Epilepsy Talk

32% of Epilepsy Cases are Secretly Caused by This… | February 16, 2021

Touch your neck, right above your collarbone, and you’ll find a little gland called your thyroid.  It only weighs an ounce, yet this thyroid’s hormones control your metabolism.

When those hormones are balanced, everything is fine.

But if your thyroid makes just a little less or more than you need…it could cause havoc, both with how you function and the effectiveness of your AEDs.

The team found that about 32% of epilepsy patients who were taking anti-epileptic drugs (both in mono or polytherapy) had thyroid hormone abnormalities.

Here’s the low-down on what’s what…

Hypothyroidism – or an underactive thyroid – is the real baddy.  It can result in fatigue, weight gain, constipation, fuzzy thinking, low blood pressure, fluid retention, depression, body pain, slow reflexes, and much more.

On the other hand, hyperthyroidism – an overactive thyroid — can result in a rapid metabolism and symptoms like: anxiety, insomnia, rapid weight loss, diarrhea, high heart rate, high blood pressure, eye sensitivity/bulging eyes, vision disturbances, and many other concerns.

Although any kind of hormone irregularity is cause for concern, endocrinologists, generally consider hypothyroidism the worse of the two.

When recent research compared anti-epileptic drugs, they found that the following drugs encouraged hypothyroidism.  (The no-no.)

These drugs were:

Depakote — Valproate (61.5% greater incidence of hypothyroidism)

Tegretol — Carbamaepine (47.9% greater incidence of hypothyroidism)

Dilantin — Phenytoin (17% greater incidence of hypothyroidism)

Although both thyroid irregularities can be successfully treated, you have to know they exist, in order to alter the situation.

If you have hypothyroidism, researchers suggest large doses of selenium — a common over-the-counter supplement — to bring your thyroid levels back up.

Hyperthyroidism is relatively rare and can be treated successfully with anti-thyroid drugs, prescribed by your doctor.

However, the bottom line is that thyroid illness is more common than you think.

That’s why we need to be pro-active about thyroid testing.

When you go to your internist, insist on running a full thyroid panel of T4, T3 and TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone).

Most docs will only test your TSH and tell you everything is ducky if you don’t spell out the full panel requested.

(Believe me, I speak from experience.)

Also, please take the initiative to ask for your results and check them against the norms, before you decide to take any action.

If you think you do have hypothyroidism, it’s as easy as taking selenium or a thyroid supplement.

And if your testing shows you to have hyperthyroidism, it’s just a matter of taking an anti-thyroid medication.  And in a little time, it will probably “fix” itself.

But make sure of your results first!

Your thyroid might be the last thing on your mind. But please, if you’re on any kind of AED, ask your doctor to run a full thyroid test panel once a year.

It could make a world of difference in how you feel.

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  1. So, what are signs that your thyroid is ‘causing’ your epilepsy? And is it general knowledge that taking medication or supplements for thyroid ‘fixes’ the epilepsy? I have never heard this. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by LISA — February 16, 2021 @ 10:32 AM

    • Thyroid hormones play essential roles in the brain physiological processes…
      Epilepsy is accompanied with mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress…
      Mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress are linked with thyroid dysfunction…
      Inhibitory/excitatory imbalance is common between epilepsy and thyroid dysfunction…
      Several genes are influenced by thyroid hormones and are involved in epilepsy.

      Taking meds will “fix” the thyroid and the underlying imbalance between thyroid dysfunction.

      NOTE: An annual blood panel is helpful. Because the thyroid is so ignored and affects 32% of those taking anti-epilepsy drugs. So it’s just one more thing to ensure your meds are working properly.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — February 16, 2021 @ 10:54 AM

  2. Reblogged this on Disablities & Mental Health Issues.


    Comment by Kenneth — February 16, 2021 @ 11:36 AM

  3. This is interesting! I was party to an online conversation yesterday (continuing today) about plant-based thyroid meds put together by a compounding pharmacy. My thyroid is out of whack, conventional meds don’t work (seaweed helps, though), and my doctor keeps ordering the wrong test.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by HoDo — February 16, 2021 @ 12:00 PM

  4. Natural thyroid solutions have emerged in the past. Like a tablet made from animal thyroid glands (usually a pig’s) to treat hypothyroidism. But they’re not exactly revolutionary. (One brand is Armour Thyroid.)

    As for your doctor: Isn’t he bright enough to order a full thyroid panel of T4, T3 and TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone).

    Most docs will only test your TSH and tell you everything is ducky if you don’t spell out the full panel requested.

    Insist upon it. I do.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — February 16, 2021 @ 12:19 PM

  5. What about Hashimotos? I have it and it can give you hypothyroidism symptoms even though the thyroid panel looks fine. Doctors never check for the antibodies until it’s too late and you’ve developed true hypothyroidism from the damage.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by Hetty Eliot — February 16, 2021 @ 2:41 PM

    • I guess what I’m asking is, do you think doctors should check for the antibodies on top of the rest of the bloodwork because of the potential progressive nature if the disease?

      Liked by 2 people

      Comment by Hetty Eliot — February 16, 2021 @ 2:42 PM

  6. I did have hypothyroidism and Hashimotos was suspected. And yes, it was confirmed by additional antibody tests. (I had an ace endocrinologist from NIH.)

    But the antibody tests came after the regular bloodwork and the suspicion.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — February 16, 2021 @ 2:50 PM

    • That endocrinologist must truly have been ace if they suspected it! I’ve read SO many stories by women and they’re all the same–suffered for years and years of these symptoms with normal blood results (and then often prescribed antidepressant but that’s a whole ‘nother story), until finally a doctor listens and orders the simple test for antibodies.

      Liked by 2 people

      Comment by Hetty Eliot — February 16, 2021 @ 4:17 PM

      • She came from research at the NIH and after a short time in private practice, she went back to research. She was wonderful with people (at least me) so it wasn’t a personality thing. Maybe she just needed more of a challenge.

        Liked by 2 people

        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — February 16, 2021 @ 4:50 PM

  7. Phyllis, you said, “Epilepsy is accompanied with mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress.” I would take it one step further to say epilepsy (at least the “idiopathic” cases) is CAUSED by mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress.
    This is why keto and carnivore diets work so well. Ketones and glucose can both be burned by the mitochondria for fuel but ketones burn much more cleanly. Burning glucose produces a lot of free radicals i.e. oxidative stress. Glucose burning is like trying to run your car on cheap gas that you bought in Tijuana. It will run but it will produce a lot of smoke and eventually damage the engine.

    Liked by 3 people

    Comment by paleobird — February 16, 2021 @ 3:14 PM

  8. Great point and terrific explanation. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — February 16, 2021 @ 3:25 PM

  9. I am not 100% sure of this, but doesn’t the mineral IODINE help with both thyroid & glucose levels in the BBB/ Blood Brain Barrier, which can effect brain chemistry balances & seizure activity ? I do know diabetics can be helped with IODINE & diabetics can have seizures with their condition. Look how all the food industries where IODINE USE TO BE in the foods we ate 50 years ago, and today everything now has been treated with RADIATIONS & killing all IODINE levels in foods like beef / red meats, & fish / salmon & most sea foods. We have no real foods where we get in the foods, what was in the foods decades ago, and they sure are not safer foods or drinks we consume & digest today, as the BBB is a BIG TARGET to keep unstable in every persons life. It’s called FOLLOW THE MONEY

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by James D — February 16, 2021 @ 4:21 PM

  10. Crucifers like cabbage and broccoli can interfere with thyroid functioning. Best to eat slaw only every other day.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by HoDo — February 16, 2021 @ 6:46 PM

    • Better yet, don’t eat it at all ever.

      Liked by 2 people

      Comment by paleobird — February 16, 2021 @ 9:55 PM

      • My cholesterol is very high, my risk of stroke and colon cancer likewise. My reactions to meds have never been optimal. Crucifers lower the risk. I try to do what works, rather than go with ideologies.

        Liked by 2 people

        Comment by HoDo — February 17, 2021 @ 1:37 AM

  11. I have a galloping history of colitis and was hospitalized. In the process, I was encouraged to eat broccoli, cabbage, etc. although at first it was very hard on my stomach. But in time it definitely helped stabilize my system. And I try to incorporate it into my diet.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — February 16, 2021 @ 6:51 PM

  12. Cruciferous veggies don’t lower the risk of anything. Fiber is totally unnecessary for a healthy digestive system. Please do some more research into this subject. We have all been fed a load of malarky on fiber and veggies in general for multiple decades.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by paleobird — February 17, 2021 @ 2:10 PM

  13. Well, I know that I sure bought into it.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — February 17, 2021 @ 3:26 PM

  14. Hmmmmm that kind of makes me think “maybe I better just go back to the good old days and eat what I was taught to eat by my grandma and great grandparents.😘🙏🏼🦬🦅😇❤️🙏🏼😘

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — March 7, 2021 @ 11:34 AM

  15. Hi. I have a convulsion disorder not epilepsy (no AED) and iodine levels are always low. TSH is 12/high and there’s multinodule goiter in the mix. Taking more than a trace amount of iodine triggers convulsive episodes. Iron and ferritin are low-normal.

    I found this blog while searching for answers knowing that there are vagus nerve triggers to the episodes. Separating out sympathetic vs parasympathetic fibers in addition to the role of other cranial nerves has been helpful. But three bad episodes today can’t be explained by numerous other medical issues I have dealt with including autonomic dysfunction. Addressing cervical issues has been a battle; get some relief then an episode traumatizes my neck again (and my resolve).

    How does one increase iodine without triggering episodes? Thanks so much, Julie

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by justjuliewrites — May 31, 2021 @ 4:09 AM

  16. Justjuliewrites, Please see HoDo’s link above.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 31, 2021 @ 10:03 AM

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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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