Exploring the Gut-Brain Connection and Photosensitivity

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Keith

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Karen, I've been learning and theorizing about vitamin D deficiency and how vitamin D stimulates innate immunity, balancing flora. People are taking very large doses with apparent safety and success.

All focus on vitamin D deficiency is on sunshine and diet in disregard of microbial production of vitamin D precursors as well as microbial enzymes leading to vitamin D degradation causing deficiency. Not factored is UV effect on flora as if skin magically produces vitamin D in sunlight. Vitamin D raises intracellular calcium which raises innate immunity, stimulating macrophage activity to balance flora; quite a circular effect of vitamin D, a hormonal messenger. Meanwhile, mysterious and alarming rickets is on the rise, especially in the UK where people wrongly believe it's all about sunshine. They've been misled by the medical establishment, itself just beginning to acknowledge crucial importance of flora.

2012, Vitamin D rejuvenates aging eyes by reducing inflammation, clearing amyloid beta and improving visual function.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22217419

2012, Correction of vitamin D deficiency improves seizure control in epilepsy: a pilot study.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?...es seizure control in epilepsy: A pilot study
article about above study: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/05/12/vitamin-d-deficiency-on-epilepsy.aspx

Here's my recent exploration on vitamin D where I'm just now learning about connection to eyes, more about the gut-eye connection:
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152630917405602&l=7f973116e3

Hailed as nature's antibiotic:
http://articles.timesofindia.indiat...unshine-vitamin-immune-response-immune-system
 
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KarenB

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Thanks Keith -- that's quite interesting about Vitamin D reducing seizures. Jon takes 1000 mg a day of Vitamin D in his supplements, and we live in a sunny climate, but he doesn't get the additional D most people get in milk because he doesn't drink it.

Whatever it was that was stimulating Jon's surge of seizures in the Fall, including the new Photosensitive seizures, seems to have abated. He has now gone 6 weeks without a seizure of any kind.

So...I'm tending to think that some sort of intestinal infection (initially viral, I think, because we all got it) let to some sort of chronic bowel inflammation, and probably disruption of gut bacteria. I believe it may have triggered some sort of auto-immune response, because he seemed to develop intolerance to certain foods that he'd eaten before with no problem (eggs, avocado, fish).

What seemed to work to stop the seizures was adding in Zonegran (Diazepam and Keppra useless, so they are gone now), tweaking the diet, adding in MCT oil, fasting of 8 to 24 hours and increasing zinc when having a bowel flare-up, adding in fish oil, magnesium and calcium. It seemed that each of the above worked in some way to reduce to seizures and finally eliminate them. It was a slow process -- going from 3 seizures a day, down to 1 seizure most days, and then we had 24 hours without a seizure, and then 3 days, and then a week between seizures -- we kept trying doing various things until they went away.
 

Keith

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Very moving, Karen. I was cheering inside when you (per doctors, I recall) added zinc at fairly high level. There's important relationship to vitamin D as it's known a zinc molecule is required at the base of the vitamin D receptor for absorption of vitamin D. Zinc deficiency is apparently a very big deal regarding gut imbalances . . . there are many factors including activating antioxidant enzymes to reduce inflammation and the antimicrobial aspect of zinc itself. I've read zinc picolinate is best for systemic bioavailability. Zinc also balances copper somehow, allowing copper to do its job balancing flora. I've read it takes about two months of zinc supplementation to balance copper.
 

Keith

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It's now "Brain Awareness Week" per The Dana Foundation. Are they factoring the gut yet? This new article by ketogenic diet pioneer, Dr. John Freeman, still focuses on fat as mechanism:
http://www.dana.org/news/cerebrum/detail.aspx?id=40734

There's evidence success using the ketogenic diet is misunderstood, not really about addition of fats, but a matter of reduced carbs halting microbial overgrowth in gut and/or brain. It's not necessarily about ketones which are actually lowered over time on the diet. Gut origin of seizure is barely on the map. Moreover, the brain is widely and wrongly considered a sterile environment when it depends on a balance of microbes for health.

In this fasting-KD study, why was fasting better than KD under kainic acid injection (kainic acid activates glutamate receptors)? Are microbes blocking glutamate receptors, better ameliorated by fasting? http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121206203122.htm

Activation of the gut-brain axis by dietary glutamate and physiologic significance in energy homeostasis1, 2009:
http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/90/3/832S.full

2011 paper talks about glutamate receptors in the gut and beyond:
Exciting Times beyond the Brain: Metabotropic Glutamate Receptors in Peripheral and Non-Neural Tissues
http://pharmrev.aspetjournals.org/content/63/1/35.long

Glutamate receptors in eyes linked to epilepsy:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120126223607.htm
http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/759151
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006291X12000320

Glutamate light sensitivity switches in the retina:
http://www.jneurosci.org/content/32/13/4360.full
 
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Keith

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The brain, once considered sterile, is teeming with life. 70% of what was tested in this first-ever study were alpha-proteobacteria. It's time to consider balanced 'brain flora' and all its implications. α-proteobacteria are gram-negative, ...symbiotic, pathogenic, phototrophic (vitamin D biosynthesis) and thought to be evolutionary precursor of mitochondria. This new study did not include testing for fungi or protozoans. http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0054673

How can this be the only press about the study? http://bostonglobe.com/ideas/2013/0...y-your-head/gjohGUkh4tEc62b33gVCYJ/story.html

An exploration including effect on eyes:
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152696031160602&l=63a0c81a25
 

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Keith, I want to take a moment to thank you for your amazing posts and research.....

PLEASE keep it coming, this girl is following u close and greatly appreciates and learns from all the amazing info you share...

A BIG thank you to you Keith.
 

Keith

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Karen, have you ever researched MSM and its application for balancing acidosis? We've talked a lot about acidosis since last September when I revived this thread after it was silent for two years. The more I learn about MSM, the more interesting . . . here's a new general article and interview by Mercola, a respected health educator:
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/03/03/msm-benefits.aspx

One message from the article: "Without sulfur, glutathione cannot work." That's key for detox and reducing inflammation.

MSM is said to have the same toxicity of water, so very safe. There are a couple types on the market where it's said the type made via distillation is best. It's sold under the name OptiMSM by several labels.

So, why is MSM related to acidosis? And why can't the body heal in an acidic condition? Acidosis is a common denominator in all disease, both physical and mental illness. This page states: "Dr. Baroody says in his book that sulfur is an alkaline-binding mineral. Felicia Kliment says that while sulfur may have this attribute, it also flushes acidic wastes from deep within organs and other tissues in the body, and thus has a great benefit in bringing the body back into an overall alkaline pH."
http://webcache.googleusercontent.c...en-US:official&client=firefox-a&hl=en&ct=clnk

Acidosis and high acid in general is confusing to a lot of people. For example, people with acid reflux, another common denominator for all disease both physical and mental, believe they have too much acid in their gut, so they take acid-lowering drugs (proton-pump inhibitors like Prilosec) for years, masking the problem and making it worse by causing small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). To the cure the problem, they need to raise stomach acid, not lower it.

The same appears to be true for brain health, meaning there is an inverse relationship between gut-brain pH and overall body pH. A low acid gut means nutrient malabsorbtion and an acidic body. This study shows how higher acid in the brain inhibits seizure:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2673408/

Articles about low brain pH causing problems:
http://now.uiowa.edu/2012/05/acid-brain
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/245753.php

The article states: "Breathing carbon dioxide, which lowers pH and makes the brain more acidic." Increased carbon dioxide is hallmark in SIBO and acidosis. I recently deducted a reason why people with acidosis are bitten by mosquitoes more often: mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide!

Alkalizing is a major health trend, but the construct of microbial balance has yet to really become part of the mainstream equation.

Regarding MSM and eyes, MSM is known to improve vision and there are even MSM eye drops:
http://www.ehow.com/facts_5526893_effects-msm-eye-drops-retina.html
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20120412111055AAyC0CR (see Earl Mindell answer)
http://msmeyedrops.wordpress.com/2011/02/21/msm-eye-drops/
http://www.hyperhealth.com/demo/msm_methylsulfonylmethane.htm
(said to equalize intraocular pressure (IOP) where pressure may impinge the optic nerve causing optic neuritis associated with diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and perhaps photosensitive seizure as discussed earlier in this thread.)

Another interesting connection is sulfur inhibiting glutamate receptors; perhaps it controls excitation:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9681926
http://maptest.rutgers.edu/drupal/?q=node/367

Glutamate receptors are in the gut and retina, not just brain:
http://pharmrev.aspetjournals.org/content/63/1/35.long

In general, people don't get enough sulfur in their diets, so it seems MSM supplementation makes sense. In the right doses, it's therapeutic in seizure control:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11407955
http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/87/2/186.short

Bone broth is supposed to be a good addition to the diet for sulfur. Apparently, the sulfur is also good for bone health:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17516722
 
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KarenB

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Ha ha! I couldn't remember what MSM was, so when I first typed it in to a google search, I got Men having Sex with Men -- which probably wouldn't do anything to help acidosis.

Will have to look into it more (the supplement -- not the other thing)

What we are doing right now to control acidosis:
1) Drinking 7 cups of water a day
2) 1 of those cups gets 1/8 tsp of baking soda
3) 2 of those cups gets 1/2 packet of Cytra K (Potassium Cytrate and Citric Acid)
4) 4 of those cups gets a squirt of fresh lime juice
5) Now that he is eating better, we are squeezing in as many fresh (organically grown) green veggies as possible -- broccoli, asparagus, zucchini -- these are pretty low in carbs, so he can eat quite a bit. He even gets veggies for breakfast!
6) We limit or have eliminated foods that can promote acidosis (grains and sugar are completely eliminated; meat in very small amounts; dairy in very small amounts; less healthy oils are out)
7) We lowered his ratio of fats to carbs/protein on the Ketogenic diet from 4:1 to 3:1. However, he didn't have complete seizure control with that, so we bumped up to 3.5:1

2 months seizure free and counting!!
 
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Nakamova

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Yay for the 2 months milestone! All that vigilance is paying off.
 

Keith

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Yes, that happened to me, too, Karen re: MSM, a bit discombobulating lol. A couple of links I posted about about MSM and seizure control are innaccurate as the two studies are about a different type of MSM (Methsuximide). The system here doesn't allow me to edit it now. So, my post above is mainly about acidosis.

But there's also the antimicrobial aspect of sulfur including MSM which I'm still researching.

Also, MSM is said to reduce parasites when taken for a while by somehow coating the intestinal tract with a slippery, teflon-like surface so that parasites can no longer hang on, at least that's the claim made on a number of sites; not sure if there's science behind it.
 

Keith

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Still learning about sulfur including MSM and garlic; here's a couple links:
Garlic improves insulin sensitivity:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3168415/

A packed blog by someone who cured their intestinal imbalance with garlic. I've read 9 raw cloves/day is equivalent to prescription antibiotic:
http://syontix.com/why-raw-garlic-may-be-your-guts-best-friend/

The Effects of Sulfur Amino Acid Intake on Immune Function in Humans
http://jn.nutrition.org/content/136/6/1660S.full

Is sulfur deficiency underdiagnosed? Sulfur is such a strong antimicrobial that it would probably be a good idea to use a toxin binder such as clays (French Green or bentonite) and gelatin to help avoid reactions . . . people are also using MSM and garlic for skin problems such as eczema, a problem associated with allergy, autism and epilepsy (gut-brain-skin axis):
http://www.coping-with-epilepsy.com/forums/f23/eczema-epilepsy-3536/
http://old.epilepsyfoundation.org/Forums/messageview.cfm?catid=2&threadid=82650
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3038963/
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1600-0625.2009.01060.x/full
 
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KarenB

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My husband and I eat loads of fresh garlic -- I usually throw in 2 to 4 cloves into each meal (except breakfast - I draw the line there). It is really really good for LOTS of things -- it's one of the super-foods (along with ginger) for reducing inflammation (such as with autoimmune disorders). I didn't know about the insulin sensitivity -- that's really good to know.

I try to work it into Jon's meals as much as possible -- but it is slightly high in carbs, so have to calculate that in for the Ketogenic diet.
 

Keith

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Hi folks, still learning about acidosis and pH imbalances as cause of seizure of gut origin. I was surprised to learn about the use of carbon dioxide to halt seizure, see here:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3152150/

High carbon dioxide in blood is what lowers pH (acidosis). But the brain and gut require high acid. This is one way to explain why carbon dioxide stops seizure, but it's more complex than that, of course . . . and also it seems possible the brain has its own local pH based on its own microbial balance, etc.(carbon dioxide is both produced and absorbed by microbes). This canine study seems to illustrate the local pH of the brain relative to the body, an inverse relationship. A high acid body produced an alkaline brain: http://ajplegacy.physiology.org/content/230/3/804.short

The there's also the CO2 relationship to serotonin where CO2 significantly lowers serotonin:
"34.0% decrease (P < .01) of serotonin levels in men exposed to 4% carbon dioxide" http://oai.dtic.mil/oai/oai?verb=getRecord&metadataPrefix=html&identifier=AD0681501

This is related to the excruciating problem of Infantile Spasm. There are no studies or even funding requests regarding gut origin of seizure in infants. SIDS is most recently blamed on re-breathing carbon dioxide which lowers serotonin, but what if it's really CO2 of microbial origin? http://www.nih.gov/news/health/feb2010/nichd-02.htm

What if the addition of CO2 somehow stimulates serotonin to do its job clearing CO2. Or, it may just be alkalosis which is said to be the cause of febrile seizure: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/750192

Here are three (3) papers I haven't read yet by Adam Ziemann who is a pioneer in this area of brain pH:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2808123/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2553357/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2710967/

So, a low acid gut due to SIBO leads to a high acid body and a low acid brain. This condition seems associated with dangerous hypoglycemic seizure. Reactive hypoglycemia is also misdiagnosed as schizophrenia. Other than intestinal nerve irritation, this may be why a lot of seizure activity takes place after meals. The brain pH imbalance begins in the gut. Or there may be a local brain pH change . . . the question is: who is factoring microbial imbalance as cause of pH imbalance and treating accordingly?

And regarding photosensitive seizure, how does pH imbalance affect eyes?
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16879567
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8125747
http://www.scholars.northwestern.edu/pubDetail.asp?t=pm&id=17745586&n=Theodore+Krupin&u_id=1285
http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/co2.shtml
 
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KarenB

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A "normal" brain for a dog is 7.05 (accdg to study), which is neutral, leaning toward slightly alkaline. Anything below 7 is acidic, above 7 is alkaline. "After 1 h of hypercapnia (arterial pH = 7.07) it fell to 6.93." Hypercapnia is a condition of too much CO2 in the blood. This would mean that the brain became more acid due to higher levels of CO2 in blood, when the arterial PH was slightly more alkaline.

Increasing the Pco2 levels in the dogs would have stimulated respiration (decreased Pco2, such as from hyperventilation, diminishes Pco2 levels, which suppresses respiration -- that's why you're supposed to breathe into a paper bag). Somehow this increase in Pco2 led to the dog's brains recovering from the acidity (probably due to increased and deeper respiration blowing off the excess CO2, and attaining a normal bicarb level of 24 (at least that's normal for humans).

The whole ph thing is strange, especially the way it changes in the body. For instance, sweet desserts are usually alkaline in ph value, but turn acidic in the body. The citric acid in lemons put them at around 2.2 on the ph scale (fairly acidic). However, when ingested, lemon juice changes during the metabolic process, and become alkaline forming.

One way to treat acidosis (which we recently started using with Jon) is to drink lemonade or limeade (sweetened with Stevia however, not sugar, as sugar becomes acidic, while Stevia becomes alkaline -- of course Jon can't consume sugar anyway). Even drinking lots of water acts as a buffer and helps to lower acidity, even though water is neutral. However, the addition of lemon or lime juice makes it more pleasant to drink water, and helps to decrease acidity. Jon is chugging away on cup #1 of his limeade, as I'm typing this.

We did find from personal experience that acidosis (bicarb levels lower than 20) did seem to contribute to more seizures. Since he's been seizure free (last seizure in January), his bicarb levels have been above 20, but during the valley of the shadow, they were as low as 16.
 
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Keith

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Not sure I trust the 1976 dog study or really understand it. But here's another one illustrating the point:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2541632
"These data demonstrate that bicarbonate therapy of systemic acidosis may be associated with "paradoxical" intracellular brain acidosis"
 

Keith

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What I'm finding particularly interesting is the relationship between carbon dioxide and serotonin. It appears seizure is caused by BOTH low and high serotonin. It seems as if high serotonin may be an underdiagnosed problem in epilepsy. And the reason for it may be carbon dioxide deficiency in the brain due to a low acid gut.

CO2 halts seizure and lowers serotonin. There's something called Serotonin Syndrome which can be caused by drugs raising serotonin where a side effect is seizure. Prozac raises serotonin, known to cause seizure and migraine. CO2 relieves migraine. Serotonin is also implicated in gut problems like IBS.

Is this study finding increased serotonin in epilepsy? http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1312732/

I've recently learned about serotonin receptor agonists, triptans which lower serotonin by activating the serotonin receptor relieving migraine. But too much triptan may cause seizure, bringing serotonin too low.
 
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KarenB

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So...in the 2nd study on treatment of acidosis in rats, two therapies were tried -- sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and carbicarb(a mixture of sodium carbonate or soda ash & sodium bicarbonate) . Although both resulted in systemic alkalinization of the body (tested the blood??), the sodium bicarbornate created acidification in the brain, whereas the Carbicarb produced alkaline in both body and brain. Obviously, Carbicarb would be a better treatment for acidosis than sodium bicarbonate by itself.
Here's another article to support Carbicarb as superior treatment for acidosis:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2826046

Interestingly enough, neither sodium bicarbonate nor carbicarb seems to be used much for treatment of acidosis. In the U.S., Jon's doctors prescribed Cytra-K (potassium citrate and citric acid) as a buffer to protect the kidneys and ward off acidosis, and his doctor here also prescribes potassium citrate (and we give the lemonade or limeade at home).

How does brain acidity related to photosensitive seizures? ( "Sunshine and Seizures")? -- this 2012study "detected a localized acidosis in the human visual cortex induced by a flashing checkerboard."
http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/05/01/1205902109

Here's another write up on the same study:
http://now.uiowa.edu/2012/05/acid-brain
"University of Iowa neuroscientist John Wemmie is interested in the effect of acid in the brain (not that kind of acid!). His studies suggest that increased acidity—or low pH—in the brain is linked to panic disorders, anxiety, and depression. But his work also indicates that changes in acidity are important for normal brain activity too."

"brain activity can change local pH in human brains during normal activity, meaning that pH change in conjunction with the pH-sensitive receptors could be part of a signaling system that affects brain activity and cognitive function"
 

KarenB

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With regard to gut acidity -- the stomach, of course, would be highly acidic, but the intestines are not so much. The body releases bicarbonate (via the hormone secretin) into the small intestine to neutralize the stomach acid.

I'm not so sure that the brain requires high acidity. It seems that a ph fluctuation is normal, but that a slightly alkaline ph is preferable.
 

Keith

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That's great clarification, Karen, I'd like to know more about what a "normal" brain's pH should be . . . so, perhaps the real message is that in a state of acidosis, brain pH is too alkaline. The addition of carbon dioxide makes the brain more acid and halts seizure. The underlying mechanism may be via lowering brain serotonin.

It does seem baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) has a lot of fans out there, similar to things like apple cider vinegar in its appeal. I think MSM is great for pH balance, also said to cleanse cells of acidic waste.

Reading the 3 Adam Ziemann papers (links above) will likely shed lots of light . . .

The work of Dr. Robert Young is interesting (pH Miracle) where I believe his basic premise is to view the body as constantly trying to alkalize . . . yet most literature focuses on the need for acid. Of course, they need to be in balance, but I like his construct and alkalizing is a major health trend. He also believes red blood cells are made in the small intestine which is counter to everything we've been told . . . an interesting side note!
 
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KarenB

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I've been looking, but haven't yet found anything on the "normal" ph for the human brain. I suppose one issue is finding a means of testing the brain ph without killing someone (except that now this doc at U of Iowa seems to have found a method).

However, I'm basing my premise that normal brain ph should be neutral, leaning toward alkaline, on that study you posted on the canines. It said a normal ph for a dog brain is 7.05, so assuming human brain ph is similar to dog brain, that would mean somewhere on the plus side of 7 (slightly alkaline). Also, Dr. Wemmie's studies suggest that low brain ph (acidity) is associated with panic disorders, anxiety, and depression (3 symptoms that often are concurrent with seizure disorders).

I don't believe that acidosis in the body normally leads to alkaline brain or that alkaline body leads to acid brain. I think the studies (that I've read so far) indicate that this is more of an anomoly. It seems that the brain can create its own acidity as a reaction to photosensitive stress (i.e. checkerboard strobelight) -- this is the same sort of stress that can trigger seizures in some individuals. So...is the acidic reaction the cause of the seizures, or the body's attempt to ward off a seizure??

I still need to read through the rest of those articles you posted and think about them.

With regard to baking soda -- I remember Jon's nutritionist not liking it too much. I know that it can be a problem with people who have a tendency to high sodium levels, but Jon's sodium levels are usually on the low side of normal, or even too low. I'm still giving him 1/8 tsp a day (just mix it in with the lemonade mixture). The nutritionist at the Charlie Foundation also recommends Morton's Lite Salt, which has potassium chloride, especially after a child has diarrhea, to help replace electrolytes. I have some now, and sprinkle it on Jon's veggies, as his chloride levels tend to run a little low.

On the issue of acidity -- Jon's medicine -- Zonegran -- is the biggest culprit in our fight against acidosis. The other seizure med that causes acidosis is Topomax. And the ketogenic diet can create acidosis as well. I read recently that the action of the Keto diet is somewhat similar to the action of Zonegran. The very interesting thing is that of all the medications Jon has ever been on (9 or so) -- Zonegran and Topomax are the only 2 that controlled his seizures -- that and the Ketogenic diet. So...need to think about that further with regard to the whole issue of ph.
 
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