What Are Seizures?
Seizures can be a co-morbid condition associated with a disability such as autism, Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy or mitochondrial dysfunction, although they also occur in children without any of these conditions.
The brain has thousands of neurons, cells that process and transmit information through interaction with each other. Sometimes neurons can misfire without any chaotic disruptions.
However, sometimes multiple neurons misfire at the same time; depending on the location and severity of the misfiring, muscle twitching, spasms and an electrical discharge can take place. When this happens, it seems like an electrical storm occurring in the brain alters the person’s sense of consciousness, behavior and senses. This is a seizure.
Types and Symptoms of Seizures
The Epilepsy Foundation lists new terms for seizure classification with their old-term counterpart that are described in great detail with distinct features and symptoms. In addition, Richard Frye MD, a neurologist specializing in autism and mitochondrial disorders, lists the common types of seizures and their symptoms:
This type involves whole-body shaking and electrical disturbances of most of the cerebral cortex.
This type involves electrical disturbances of one or more portions of the cerebral cortex and can involve only jerking of one part of the body such as an arm, leg or one side of the face or head. Consciousness is not affected.
Secondary Generalized Seizures
Focal seizure activity in the brain can spread to the whole brain resulting in a generalized seizure.
This type involves electrical disturbance of multiple parts of the brain or the whole brain, manifesting as subtle changes in consciousness such as staring episodes.
These episodes are usually short (5-20 seconds) but can occur many times per day, sometimes up to 100 times per day.
Although this type of seizure can be common in children with neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism, ADHD, learning disabilities and Sensory Processing Disorder, it is often not caught, as the child appears to be just “spacey” or inattentive.
This type of seizure is typically only discovered after the parent has brought the child into a neurologist for an EEG (electroencephalograph) or a neurofeedback practitioner for a QEEG (quantum electroencephalograph).
This type of generalized seizure appears as quick short jerks of the arms, legs, body or head. They are usually associated with epileptic syndromes.
This type includes infantile spasms and involves brief repetitive spasms of the limbs and/or the body.
This is a type of generalized seizure in which an individual loses muscle tone and falls rapidly to the ground.
This type occurs when seizure activity occurs only in the brain without any obvious outward signs. These are not the same as subclinical electrical discharges, described below.
Subclinical Electrical Discharges
This type occurs in isolation (only one discharge), whereas a seizure is a rhythmic run of discharges that is sustained for several seconds.
Landau Kleffner Syndrome
This syndrome occurs when electrographic seizures in the language area of the brain show up as language regression after three years of age without other symptoms of autism. It is very rare.
Continuous Spike Waves During Slow Wave Sleep
This syndrome occurs when electrographic seizures happen during a certain portion of sleep. Children can have autistic symptoms, but this syndrome is very rare.
Seizures in Children with Neurodevelopmental Disorders
Some children with neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism, ADHD, learning disabilities and Sensory Processing Disorder, have febrile seizures in early childhood; others develop childhood seizures and grow out of them. Epilepsy occurs in 8.6% of children with autism, although estimates range from 4% to 50%. One in four boys with autism has seizures at the onset of puberty; a small group has late-adult onset of seizures. Seizures are a leading cause of death in individuals with autism.
In addition, children with ADHD are 2.33 times more likely to have seizures than children without the disorder.
Staring episodes, motor tics, aggressive behaviors, self-injurious behaviors and stereotyped behaviors may or may not be seizures, although, as stated above, it is common for children with neurodevelopmental disorders to have uncaught absence seizures.
In some cases, subtle symptoms of seizures are very similar to abnormal behaviors of neurodevelopmental disorders; for more information about investigating the possibility of seizures, we recommend the book Silently Seizing: Common, Unrecognized, and Frequently Missed Seizures and Their Potentially Damaging Impact on Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorders by Caren Haines RN.
As always, consult with a neurologist and ask for a 24-hour EEG to determine if your child is having seizures; a regular EEG may not pick up irregular or subtle activity in the brain.
Neuroscientist Aditi Shankardass has pioneered the use of QEEG technology to ensure the most accurate diagnosis for children with neurodevelopmental disorders.
By using a QEEG brain map, she has discovered that up to 50% of children with neurodevelopmental disorders and language deficits are suffering from seizures that are causing their symptoms.
In actuality, these children did not have a neurodevelopmental disorder; instead, when treated for seizures, their neurodevelopmental disorder symptoms and diagnoses disappeared.
What Your Doctor May Tell You About Seizures
Neurologists specialize in seizures, and your child’s pediatrician may refer your child to a neurologist if your child has had a seizure.
After a seizure, your child’s neurologist will likely review your child’s symptoms and medical history and may order blood tests to determine infections, genetic conditions, blood sugar levels or electrolyte imbalances.
The neurologist may also inquire and test your child’s behavior, motor abilities and mental function to determine if there are any issues with the brain and nervous system.
Your child’s neurologist will likely order an electroencephalograph (EEG) to see if there is reoccurring seizure activity in your child’s brain.
If your child is prone to frequent seizures, the neurologist will likely write a prescription for diastat, a rectal gel that controls seizures within minutes.
Your child’s neurologist may tell you that no matter what type of seizure your child may be experiencing at any age, seizures may be life threatening and usually require anti-convulsive pharmaceutical treatment.
The neurologist may also tell you that it is difficult to know exactly why seizures develop and how to stop them, which is why seizures are often categorized as “idiopathic”.
Your neurologist will likely advise you to take your child to the emergency room if the seizure is prolonged or if the child’s airways are compromised by the seizure and the child is unable to breathe.
Most hospitals will provide discharge paperwork with recommendations such as the ketogenic diet.
Seizure Triggers and Contributing Factors
Even though seizures are considered idiopathic (cause unknown), there are other ways of looking at seizures if you address seizures not only as an isolated neurological crisis, but rather as a symptom of your child’s current whole-body and neurological status.
There are many different triggers and underlying contributing factors, yet not all children with epilepsy respond exactly the same to them.
We recommend that you keep a journal of your child’s diet, sleep and activities to help you and your doctor determine what may be triggering your child’s seizures.
One thing is certain, though: Events or situations that upset the homeostasis of a child’s body are common triggers for seizures.
Here are some possible underlying conditions that may be contributing to your child’s seizures:
Sleep disturbances, especially a lack of sleep, are common seizure triggers. These disturbances can be caused by:
- A sympathetic-overdrive nervous system
- An inability to calm the brain and body down
- Inflammatory foods
- Too much sugar during the day, leading to hypoglycemia during sleep (see below)
- Foods containing chemicals and such as:
- Artificial colors
- Artificial flavors
- Natural flavors
- Food intolerances and allergies
- Too much glutamate and not enough GABA (see below under “Excitotoxicity”)
- A lack of fatty acids and good fats (see below)
- Stressful environment (see below)
The misfiring and over-firing in the brain known as excitoxicity can trigger seizures and cause brain-cell death.
Russell Blaylock MD brought the issue to the public’s attention with his book Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills.
Excitoxicity is caused by an excess of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate and a lack of the calming, inhibitory neurotransmtter GABA.
Excitoxins are found in foods containing glutamate and aspartate such as:
- Diet soft drinks and foods
- Natural flavors
- Artificial flavors
- Artificial sweeteners
- MSG (monosodium glutamate)
- Glutamic acid
- Autolyzed yeasts
- Yeast extract
- Hydrolyzed foods
- Sodium caseinate
- Barley malt
- Malt extracts
Stressful situations upset a child’s body’s homeostasis and can lead to a blood-sugar drop, which can cause nutritional deficiencies due to the strain they put on the body’s adrenal glands.
Common causes of stress are:
- Emotional stress
- Physical stress
- Photosensitivity (see below)
- Lack of sleep (see above)
- Severe change in temperature
- Loud noises such as sirens
Low Blood Sugar
A blood-sugar drop in the brain can cause a seizure, as the drop can trigger a release of glutamate.
Children (and adults) with low blood sugar may exhibit symptoms such as:
- Temper tantrums
- Aggressive behavior
Make sure your child does not go for prolonged periods of time without eating to prevent low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) from occurring.
Giving your child foods with simple carbohydrates creates a constant vicious cycle of blood-sugar highs and blood-sugar lows.
Simple-carbohydrate foods typically contain:
- Refined sugar
- White flour
- White refined carbohydrates
- Chemically processed foods
Meals and snacks with a combination of complex carbohydrates, protein and fat will typically stabilize your child’s blood sugar.
Deficiencies in minerals cause a strain on the body’s ability to handle stress because minerals are necessary for proper function of the adrenal glands, which govern:
- Circadian rhythm
- Inflammation control
- Blood sugar
Minerals, also known as electrolytes, can trigger seizures when there are low levels of electrolytes or a sudden drop in electrolytes.
The most common (major) electrolytes are essential to kidney functioning, and they are:
Magnesium levels are often found to be low in children who have seizures; maintaining these levels supports the nervous system and helps prevent seizure activity in the brain.
Please note that children with excitotoxicity issues should not take calcium because it is a catalyst to the misfiring of neurotransmitters in the brain and can cause excitoxicity.
Electrolyte levels can plummet rapidly during exercise and exposure to heat because electrolytes are released from the body in the form of sweat; hydration is key (see below).
Trace Minerals (Minor Electrolytes)
Trace minerals in the diet contribute to
- Proper hydration
- Nervous system and brain function
- Immune-system function
- Adrenal-gland function
Zinc is a trace mineral in which many children with seizures and other chronic conditions are commonly deficient; a zinc deficiency has been shown to cause seizures.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
Supplementation with vitamin B1 has been shown to reduce seizures; thiamine is essential for glucose metabolism and healthy nerve, muscle and heart functioning.
Vitamin B6 (P5P: Pyridoxal-5′-Phosphate)
Vitamin B6 is an important vitamin to maintain critical functioning of the nervous system.
GAD – (glutamate decarboxylase), the enzyme that converts glutamic acid, an excitatory amino acid in the brain, to GABA (Gamma Aminobutyric Acid), an inhibitory calming amino acid – is activated when vitamin B6 binds itself to it.
It’s important for the brain to have increased levels of GABA (see Excitotoxicity, above) to reduce the possibility of seizures; research has shown that the more absorbable form of vitamin B6, P5P, is more effective.
Vitamin B9 (Folate)
Folate (not to be confused with the synthetic version of vitamin B9, folic acid) plays a very large role in metabolic processes of:
- Mitochondrial function
- Methylation of the gene variant MTHFR
- Homocysteine metabolism
Any disruption in these processes can increase the development of seizures in a child, and children with a folate deficiency are more likely to have seizures.
Many children with autism have autoantibodies to folate receptors, which causes deficiency.
Supplementation with folinic acid has been shown to reduce seizures in people with a cerebral folate deficiency.
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
Deficiency of vitamin B12 is common in children, and it has been linked to seizures.
Many of these children may have a B12 deficiency due to a genetic mutation called MTHFR (methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase), which affects the body’s ability to detoxify.
Research has shown that increasing vitamin D3 levels can reduce seizures by an average of 40%.
Researchers have falso ound that anti-convulsive medication lowers vitamin D levels in individuals with seizures; so, make sure your child is taking vitamin D3.
Children with epilepsy are much more likely to be deficient in vitamin E, and supplementation with it has been shown to prevent seizures.
Dehydration is always a concern with children because electrolyte levels can plummet rapidly, especially when they are hot and sweaty, because electrolytes are released from the body in the form of sweat.
Proper hydration is critical in epileptic children for this reason.
If the body does not have adequate amounts of certain kinds of fatty acids (see below), then hydration is more difficult.
Cells maintain hydration better when there are cholesterol and fatty acids in the diet because these nutrients protect the integrity and fluidity of the cell membrane.
When the cell membrane is too rigid, cells do not maintain hydration well and must leak important nutrients, including ATP, to maintain a proper balance; this is known as mitochondrial dysfunction.
Cell-membrane rigidity is typically caused by the inclusion of trans fats in the diet, which are commonly found in:
- Hydrogenated oils
- Fried foods
- Commercially prepared baked goods
- Vegetable shortening
- Solidified vegetable oil spreads
- Vegetable oils, which can turn into trans fats due to exposure to heat
Fatty Acid Imbalances
A lack of healthful fatty acids also contributes to cell-membrane rigidity, which contributes to dehydration.
In addition, the brain consists of 60% fat, and fat protects the brain; when the brain does not have enough fat, it is more prone to having an electrical storm.
A malabsorption of fat can lead to lack of fat in the brain, which is why it’s important to have your pediatrician run a stool test that can check for fat malabsorption.
Important fatty acids for brain health are:
- Omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA and EPA, found in cod liver oil. Supplementation with both of these has been found to reduce seizure frequency.
- Medium-chain triglycerides, commonly found in coconut oil, have been shown to control seizures. Coconut oil is the only fat that is assimilated and absorbed without bile because of its unique fatty acid composition.
- Phosphatidylserine is a phospholipid that is a component of the cell membrane and is an essential nutrient for proper brain function. Phosphatidylserine in combination with GABA has been shown to reduce seizures.
Infections that cross the blood-brain barrier and cause autoimmune encephalitis (also known as PANS/PANDAS), a swelling of the brain, can cause seizures.
Examples of infections that have crossed the blood-brain barrier to cause chronic encephalitis, and thus potentially seizures, are:
- Lyme disease
- Specific viruses, especially herpetic viruses such as Epstein-Barr virus and herpes simplex viruses
- Pathogenic bacterial infection, such as Staphylococcus aureus
- Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection
- Influenza infection
Seizures can be a side effect of many prescribed and over-the-counter medications. Examples of seizure-inducing medications are:
- Routine pediatric medical interventions. Always ask your doctor for the medical insert required by law and read it thoroughly for a list of adverse risk events associated with the intervention; seizures are common side effects of many of these routine pediatric medical interventions.
- Anti-psychotic medications such as:
- Anti-depressant medication
- Anti-anxiety medication
- Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine, which is commonly found in cough syrup and Benadryl
- Systemic steroids
Environmental Toxin Exposure
Exposure to environmental toxins such as chemical-warfare agents, toxic industrial chemicals, and natural toxins can cause seizures.
Toxins that cause seizures typically do so by either blocking GABA, increasing glutamate or causing nutritional deficiencies.
Examples of toxin exposure that may cause seizures are:
- Some synthetic cannabinoids
- Glue and paint fumes
- Bug sprays
- Household cleaners
- Fragrances from products such as perfume, laundry detergent and air fresheners
Stimulants, including foods and drinks containing caffeine as well as narcotic stimulants, may induce seizures. Examples of these stimulants include:
- Energy drinks
- Caffeinated soft drinks
- Caffeinated teas
Puberty is a common time for the onset or increase of seizures because of the changing levels of hormones in a child’s body. Research has found that progesterone is anti-convulsant, while estrogens are pro-convulsant because they “potentiate glutamate responses“.
Testosterone can trigger seizures: “Testosterone increases the electroconvulsive threshold in males at low doses, and in both sexes at higher doses“. Both boys and girls can have elevated testosterone, especially if they have Childhood Precocious Puberty (CPP).
Traumatic Brain Injuries, such as concussions, are well known to trigger seizures because of changes in glutamate caused by the injury.
Photosensitivity is another well known trigger to seizures; photosensitivity can be triggered by:
- Flashing lights
- Strobe lights
- Fluorescent lights
- Video screens
- Video games
- Computer displays
- Tablet devices
While epilepsy is 1.8 times more common in people with celiac disease, medical researchers have discovered that people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, even when the sensitivity may not be apparent, are more susceptible to seizures as well.
In addition, researchers discovered that a gluten-free diet is effective in the management of epilepsy in 53% of cases.
Increasing exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) has created environmental “electromagnetic smog” that escapes no one and that can disrupt the body’s sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Researchers have shown that exposure to EMFs can trigger seizures; examples of EMF-emitting devices are:
- WiFi routers
- Wireless/cordless phones
- Baby monitors
- Skipped medication
- Brain tumors
- Inherited conditions
- Prolonged illness
- Febrile illness
- Eating disorders, which can cause nutritional deficiencies
Seizures Checklist to Start
As can be seen from the list of triggers and contributing factors above, there are numerous deficiencies, dietary changes, environmental exposure changes and lifestyle changes that can be made to improve your child’s susceptibility to seizures.
In addition, there are many kinds of interventions and therapies that can help to reduce seizure activity:
A warning system such as a seizure-response dog can help tremendously in notifying parents of an impending seizure in their child.
This form of service dog is trained to summon help when a seizure occurs or can sense a seizure before it occurs.
This is an ideal solution for parents with non-verbal children.
Use Hot and Cold Compresses:
Hot and cold compresses, alternately placed at the back of the head, are very effective in reducing seizures. Apply a warm towel first and then a cold one. Doing this for two to four minutes a few times a day can increase blood circulation to the brain.
Use Essential Oils:
Inhalation through the olfactory system (nose) of essential oils can be a quick way to ward off or stop a seizure because inhalation is the quickest way to reach the brain.
Essential oil molecules hit the olfactory mucous membrane with its thousands of receptors, passing through the olfactory nerve, and into the limbic system in the brain.
The limbic system is triggered by nerve impulses which can be either stimulated or relaxed.
If you know your child has a seizure coming on, try using an equal combination of Melissa, chamomile, frankincense and sandalwood in rose water sprayed numerous times close to your child’s nose, encouraging your child to breath in as much as they can.
This may stop the seizure from continuing or even coming on.
Manage Blood Sugar:
To break the cycle of high-then-low blood sugar and to keep your child’s blood sugar steady, feed your child a combination of:
- Protein, which stabilizes blood sugar
- Complex carbohydrates, which break down into glucose much more slowly than simple carbohydrates, slowing down the hypoglycemic effect
- Fat, which controls the release of glucose into the blood stream
Be especially sure to give your child this combination in the morning for breakfast in order to head off a vicious hypoglycemic cycle for the rest of the day.
Ensuring that your child gets a good night’s sleep is an essential part of seizure management, as it helps to lower stress on the body.
Things that can help achieve good-quality sleep are:
- An age-appropriate bedtime (earlier is better)
- No screentime for at least two hours before bedtime
- CBD oil
- Homeopathic sleep remedies
- Calming herbs
- Lavender essential oil on the body and in a diffuser
Please consult your child’s physician for advice in using any remedies mentioned.
Supplement with CBD Oil:
Although medical marijuana is illegal on a federal basis, many states have approved its use for medicinal purposes; at this point, the U.S. federal government has chosen not to prosecute these states for doing so.
Because CBD is a non-psychoactive component of medical marijuana, it can be found legally in most states.
CBD oil got its claim to fame with a young girl named Charlotte Figi who struggled daily with seizures but dramatically changed her life after consuming the Charlotte’s Web strain of cannabis oil which was named after her by the Stanley Brothers in Colorado.
Today, thousands of children are seizure-free and no longer medication-dependent, thanks to CNN’s story on Charlotte by Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
See a Neurofeedback Practitioner:
Neurofeedback is an effective modality to normalize and balance the brain by changing the over and under activity of the five brain waves: gamma, delta, alpha, beta and theta.
There are numerous peer-reviewed medical research studies, such as this meta-analysis of EEG biofeedback in treating epilepsy, that show that the use of neurofeedback over time has resulted in a significant reduction in seizure activity.
Find a practitioner that can perform a QEEG (quantitative electroencephalograph) brain map first so you can understand how your child’s brain works.
Implement a Ketogenic Diet:
In a typical diet, the brain runs on glucose, while in a ketogenic diet, the brain runs on ketones; ketones are found to prevent irritation of the central nervous system, the spinal cord and the brain.
The Modified Atkin’s Diet discourages too much protein, encouraging fat in its place.
Both diets do an excellent job of stabilizing blood sugar, but patients should be tested first for a fatty acid disorder or a carnitine deficiency beforehand.
The autonomic nervous system plays an important part in fat absorption because digestive juices, stomach acid and bile are all secreted normally when the body is parasympathetic dominant.
Children with seizure disorders, especially those with neurodevelopmental disorders, chronic anxiety and/or PANS/PANDAS, may be chronically sympathetic dominant (“fight or flight”) mode, which impedes proper gastrointestinal functions.
Calming your child’s nervous system not only helps the gastrointestinal system but also the brain.
Bowel cleansing can restore healthy bowel function which is integral to the whole-body approach and can increase fat absorption.
More than one bowel movement a day is normal and encouraged; make sure your child is not constipated and encourage more fruits, vegetables and fiber.
Role of Hydrochloric Acid
The stomach produces hydrochloric acid to aid in the digestion of food and fats.
The body needs adequate zinc to produce enough hydrochloric acid in the stomach.
Supplementing with zinc and betaine hydrochloric acid with pepsin can help to increase fat absorption.
Effects on the Liver
Patients should be monitored by a doctor for safety, as the high level of fats in the long term can be hard on the liver, leading to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and systemic glucose intolerance.
Excess fat in the diet can contribute to liver congestion, which prevents the liver from synthesizing good bile, which is necessary for the fat emulsion and digestion.
We recommend that you work with a healthcare practitioner to see if any of the following supplements and foods may be needed to help your child’s liver working well:
- NAC (N-acetylcysteine)
- Alpha lipoic acid
- Milk thistle
- Carrot juice
- Beet juice
- Cucumber juice
Effects on the Pancreas
These high-fat diets can strain the pancreas because of the increased need for lipase, a pancreatic enzyme that digests fats and increases the body’s ability to absorb fats.
Supplementation with a digestive enzyme containing lipase to help break down fats may be necessary; check with your practitioner to determine which brand is best for your child.
Effects on the Gallbladder
A high-fat diet can also strain the gallbladder, which is where the body stores bile.
If your child has any of the following symptoms, the child’s gallbladder may need some help digesting fats:
- Pale stools
- Bloating after meals
A practitioner that specializes in integrative digestion can help you determine if your child needs to supplements that can support gallbladder function, such as:
- Ox bile: A source of bile salts that is like human bile and helps break down fats in the digestive tract. Improving the quality of bile helps with the absorption of fats.
- Taurine: Used in the body to help convert bile salts to a more water-soluble form of bile which is less toxic.
- Beet root/betaine: Thins the bile and helps prevent the formation of gallstones.
- Chanca piedra/royal breakstone: Helps break up gallstones.
- Collinsonia root/richweed: Helps to eliminate gallstones and prevent constipation.
Effects on Adrenal Glands
Excess fat and a lack of carbohydrates in the diet can cause excess mineral loss and/or lower mineral consumption, putting stress on the adrenal glands.
Stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline are produced by the adrenal glands, and an imbalance of minerals can lead to adrenal fatigue.
Be sure to work with a practitioner that can guide your child through this pitfall.
Consider Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS):
TMS is a non-invasive treatment that changes brain activity in the cortex. Studies such as this one have shown a significant reduction in seizures from the use of TMS. Further studies need to be done, but TMS does show to be a promising treatment for autism and seizures.
Make Dietary Changes:
Eating a clean diet made from whole foods is an essential way to avoid some potential seizure triggers; we recommend that you:
- Eat whole foods
- Buy organic foods
- Remove all GMO foods
- Remove all fast and processed foods
- Remove all foods with:
- Artificial colors
- Artificial ingredients
- With an elimination diet, remove potentially inflammatory foods such as:
- Strictly limit:
- Refined salt
- Refined carbohydrates
- Consider implementing a low glutamate diet and/or the Feingold diet
Include plenty of good quality fats, such as:
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Wild salmon
- Organic chicken
- Organic turkey
- Grass-fed ghee
- Pasture-raised eggs
- Grass-fed beef
- Nut butters such as almond butter (not peanut butter, which is too moldy and yeasty)
- Essential fatty acids from:
- Cod liver oil
- Hemp seeds
- Flax seeds
- Evening primrose oil
- Borage oil
- Walnut oil
Remove vegetable oils such as:
Include plenty of high-quality proteins with every meal, such as:
- Pasture-raised eggs and chicken
- Grass-fed beef
- Wild-caught fish
Clean Up Your Environment:
Environmental exposures are a significant factor that can trigger seizures; exposure to the following are toxic to the brain and central nervous system:
- Heavy metals
- Organochlorine pesticides
- Round-up, a pesticide containing glyphosate, can cause elevated levels of Clostridium difficile, a microbe that has been linked to autism and that can cause severe gastrointestinal symptoms, leading to inflammation. Glyphosate negatively affects the gut microbiome and mitochondria. Eating organic and non-GMO foods can reduce exposure to pesticides.
- Flame retardants: Research has shown that exposure to PBDE, a type of flame retardant, is associated with:
- Neurodevelopmental delays
- Inability to stay focused
- Poor fine motor coordination
- Lower cognitive abilities in school-aged children
- Chemical preservatives
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
Environmental Exposure Checklist
- Identify and remove possible toxic exposures in the home from purchased products, such as detergents, soaps, lotions, and other cleaning and personal care products
- Make sure your household products such as soaps, cleaning fluids and all self-care products are environmentally safe and clean
- Buy organic and green building materials, carpeting, baby items, mattresses and upholstery to reduce overall PBDE exposure
- Remove animals (both live and stuffed!)
- Remove carpets
- Use non-toxic cleaners
- Use non-toxic building materials
- Green your home
- Reduce EMF exposure by:
- Keeping cellphones on airplane mode
- Using an airtube headset for making phone calls on a cellphone
- Limiting all interactive screen devices and the TV
- Turning off WiFi in your home, especially at night
- Hardwiring your home’s internet access instead of using a WiFi router
- Getting rid of wireless/cordless phones in your home
- Eliminating baby monitors and security monitors
- Making sure your cell phone has an electromagnetic neutralizer attached to it
- Requesting that your electrical provider change your Smart Meter to the old meter
Ask Your Pediatrician to Run Some Laboratory Tests:
- Fatty Acid Metabolism Test from Patricia Kane of Kennedy Krieger at John Hopkins
- Heavy metals with a heavy-metal hair test
- Possible food sensitivities and allergies
- Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) IgG, IgA, IgE and IgM
- Nutritional deficiencies in vitamins and minerals. The NutrEval by Genova Diagnostics Labs covers the following areas:
- Cellular energy
- Mitochondrial metabolism
- Neurotransmitter metabolism
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Toxin exposure
- Detoxification needs
- Bacterial and yeast overgrowth
- Gluten and casein sensitivities
- Organic acids: The organic acid test by Great Plains Laboratory for:
- Yeast overgrowth (Candida)
- Other microbial infections
- Comprehensive Stool Analysis by Genova Diagnostic Labs to identify:
- Altered gastrointestinal function
- Bacterial/fungal overgrowth
- Chronic dysbiosis
- Neurotransmitters: Neurorelief (Neurosciences Laboratory) is a specialty lab that tests neurotransmitters to determine chemical imbalances in the brain
- Genetic mutations such as MTHFR, CBS and SUOX, which may interfere with your child’s ability to detoxify.
- The MTHFR defect in the methylation process means that the body is unable to excrete toxins and pathogens very efficiently due to reduced glutathione, which is the master antioxidant in the body. If your child has the MTHFR defect, it is best to provide nutrient support for the methylation process through methylated B vitamins such as methylB12, folate and P5P. An effective way to support your child’s methylation process is through the skin, where there is maximum absorption of nutrients.
Add Fermented Foods and Probiotics Daily:
Fat absorption starts in the microbiome, and it is critical to have a healthy microbiome, which can be created by:
- Eliminating gut pathogens
- Eating prebiotic foods with inulin to populate the small intestine with good bacteria that can overtake bad bacteria that produce proprionic acid. Examples of inulin-containing foods are:
- Chicory root
- Eating naturally fermented foods such as:
- Kefir yogurts
- Fermented vegetables
- Umeboshi plums (very alkalizing)
- Miso soup, if soy is tolerated
- Taking probiotics such as those from:
- Gut Pro
- Ohirra’s Live Cultured Probiotics
- Garden of Life
- Klaire Labs
In addition, enzymatic activity dramatically increases with the fermentation process helping to absorb fats that are necessary for proper brain function.
Use Nutritional Supplements with Your Practitioner’s Guidance:
Check with your practitioner to see if any of these supplements can help lower your child’s seizure activity:
- CBD oil
- Cod liver oil
- Other omega-3 fatty acids
- Coconut oil
- GABA, especially PharmaGABA
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
- Vitamin B6 (P5P)
- Vitamin B9 (folate or folinic acid)
- Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)
- Vitamin D3
- Vitamin E
- Magnesium: If your child is not absorbing magnesium well, consider Re-Mag, which is a very absorbable type of magnesium.
- Zinc: Zinc picolinate is a well absorbed form of zinc.
- Phosphyotidyl serine complex
- Other minerals
- NAC (N-acetylcysteine)
- Alpha lipoic acid
- Milk thistle
- Ox bile
- Beet root/betaine
- Chanca piedra/royal breakstone
- Collinsonia root/richweed
- Rescue Remedy
- 5 Hydroxytryptophan (5HTP)
- MSM transdermal cream
- Epsom salts bath: These are an effective way to calm down your child and improve magnesium absorption.
- Ash gourd
- Bacopa leaf
- Black cohosh
- Blue vervain
- Castor oil packs
- Chamomile tea
- False pepper
- Indian gooseberry
- Valerian root
- Violet tree
Please note that children with excitotoxicity issues should not take calcium because it is a catalyst to the misfiring of neurotransmitters in the brain.
Substitute chamomile or nettles for calcium supplements.
If your child has high testosterone, apple pectin is a safe way to lower down testosterone levels naturally.If your child has high testosterone, apple pectin is a safe way to lower down testosterone levels naturally.
Consider the Use of Epi-Still
Epi-Still is a liquid proprietary blend of herbs by Native Remedies that can calm down the brain and relax an overactive nervous system.
Parents have reported that Epi-Still has reduced seizure activity in their child.
Epi-Still promotes healthy neurons, neural connections and electrical activity in the brain.
Consider the Use of HILTON
HILTON is an anti-seizure herbal medication formulated by Greener Herbal World, with an herbal mode of treatment protocol by Dr. Ajay Mohan Bose, to be followed over a seven-month period.
Many individuals have reported to be seizure free with the use of HILTON.
Help Your Child Detoxify:
Some forms of detoxing heavy metals, parasites, yeast, fungus, mold and any kind of pathogen may be problematic if your child is having seizures.
Detoxing may trigger seizures by increasing neurological activity and over-exciting the brain.
Instead, choose gentle cleansing such as vegetable juices and non-invasive therapies such as the ionic footbath, mud packs, infrared saunas and Epsom salt baths, which are all less stimulating to the brain.
Infared saunas can detox heavy metals through the skin by sweating. However, this form of detoxification may not be suitable for young children who lack the ability to sweat.
Make sure your child is well-hydrated taking minerals, eating lots of fats and has good fat absorption and intaking enough protein to keep the glucose stable to ensure safe detoxing.
Mud packs are an effective, gentle and safe way to detox and remove the toxic load by applying mud packs to the abdomen up to twice a day.
Consider Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT):
HBOT is 100% oxygen under pressure that can increase blood flow to the brain and the amount of oxygen flow to the brain.
Seizure patients may have to lower the atmospheric pressure (ATA) to 1.3 instead of 1.5.
Teach Your Child Stress-Reduction Techniques:
Because stress can be a seizure trigger, it’s important for your child to learn how to keep him- or herself as calm and centered as possible.
Yoga, tai chi and qi gong are great ways for your child to learn relaxation and stress reduction techniques.
Specifically, the positive effects of yoga have been reported on EEGs and seen with the autonomic nervous system.
Other techniques that a child can do to reduce stress are:
Consider the Use of Castor Oil Packs:
Edgar Cayce, an American clairvoyant also known as The Sleeping Prophet, recommended focusing on what he called the most frequent cause of seizures: adhesions in the lacteal ducts of the abdomen.
His protocol is the application of castor oil packs to break up the adhesions in the lacteal duct area which are located along the right side of the abdomen.
He recommended saturating a piece of flannel cloth with one cup of hot castor oil and placing it on the area of the abdomen because the combination of the heat and oil may break up these adhesions associated with seizures.
He also recommended that each session last from between ½ hour to an hour and that these sessions be done three times per week.
See a Chiropractor:
Chiropractic care on a regular consistent basis may help the body heal itself. Some chiropractors use specific manipulation of the spine to help control seizures
See a Homeopath or Naturopath:
These practitioners can diagnose and treat gastrointestinal disorders naturally so that the child’s immune, sensory, neurological and nervous systems develop without being compromised.
See a Well-Trained Acupuncturist:
Acupuncture done on the ears (auricular acupuncture) has been medically documented to reduce seizures significantly by activating the parasympathetic dominance of the nervous system through vagus nerve stimulation. Acupuncture in general can be extremely calming.
Still Looking for Answers?
Join us at Healing Together, where you’ll find even more resources plus a community to support you, every step of the way.
Sources & References
American Academy of Neurology. Cannabis-based medicine may cut seizures in half for those with tough-to-treat epilepsy. 2017 Apr 18.
Ari, C., et al. Delaying latency to hyperbaric oxygen-induced CNS oxygen toxicity seizures by combinations of exogenous ketone supplements. Physiol Rep. 2019 Jan;7(1):e13961.
Bertelsen, E.N., et al. Childhood Epilepsy, Febrile Seizures, and Subsequent Risk of ADHD. Pediatrics. 2016 Aug;138(2). pii: e20154654.
Bigi, S., et al. The growing spectrum of antibody-associated inflammatory brain diseases in children. Neurol Neuroimmunol Neuroinflamm. 2015 Apr 2;2(3):e92.
Bochynska, A., et al. The effect of vitamin B supplementation on homocysteine metabolism and clinical state of patients with chronic epilepsy treated with carbamazepine and valproic acid. Seizure. 2012 May;21(4):276-81.
Chakravarthi, N., et al. A switch in G protein coupling for type 1 corticotropin-releasing factor receptors promotes excitability in epileptic brains. Sci Signal. 2016 Jun 14;9(432):ra60.
Chang, P., et al. Seizure control by ketogenic diet-associated medium chain fatty acids. Neuropharmacology. 2013 Jun;69:105-14.
Cocito, L., et al. GABA and phosphatidylserine in human photosensitivity: a pilot study. Epilepsy Res. 1994 Jan;17(1):49-53.
DeHavenon, A., et al. The Secret “Spice”: An Undetectable Toxic Cause of Seizure. Neurohospitalist. 2011 Oct; 1(4): 182–186.
Devinsky, O., et al. Trial of Cannabidiol for Drug-Resistant Seizures in the Dravet Syndrome. N Engl J Med. 2017 Aug 17;377(7):699-700.
Dick, F.D. Solvent neurotoxicity. Occup Environ Med. 2006 Mar; 63(3): 221–226.
D’Souza, C.E., et al. GAD65 antibody-associated autoimmune epilepsy with unique independent bitemporal-onset ictal asystole. Epileptic Disord. 2018 Jun 1;20(3):204-208.
Erturk, C.O., et al. EEG abnormalities and long term seizure outcome in high functioning autism. Acta Neurol Belg. 2017 Sep;117(3):729-732.
Ferreira, P., et al. Late diagnosis of cerebral folate deficiency: Fewer seizures with folinic acid in adult siblings. Neurol Genet. 2015 Dec 22;2(1):e38.
Fregni, F., et al. A randomized clinical trial of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in patients with refractory epilepsy. Ann Neurol. 2006 Oct;60(4):447-55.
Frye, R., et al. A Review of Traditional and Novel Treatments for Seizures in ADD: Findings from a Systematic Review and Expert Panel. Front Public Health. 2013 Sep 13;1:31.
Frye, R.E., et al. Seizures in Autism Spectrum Disorder: Symptoms, Assessment, and Treatment. Autism File. 2016 Feb-Mar, Issue 66.
Fukahori, M., et al. Effects of dietary zinc status on seizure susceptibility and hippocampal zinc content in the El (epilepsy) mouse. Brain Res. 1990 Oct 8;529(1-2):16-22.
Geier, M.R., et al. The potential importance of steroids in the treatment of autistic spectrum disorders and other disorders involving mercury toxicity. Med Hypotheses. 2005;64(5):946-54.
Hassel, B., et al. Brain infection with Staphylococcus aureus leads to high extracellular levels of glutamate, aspartate, γ-aminobutyric acid, and zinc. J Neurosci Res. 2014 Dec;92(12):1792-800.
Hausman-Kedem, M., et al. Efficacy of CBD-enriched medical cannabis for treatment of refractory epilepsy in children and adolescents – An observational, longitudinal study. Brain Dev. 2018 Aug;40(7):544-551.
Herbert, M.R., et al. Autism and EMF? Plausibility of a pathophysiological link – Part I. Pathophysiology. 2013 Jun;20(3):191-209.
Hollo, A., et al. Correction of vitamin D deficiency improves seizure control in epilepsy: a pilot study. Epilepsy Behav. 2012 May;24(1):131-3.
Huang, Y., et al. Pyridoxine Supplementation Improves the Activity of Recombinant Glutamate Decarboxylase and the Enzymatic Production of Gama-Aminobutyric Acid. PLoS One. 2016 Jul 20;11(7):e0157466.
Humphries, P., et al. Direct and indirect cellular effects of aspartame on the brain. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2008 Apr;62(4):451-62.
Ibrahim, F.A.S., et al. The differential effects of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) on seizure frequency in patients with drug-resistant epilepsy – A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Epilepsy Behav. 2018 Aug 28;87:32-38.
Irevall, T., et al. B12 deficiency is common in infants and is accompanied by serious neurological symptoms. Acta Paediatr. 2017 Jan;106(1):101-104.
Jang, D.H., et al. Status epilepticus and wide-complex tachycardia secondary to diphenhydramine overdose. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2010 Nov;48(9):945-8.
Jett, D.A. Chemical toxins that cause seizures. Neurotoxicology. 2012 Dec;33(6):1473-5.
Johansson, O., et al. Exacerbation of demyelinating syndrome after exposure to wireless modem with public hotspot. Electromagn Biol Med. 2016;35(4):393-7.
Johnson, A.C., et al. Magnesium sulfate treatment reverses seizure susceptibility and decreases neuroinflammation in a rat model of severe preeclampsia. PLoS One. 2014 Nov 19;9(11):e113670
Julian, T., et al. Gluten sensitivity and epilepsy: a systematic review. J Neurol. 2018 Aug 23.
Klein, P., et al. Dietary treatment in adults with refractory epilepsy: a review. Neurology. 2014 Nov 18;83(21):1978-85.
Kossoff, E.H., et al. Optimal clinical management of children receiving dietary therapies for epilepsy: Updated recommendations of the International Ketogenic Diet Study Group. Epilepsia Open. 2018 Jun; 3(2): 175–192.
Koutroumanidou, E., et al. Increased seizure latency and decreased severity of pentylenetetrazol-induced seizures in mice after essential oil administration. Epilepsy Res Treat. 2013;2013:532657.
Kr, Pandy Shashi, et al. Herbal and synthetic approaches for the treatment of epilepsy. Intl Journal of Nutrition, Pharmacology and Herbal Medicine. 2014;4(1):43-52.
Kubik, P., et al. [Neurofeedback therapy influence on clinical status and some EEG parameters in children with localized epilepsy]. Przegl Lek. 2016;73(3):157-60.
Luo, P., et al. The role of glutamate receptors in traumatic brain injury: implications for postsynaptic density in pathophysiology. Brain Res Bull. 2011 Jul 15;85(6):313-20.
Manev, H., et al. Delayed increase of Ca2+ influx elicited by glutamate: role in neuronal death. Mol Pharmacol. 1989 Jul;36(1):106-12.
Masdaghinia, A., et al. Anticonvulsant effects of thiamine on pentylenetetrazole-induced seizure in mice. Nutr Neurosci. 2017 Aug 2:1-9.
McCue, L.M., et al. Prevalence of non-febrile seizures in children with idiopathic autism spectrum disorder and their unaffected siblings: a retrospective cohort study. BMC Neurol. 2016 Nov 28;16(1):245.
Menon, B., et al. The effect of anti epileptic drug therapy on serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and parameters of calcium and bone metabolism–a longitudinal study. Seizure. 2010 Apr;19(3):153-8.
Napoli, E., et al. Toxicity of the flame-retardant BDE-49 on brain mitochondria and neuronal progenitor striatal cells enhanced by a PTEN-deficient background. Toxicol Sci. 2013 Mar;132(1):196-210.
Nei, M., et al. Ketogenic diet in adolescents and adults with epilepsy. Seizure. 2014 Jun;23(6):439-42.
Ogunmekan, A.O. Vitamin E deficiency and seizures in animals and man. Can J Neurol Sci. 1979 Feb;6(1):43-5.
Olson, C.A., et al. The Gut Microbiota Mediates the Anti-Seizure Effects of the Ketogenic Diet. Cell. 2018 Jul 12;174(2):497.
Ozkale, Y., et al. Serum vitamin B12, folic acid, and homocysteine levels in children with febrile seizure. Turk J Pediatr. 2015 Jul-Aug;57(4):345-52.
Park, E.G., et al. Use of the Modified Atkins Diet in Intractable Pediatric Epilepsy. J Epilepsy Res. 2018 Jun 30;8(1):20-26.
Pickett, J., et al. Mortality in Individuals With Autism, With and Without Epilepsy. J Child Neurol. 2011 Aug;26(8):932-9.
Qi, J., et al. Enhanced susceptibility to stress and seizures in GAD65 deficient mice. PLoS One. 2018 Jan 29;13(1):e0191794.
Quadros, E.V., et al. Folate receptor autoantibodies are prevalent in children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, their normal siblings and parents. Autism Res. 2018 May;11(5):707-712.
Reda, D.M., et al. Fish Oil Intake and Seizure Control in Children with Medically Resistant Epilepsy. N Am J Med Sci. 2015 Jul;7(7):317-21.
Rout, U.K., et al. Presence of GAD65 autoantibodies in the serum of children with autism or ADHD. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2012 Mar;21(3):141-7.
Rowley, N.M., et al. Glutamate and GABA synthesis, release, transport and metabolism as targets for seizure control. Neurochem Int. 2012 Sep;61(4):546-58.
Sai, Y., et al. Clinical diagnosis and treatment of pediatric anti-N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor encephalitis: A single center retrospective study. Exp Ther Med. 2018 Aug;16(2):1442-1448.
Schauwecker, P.A. The effects of glycemic control on seizures and seizure-induced excitotoxic cell death. BMC Neurosci. 2012 Aug 6;13:94.
Schugar, R.C., et al. Low-carbohydrate ketogenic diets, glucose homeostasis, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2012 Jul; 15(4): 374–380.
Schwartzkroin, P.A. (Ed.) Encyclopedia of basic epilepsy research. UK, Academic Press/Elsevier (2009), pp. 519-522.
Spatola, M., et al. Seizures and risk of epilepsy in autoimmune and other inflammatory encephalitis. Curr Opin Neurol. 2017 Jun;30(3):345-353.
Stockings, E., et al. Evidence for cannabis and cannabinoids for epilepsy: a systematic review of controlled and observational evidence. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2018 Jul;89(7):741-753.
Strehl, U., et al. Sustained reduction of seizures in patients with intractable epilepsy after self-regulation training of slow cortical potentials – 10 years after. Front Hum Neurosci. 2014 Aug 8;8:604.
Suvasini, S., et al. The Modified Atkins Diet in Refractory Epilepsy. Epilepsy Res Treat. 2014; 2014: 404202.
Tan, G., et al. Meta-analysis of EEG biofeedback in treating epilepsy. Clin EEG Neurosci. 2009 Jul;40(3):173-9.
Taub, K.S., et al. Risk of seizure recurrence after achieving initial seizure freedom on the ketogenic diet. Epilepsia. 2014 Apr;55(4):579-83.
Taubøll, E., et al. Interactions between hormones and epilepsy. Seizure. 2015 May;28:3-11.
Thomas, S., et al. Brief Report: Prevalence of Co-occurring Epilepsy and Autism Spectrum Disorder: The U.S. National Survey of Children‘s Health 2011-2012. J Autism Dev Disord. 2017 Jan;47(1):224-229.
Tu, Y.F., et al. Postnatal Steroids and Febrile Seizure Susceptibility in Preterm Children. Pediatrics. 2016 Apr;137(4). pii: e20153404.
van Koert, R.R., et al. Caffeine and seizures: A systematic review and quantitative analysis. Epilepsy Behav. 2018 Mar;80:37-47.
Walker, J.E., et al. Neurofeedback treatment of epilepsy. Child Adolesc Psychiatr Clin N Am. 2005 Jan;14(1):163-76, viii.
Walls, A.B., et al. GAD65 is essential for synthesis of GABA destined for tonic inhibition regulating epileptiform activity. J Neurochem. 2010 Dec;115(6):1398-408.
Watkins, J.C., et al. The glutamate story. Br J Pharmacol. 2006 Jan; 147(Suppl 1): S100–S108.
Wei, H., et al. Auricular Acupuncture May Suppress Epileptic Seizures via Activating the Parasympathetic Nervous System: A Hypothesis Based on Innovative Methods. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012; 2012: 615476.
West, R.W., et al. The effect of color on light-induced seizures: a case report. Optom Vis Sci. 1996 Feb;73(2):109-13.
Westmark, C.J. Soy infant formula and seizures in children with autism: a retrospective study. PLoS One. 2014 Mar 12;9(3):e80488.
Wiggs, K.K., et al. Attention–deficit/hyperactivity disorder medication and seizures. Neurology. 2018 Mar 27;90(13):e1104-e1110.
Wilkins, A.J., et al. Treatment of photosensitive epilepsy using coloured glasses. Seizure. 1999 Dec;8(8):444-9.
Zifkin, E.G. , et al. Reflex epilepsy and reflex seizures of the visual system: a clinical review. Epileptic Disord. 2000 Sep;2(3):129-36.
Blaylock, Russell, MD. Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills. Health Press, 1996.
Haines, Caren, RN. Silently Seizing: Common, Unrecognized, and Frequently Missed Seizures and Their Potentially Damaging Impact on Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorders. AAPC Publishing, 2012.
Herbert, Martha, MD PhD. The Autism Revolution: Whole Body Strategies for Making Life All That It Can Be. Ballantine Books, 2013.
Lambert, Beth, et al. Brain Under Attack: A Resource for Parents and Caregivers of Children with PANS, PANDAS and Autoimmune Encephalitis. Answers Publications, 2018.