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The Silent Thief

Epilepsy, the Absent Seizure Epilepsy is a widespread disease that affects around 60 million people throughout the earth (Barone et al., 2020). There are, in fact, differing types of epilepsy. One of the types highlighted in this blog is Absence seizures (AS). Absence seizures are often referred to as petit mal seizures, which is a type of generalized epilepsy that primarily affects children. These types of seizures are characterized by a sudden and brief loss of awareness, typically lasting for a few seconds. During an absence seizure, a child may appear to stare blankly, have rapid eye blinking, and slight facial movements. They often remain in the same position and are unaware of their surroundings during the seizure. Absence seizures are more common in children than adults and often start between 4 and 12 (Albuja & Khan, 2022). They tend to occur frequently and can be mistaken for daydreaming or inattentiveness. Absence seizures have been known as “pyknolepsy,” a Greek term pyknos, which means “very frequent.” (Albuja & Khan, 2022). These seizures can become a silent thief and steal a person's time and awareness. They can also occur often throughout the day when untreated. Absence seizures is a type of epilepsy that is diagnosed by a professional and a specific type of seizure disorder. However, AS is no longer necessarily called “petit mal” (Albuja & Khan, 2022). It is important to note that AS is a type of epilepsy, and while they are generally considered benign, they can still disrupt a child’s daily life activities, such as learning in school. Most children with AS can lead everyday lives with the proper treatment, which often involves antiepileptic medications prescribed by a healthcare professional. Monitoring and managing these seizures is crucial to ensure the child’s well-being and prevent potential complications. If you suspect a child is experiencing AS it is important to consult a healthcare provider for a proper evaluation and diagnosis. Functional Medicine Functional medicine (FM) is an approach to healthcare that addresses the root cause of a medical condition and treats the person rather than just the symptoms accompanying the disease. FM focuses on understanding the interaction between genetics, environmental, and lifestyle factors in a person’s health. FM practitioners often use a holistic approach incorporating nutrition, lifestyle, and personalized interventions. FM also works on the current medical treatments a person uses for their health. When it comes to epilepsy, FM can play a role in complementing traditional medical treatments. Functional foods and bioactive nutrients can be considered part of adjunctive therapy or an essential strategy for treating epilepsy, depending on the etiological nature (Kim & Cho, 2019). Further, according to Kim & Cho (2019), oxidative stress, or free radicals, may play a role in some forms of epilepsy. Focusing on gut health is an essential aspect of functional medicine for managing epilepsy. Diet and Nutrition: FM explores a person’s daily nutrition, supplements, and medications. Some diets are geared toward supporting a person with epilepsy, such as a ketogenic diet. Applying Functional Medicine to Epilepsy 1. Identifying Triggers: An FM practitioner will discuss a person's daily life and compare potential triggers with epileptic events. In identifying triggers, the aim is to reduce the number of episodes a person suffers. Some of these triggers may be due to environmental aspects, foods, allergies, etc. 2. Stress management: Stress is known to exacerbate seizures in some people. FM practitioners can work with individuals to develop stress-reduction strategies, including mindfulness, medications, and other restorative practices. 3. Lifestyle Modifications: FM considers a person’s overall lifestyle, including sleep patterns, exercise, work, exposure, and environmental toxins. Focusing on these aspects of life can contribute to a better understanding and seizure control, with overall well-being. 4. Personalized Treatment Plans: FM emphasizes patient-centered care and patient-centered treatment plans. Practitioners will often take into consideration an individual’s unique medical history, needs, genetics, and lifestyle when developing a treatment plan for managing epilepsy. When considering functional medicine for epilepsy, it is important to note that FM should be used along with the current medical treatment an individual is using. Epilepsy is a complex neurological disorder that requires management by a trained specialist, such as a neurologist or epileptologist. An epileptologist is a neurologist who specializes in and focuses on epilepsy (Epilepsy Foundation, 2013). A collaborative care team between neurologists and functional medicine practitioners can provide a well-rounded approach to epilepsy management. Kiara Poloney LMT, FNP-C References Albuja AC, Khan GQ. Absence Seizure. [Updated 2022 Oct 10]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: Barone, van Putten, & Visser. (2020, August 27). Absence epilepsy: Characteristics, pathophysiology, attention ... Epilepsy & Behavior. Epilepsy Foundation. (2013, January). What is an epileptologist and who needs one? Kim, J. E., & Cho, K. O. (2019). Functional Nutrients for Epilepsy. Nutrients, 11(6), 1309.

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