The Charlie Foundation for Ketogenic Diet was born out of the desire to spare children from the unnecessary suffering that Charlie Abrahams endured before achieving seizure freedom with the ketogenic diet. Jim & Nancy Abrahams shared their story in 1994 on Dateline NBC & later through a 1997 television movie called “First Do No Harm”. Across the Atlantic in the United Kingdom, Matthew Williams suffered for 6 years with a devastating seizure disorder before becoming practically seizure-free within 2 weeks of starting the diet.
Based on this experience, Matthew’s Friends was founded in 2004 by Emma Williams, Matthew’s mother, with a similar mission as the Charlie Foundation. Despite these dramatic testimonials and dedicated foundations, the diet remained underutilized. Several key breakthroughs came in 2008: The Charlie Foundation had commissioned medical professionals with ketogenic diet experience to collaborate on guidelines for prescribing the diet. This culminated in a consensus guideline publication in Epilepsia, a prestigious international medical journal, authored by internationally recognized leaders in the field.
At the same time, a Class I clinical study was published in Lancet Neurology confirming the diet’s efficacy as a treatment for medically intractable epilepsy; more positive Class I studies followed, cementing the scientific evidence for ketogenic diet use. The use of ketogenic diet therapy spread rapidly worldwide, and with increased use came a broader understanding of its potential benefits for other neurological disorders.
Less restrictive versions of the diet were developed to meet the needs of older children and adults. In 2012 the Charlie Foundation also began educating all people with epilepsy to eliminate sugar, reduce refined carbohydrates, and choose a predominantly whole foods diet. In addition, both foundations have expanded efforts to address other conditions that can benefit from ketogenic therapies including neurological and neurodegenerative disorders and certain forms of cancer.