Letters from readers:
Epilepsy may benefit
from gluten-free diet
My name is John B. Symes, DVM. I am a veterinarian who has been studying the effects of gluten-free/casein-free/soy-free/corn-free diets on canine (and now human) epilepsy for the past seven years. I have witnessed phenomenal results in my canine patients and am now getting more and more testimonials from people who have successfully used the diet I outline (now called The GARD) on themselves or their epileptic children. I believe this will all make perfectly good sense to you, especially if you are already familiar with the link between celiac disease and epilepsy.
I found your site by doing a search for epilepsy diet. I suspect that your main interest is in the publication of medical information that is derived from peer-reviewed research so I thought that you might be interested in my work, which is currently under review by contacts I have made at Johns Hopkins, the Mayo Clinic, and the Cleveland Clinic. The results of The GARD (the glutamate-aspartate restricted diet) have been astounding for epilepsy, chronic pain syndromes, peripheral neuropathies, and much more. You will find my work at www.dogtorj.net.
Seven years ago I found out that I suffered from celiac disease. I quickly experienced a miraculous recovery from numerous long-term ailments, especially once I eliminated the others of what I call the big four...gluten (wheat, barley, rye), dairy, soy and corn ... the four foods capable of inducing the villous atrophy commonly associated with gluten intolerance. In the very first week of my study, I read that celiac children with epilepsy who were placed on gluten-free (GF) diets often had dramatic improvements in the severity and frequency of their seizures. This really grabbed my interest, as epilepsy in veterinary medicine was also considered idiopathic. I began placing my epileptic canine patients on GF diets and the results were astounding. I then set out to understand WHY this was happening.
That is what my website is all about. Rather than going into great detail here, I will refer you to the Epilepsy and Diet section of my site - http://dogtorj.tripod.com/id2.html. In that section, I explain how I developed The GARD (the glutamate-aspartate restricted diet; also known as the gut absorption recovery diet). It dives into the role of the excitotoxins (glutamate and aspartate), the lectins of the big four, viruses, environmental issues (pollution) and even the seasonal influences (lack of sunlight, low serotonin, increased seizures) in the pathogenesis of epilepsy.
I hope that you will find this interesting and helpful. I lecture at veterinary conferences and have even spoken at a human medical conference on this topic. In my mind, the research behind the GARD helps to explain the successes (and failures) that the medical profession is seeing with the use of the ketogenic and now modified Atkins diets in epileptic people, neither of which eliminate all of the dietary culprits we have now identified as factors in canine epilepsy. The connections between celiac disease and epilepsy are well-established but gluten is clearly not the only culprit. By eliminating all of the big four, I believe both professions will realize the huge gains that I have seen in these patients. - John B. Symes, DVM. (Dogtor J), Beltline Animal Hospital, 1212 W. I-65 Service Rd South, Mobile, AL 36609, Ph: 251-343-7110, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us. I know many of my readers are dedicated to natural remedies and the value of a healthy diet, as I am also. I think most of the illness today in both humans and canine companions can be traced to bad or inadequate diet, food intolerances and food allergies. We would love to hear more on the subject - I have had in the past many desperate people wanting to postpone the day their beloved pet starts its epilepsy medication, but could offer no alternatives. It sounds as if your diet system is certainly worth trying, after all, it can not possibly do any harm (unlike many medications with side effects). - Ed