Epilepsy Talk

Epilepsy and Diabetes — Confusion or Common Cure? | November 23, 2016

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 (known as 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. Interesting. This may be why the keto diet works for both conditions. I know it helps me raise my seizure threshold enough so that I can take half the medication I used to be on.


    Comment by paleobird — November 23, 2016 @ 6:58 PM

  2. Wel Paleobird, that’s a double plus.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 23, 2016 @ 6:59 PM

  3. They found out that my blood has gotten low. Which
    i had seizures so after talking to a dietations she infomed me I was eating to many Carb has gave me a list of things to eat for hypoglycemic


    Comment by Pauline Polzin — November 24, 2016 @ 9:01 AM

  4. Carbs have lots of hidden sugars which can definitely be your enemy.

    How’s the diet going, Pauline?


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 24, 2016 @ 10:03 AM

    • When going on this way the diet person told me it great. not really a diet. I was eating a lot of oatmeal for breakfast no protein. now each meal I have protien. Plus cut down to small meal six time a day or if big have a snack at night with celery and a little low fat peanut butter. have Greek yogurt on hand.


      Comment by Pauline Polzin — December 12, 2016 @ 10:10 AM

      • She have me a chart on how many carb I shold have per meal.


        Comment by Pauline Polzin — December 12, 2016 @ 10:12 AM

  5. Excellent Pauline! Sounds like you’re on the right track. Something definitely to be proud of. (I bet it takes a lot of discipline…)


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 12, 2016 @ 10:23 AM

  6. My thyroid and my sugar count very in the day and my sz’s are out of control again. The Epileptologist stated taken all medications. I am toxic. I am going to a Endocrinologist, I am out of it by 4:00 in the afternoon! Fine in the morning!


    Comment by red2robi — February 18, 2017 @ 11:20 AM

  7. I went to an endocrinologist and found it made a world of difference.

    (I’m “borderline” diabetic.)


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — February 18, 2017 @ 12:16 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 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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