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Epilepsy and Gluten Free Diets

By Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Founder of The Paleo Diet
November 13, 2012
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Dear Dr. Cordain,

I’m the father of three children of the age 6, 9 and 11 years. My 11 year old son has been diagnosed with Rolandic epilepsy. He has had 3 attack of seizures for the last 4 years, but since these happens at night, and only last for 1-2 minutes it’s not really a problem, and he’s expected to grow out of it.

A major issue, that might be connected to epilepsy, is his poor ability to concentrate, first of all in school. He is now in the national center for epilepsy here in Norway for further diagnoses, and these might conclude that he could benefit from medication. He is a very active and energetic boy, with an extreme “sweet tooth”, and it’s obvious to me that sucker/carbo rich food is like 'speed' to him.

I do believe that our diet has a lot to say when it comes to different illnesses. I believe to have “cured” myself from a reactive arthritis by following The Paleo Diet®. My daughter (9)suffered from acid reflux, but since we eliminated grains from her diet the symptoms disappeared.
Is there any evidence that diet can have a positive effect on problems like my sons? The Norwegian health system seems to have a very conservative approach to nutrition, and being divorced I can only affect 50% of the kids diet, so I would like some evidence that this diet approach might be a solution.



Dr. Cordain's Response:

Dear Thomas,

First, you have my sympathy for your son's illness. I believe that a Paleo Diet may have a therapeutic effect upon your son's condition. As you know, a Paleo diet is also a gluten free diet, and there is substantial evidence to show a strong link between celiac disease and epilepsy. Additionally, a MEDLINE search ( //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?db=pubmed) of the terms "epilepsy and gluten" shows a number of case studies in which epilepsy symptoms improved on gluten free diets. There are no risks to your son by adopting a Paleo Diet and many potential benefits. I wish you the best of luck.


Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus

Thomas' Response:

Dear Loren,

Thank you for answering, I will discuss this with the doctors, and of course my ex-wife.

I wrote you that I cured myself from reactive arthritis, and that was in a way a funny story.
It took my doctors 5 months to finally diagnose me, and their suggestion was a loooong treatment with some cortisone. I never did that, but instead I started reading about diet and arthritis. There was a lot of information, and it can be difficult to filter, but I boiled it all down to omega 3/6 and acid/alkaline. My simple approach was to consume fish, veggies, fruit and water + 2 daily spoons of fish oil. After one week I stopped eating painkillers and after 2 weeks I had no more pain. I started swimming and slowly training my legs. In the beginning I could only swim with my arms, as my right leg had lost all power. Sitting on a table I was not able to stretch my right leg. This was in January.

I talked to a friend who I served 9 years in a reconnaissance squadron with, and he told me “Hey, you are just following the Paleo diet”… After that I read your books, and added meat to the diet.

At Easter I did my first run, about 2 km. In July I did 15 km in 1 hr. 10 minutes. My swimming time are now very close to when I left the army 12 years ago, and my weight is the same as then.

At the same time I had the arthritis my heart arrhythmia (That I have had since age 32) developed to what the doctors called AV Block II. After a few weeks with the Paleo diet I felt a change, and when I was in hospital the doctor thought there was something wrong with the EKG machine… AV block was gone. I have not had any incidents of arrhythmia since then, and usually I had them 2-4 times a year.

I told the doctor of the diet change, and his comment was that there was no evidence that this was the reason…

All the best and thanks for the great science you are performing!


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