Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Brian Cohen


epilepsy treatment, ketogenic diet, neurology


Although epilepsy has been a well-documented neurological disorder for thousands of years, a third of individuals with epilepsy today still have seizures that are not well managed. After the addition of benzodiazepines to other anticonvulsants in the 1950s, doctors have largely focused on treating epilepsy with medications. But, an older treatment has been recently reintroduced into the medical community to help remediate seizure activity. Interestingly, a high fat and low carbohydrate diet regimen called the ketogenic diet has proven to be helpful to some people with refractory epilepsy, that is, epilepsy that does not respond well to medications. In a number of cases, individuals with epilepsy who have failed over three attempts to control their seizures with medication become completely seizure-free after maintaining ketosis.

While the exact mechanism of the ketogenic diet treatment is unknown, many have their speculations. The diet is directly related to the diversity and quantity of gut microbiota, and is indirectly related to other biochemical structures and processes like mitochondrial efficacy and neurotransmission. The mechanism of action for the ketogenic diet in the treatment of epilepsy is likely a combination of interconnected biochemical mechanisms.

Although the ketogenic diet poses significant side effects for a small fraction of patients, the clinical benefits largely outweigh the drawbacks for most. The ketogenic diet and other dietary variants are increasingly used in the remediation of epilepsy and other neurological disorders.