What is This Study About?
This paper is a breakdown of two case studies of patients with chronic schizophrenia who followed a ketogenic diet. These findings echo a few prior studies that demonstrated similar findings and also offer explanations on how the diet could provide this benefit.
Schizophrenia is a chronic mental disorder that impacts various aspects of health, such as how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. Schizophrenia is not as common as other mental health disorders, but its symptoms are debilitating and include hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech, impaired movement, suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, and more.
The first patient highlighted in this paper was an 82-year-old woman who had suffered from chronic paranoid schizophrenia for more than 50 years before starting a keto diet at the age of 70. Prior to that time, she experienced paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, and suicidal thoughts. She also attempted suicide. Treatment with antipsychotic medications had been ineffective. After starting a ketogenic diet in an attempt to lose weight, she noticed her symptoms were improving within a few short weeks. Within months of maintaining a keto lifestyle, she stopped taking her psychiatric medications. She has been following keto for 12 years now and she is symptom-free, no longer suicidal, and does not require a home health care team.
The second patient in this study was a 39-year-old woman suffering from schizophrenia for 20 years. She suffered from depression, anxiety, anorexia, paranoia, and hallucinations and had been treated with seven different antipsychotic medications as well as antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. After starting a ketogenic diet and seeing some improvements in her symptoms, she stopped all of her medication, which sent her into severe psychosis and consequently put her in the hospital and back on medication. This did not stop her from sticking with keto. Over a year of continuing to follow the ketogenic diet, she has been able to slowly lower her medication dose and is now symptom-free without the use of any antipsychotic medication.
Conclusions and Insights
Schizophrenia only impacts about one percent of the population, but this equates to millions of people suffering from this incredibly challenging disorder.
The current treatment options for schizophrenia are limited to antipsychotic medications that have demonstrated as low as four percent success rate in alleviating symptoms.
These two case studies suggest the option of alternative treatment methods for managing schizophrenia symptoms. It is not too surprising that the ketogenic diet can provide such benefit, since the diet has long shown the ability to reduce epileptic seizures, and anticonvulsant drugs are also used in the treatment of psychiatric disorders.
This study demonstrates the need to study the use of the ketogenic diet for schizophrenia in much greater depth.