- Causes of schizophrenia
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This means that their brains may not be getting enough energy from glucose. The medical version of the ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate, moderate-protein diet proven to work for epilepsy. In my article The Ketogenic Diet May Help Stop Seizures , I explain the history and research demonstrating that the ketogenic diet is a powerful intervention in treating epilepsy.
Causes of schizophrenia
Using epilepsy treatments in psychiatry is nothing new. Anticonvulsant medications are often used to treat psychiatric disorders. Depakote, Lamictal, Tegretol, Neurontin, Topamax, and all of the benzodiazepines medications like Valium and Ativan, commonly prescribed for anxiety are all examples of anticonvulsant medications routinely prescribed in the treatment of psychiatric disorders.
Interestingly, the effects of this diet on the brain have been studied for decades because neurologists have been trying to figure out how it works in epilepsy.
Case study: Bartonella and sudden-onset adolescent schizophrenia | EurekAlert! Science News
This diet is known to produce ketones which are used as a fuel source in place of glucose. This may help to provide fuel to insulin resistant brain cells. This diet is also known to affect a number of neurotransmitters and ion channels in the brain, improve metabolism, and decrease inflammation.
So there is existing science to support why this diet might help schizophrenia. The first patient documented in the Schizophrenia Research article is a woman who spent nearly her whole life suffering chronic, treatment-resistant schizophrenia. For more than 50 years, she endured paranoia , disorganized speech, visual and auditory hallucinations.
By the time she was 70, she was suicidal and had been hospitalized repeatedly for psychosis or suicide attempts. She had been treated with over ten different antipsychotic and mood stabilizing medications, including regular antipsychotic injections. None of them helped her symptoms. She was unable to care for herself and had a court-appointed guardian and home health services. At the age of 70, weighing pounds, she went to a medical weight loss clinic and was started on a ketogenic diet. Within two weeks of starting the diet, she reported a noticeable reduction not only in her weight but also her psychotic symptoms.
Within several months, she started to feel so much better that she was able to stop taking her psychiatric medications while remaining on the diet. Over time, her mood stabilized, and her hallucinations and paranoia remitted completely. She was no longer suicidal. Her case was first reported in Today, 12 years later, she has lost a total of pounds and remains on the ketogenic diet. She takes no medications and remains symptom-free.
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She was able to regain her independence, no longer requiring the guardian and the home health care team. When I recently spoke with her, she recalled her decades of suffering and hopelessness, and said that since starting the diet, she has had a "new life," and is happy to be alive. The second patient described in the article is a year-old woman who suffered from depression, anxiety, anorexia nervosa , hallucinations and paranoia since her teens. As patients sometimes do, she concealed her psychotic symptoms when she was initially treated for depression and anorexia.
When she finally reported her psychotic symptoms later in her twenties, she was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Nevertheless, she continued to have symptoms.
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She was having chronic gastrointestinal problems, so she saw a doctor who recommended the ketogenic diet. In the hospital, she was re-medicated with Haldol-decanoate an injectable medication which had not worked for her previously and she continued the ketogenic diet. Within a month on both Haldol and the ketogenic diet, she reported complete remission of her psychotic symptoms for the first time since she was Over the following year, she slowly tapered off Haldol, and remained free of psychotic symptoms.
Of note, she lost 70 pounds from the diet, which exacerbated her anorexia. She has since regained 30 of those pounds and maintains a healthy weight today. While inspiring, these two case reports aren't the first of their kind. They join a growing body of evidence supporting the use of the ketogenic diet in the treatment of schizophrenia.
The researchers reported that their symptoms improved after two weeks on the diet, but then returned back to their baseline level of symptoms after the diet was stopped. In , I reported two other cases of schizoaffective disorder improving significantly on the ketogenic diet. Schizoaffective disorder is a diagnosis that includes both a mix of schizophrenia and a mood disorder , often bipolar disorder.
On the diet, their symptoms were greatly improved, and they both lost significant amounts of weight.
Case Study: Schizophrenia and Work: Martin’s Story
Off the diet, their symptoms returned. In , two Ecuadorian twins , one male and one female, diagnosed with schizophrenia since the ages of 14 and 18 were started on a 6-week trial of the ketogenic diet. Interestingly, only when the patients were compliant with the diet did their symptoms improve.
They also both lost weight. When they stopped the diet at the end of the study, their symptoms returned to their baseline level.
In , researchers conducted a study of the effects of the ketogenic diet in a mouse model of schizophrenia. Studies exactly like this are used in the development of new antipsychotic medications. The ketogenic diet was found to normalize the mouse behaviors associated with schizophrenia, indicating an antipsychotic effect. In , the same researchers published another study of the ketogenic diet normalizing impaired prepulse inhibition in mice—yet another marker commonly associated with schizophrenia.
The mice on the ketogenic diet appeared normal on this measure. Interestingly, weight loss was a factor for which they controlled in designing the study. Some of the mice were calorie restricted and others were not. They concluded that weight loss was not required to get the benefit of the ketogenic diet—the diet alone was enough.
stakarrabjunkge.ml The two women described in the Schizophrenia Research article above, who are currently in complete remission from schizophrenia, probably do not care why this diet worked. The proof is in the pudding for them. But we doctors like to know more about how and why things work, and better understand how many more people might respond to this type of treatment. Clearly, more research is needed. However, make no mistake.
All of these research findings, from the basic science of schizophrenia to the case reports and studies mentioned here, open up a new field of inquiry—one based on entirely novel mechanisms of action and a whole new way of understanding schizophrenia.
I, for one, am hopeful for the millions of people suffering. The sooner we can offer more effective treatments, the better. If you have schizophrenia or any serious disorder and are considering using the ketogenic diet as a treatment, I strongly recommend that you consult with a healthcare professional before trying this diet. Because mental illnesses are serious disorders and sometimes dangerous. The medical version of the ketogenic diet has risks and side effects. You should have accurate information, help, and medical supervision to implement treatments in a safe and effective way.
All of the patients described in all of these studies were treated by physicians while attempting the ketogenic diet. Anyone contemplating the ketogenic diet as a treatment for illness of any kind is urged to seek medical help from a competent medical provider trained in treatment of the underlying condition as well as the ketogenic diet therapy before initiating the ketogenic diet. The ketogenic diet induces significant metabolic changes which can impact medication metabolism, among other things.
Individuals seeking treatment of any illness using the ketogenic diet will likely require additional support especially during the initial adaptation phase, and thereafter for the duration of treatment which can take years depending on a variety of factors. No doctor-patient relationship is created by this article, or by any responses to comments posted in this forum by Chris Palmer, M. Wow, Chris! I've seen so much suffering with the treatments we currently have.
To have a new treatment pathway is so hopeful and exciting! Thank you, Christie! I couldn't agree more about how exciting and promising this new approach is. Mental health profesionals often think of schizophrenia as incurable, chronic and degenerative - it only seems to get worse with time.