The ketogenic diet, in particular, has been a well-established treatment for epilepsy for the past century. Yet, even now, physician-scientists are discovering new indications for the ketogenic diet. The Atkins diet was all the rage in the early s. Now, a diet with a low-carbohydrate emphasis similar to that of the Atkins diet has proven beneficial to an unexpected group of people—patients with intractable epilepsy. The ketogenic diet is based on a low-carbohydrate, high-fat and adequate-protein composition. Through this diet, the body is forced to burn fats as fuel instead of carbohydrates. The liver converts fats into fatty acids and ketone bodies, which travel to the brain to be used as an energy resource and through the bloodstream, inducing a state called ketosis. Ketosis has been shown to contribute to a reduction in the frequency of seizures. Since the s, the ketogenic diet has been a mainstay in the treatment of pediatric epilepsy, but Johns Hopkins researchers have found that the diet can also be helpful in treating the rare, super-refractory status epilepticus SRSE. SRSE is a very severe form of epilepsy, characterized by lengthy periods of seizure that necessitate medically induced coma as intervention. There are currently no set practice guidelines for what medications physicians should administer after 24 hours of SRSE.
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