WHAT IS EPILEPSY?
From a medical perspective, the term epilepsy refers not to a single disease, but to a group of symptoms with numerous causes. The common factor in all forms of epilepsy is an excessive electrical excitability of the brain. In fact, epilepsy has been described as an "electrical storm in the brain."
The technical term for this disruption of the nervous system is "seizure." There are many kinds of seizures which can affect almost any part of the body. Seizures also tend to alter consciousness in various ways, such as altered perception and loss of consciousness. The muscles of the body may become rigid or relaxed, producing convulsions. There are many kinds of seizures, which can affect almost any part of the body.
Although the rest of the body may be affected by an epileptic seizure, medical science considers epilepsy to be essentially a disease of the brain. This is one of the important differences between the current medical view and that of Edgar Cayce. Cayce's perspective takes the whole body into consideration. This comprehensive view is discussed in detail in other sections. At this point, it is only important to recognize that medical science and the Edgar Cayce readings agree that epileptic seizures occur in the brain in all forms of epilepsy.
There are numerous forms of epilepsy. In general, epilepsy can be divided into two groups: 1) symptomatic epilepsy and 2) idiopathic epilepsy.
"Symptomatic" means that the cause of the epilepsy is known. For example, seizures resulting from an injury to the head (which can be determined by history or examination) could be classified as symptomatic epilepsy.
Many conditions can produce epilepsy. For example, a genetic predisposition is believed to be involved in some cases. In others instances, trauma to the head, brain tumors and stroke are known to be causative factors. Yet, in approximately one-half of all cases of epilepsy the cause is unknown. (Pedley, 1985) This predominant category of epilepsy is classified as "idiopathic," which means "disease without recognizable cause." (Thomas, 1973)
Historically, idiopathic epilepsy has been called by several names. "Cases of epilepsy in which no cerebral lesion can be demonstrated are labeled as idiopathic, cryptogenic, essential, pure, primary or true." (Epilepsy Foundation of America, 1975, p. 17) The earlier designation of idiopathic epilepsy as "true" epilepsy is important because it was the term used by Edgar Cayce in his psychic readings on epilepsy.
EDGAR CAYCE'S PERSPECTIVE
Edgar Cayce gave many psychic readings for individuals suffering from various forms of epilepsy. While recognizing the wide variability of epilepsy, he also stated that in most cases the cause of the illness was not in the brain. The organs of the digestive system (abdomen) were most often cited as the source of the problem.
Cayce insisted that most cases of epilepsy were caused by "adhesions" in the lacteal ducts of the abdomen. An adhesion is "a holding together by new tissue [i.e., scar tissue], produced by inflammation or injury, of two structures which are normally separate." (Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary)
Edgar Cayce mentioned many causes of abdominal adhesions in epilepsy, including:
- injury or trauma, such as "licks" or blows to the abdomen
- childhood fevers, producing inflammation in the abdomen, resulting in adhesions
- spinal injuries (particularly to the lower spine)
- pregnancy complications
- birth trauma resulting from difficult or abnormal deliveries
More specifically, Cayce noted that the abdominal adhesions in most cases of epilepsy are in the lacteal ducts. Lacteal ducts are part of the lymphatic system. They absorb nutrients from the small intestine as digested food passes through the intestine.
Adhesions in the lacteal ducts can interfere with absorption of nutrients (particularly fats and proteins). Also, adhesions interfere with the circulation of blood and lymph and cause the nervous system to be thrown out of balance or "coordination." Nervous system incoordination is a primary factor cited in the Cayce readings on epilepsy.
EDGAR CAYCE'S THERAPEUTIC MODEL
The treatment rationale which underlies Edgar Cayce's therapeutic approach flows naturally from his premise as to the most frequent cause of epilepsy. Cayce insisted that most cases of epilepsy were caused by adhesions in the lacteal ducts of the abdomen. Treatment is directed at breaking up adhesions in the lacteal duct area which is located along the right side of the abdomen.
The most frequent therapy recommended by Cayce for breaking up these adhesions was castor oil packs. Castor oil is a commercial product made from the castor bean. Edgar Cayce stated that when a piece of flannel cloth is saturated with hot castor oil and placed on the abdomen, the combination of the heat and oil will break up the adhesions associated with epilepsy.
The hot castor oil pack is placed over the right side of the abdomen in the area of the lacteal ducts. A typical session lasts about an hour. Three sessions per week were typically recommended. Each session is usually followed by an abdominal massage which assists in breaking up adhesions.
Edgar Cayce frequently recommended various other therapies in the treatment of epilepsy. The most common are:
- spinal adjustments
- Epilepsy Foundation of America. (1975). Basic Statistics on the Epilepsies. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Company.
- Pedley, T. A. (1985). Brain, Nerve, and Muscle Disorders. In D. F. Tapley, R. J. Weiss, & T. Q. Morris (Eds.), The Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons Complete Medical Guide. (pp. 594-595). Mt. Vernon, NY: Consumers Union.
- Thomas, C. L. (Ed.). (1973). Tabor's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary. Philadelphia: F. A. Davis Company.