Posted on BrainTalk Communities Epilepsy Forum
The Serotonin Connection- Epilepsy and Depression
One of the links between epilepsy and depression
would be the relative lack of serotonin in both cases. Much of our depression is physiologically tied to a serotonin
deficiency, best illustrated by the population who suffers from celiac disease (gluten intolerance) and the other food intolerances
(casein, soy, and corn).
In the celiac, the damage done by gluten to the intestinal villi sets us up for a serious
malabsorption issue, causing us to have difficulty absorbing such vital nutrients as calcium, iron, iodine, B complex, C,
and most of our trace minerals (zinc, boron, magnesium, manganese, and more). Some of these vitamins and minerals serve as
coenzymes/cofactors in enzyme systems that convert one thing into another. So, this malabsorption syndrome has its ugly hands
in many, many disease processes, including epilepsy.
In addition, 95-98% of the body's serotonin is produced by the
enterochromaffin cells of the intestinal tract which can be and are often damaged severely in the food intolerance disease
process. That explains why celiacs are bleeders (easily bruise) and have some of the worst inflammatory conditions (e.g. "autoimmune"
disorders), as serotonin is both vital in platelet function and as a modulator or inflammation (as a vasoconstrictor).
other 2-5% is produced by the brain itself, using tryptophan and enzyme systems to convert it to 5HTP and then to serotonin
(and then to melatonin, the "master hormone" and sleep hormone). The question I have posed before is whether the brain benefits
from the body's store of serotonin. The answer has to be "yes" in my thinking. Why wouldn't it be able to draw upon that rich
store if needed, especially when we know that serotonin is transported by platelets which easily make it to the brain. So,
does the serious serotonin deficiency only occur when both sources are jeopardized? That is possible since they are
connected by the fact that the gut damage can affect both as well as the overall health of the brain itself (not to
mention the damage done directly to the neurons by food lectins such as those from gluten). This, again, emphasizes
the tremendous importance of understanding food intolerance (e.g. celiac disease) and grasping its TRUE incidence, which we
now know is staggeringly high.
Celiacs are almost invariably depressed at some time in their life. And celiac
epileptics are among the worst. This should be no surprise after understanding the potentially devastating effects of their
malnutrition on the brain, intestine, liver, and immune system (with the last being particularly important when we consider
"idiopathic" epilepsy to ultimately be viral in origin, which I have every reason to believe. There are over 20 viruses
KNOWN to cause seizures in people and pets, with some being quite ubiquitous).
The serotoninergic system is known to
modulate mood, emotion, sleep and appetite. It also clearly has an effect on seizure frequency and intensity as I have documented
pets (and people) who have had seasonal increases in their seizures as the daylight hours lessen. In fact, I have seizure
logs from pets that ONLY seize between November and April and never seize from April to November. This would directly coincide
with drops in serotonin levels as the days shorten.
And this should make sense, as we know that serotonin protects
the neuron against the potentially damaging effects of glutamate, the main neuotransmitter of the brain and the main
"excitotoxin" in our diet. Our typical Standard American Diet (SAD) is absolutely loaded with this non-essential amino
acid, with the principle sources being the gluten grains (wheat, barley, rye), dairy products, and soy which "just so happen"
to be the main inducers of villous atrophy described above. That is not a coincidence, of course, and this fact helps to explain
the often dramatic results in the epileptic who goes on the elimination diet I write and lecture about. (The other
rich sources of glutamate are nuts, seeds, other legumes, and foods containing MSG.)
So, the epilepsy-depression connection
should not be a mystery when we look at the physiological basis for both. If we are trying to figure out why we might
seize worse by thinking ourselves into a depressive state, then we have a little more explaining to do. But, the question
I would ask is "Which came first- the depressing thoughts or the physiological depression?" Why do bad moods occur?
Many are physiologically-based and the negative thinking follows the onset of the depression. I suffered from this
for years and years only to find it was a gluten-reaction that triggered the whole thing. Certainly, we can think ourselves
into a depressive state, worrying about finances, family issues, and the like. The results of this would be stress, which
results in cortisol release (a potential epileptogenic) and "reflex" depression. (Depression often follows intense stimulation.
That's the way the brain works.)
So, would light therapy help people who have depression and epilepsy? It sure
makes sense to me. I have now utilized it in a small number of dog patients and it appears to have helped. It should.
Our brain serotonin levels depend on light stimulation, with seasonal affected disorder (SAD, again) being the glaring example.
And, there is a distinct connection between our diet and depression so the fact that "SAD" applies to both the Standard American
Diet and Seasonal Affected Disorder is no coincidence.
I hope this helps,
* An "Epilephany"- Viruses, Serotonin, and Light Boxes to Help Treat Epilepsy (New!!!) This is a letter that I wrote to my friend
and colleague Dr. Jean Dodds today (1-12-06). It started out...innocently enough...as a question that I was posing to her
brilliant mind asking whether she thought that light therapy could help epileptics as it does people with seasonal affected
disorder (SAD). Once we understand the vital serotonin connection, which this letter goes into more deeply, then
we can see how light therapy...the right kind of light therapy... may benefit those with epilepsy by boosting their
serotonin levels. BUT, as I am prone to do, I got a little off topic and unloaded some other loaded questions and thoughts
on her. It turned out to be a pretty good summary of everything I know and believe about how diseases...yes all diseases...occur.
Hope you get something good from it. Click here or the blue link above for this paper.
Posted on BrainTalk Communities Epilepsy Forum
Air Quality Influences
Another member posted a response reporting that her seizures seemed to be their worst during
the hottest and most humid days of the year. This is also explainable but most don't really want to hear this part. I certainly
don't like "playing this card" but it is serious issue and plays a role in all neurodegenerative conditions: That is
Those who question the elimination diet's often dramatic effect on seizures will say "Man,
you've got your bases covered, don't you? If it's not the diet then it's the environment that is making the seizures so bad."
Uhhh...Yup, that's pretty much it.
For those who don't yet know this or haven't grasped the vital impact of unhealthful air quality on neurological disorders,
it is time to do so. I started seeing the pattern years ago of my worst on-line epileptic patients (and "clients") living
in the most polluted cities of the world. That is when I established the Air Quality section of my site (http://dogtorj.tripod.com/id15.html). In this section, you will find a site (www.scorecard.org) on which you can put your zip code and see the air and water quality issues in your county. Again, I really hate dropping
this bomb on people but it has explained a number of severe or refractory epilepsy cases as well as other chronic medical
conditions. Some of us simply won't ever reach our health potential living in some of the areas we do. Sad but true.
city in which I currently reside is a glaring example. We are flanked by chemical plants and refineries....to the north,
south and to the west, a horrific combination when we take into account the prevailing winds. The worst polluters are to the
north and when that north wind starts blowing this time of year, we experience dizzy spells, migraines, asthma, and increased
seizures, as well as an increase in strokes and heart attacks. There is a reason why more people die in November and December
than any other time of the year and this (along with the posts above) is part of the puzzle.
But what about those hot
humid days....the "dog days of summer", between July 3 to August 11th? It is during those days that the ground level ozone
reaches it's peak in many of our cities, often being reported as "red alert ozone days". Plus, humidity holds air pollution
in suspension like water holds sugar or salt in solution. During these days in my city, we see everything that can go wrong
with dogs, cats and humans: From severe acute IBS to allergies to, yes, increased seizures. Check most of your local listings
and you will find that the air quailty is its worst during these days. Interestingly, even back in Greek and Roman days (who
named the "dog days" after the Dog Star Sirius being conjoined with the sun during this time) they experienced more
plagues and pestilence during this time. Hey, humans aren't their best during the extremes, are they?
But the worst
medical gauntlet is the one we are now experiencing. This is another natural phenomenon (the survival of the fittest)
during whiich time the weakest animals die and the strongest survive to breed in Spring. But once again, our horrific diets,
our out-of-control lifestyles/lack of proper sleep, and our polluted water (e.g. fluoride) and environments take this natural
phenomenon and put in under a magnifying glass. We need proper nutrition. We desperately need sleep (melatonin
is the "master hormone"). And we are killing our brains with toxins.
The good news? We can change many of these
things and realize major improvements in our health, including chronic neurodegenerative conditions. I have heard from people
who have experienced complete cessation of seizures, MS symptoms, and peripheral neuropathies. The diet (as described above)
is the single biggest thing we can change that will afford us these advances but doing something about our environments (both
indoor and outdoor) can have a major impact on our health. Some will actually have to move (like one of my MS cases) to experience
full recovery. But there are less drastic measures that can be taken that will put us on the road to recovery.
again, I hope this helps.
Posted on BrainTalk Communities Epilepsy Forum
How Viruses Fit into the Pattern
I think that would be a GREAT thing to start
up. Many of the answers to our medical questions lie in the patterns we see, don't they? I personally think the epidemiologists
of this world should be solving many of these medical mysteries.
For instance, I believe that viruses are the
likely underyling cause of "idiopathic epilepsy"and just about all of my study points to that. There are over 20 viruses known
to cause seizures, many of which are ubiquitous, chronic, and remiiting'relapsing in nature (e.g. Epstein Barr and other Herpes
And, what virus doesn't raise its ugly head this time of year. But "WHY they do" is the interesting question,
partly answered above. When we look at things that affect cells and cause inflammation (e.g. lectins, estrogens, toxins/carcinogens)
and things that suppress the immune system, we see that many of them also worsen seizures. Viruses arise in areas of chronic
inflammation (as illustrated by common cancers) so the virus is the logical culprit every time I come at this. But again,
"WHY the virus reacts to these things and WHY they cause seizures" (and why they cause cancer) are the really interesting
questions, which I address on my site.
Viruses have an affinity for glial cells, the supportive cells to the neurons.
The astrocyte regulates glutamate levels at the synapse and glutamate is the neurotransmitter that is driving the seizure.
The oligodendricyte not only produces the neuron's myelin sheath but also produces two different lectins (glycoproteins)...one
that supports the neuron and one that can KILL the neuron it serves. Why would it want to kill that neuron?
Perhaps it's "caught a cold". eh? The evidence lies in the fact that two of the most common brain tumors are astrocytomas
and oligodendrogliomas, both viral tumors. Pretty cool, huh?
Once we accept the tenet that viruses cause seizures, we can start to see why these patterns occur, which in turn
tells us what we have to do to prevent them...and treat them properly. Could the seizure be serving a purpose like
all other symptoms do? Is it really wise to control seizures at all costs (like taking fever-reducers for virus-induced fevers)
without getting to the root of the problem??? What is the most rapidly rising cancer in America? Lower esophageal cancer.
Why? We have been covering up heartburn/GERD for years without getting to the root of the problem. Viruses get angry
in areas of chronic inflammation (lung, colon, breast, intestine/esophagus, prostate, skin, and brain).
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.
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