Background: The ketogenic diet is a low-carbohydrate, adequate-protein, and high-fat diet with a long history of use for the treatment of intractable seizures in children. This dietary therapy has been enjoying increasing popularity in recent years, despite the availability of increasing numbers of new antiepileptic drugs and surgical treatments.
Review summary: The authors review the history of the ketogenic diet, the traditional protocol in initiating it, possible mechanisms of its action, evidence for efficacy, and side effects. In addition, they highlight some of the areas of active research in this field as well as future directions and unanswered questions.
Conclusion: The ketogenic diet is an efficacious and relatively safe treatment of intractable seizures. Despite its long history, however, much remains unknown about the diet, including its mechanisms of action, the optimal protocol, and the full range of its applicability. Investigations of the diet are providing new insight into the mechanisms behind seizures and epilepsy itself, as well as possible new therapies.