Fred Vogelstein, parent of a child with epilepsy that’s been unable to be effectively controlled pharmaceutically, describes his family’s positive experience with a ketogenic diet as a treatment regime: a diet that involves a whole lot of fat in a restricted calorie regime that requires measuring food in fractions of grams. The whole story behind this increasingly accepted but horrendously complicated to manage treatment is a fascinating read.
A ketogenic diet is definitely not a treatment for every epileptic, because for those whose seizures can be controlled pharmaceutically without major side effects, that’s still so much easier to manage. But especially for young children suffering dozens or hundreds of seizures daily, this regimen can make an absolutely huge difference to how they get through every day until they might (as
nearly all many but not all will do) naturally progress beyond the intense seizure stage.
In particular, what jumps out is that a treatment initially dismissed as quackery was quickly viewed as a serious therapeutic option once a research team could display unequivocal data demonstrating that the diet was indeed effective in preventing seizures. Now the scientists are looking into it further to find out the exact physiological mechanism whereby ketoacidosis inhibits seizures, and are hoping to eventually find a simpler method of stimulating that mechanism. This is exciting stuff.
See, that’s all it takes for a genuinely revolutionary iconoclastic idea to be accepted by the scientific establishment: evidence. If it really works, then it can be shown to work in a trial that adheres to the scientific method. Of course, convincing scientists and medical specialists is one thing. “Ordinary people” are still going to think it’s weird and probably wrong, because they nearly always do, because they lack the specific education in the area to properly evaluate it, so they default to “that can’t be right”. See: any global warming debate on a blog near you.