How does fasting, i.e. in this case, ketosis cure epilepsy? We have all heard how keto went from becoming the seizure cure to a weight shredder aid, but have you ever wondered how they discovered this?
The history dates back to ancient Greece in 400 BCE. Epilepsy was considered a “supernatural” disease back then with no cure. One day, a man cured himself when he went without food completely. Needless to say, all the physicians were shocked and studied it further. The royal physician then declared that a person suffering from epilepsy should be made to “fast without mercy and put on short rations”.
It stayed that way until modern studies began as recently as 1911 in France. Twenty individuals with epilepsy of all ages were “detoxified” by ingesting a low-calorie vegetarian diet together with fasting and purging intervals. Two people achieved a lot, but most people were unable to adhere to the constraints that were put in place. In contrast to the patients’ prescription, potassium bromide, which slows the mind, the food boosted the patients’ cognitive abilities. Soon doctors and physicians combined, started to recommend fasting as a restorative cure for physical maladies.
Thus began the study on “the ketosis for starvation”.
After extensive research on diet and diabetes, it was reportedly discovered that three water-soluble compounds- acetoacetate, acetone and β-hydroxybutyrate are produced in the liver when a person is starved OR if they consume a very low-carb, high fat diet. This is when Dr. Russell Wilder came up with the term “ketogenic diet” and described it as a diet being rich in fat and little to no carbohydrates that resulted in a high amount of ketone bodies in the blood. Wilder went on to use the ketogenic diet as a treatment for epilepsy for the first time on a small number of patients in 1921.
And that is how the Ketogenic diet came to be! Wilder’s colleague, Gustav Peterman later formulated the keto diet as we know it is, with the ratio being one gram of protein for every kilogram of body weight, 10–15 grams of carbohydrates daily, and the remaining calories should come from fat. The diet became very successful in curing epilepsy in children with almost 95% young patients curing their seizures and some even becoming seizure-free!