Avoiding Epilepsy through Diet

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

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

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 to be effective, about 10% of victims require brain surgery—what’s called an open craniotomy, where you have to go in and basically just dig ‘em out.

They can get into our muscles, too. This is an X-ray of someone’s leg, and you can see how infested the muscle is. And that’s why we can get it from pork—because it gets into muscles.

But what if you don’t eat pig muscles? Well, to all the smug non-pork-eaters out there, if we can find pork tapeworms in the brains of Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn, we can find pork tapeworms in anyone.

They weren’t sneaking off for schnitzel. It was their pork-eating domestic houseworkers preparing their food. When 1,700 members of the local synagogue were tested, 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 to avoid the #1 cause of adult-onset epilepsy, we may want to not eat pork, and not eat anything made by anyone who eats pork.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Drs. J. Moskowitz & G. Mendelsohn, and Nick Oldnall

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

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 to be effective, about 10% of victims require brain surgery—what’s called an open craniotomy, where you have to go in and basically just dig ‘em out.

They can get into our muscles, too. This is an X-ray of someone’s leg, and you can see how infested the muscle is. And that’s why we can get it from pork—because it gets into muscles.

But what if you don’t eat pig muscles? Well, to all the smug non-pork-eaters out there, if we can find pork tapeworms in the brains of Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn, we can find pork tapeworms in anyone.

They weren’t sneaking off for schnitzel. It was their pork-eating domestic houseworkers preparing their food. When 1,700 members of the local synagogue were tested, 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 to avoid the #1 cause of adult-onset epilepsy, we may want to not eat pork, and not eat anything made by anyone who eats pork.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Drs. J. Moskowitz & G. Mendelsohn, and Nick Oldnall

21 responses to “Avoiding Epilepsy through Diet

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    1. 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.




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  1. 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? :)




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    1. 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.




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  2. 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!!!




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  3. 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?




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    1. 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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OnWdHSYD5Q




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    2. I had an epileptic fit for the first time 5 years ago in the middle of supermarket on my birthday of all days, wasn’t fun for my kids to see it, it still haunts, I’ve tried many anticonvulsants and had never been able to stop the seizures. Surgery was not an option. I was still an epileptic patient, who have completely lose hope. As the problem is always embarrassing and disturbing. While surfing the internet one fateful day, I learned about Doctor on the internet called Lawson. I contacted him with some info and I ordered for the Herbal medication and used the medication for 6 months, though hesitantly, considering the fact that I have done a lot of procedure. After which I went for medical test It worked! I’ve been seizure free, Over a year now, I have not show any symptoms of seizure and I believe I am cure




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  4. Hi Michael, I have a dilemer in that my mother is suffering from some form of photo sensitive epilepsy which no one seems to be able to sort out as the doctors she speaks to seem to know very little about it themselves. She can have a seizure from anything shiny or water sparkling or anything flickering making it almost impossible to use a computer or go out on a sunny day. She only started getting these after being prescribed drugs for her palpitations but the doctors are overlooking this fact and not really helping her. I keep trying to get her on to a completely plant based vegan diet as i think this will help but although she doesn’t eat much meat she does eat fish and eggs etc. Do you have any advice at all that might be able to help? Thank you so much. Paul




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    1. Hi Paul, hope you don’t mind if I jump in. I think our good doc is up to his ears writing his new annual talk! Anyway, that is super disturbing to hear that these symptoms appear to be a side effect of a new medication :( Can you get a second opinion for your mom, perhaps with an Electrophysiologist (a special kind of Cardiologist who has expertise in palpitations and various treatments?) And YES, you are right on track that it might be helpful for your mom to increase her plant intake and decrease her fish intake. Diet can improve palpitations and irregular heart rhythms in general. Here’s one of my favorite Dr. G. pieces about diet and atrial fibrillation Hope this helps your mom!




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  5. It appears the primary researched nutritional approach to supporting existing epilepsy sufferers is ketogenic diet. Clearly this would be healthier via a plant based diet but is it as effective or achievable at minimising fits?




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  6. Hi Dr.Greger!

    I really appreciate your videos and wanted to first say thank you. I love that they are science based and to the point. How convenient that they also support veganism!!

    I am dealing with generalized epilepsy, having mostly myoclonic jerks. I am right now taking medecines (topamax) and they seem to be not that bad compared to others (LOL). But I really really don’t want to rely on them long term because of the side effects and they also affect my energy levels a lot. I am pretty sure I don’t have tapeworms because I’ve had an MRI.

    I would really appreciate if you could help me with this, to be honest I’m not so sure where to look next, my doctor does not recommend me the ketogenic diet. I am looking into CBD oil but not sure yet. Is there anything I am missing to heal or at least control my epilepsy (through diet, lifestyle change)? I would be so thankful for any tips, videos and alternatives to conventional medicine regarding epilepsy.




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    1. I had an epileptic fit for the first time 5 years ago in the middle of supermarket on my birthday of all days, wasn’t fun for my kids to see it, it still haunts, I’ve tried many anticonvulsants and had never been able to stop the seizures. Surgery was not an option. I was still an epileptic patient, who have completely lose hope. As the problem is always embarrassing and disturbing. While surfing the internet one fateful day, I learned about Doctor on the internet called Lawson. I contacted him with some info and I ordered for the Herbal medication and used the medication for 6 months, though hesitantly, considering the fact that I have done a lot of procedure. After which I went for medical test It worked! I’ve been seizure free Over a year now, I have not show any symptoms of seizure and I believe I am cure




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  7. My father has post brain hemhrorage epilepsy. he has seizures every 3-4 months or so which have made him very weak as she is 70 years old. are there certain diets, herbs which can be used in conjunction with epilepsy medications which can help him?




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