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Avoiding Epilepsy Through Diet

Avoiding pork tapeworm parasites (cysticercosis) is not as easy as just avoiding pork.

September 5, 2011 |
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Supplementary Info

Sources Cited



. Another review last year confirmed that  pork tapeworms taking residence inside our brains “is a significant public health issue within the United States.”  At first though clinical diagnosis can be challenging. Initial presentations of the disease are often vague complaints like headaches, weakness, dizziness, high blood pressure

 In terms of treatment, in a series of more than a hundred cases published this year, although antiparasitic deworming drugs were found effective,  about 10% require brain surgery, what’s called  open craniotomy where you have to go in and basically just  dig ‘em out.

 They can get in your muscles too. This is a x-ray of someones leg and you can see how infested it is, and that’s why we can get it from pork, because it gets in the muscles.

But what if you don’t eat pork muscles? Well, I say this to all the smug nonpork eaters out there: if  we can find pork tapeworms in the brains of orthodox jews in Brooklyn, we can find pork tape worms in anyone.

They weren’t sneaking off for schnitzel. It was their  pork-eating domestic houseworkers preparing their food. When they  tested 1700 members of the local synogoge  1% tested positive. The researchers suggested that  those “to be employed as domestic workers or food handlers should be screened for tapeworm infection via examination of three stool samples for tapeworm eggs.

So for those of us that want to avoid the number 1 cause of adult-onset epilepsy, we may want to not eat pork, and not eat anything made by anyone who eats pork.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Dianne Moore.

To help out on the site please email

Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Check out the prequel to today's video-of-the-day, Pork tapeworms on the brain, and please leave a comment if you have any questions for me about this important public health issue.

For some context, please check out my associated blog post: Contagion: bad timing for CDC report of new swine flu strain.

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Check out the prequel to today’s video-of-the-day, Pork tapeworms on the brain, and please leave a comment if you have any questions for me about this important public health issue.

  • Cyclo Uten Etternavn

    Hi Michael,

    Thanks for bringing up this important topic.
    Is it any easier way to check if you’re infected, like a blood-test?

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      Unfortunately the only ways to absolutely diagnose these brainworms is by taking a brain biopsy, actually seeing the head (scolex) of the tapeworm on CT scan or MRI , or direct visualization of the parasites behind your retina in the back of your eye with a fundoscopic examination (where we doctors shine a bright light in your eye).

      Now there are lesions as I showed in yesterday’s video-of-the-day highly suggestive of this disease, but neuroimaging studies are not without significant cost and risk. Bottom line is that if you’re experiencing neurological symptoms of any kind you should see your physician (or a neurologist) for a neurological exam and evaluation for further diagnostic testing.

  • Dante

    How does the parasite get onto the hands? From touching raw pork meat, or cooked meat also?

    Or do they eat infected pork meat and it some how oozes out into the hands? :)

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      There are two primary methods of transmission: eating the tapeworm eggs in undercooked meat or exposure to an infected person’s fecal matter (one of the reasons we should all wash our hands after using the restroom!). You don’t want to know how well food service workers wash their hands.

      • Dante

        WOW o_O

        That is disgustingly shocking! I’m going to be much more discerning as to where I go out to eat… hehe

  • Toxins

    After watching many of your videos i want to be tested for every ailment and contamination there is!

  • Elley77

    how would I be able to get tested for tape worm? would insurance cover it?

  • Yuri

    Does that mean that if the meat is well cooked you won’t get infected?

    • Susan

      Growing up in an Orthodox Judaism household taught my mother that even well cooked pork was dangerous and forbidden. Passed down was simply not to eat pork. Period.

  • Jill McKeever

    My family and I have been living the plant-based lifestyle for two years. Occasionally, my kids (13 & 10 yrs.) come home from their friend’s houses talking about how they miss eating ham and bacon. I just showed this video as part of their health lesson. It’s official, they will never complain about not eating pork, again.

    THANK YOU!!!

  • sammie

    I had a seizure in Aug and another one in March. I have had an EEG, MRI and CT scan. They have not been able to find anything wrong with me … but I have been told that I need to take meds (with many side effects). I have also had my drivers licence taken away for at least 6 months because of the seizure, making me unemployable. I do not eat meat and try not to eat any animal products, although my family members do not do the same. Suggestions? What can I do? What can I ask the neurologist to have checked?

    • joeboosauce

      Hey Sammie, I don’t have any experience with this but happened to come across this video of a guy who had seizures a lot and switched to a fruitarian diet and says he is practically cured. Worht a look and good luck! Let me know if this helps and how it pans out if you try it.