Epilepsy refers to a chronic condition in which repeated fits or attacks of unconsciousness occur with or without confusion. It is a serious disorder of the central nervous system. It occurs in both children and adults. Most attacks, however, occur in childhood and in early adult life. Attack rates show a progressive decline in frequency with age.
Epilepsy is a very ancient disease that afflicted some of the world’s greatest personalities, including Napoleon, Alexander, and Julius Caesar. The actual word ” epilepsy” comes from the Greek word which means ” to seize upon”. The ancient people believed that evil spirits entered the body of the person afflicted, seized upon his soul, and threw his body into convulsions. The Greeks believed that the gods induced this disease. The early Christians blamed the devil for convulsions.
One of the main problems that a person with epilepsy has to face is continual uncertainty about whether or not he or she will have an attack on any particular occasion. Patients may find themselves increasingly inhibited from engaging in social events because of the understandable fear that they might embarrass themselves by having another attack. Such people also encounter difficulties in employment and other relationships.
Symptoms of Epilepsy
Epilepsy is recognized by recurrent sudden attacks at irregular intervals. The patients twitch convulsively and fall unconscious to the ground during these attacks which cause tremendous nervous upheaval. There are two main types of epilepsy known as petit mal and grand mal.
Each follows its own specific pattern.
Petit Mal Epilepsy
In petit mal, which is a less serious form of epilepsy, an attack comes and goes within a few seconds. The patient has a momentary loss of consciousness, with no convulsions except sometimes a slight rigidity, or there may be a slight attack of convulsions such as a jerk, or movement of the eyes, head trunk, or extremities, with no perceptible loss of consciousness.
The patient may not fall. He may suddenly stop what he is doing and then resume it when the attack is over, without even being aware of what has happened. Petit mal attacks may occur at any time in life but are most frequent in children.
Grand Mal Epilepsy
The attack in the case of grand mal comes with a dramatic effect. There are violent contractions of the arms, legs, and body, accompanied by a sudden loss of consciousness. Before the onset of an attack, some patients have a warning or aura in the form of strange sensations such as a current of air or a stream of water flowing over a body, noises, odors, and flashes of light.
In a typical attack, the patient cries out, falls to the ground loses consciousness, and develops convulsions. With the convulsions may come foaming at the mouth, twitching of the muscles, biting of the tongue, distorted fixation of limbs, rotation of the head, and deviation of the eyes.
The patient may lose control of his urine and feces. The attack may last several minutes and is usually followed by a deep sleep. On waking up, he may remember nothing of what happened to him.
People who suffer from epilepsy are not abnormal in any other way. They usually know that fits can be triggered off by particular stimuli. Between epileptic attacks, their brain functions normally.
Causes of Epilepsy
Epilepsy denotes electrical malfunctioning within the brain due to damage of brain cells or some inherited abnormality. There are many causes of epilepsy. Digestive disturbances, intestinal toxemia, and a strained nervous condition are very often the main cause of petit mal.
Grand mal usually results from hereditary influences, serious shock, or injury to the brain or nervous system. Meningitis, typhoid, and other diseases attendant with prolonged high temperature can also lead to grand mal.
Epilepsy may be caused by several other factors. It may result from allergic reactions to certain food substances, especially some particular forms of protein which is the main constituent of meat. Circulatory disorders such as the hardening of arteries leading to the brain may also cause epileptic seizures. This type is rare and occurs only in very aged people.
Chronic alcoholism, lead poisoning, cocaine, and other such habits can also lead to this disease. Other causes of epileptic seizure include mental conflict, deficient mineral assimilation, particularly of magnesium and calcium, and wrong vitamin metabolism. According to some researchers, hypoglycemia or low blood sugar is also involved in most cases of epilepsy.
Natural Treatment of Epilepsy
In the natural form of treatment, the sufferer of epilepsy has to follow a rigorous regimen consisting of a strict diet, complete relaxation, and optimum exercise in the open air. He must adhere to a simple and correct natural life. He must assume a cheerful, optimistic attitude, and refrain from mental and physical overwork and worry.
The most important aspect of the treatment is the diet. To begin with, the patient should be placed on an exclusive fruit diet for the first few days. During this period he should have three meals a day of fresh juicy fruits such as oranges, apples, grapes, grapefruit, peaches, pears, pineapple, and melon.
Thereafter, he may gradually adopt a well-balanced diet of three basic food groups;
- seeds, nuts, and grains,
- vegetables and
- fruits with emphasis on sprouted seeds such as alfalfa seeds and mung beans, raw vegetables, and fruits.
The diet should include a moderate amount of raw milk preferably goat’s milk and milk products such as raw butter and homemade cottage cheese.
The diet should eliminate completely all animal proteins, except milk, as they not only lack in magnesium but also rob the body of its own magnesium storage as well as of vitamin B6.
Both these substances are needed in large amounts by epileptics. The best food sources of magnesium are raw nuts, seeds, soybeans, and green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, beet-tops, etc. The patient should avoid all refined foods, fried and greasy food, sugar and products made with it, strong tea, coffee, alcoholic beverages, condiments, and pickles.
The patient should avoid overeating and take frequent small meals rather than a few large ones. He should not eat large meals before going to bed.
Mud packs on the abdomen twice daily help remove toxaemic conditions of the intestines and thereby hasten the removal of epileptic conditions. The application of alternate hot and cold compresses to the base of the brain, that is at the back of the head will be beneficial.
The procedure is to dip the feet in a bucket of hot water and apply first a hot towel and then a cold one to the base of the brain. The alternate hot and cold towels should be kept for two or three minutes about four times. The process shall be repeated twice every day. Full Epsom-salt baths, twice a week are also beneficial.
If the sufferer of epilepsy has taken strong drugs for many years, he should not leave off entirely all at once. The dosage may be cut to half, to begin with and then gradually reduced further until it can be left off completely.
An epileptic should strictly observe all the natural laws of good health and build and maintain the highest level of general health. He should remain active mentally but avoid all severe mental and physical stress. And above all, he should avoid excitements of all kinds.