Can MCT Oil Help Manage Epilepsy Symptoms?

In case you haven't heard of it, medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil is a supplement that is growing in use and popularity, as reported by Healthline. MCT oil, which is most often an extract of coconut oil, is high in its concentration of medium-length fat chains that are easier and quicker for the body to digest than fatty acids made up of longer fat chains. MCT oil has gained its reputation from people who are dedicated to exercise, like bodybuilders, but also from people who have reaped the benefits of the oil for weight loss, increased energy, management of blood sugar levels, and fighting the growth of yeast and bacteria within the body. It is also believed that MCT oil can help with having a better grasp of conditions like Alzheimer's disease, forms of autism spectrum disorder, and epilepsy, particularly when combined with a ketogenic diet regimen.

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that is hallmarked by its primary symptom of seizures due to abnormal brain activity and behavior, according to the Mayo Clinic. There are multiple types of seizures that can be experienced with epilepsy, which include the umbrella forms of generalized seizures and focal seizures. 

The unique symptoms that accompany seizures vary among individuals diagnosed with epilepsy, so management of the condition is equally as personalized. Medication is regularly prescribed to effectively mediate seizures, and in severe cases, surgery can be performed as a treatment method. Lifestyle habits are additional ways people can manage epilepsy's symptoms.

MCT oil for epilepsy: benefits and risks

There has been reported success in managing epilepsy symptoms by utilizing MCT oil alongside a ketogenic diet, or keto diet for short, states Healthline. Additionally, the application of fasting may be able to decrease seizure frequency for people with epilepsy. Together, the use of fasting and consumption of MCT oil can expand ketone production, thus potentially decreasing seizure episodes. However, there are tentative trade-offs to consuming MCT oil and following a strict keto diet.

Harvard Health Publishing advises that the keto diet is a medical dietary plan that carries risks associated with consuming excessive amounts of high-fat foods, especially those high in saturated fats that can create harmful levels of cholesterol and increased risk of heart disease. A tablespoon-sized serving of MCT oil has a nutritional value of approximately 115 calories and 14 grams of fat (via Food Insight). While MCT-based food items tend to have lower calorie counts than products containing long-chain triglycerides (LCTs), the high fat concentration of MCT oil should be consumed responsibly. If the keto diet is pursued to manage epilepsy, it's advised that foods be weighed and measured very carefully to ensure the appropriate portions, per Epilepsy Foundation. There are trade-offs in that the keto diet can be helpful for children whose seizures haven't responded to medication, but long-term consumption of the keto diet can cause delayed growth. It should be established that dietary plans aren't for everyone and you should consult with your doctor before changing your diet.