Pilot trial of the ketogenic diet for bipolar disorder
The first European pilot trial of a ketogenic diet as a treatment for bipolar disorder.
Ketogenic diet, brain chemistry and epilepsy
For some time now bipolar disorder and epilepsy have been treated by many of the same anti-convulsant medications. Some researchers have considered the possibility that there may be shared mechanisms underlying these conditions.
The ketogenic diet intervention for epilepsy has been gaining interest in relation to neurological and psychiatric conditions. Nearly a century of clinical use of the ketogenic diet has proven it to be effective in preventing seizures. A 2018 meta-analysis shows that on a ketogenic diet 13% of adults achieve seizure freedom and 53% achieve seizure reduction by 50% or more.
A ketogenic diet causes significant changes in brain metabolism and neurochemistry. Neurons typically derive their energy from 'burning' glucose as a primary fuel source. In contrast, when on a ketogenic diet, the brain uses a fat-derived fuel called ketones.
Ketogenic diet and bipolar disorder
There is increasing evidence for a metabolic aspect to bipolar disorder (BD). There is a high prevalence of insulin resistance, altered glucose metabolism and mitochondrial dysfunction in people with bipolar disorder. The ketogenic diet has been demonstrated to reduce insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes and to act as alternative fuel source for mitochondria which have become inefficient at processing glucose. Emerging evidence from case studies indicates beneficial effects of a ketogenic diet for multiple neurological and psychiatric conditions including mood stabilising effects in bipolar disorder.
About the trial
We are conducting the first European pilot trial of a ketogenic diet for bipolar disorder. We aim to understand whether a ketogenic diet may be a helpful adjunct therapy to medication for patients.
We will also investigate mechanisms through which the ketogenic diet may act, to understand more about the metabolic aspects of bipolar disorder.
The study is being led by Principal Investigators Professor Harry Campbell (Centre for Population Health Sciences), Professor Daniel Smith and Dr Iain Campbell.
It is funded by The Bazucki Brain Trust established by Jan Ellison Baszucki and David Baszucki, founder and CEO of Roblox Corporation.
Those living with bipolar disorder have historically made outsized contributions to science, academia, government and the arts, yet bipolar research has been tragically underfunded. Our dream is that by spotlighting and accelerating the work of the most promising researchers in the field, we can bring hope to patients and families who will benefit from transformative new treatments.
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