Top 5 Natural Epilepsy Treatments

DECEMBER 22, 2015
Antranig Dereyan, Associate Editor
Epilepsy is difficult to diagnose and treat, but the estimated 3 million Americans who experience it have difficulty coping with the condition.1
 
Pharmacists can help patients take a big step towards managing their epilepsy by identifying epileptic triggers. According to Suzy Cohen, a pharmacist for the last 25 years, “becoming dehydrated or taking a hot shower can trigger a seizure, [and] sleep deprivation, a stressful interaction, or caffeine can all reduce your seizure threshold and trigger a seizure.”2
 
Prescription medications can help deter epileptic seizures, but over time, patients may become resistant to the drugs’ effects.
 
In terms of alternatives, here are some natural ways to treat epilepsy:
 
1.     Grape Seed Extract
Grape seed extract has oligomeric proanthocyanidins, which are “highly protective compounds, especially to your hippocampus,” the part of the brain involved in memory that “also houses one of your seizure ‘switches,’” according to Cohen.2
 
2.     Fish Oil
According to a study by researchers at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, just 3 capsules of fish oil a day—around 1080 mg of omega-3 fatty acids—were found to significantly reduce the incidence of epileptic seizures in patients.3
 
In fact, the small, randomized, controlled study showed that low doses of omega-3 fatty acids—the key component in common fish-oil capsules—may help decrease the frequency of epileptic seizures for people who haven’t been helped by drug treatments.
 
3.     Ketogenic Diet
Prescribed to help control seizures, this is a “high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet, which is prescribed and monitored by a physician and nutritionist,” according to the Epilepsy Foundation.4 
 
4.     Herbs
Herbs with sedative effects, like passion flowers, have been used to treat epilepsy across several traditional systems of medicine, according to Ray Sahelian, MD.
 
The aerial parts of the passion flower contain multiple bioactive metabolites such as flavonoids, amino acids, and harmala alkaloids.5
 
5.     Vitamins
Patients who have epilepsy rely on antiepileptic medications to decrease the occurrence of seizures, but these medications pose side effects that could be just as difficult to live with.
 
Fortunately, “vitamin therapy, used in conjunction with antiepileptic medications, may help combat these side effects as well as enhance medication performance,” according to Sharin Griffin.6
 
References:
1.     Epilepsy Facts. Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy website. http://www.cureepilepsy.org/aboutepilepsy/facts.asp. Accessed December 3, 2015.

2.     Cohen S. Pharmacist: protect your brain from seizures with natural compounds. Tulsa World. http://www.tulsaworld.com/scene/dearpharmacist/pharmacist-protect-your-brain-from-seizures-with-natural-compounds/article_8158428e-c83c-5c03-b3f0-2ce53fd7bf31.html. November 28, 2015. Accessed December, 3 2015.

3.     DeGiorgio CM, Miller PR, Harper R, et al. Fish oil (n-3 fatty acids) in drug resistant epilepsy: a randomised placebo-controlled crossover study. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2015;86(1):65-70.

4.     Epilepsy Foundation. Dietary therapies. http://www.epilepsy.com/learn/treating-seizures-and-epilepsy/dietary-therapies. Accessed December 3, 2015.

5.     Sahelian R. Passion flower. http://www.raysahelian.com/passionflower.html. Accessed December, 3, 2015.

6.     Griffin S. Do vitamins help treat seizure disorders? Livestrong. http://www.livestrong.com/article/84858-treat-seizure-disorder-vitamin-therapy/. Accessed December, 3, 2015.
 


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