Introduction: My History with Epilepsy
For decades there have been many prescription drugs available to treat epilepsy. Pharmaceutical research has created a new drug almost every day for years now, with them being pushed on patients by doctors looking for kickbacks from their sales reps. I know that I have experienced this continual change over the years and have faced a number of side effects and horrible responses to these meds.
There have been a number of questions regarding the potential for treating epilepsy naturally, at least from my standpoint. I know that I have to ask whether or not I would be able to maintain control of my seizures 100% naturally, but I remain positive that there have to be some natural methods to support my medications. Maybe I could reduce my dosage? Maybe there would be fewer side effects? Hard to tell.
Vitamins, herbs, acupuncture and more have all be used and studied thoroughly as an alternative or supporting treatments for epilepsy. While they aren’t necessarily as strongly-proven, I know there have to be some nutrients that can help my body remain seizure-free. At least much more than I was for so many years while taking a number of medications that wore me down. My seizures were getting worse and so many of the side effects were a painful drag on my health.
There are herbal treatments for epilepsy that have become quite popular:
- Burning bush
- Lily of the valley
- Tree of heaven
Now that is quite a list!
I know for me I have considered mostly the fact that I should keep a healthy diet and weight, stay in good shape, take my medications and vitamins that my seizures would remain under control. Little was I to know that doctors would eventually force multiple other drugs on me that would ruin my position.
Herbs to Avoid
From my readings, there are certain things that I found out when looking into the potential for herbal supplements to help support my epilepsy treatment. Since the FDA does not regulate these treatments there is really no true knowledge of the potential side effects that can occur in response to their intake. There have also been some herbs noted to be a poor inclusion in the diet of an epilepsy patient:
- Gingko and St. John’s wort may interact with antiseizure medications.
- Kava, passionflower, and valerian may increase sedation.
- Garlic may interfere with your medication levels.
- Chamomile may prolong the effects of your medication.
- Schizandra may cause additional seizures.
- Herbal supplements containing ephedra or caffeine may worsen seizures. These include guarana and kola.
It is stated that these are shown to interact with seizure medications, in a negative manner, taking away from the productivity of prescriptions.
Vitamins and Diet
There have also been studies to show that certain vitamins can help to reduce the number of seizures or help to support the medication that you are taking. These include, but are not limited to Vitamin B-6, Magnesium, Vitamin E, Vitamin D, and Folic Acid.
Also, there are certain dietary changes that have been shown to help with the reduction of seizure intensity and frequency, most notably the ketogenic diet. This is a low-carb, low-protein diet that his higher in fat that is most often used in pediatric epilepsy patients. The results have been well-proven though the exact reason for the success of this diet is unexplained.
In a similar manner, there is also a modified Atkins diet for adults with similar restrictions and the same results. This is a diet that requires no fasting or hospital stay for its initiation, though it does take a few months for its initial positive effects to begin. A Johns Hopkins study has shown that almost half of the studied adults who have tried this diets have seen positive results in nearly half of participants.
Acupuncture and Chiropractic Care
There are also the options of acupuncture and chiropractic care. While I have never considered these for myself, they have been proven for many other as alternative treatments for many conditions. The Chinese practice of acupuncture may help change brain activity, like electrical control, to help reduce or manage seizures. One theory mentions that it increases parasympathetic tone and changes autonomic dysfunction, bringing overall control to the brain. In the same way, chiropractic care is a specific treatment of the spine, especially in motions and manipulations that may help the body treat itself. However, like all of these natural methods, there are no real scientific studies to prove their effectiveness.
I know that one thing I always like to think is that there is something I can do to help make my medication more effective. I know that for several years my previous doctors weren’t listening to me about the medications that I had taken in the past that actually worked for my seizures. However, it’s important to remember that the primary source of information and reference on this matter is your doctor. They can make sure that any supplement or form of care added to your prescription medications will not interfere with your existing treatment.