Epilepsy (Seizure Disorder)

lightning strikes

The word epilepsy comes from the Greek, meaning “seizures.” Epilepsy is a chronic, serious, neurological disorder that results from disturbances in the electrical activity of the brain. This activity can manifest as loss of consciousness, convulsions, abnormal movements, hallucinations, and/or confusion. Seizures may be symptoms of epilepsy. An epileptic seizure is defined as a malfunction of the brain caused by uncontrollable electrical activity from nerve cells located in the cerebral cortex.

It is estimated that over 2 million Americans suffer from epilepsy. New epilepsy cases each year number approximately 25,000, and 3% of the American population will develop epilepsy by age 75. There are a variety of possible causes of epilepsy, including birth injury, head trauma, alcoholism, brain tumors, drug reactions and addiction, and metabolic disorders. In most cases, epileptic seizures themselves are not dangerous. However, loss of consciousness and uncontrolled movements can result in injury either to the person suffering the seizure or to others.

Although there are many types of seizures associated with epilepsy, and a physician’s intervention is always recommended, it is well known that nutritional supplementation is important for individuals suffering from this condition.

CONVENTIONAL TREATMENT

Management of epilepsy with drug therapy is highly dependent on the type of seizure. The most common drugs used are Phenytoin (for treatment of partial and generalized tonic-clonic seizures), Carbamazepine (similar to Phenytoin), Phenobarbital (enhances GABA and used for all types of seizures), and Valproic acid (enhances GABA and plays a role in blocking sodium ion channels).

Other non-pharmaceutical treatments include surgery, vagal nerve stimulation, and a ketogenic diet (high in fat and low in carbohydrates and proteins).

DIETARY FACTORS

Individuals with epilepsy may suffer from severe hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) that can cause a seizure. Patients have been identified with an abnormal EEG (electroencephalogram) when their blood sugars decline. Eating yogurt and kefir is healthy. Other healthy choices include green leafy vegetables, eggs, raw cheese, raw nuts, and soybeans. Drinking fresh “live” juices made from carrots, beats, peas, red grapes, green leafy vegetables, and seaweed provide concentrated nutrients.

Food allergies have been shown to be a possible factor in some cases of epilepsy. The patient may use the Elimination Diet as a possible tool to find certain food allergies.

The ketogenic diet is sometimes recommended for epileptics because the presence of ketones prevents seizures from occurring. The ketogenic diet is very high in fat (87% of total calories) and low in proteins and carbohydrates. A gluten-free diet has also been indicated. Check with your physician or a qualified health-care practitioner before starting such diets.

Since low blood sugar can decrease the supply of glucose to the brain and trigger an epileptic episode, try eating small frequent meals of vegetables, fruits, complex carbohydrates, and protein. Avoid sugar, alcohol, aspartame, MSG, and other artificial ingredients. Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal) contains two amino acids that can act as powerful neurotransmitters, disrupting normal functioning of the brain.

SUPPLEMENT PROTOCOL

  1. POTENT MULTI-VITAMIN with MINERALS
    A potent multi-vitamin with minerals is important to a comprehensive nutritional approach to help fight a progression of the disease. Adding GREEN FOODS would be a healthy choice.
  2. VITAMIN E
    Patients on vitamin E had 60% less episodes of seizures, and 50% less dyskinesia. Vitamin E has no effects on the blood levels of anticonvulsant medicines.  Dosage: 200-800 IU daily.
  3. VITAMIN B6 (PYRIDOXINE)
    A deficiency in vitamin B6 can cause seizures, and it is wise for epileptics to supplement with vitamin B6 since a genetic abnormality may be involved. Take with the amino acid taurine. Dosage: 50-150 mg daily.
  4. MAGNESIUM
    A deficiency of magnesium occurs in many patients with epilepsy. Magnesium relaxes the smooth muscles, calms the nervous system, and may ease seizures. Dosage: 300-600 mg daily.
  5. DIMETHYLGLYCINE (DMG)
    DMG is a non-protein amino acid found naturally in plant and animal cells. It is used as an immune enhancer and acts as a potent antioxidant that may increase oxygen supply to the tissues. DMG may have limited use in epilepsy, autism, and other seizures. Dosage: As directed on label.
  6. MELATONIN
    In a clinical study it was found that melatonin, the pineal-gland hormone, can exert a positive effect on the frequency of epileptic attacks in children with sleep disturbances. The study showed that sleep behavior can be normalized and existing epilepsy can be favorably influenced. Melatonin is safe and can be considered a useful anti-epileptic drug. Dosage: 5-10 mg at a single evening dose.
  7. VITAMIN D
    Anticonvulsant medications may promote vitamin D deficiency, which can lead to a softening of the bones. Dosage: 200-1,000 IU daily.
  8. B-COMPLEX VITAMINS
    B-Complex vitamins are extremely important in the functioning of the central nervous system and may improve circulation to the nerve cells in many nerve-related disorders such as epilepsy. Treatment with the anticonvulsant drug Dilantin decreases folic acid by nearly 75%. Dosage: 50-150 mg daily with meals. Vitamin B12 (1,000-1,000 mcg/daily); Folic acid (400-1,000 mcg/daily).
  9. MANGANESE
    Several studies have found low levels of manganese in blood or hair samples of epileptic adults and children. Blood levels were found to be 24% lower than controls among 52 epileptics. Depressed manganese levels may lead to an increase in seizure frequency. Normal levels of manganese via supplementation have led to decreased seizure frequency and improved gait, speech, and cognitive function. Dosage: 20 mg daily.
  10. COENZYME Q10
    This potent antioxidant improves brain oxygenation and has a strong effect on free radicals that may worsen the condition. Dosage: 60-300 mg daily.
  11. SHO-SAIKO-TO FORMULA
    This is a Japanese herb that, in some reports, has been shown to significantly reduce seizure frequency. Dosage: As instructed.
  12. L-CARNITINE
    L-carnitine is an amino acid required to make protein and deliver omega 3 and 6 essential fats to the body’s cells. Supplementation with L-carnitine is clearly indicated for valproate acid-induced (the drug Depakote) hepatotoxicity (liver damage) and overdose. Dosage: 1-3 grams daily. Certain practitioners prefer the IV dosage form.
  13. TAURINE
    Taurine is an amino acid required by the central nervous system as a calming neurotransmitter. It is the most concentrated amino acid present in the heart muscle. Taurine is very effective in decreasing seizure frequency and severity. Dosage: 1,000-3,000 mg daily, as directed by a qualified practitioner. Take with extra vitamin B6.
  14. GABA and L-TYROSINE
    These are two amino acids that may play a role in proper brain function. Dosage: 500 mg of each, 2-3 times a day.
  15. N-ACETYL-CYSTEINE
    Clinical studies have demonstrated NAC’s therapeutic benefit in the treatment of epilepsy. Dosage: As directed on package.

NOTE: EVENING PRIMROSE OIL is contraindicated in seizure disorder disease.

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Fauteck, S, Schmidt, H, Melatonin in Epilepsy, Alternative Medicine Review, August 1999, 4(4): 292.

The JAG Group. Nutritional Supplements for Epilepsy. 2000.

Rose, RL, Onge, EL, Rose, CR. Update on Epilepsy. Drug Topics, July 25, 2005. 149(14): 31-40.

Swartz, M. Barak, Y. Shamir, E. Vitamin E in the Treatment of Tardive Dyskinesia. Alternative Medicine Review. 1999. 4(2): 134.

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Yarnell, E, Abascal, K. A Natural Regimen for Persistent Epilepsy. Natural Pharmacy. March 2001. 5(3): 1, 20-21.

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