I just, ABSOLUTELY, love this story that Cavemom's Cooking is going to share with us today. This story brings tears to my eyes because it, perfectly, describes the love a mother has…
…how she won't take the average answer to be the ONLY answer
…how she KNOWS her son…truly, knows him
…how she heals her baby's seizures with proper diet.
Yes, I love this story, and I know you will too!
The end of May marks a special anniversary for us: Our son, Kaiden, has been seizure free for 3 years.
Kaiden has Down Syndrome, and was diagnosed with benign myoclonic seizures (infantile spasms) when he was almost 8 months old.
Doctors told us to expect global delays and low muscle tone in regards to Down Syndrome, but they didn’t talk about dietary needs. After the seizures began, I noted that sweet potatoes and carrots intensified Kaiden’s seizure activity. The neurologist said outright that diet had absolutely nothing to do with the seizures. He also told us because of Down Syndrome, this type of seizure would not affect Kaiden cognitively and that he may outgrow the seizures within a few short years. So, with that knowledge and because of the possible permanent side effects of allopathic anticonvulsant drugs, we chose to go the holistic route, which significantly reduced, but not eliminated his seizures. I still felt very strongly it had to do with food.
A few months into the seizures, I became concerned over Kaiden’s cognitive and motor delays. Everyone said it was Down Syndrome; that I needed to expect these delays. But I just couldn’t accept that. In the midst of the seizure-ridden days, he had lucid moments. Moments where he’d do things, normal baby things. The most memorable one was four months into the seizures. He looked directly at me, said “Mama,” smiled at me, repeated it, and then repeated the performance again the next day.
Most of the dietary research I was able find was actually on autism, rather than Down Syndrome. All I could find about treating Down Syndrome holistically was that individuals were more likely to be gluten and lactose intolerant. Since I knew many autistic individuals also were gluten and lactose intolerant, I began to look into it. Because Kaiden was still on breast milk, he wasn’t yet getting any extra dairy. I chose to remove grain from his diet as well. If he got any lactose and gluten, it was solely through breast milk (I exclusively pumped for him). I knew from very early on (pre-seizures) that through breast milk, fresh green peppers gave Kaiden a rash and painful gas, so I had stopped eating them long before.
By his first birthday, Kaiden was pretty well on table foods. I thought that his seizure activity was spiking after eating foods like spaghetti and tacos, but wasn't sure as the activity didn't seem much worse than average. As far as the carrots and sweet potatoes went, it's not like I gave them to him once and noted activity. I tried on 3 separate occasions with the same, repeated result. A day and a half later each time, his seizure activity spiked. I was already keeping a log of his daily seizure activity; I began to add in what he ate.
About a month after Kaiden’s first birthday, I ate an eggplant dish. And boy, did Kaiden's seizure activity spike. Once I figured out it was the eggplant, I pumped and dumped all my fresh breast milk and gave Kaiden frozen breast milk for a few days, and his seizure activity went back down.
A couple of months later, I tried fresh green peppers again. I ate a tiny amount, and didn't notice any significant difference in Kaiden’s seizure activity – no rash, no gas, so a few days later, I had a good helping of them. And a day and a half later . . . on Mother's Day no less . . . Kaiden's seizure activity spiked like it had done with the eggplant. He spent Mother's Day having seizures and screaming. We both cried a lot that day.
For several days after that I literally walked around the house saying, “what the @*#&%& do eggplant and green peppers have in common that Kaiden reacts so badly to them?”
Then finally, I typed in Google, “green pepper eggplant have in common“. And the connection came up . . . they are both members of the nightshade (solanaceae) family. As are tomatoes, potatoes, all peppers, paprika, ground cherries, and lots more foods I wasn't familiar with. It was a smack-myself-in-the-forehead moment. The light bulb switched on.
Being into natural remedies, I am familiar with some of the properties of deadly nightshade but never thought about foods of the nightshade family. I was cooking with tomatoes, potatoes, paprika, and chili peppers on a regular basis.
Immediately I eliminated nightshade foods from my and Kaiden's diets, and within a few days, his seizure activity reduced down to 1 – 3 seizures per day. Then I ate a grilled chicken sandwich (contained mayo, which has paprika in it, and a slice of tomato). A day and a half later, Kaiden's seizure activity spiked. When it went back down, I ate a hamburger with mustard (contains paprika) and a day and a half later his seizure activity spiked again. That was enough of a “lab test” for me, and I completely eliminated nightshade foods for both of us.
Kaiden's seizure activity dropped again, and within a few days, on May 28th 2010, he had his last seizure!
The more I observed him, and the more research I did, I came to the conclusion that the seizures were merely a side effect of what the nightshade foods were actually doing to him. He gained so much in development so quickly that I knew there must be more to it. My current theory, which may or may not be correct, is that nightshade foods over-stimulated his nervous system, allowing it to become overloaded, too noisy; he was not able to filter out that noise.
I may not know what caused his seizures in the first place, but I am thankful for them every single day; if it hadn’t been for those seizures I’d never have discovered the connection between nightshade foods and my son’s ability to process sensory input.
This began our journey into Paleo!!!
There is so much more to Kaiden’s story – you can keep up with us at here!
Keep up with our cooking adventures here!