheat, barley, and the bean family (with the exception of green beans).

For example, recently my wife started eating peanuts and raisins as a late night television snack. Almost immediately, she started having very restless sleep and was complaining about soreness in her muscles and back. A quick trip to the chart showed very high levels of glutamate and asparate in peanuts.

I'm just glad that my canine patients don't eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and down it with a big glass of milk like our ADHD kids do. Let's see: wheat bread (with gliadorphins and plenty of glutamate and aspartate), peanut butter (LOTS more glutamate and asparate), jelly ("sugar gel"), and all of it washed down with cow milk (casomorphins and plenty of glutamate. Oh yeah. Don't forget the arachadonic acid for you pain sufferers).

Hmmmm..... It does all make sense, doesn't it?


Foods rich in glutamate and aspartate:

1) Grains: Wheat, barley, and oats are highest. Corn and rice are lower than the previous three but higher than potatoes.

2) Dairy Products: All Cheeses (cheddar, Swiss, Monterey Jack, Mozzarella, PARMESAN) are very high. Casein is very concentrated in cheese and is 20% glutamic acid by composition.

3) Beans: Soy, Pinto, lima, black, navy, and lentils

4) Seeds: Sunflower, pumpkin, etc.

5) Peanuts: Very high, as are cashews, pistachios, and almonds. I have more detailed charts on the site to show exact values for the various nuts. Everything in moderation applies when eating nuts of any kind. So, I do not recommend you reach for nuts when you are really hungry unless you can stop after a few. Nuts are very good for moderation. For example, seven almonds a day gives you what you need .

6) Diet drinks: Primary source of aspartate (aspartame)

7) Prepared foods, soups:  70% of prepared foods and many soups have MSG

8) Meats: Note- All meats are naturally rich in glutamate and aspartate. Lamb (and eggs) are the lowest,  while rabbit and turkey are the highest.

However, I believe that the amount in a normal serving of meat should not be enough to cause problems. I think that it is all of the other "unnatural" sources when combined with the meats that are causing the problems. 

One of my newest concerns is the presence of glutamate in the flesh of grain-fed animals, especially chickens, turkeys, and cattle. This is s topic of discussion on the celiac forums and we are now believing that this is a real concern and could explain why some celiacs are not responding to elimination diets. Catfish are also grain fed.

The fact is that 60-70% of the American Diet is wheat and dairy (with heavy emphasis on cheese). This combined with the amount of artificial sweeteners being consumed and the addition of SOY has led this country into an epidemic of pain syndromes, including fibromyalgia. Epilepsy is definitely on the rise in pets and the combination of wheat and soy in pet foods is playing a huge role. I am seeing first time epileptic dogs within three weeks of starting such diets.


Food low in glutamate and asparate:

1) Fruits

2) Vegetables

3) Potatoes

4) Lamb and eggs are relatively low.

5) Tree nuts (e.g. pecans, walnuts, macadamias) NOTE: These are relatively low when compared to peanuts and cashews. I have more detailed charts on the site to show exact values. Pecans, for example, have half the amount of glutamate that peanuts have but that is still quite a bit. Again, everything in moderation applies when eating nuts of any kind. I do not recommend you reach for nuts when you are really hungry unless you can stop after a few. Nuts are very good for moderation. 7 almonds a day gives you what you need .

The main thing to cut out is the gluten, casein, and soy. These are the main players in epilepsy...the guys doing the intestinal harm, providing HIGH levels of glutamate, causing allergic reactions, and providing estrogens that also play a role. During the recovery phase...that time when the body is healing, regaining its vitamin stores, and getting the viruses back under control, it is best to avoid the other foods rich in glutamate (nuts/seeds, beans, grain and foods with ANY MSG or Nutrisweet. The worst epileptics should eat these and the grain substitutes very sparingly, until their neurons have had a chance to return to normal. How long does this take? Good question. It takes some longer than others and also depends on how much they've cheated and where they live. Air pollution is a major player in neurodegenerative diseases and my worst epi cases almost always live in the most polluted cities. 
So, are you getting the picture yet? Think of your son as having "decompensated". He was fine until age 12 and then something changed. The "big 4" foods play a HUGE in this as they damage the intestinal villi that absorb the major vitamins and minerals he needs to stay healthy. Secondary factors like hormonal changes, environmental pollution, time of year (seizures are worst during the short days of the year), and others are also playing a role.
Some will stop seizing immediately upon removal of all dairy and gluten. Others require a much stricter diet. Other have to take major supplements like the ones outlined in How to Control Idiopathic Epilepsy Naturally . Other will benefit from light therapy to raise their serotonin levels. Think of epilepsy as a spectrum disorder, just like autism, asthma, depression, cancer, and most other things that afflict us...some individuals are much worse than others. Once we understand the nature of the food intolerances and all of the secondary players in this "syndrome", it is easy to see why the spectrum exists.
I have a paper on my site called What in the World Do I Eat? It can be found here. It gives examples of every day food that I eat, most of which would be fine for me if I were an epileptic. I DO eat just as I suggest others do. And as a result, my pain threshold is through the roof and I sleep really well now, with boundless energy during the day. Going caffeine-free really helped, but I did this last. We really can't go caffeine free until we cut out the "depressant" foods...the gluten grains and dairy and any other foods that were allergic to. For major allergy sufferers who have epilepsy, it is a great to get food allergy tested like I suggest in the paper How to Control Idiopathic Epilepsy Naturally .
I hope this helps. I know it is a lot but epilepsy is complicated. It will become "simple" as this sinks in and some time passes but it will continue to be difficult to eat right in this world we have created...until the food intolerances become more well-known and the big manufacturers of food (like Nabisco and Sarah Lee) start making gluten-free products. That day IS coming and it may be sooner than you think. Celiac awareness is skyrocketing. It should. Some researchers think 1:30 people have it and don't know it. That is BIG...and dairy and soy are potentially even worse. :(
Let me know if this brings up more questions.

John B. Symes, D.V.M (aka "Dogtor J.")
(Read: Food Intolerance- Man and Animals versus Gluten, Casein, Soy, and Corn...OR...How We Won the Battle of Helm's Deep"

I hope you enjoyed your time here and got something important from your stay. It is my goal to help all of mankind navigate through the jungle of medical information now available on the Internet and find the truth about the origins of what we call "disease" as well as discover the natural solutions for these conditions.
We do have our health's destiny in our own hands more than we've ever imagined, certainly more than most have ever been told. Think naturally and the answer will come.
Dogtor J
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