Epilepsy Talk

Epilepsy and Diabetes – Confusion or Common “Cure”? | May 10, 2010

You might be surprised to hear it, but according to recent research, epilepsy and diabetes have more in common than we thought.

The key commonality is fluctuating blood sugar.  People with hyperglycemia tend to have focal or local seizures.  And those who are hypoglycemic, tend to have tonic-clonic seizures…

Although some patients and even some doctors disagree, there’s really not much difference between a diabetic seizure and other forms of seizures, such as those caused by epilepsy. While the symptoms are generally the same — there is one very significant difference — the blood sugar irregularities which can cause a diabetic seizure can also cause the diabetic patient to lapse into a coma.

One dilemma facing both types of seizures are their origin.  If the seizures are caused by blood sugar fluctuations, treatment with anti-seizure drugs which address electrical impulses in the brain are addressing the wrong problems.

Yet we all know that diet plays an important part in controlling epilepsy.

Interestingly enough, initial testing shows that a diabetes drug widely used to help diabetics manage their condition could also become recognized as an effective and secure way of treating epilepsy. According to reports, Metformin  (brand name Glucophage) could be particularly useful in treating those epilepsy patients who are drug resistant.

Glucophage, a popular oral drug for type 2 diabetes, helps lower blood sugar levels by improving the way the body handles insulin.  Much like the Ketogenic Diet which treats epilepsy by minimizing levels of dietary starch and sugar.

A team headed up by Dr. Avtar Roopra found that Glucophage was able to turn on a molecule that regulates energy, and then found that they could suppress over-active nerve cells by inhibiting the transfer of sugar into excess energy.  The goal is to reduce the rate of epilepsy but not enough to affect the brain’s ability to learn and remember.

Further research is continuing, but what has shown as a successful treatment for diabetes could also bring new hope to those with epilepsy.  I’d call that a win-win for the two “kissing cousins!”

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  1. Thank you Phylis for this research. I have both epilepsy and diabetes. I have been in both a coma and had seizures when my diabetes is not under control.

    The control comes first with the diabetes. I have noticed over the years that when my diabetes is under control, my epilepsy is under control with my medicines.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Ruth Brown — May 10, 2010 @ 1:11 AM

  2. That makes sense because if your glucose level is healthy, the lower your chances for a seizure. So eat right and keep seizure free for us!!! 🙂


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 10, 2010 @ 2:08 AM

  3. I remember a friend wondering if her sona had seizures. He was monitored in the EEG monitoring unit and he was fine. A year later he was in the ER having seizures and they monitored both the seizures and his blood level and they correlated. W/ the body swings and the Neurologist that was in charge of the case that this correlates a lot. THank you for your note.

    I have noted when I have to many sweets or to much or to little while working I have simple partials and there is a history of diabetes in the family. My sugar levels always have been normal.

    Thank you for the message!


    Comment by Tonialpha — May 10, 2010 @ 6:27 AM

  4. Hi Tonialphia, Have you been tested for diabetes? It sounds like it might be a good idea. It is a simple blood test.


    Comment by Ruth Brown — May 10, 2010 @ 2:48 PM

    • You are absolutely right!

      I get my blood test every 6 months!


      Comment by Tonialpha — May 10, 2010 @ 10:23 PM

  5. That is wise when it runs in families.


    Comment by Ruth Brown — May 11, 2010 @ 3:44 AM

  6. How to lower blood sugar without medications is the beginning of a new way of living. Most diet programs available today could be adapted to keeping your blood sugar in control. However, you must plan your calorie intake each day to match what your caregiver has prescribed for you whether it is 1200 calories or even 2000 calories depending on your body size, gender and activity level. So to get started let’s discuss implementing your sugar control diet.Meal plan or meal planning is necessary to successfully control blood sugar while becoming healthy from what you eat. The first step is to plan your schedule for Meals. Optimal results are obtained by eating: Breakfast, a mid-morning snack, Lunch, an afternoon snack, Dinner and a “just before bedtime snack”. In other words 6 “meals” each day.:

    Our own web site


    Comment by Thurman Arnst — February 10, 2013 @ 11:31 PM

  7. All very valuable info. Thanks Thurman. (But why the link to scarlet fever???)


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — February 11, 2013 @ 10:32 AM

  8. Give yourself permission to enjoy an occasional dessert if your diabetes is properly managed
    and under control. Sweets, junk food, and sodas are not allowed on the DASH diet.
    Apple cider vinegar has often been touted as a miracle remedy and it could prove true for diabetes.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by american diabetes association website ph physicians — February 26, 2015 @ 2:57 PM

  9. Thanks so much! What kind of desserts would you suggest?


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — February 26, 2015 @ 3:41 PM

  10. I just had my annual physical, and the results from the blood-work that my Primary Care Doctor had me get, turns out I am per-diabetic; Told me to cut back on the sugar and get more exercise. Also i am a little low on vitamin D.


    Comment by crystal cahill — November 1, 2015 @ 9:38 PM

  11. Crystal, watch out for that pre-diabetic diagnosis. I’m there too, and it’s easy to slip into diabetes itself. 😦


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 2, 2015 @ 11:15 AM

    • Yes it is, my Doctor told me watch how much sugar that I put in my morning coffee and tea. I went 5 days without soda already. I have a follow up appointment and more labs in 6 months.


      Comment by crystal cahill — November 2, 2015 @ 2:04 PM

  12. Take a look at this article, you might find it interesting:

    What’s Sweeter than Sugar and Good for You Too?



    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 2, 2015 @ 6:35 PM

  13. So where can I go to get treated properly cause I’ve been told I have tonic clonic seizures but I don’t think I’ve had all the proper tests and I keep having seizures the last one I had I started turning blue


    Comment by peta brien — December 1, 2015 @ 11:16 AM

  14. Peta, below is a compilation by website forum members who have had positive personal experiences with docs over the years.

    This list is based on recommendations and, of course, is purely subjective. But it might be helpful for anyone looking for a good Neurologist…Epileptologist…
    Neurosurgeon…or Pediatric Doctor.

    NOTE: The National Association of Epilepsy Centers (NAEC) provides a directory of specialized epilepsy centers in the U.S. along with other useful information about epilepsy. http://www.naeclocator.org/find.htm

    2015 Comprehensive List of GOOD Neurologists… Epileptologists… Neurosurgeons…and Pediatric Doctors



    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 1, 2015 @ 12:07 PM

  15. I found this article very interesting and possibly helpful. I plan to discuss this with my doctors and go from there.


    Comment by Christy Reader McCarty — July 4, 2016 @ 5:04 PM

  16. Thank you. Glad I could be of help.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — July 4, 2016 @ 9:52 PM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I've also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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