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The content of this article is from the book “The Comprehensive Guide to Glutathione”
by Dr. Jimmy Gutman MD FACEP
SEIZURES ARE A BROAD GROUP of neurological disorders, typified by muscle contractions, twitching and partial or complete loss on the precise location in the brain of chaotic bursts of electrical activity. Seizures range violent, uncontrollable contractions of “loss of contact,” that may seem like no more than daydreaming.
Seizures have been referred to as convulsions, fits and epilepsy, as well as by other names that do not accurately reflect the various disorders. Types of seizures include tonic-clonic (grand mal), absence (petit mal), complex-partial (psychomotor, temporal lobe), focal (Jacksonian), and status epilepticus’ (intractable fits). Not all seizures are epileptic. The most common type of seizure in very young children is called a “febrile seizure,” caused by the rapid onset of fever. Seizures may be caused by stroke, or result from injury, tumors, meningitis, hypoglycemia, alcohol withdrawal or other health complications.
The most common type of epilepsy is specific seizure with recurrent, unprovoked attacks. This affects close to three million Americans–about one in a hundred, half of them children or adolescents. Remarkably the worldwide figures are much higher, with estimates of almost in 25 people being affected. Of these, one-half fortunately grows out of the disorder.
Recurrent seizures usually require medication with such oral anticonvulsants as phenobarbital, valproic acid, phenytom
rufinamide, carbamazepine and others. Patients may need to take these drugs indefinitely. Unfortunately, they are not a cure and can have many side-effects, some severe. Nutritional supplements are used in both Conventional and complimentary medicine. B-vitamins, particularly B6 (pyridoxine), are effective against certain seizures. Magnesium is also useful, especially in seizures related to high blood pressure. Selenium is used in epileptics, since deficiency of this mineral is thought to intensify the frequency and severity of seizures.
Free radical damage in seizures
Seizures are typified by tremendous bioelectrical activity in the affected area of the brain. This generates free radicals in large numbers. Convulsions that provoke loss of consciousness may be accompanied by breathing abnormalities and subsequent oxidative stress. When frequent and/or prolonged, oxidative stress damages brain cells. Many studies show that lipid peroxidation resulting from free radical formation can damage neurological cells. Moreover, the higher the level of oxidative stress in these tissues, the harder it is to treat. At a certain point, patients may react to the medication with further epileptic activity. Canadian researchers at the University of Calgary have suggested that this continual free radical damage may result in certain types of brain tumor.
Glutathione (GSH) levels in seizures
I wrote in earlier editions of this book, “Considerable research has demonstrated that GSH levels fall significantly in seizure conditions. What is less clear is whether this deficiency causes seizures, results from them, or both. Nevertheless, the total body glutathione levels of seizure patients are measurably lower than those of normal individuals, and this GSH deficiency is even more noticeable in the affected areas of the brain.”
Since then, research has shed considerably lighter on the actual roles of GSH in seizure. Studies describe a broad range of seizures sharing similar biochemical abnormalities. These generally include low antioxidant status, elevated free radical salient to this discussion–low glutathione levels. Low levels of glutathione activity are present both in patients taking anti-epileptic medication and those not. Most patients on anti-seizure medication are unable to correct their antioxidant balances. This implies that the low glutathione is not necessarily a result of seizure but rather a cause or condition of it. (Menon 2014, Keskin 2016, others).
Further evidence that low glutathione levels are both a result and a cause of seizures can be found by focusing on the mitochondria–tiny structures within the neurons of each cell that produce the energy it needs. These phenomena are described in fascinating detail in Waldbaum 2010, Rowley
2013, Rowley 2015 (see references).
Swiss scientists led by Mueller studied three groups: patients with active epilepsy, those with controlled epilepsy and non-epieptics. They determined that low glutathione levels more often lead to seizures than result them. Another research supports this theory by showing that seizures are more are experimentally lowered. Whatever the specific mechanism, the overall picture shows that glutathione levels fall steadily as seizures progress. Not only do seizures lower glutathione levels, the drugs used to treat them reduce glutathione levels even further. Japanese researchers Ono, akamoto and Sakura phenytoin–popular anti-seizure medications–diminish glutathione and leave cells. Turkish physiologists found the same of valproic acid, another anti-seizure drug. However, scientists at Harvard University studying childhood seizures found that glutathione levels improved after anticonvulsants were halted and patients were given selenium. Other scientists have made this link to selenium deficiency. Both Seven (2013) and Saad (2014) state that low selenium status is a causative factor in the development of seizures. As discussed in other places in this book, selenium’s major action in our body through its bonding with GSH to form active glutathione peroxidase, one of the most important enzymes in the regulation of oxidant/antioxidant balance.
Glutathione protects from seizures since glutathione directly affects the activity of brain cells, it is called a neuromodulator.
Japanese scientists Abe, Nakanishi and Saito were able to protect animals from drug-induced seizures by injecting glutathione directly into the fluid of their brains and spinal cords, Canadians at Toronto Western Hospital showed that combined vitamin E and glutathione reduced the number of brain cells damaged after seizure activity. In Texas, Jenkinson, Jordan and Duncan were able to protect laboratory animals from seizures and death by injecting them with glutathione, and Italians at the University of Milan successfully prevented seizures caused by isoniazid–a tuberculosis medication by administering glutathione beforehand. Several scientists have used N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) a powerful glutathione precursor to treat seizures.
Swedish researchers led by Ben-Menachem applied it to patients suffering from progressive myoclonicepilepsy-a particularly hard-to-treat disease that gradually destroys the nervous system. Patients on a daily dose of 6 grams showed marked improvements, and an American team from Gainesville Florida used NAC, vitamin E, vitamin B2, zinc and selenium to treat this type of seizure, with similarly positive results. Currently, studies are underway to address low GSH levels in seizures, using the glutathione precursor NAC as a complementary therapy alongside the standard pharmaceutical drugs. Pauletti and his team wrote in the journal “Brain” (2017) that “targeting oxidative stress… significantly improves long-term disease outcomes.
Free radical formation and oxidative stress can be seen as both a cause and a result of seizures, and conditions that diminish glutathione levels, including the use of anti-seizure drugs themselves-may further lower glutathione levels. Since glutathione is also an anticonvulsant, it is useful as a complementary therapy to both treat and prevent seizures, as well as to lessen the adverse effects of conventional drugs.
#seizures #epilepsy #oxidativestress #glutathione #
This is reprint from the book “The Comprehensive Guide To Glutathione”
Dr. Jimmy Gutman MD FACEP
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