Epilepsy refers to a condition in which fits or attacks of unconsciousness occur, with or without convulsions. Known as ‘falling sickness’, 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.
Causes and Symptoms
There are two main types of epilepsy known as petit mal and grand mal. In petit mal, an attack starts and stops within a few seconds. The patient has a momentary loss of consciousness, with no convulsions except sometimes a slight rigidity. The attack in the case of grand mal comes with a dramatic effect. There are violent contractions of the arms, legs, and the rest of the body, accompanied by a sudden loss of consciousness. In a typical attack, the patient cries out; falls to the ground; loses consciousness; and develops convulsions, with 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 main cause of petit mal is a strained nervous condition. Grand mal results from hereditary influences, serious shock or injury to the brain or nervous system, and diseases like meningitis and typhoid. Other causes of epilepsy include allergic reaction to certain food substances, circulatory disorders, chronic alcoholism, lead poisoning, use of cocaine and other such habits, mental conflict, and deficient mineral assimilation.
Grape Juice: Fruits like apples, figs, and grapes have proved beneficial in the treatment of epilepsy. The juice of grapes has, however, been found to be comparatively more effective for this disease. The patient should take about 500 ml of the juice of fresh grapes thrice a day for three months. It will provide immense relief and help in the cure of the disease.
Vegetable Juices: Certain vegetable juices, especially carrot juice, in combination with juices of beets and cucumber, have also been found valuable in epilepsy. The formula proportions considered helpful in this combination are 300 ml of carrot juice and 100 ml each of beet and cucumber juices to prepare 500 ml or half a litre of mixed juice to be taken daily.
Vitamin B0: Vitamin Bfi or pyridoxine is considered useful in epilepsy. This vitamin is involved in critical functions of the nervous system. The valuable vegetable sources of this vitamin are rice, milk, brewer’s yeast, cereals, legumes, green leafy vegetables, carrots, and peanuts. If taken in supplement form, vitamin should be taken in therapeutic dose of 100—150 mg daily, along with other B complex vitamins.
Brahmi Booti: The herb brahmi booti, botanically known as Herpesties monniera has been found valuable in epilepsy. A teaspoon of the juice of this plant, sweetened with a teaspoon of honey, should be given to the patient thrice daily.
Indian Spikenard: The herb is also considered useful in epilepsy. It soothes the nervous system and induces tranquillity of the mind. It should be given in very small doses of one gram or so, once daily.
Valerian: The herb valerian has acquired a great reputation in recent years as a cure for epilepsy. It has been used traditionally in functional disturbances of the nervous system. The drug exercises depressant action on the central nervous system. An infusion, prepared by infusing thirty grams of the herb in half a litre of boiling water, should be taken in equal parts thrice daily.
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, pineapples, and melons. Thereafter, he may gradually adopt a well-balanced diet consisting of seeds, nuts, grains, vegetables, and fruits, with emphasis on sprouted seeds such as alfalfa seeds and moong beans, raw vegetables, and fruits. The diet should include a moderate amount of unboiled milk, preferably goat’s milk, and milk products such as raw butter and home-made cottage cheese. The diet should completely eliminate all animal proteins except milk. The patient should avoid all refined foods, fried and greasy foods, sugar and products made with it, strong tea, coffee, alcoholic beverages, condiments, and pickles. He should avoid overeating and take frequent small meals rather than a few large ones.
Epileptics should strictly adhere to a routine with fixed timings for meals and rest. They should remain mentally active but avoid all severe mental and physical stress. Above all, they should avoid excitement of all kinds.