Complementary and Alternative Therapies For Epilepsy

Some people with epilepsy turn to complementary therapies like acupuncture, vitamins, and supplements, and stress-relief techniques to help manage seizures. Many of these therapies don't work, and there is not much research. To make sure that you are safe, you should consult with your doctor before considering trying any of these treatments. These should not be considered a permanent treatment.

Acupuncture

Traditional Chinese medicine uses thin needles to insert into the skin. Though acupuncture is helpful for problems like arthritis pain and headaches, it doesn't seem to improve epilepsy. One review of studies found acupuncture doesn't reduce the number of seizures people get.

Correctly administered, Acupuncture can be safe. You should ensure that the practitioner has been trained in treating epilepsy and is licensed.

Vitamins

A handful of vitamin supplements were studied in the treatment of epilepsy. Although vitamins are essential for healthy living, large amounts of vitamin supplements can be dangerous and not helpful in treating epilepsy. A balanced diet will ensure that you get the most vitamins possible. Supplements such as vitamin supplements, like Folic acid, can be used to help with vitamin losses caused by medications.

People with epilepsy taking some seizure medications seem to have a higher need for calcium and vitamin D to help keep their bones healthy. Folic acid is also important for pregnant women to prevent the development of birth defects. Before you take vitamins and supplements, consult your doctor.

Research has not shown that epilepsy patients should be given vitamins routinely. More studies are needed, especially to find out the role that vitamin E plays in seizures and how thiamine may help improve mental skills like thinking and remembering.

Before you start taking any vitamin, consult your physician. Only take the prescribed amount. High doses of certain vitamins could be harmful.

Herbal Remedies

People may use herbs such as valerian or burning bush to manage epilepsy. Yet the few studies that have been done haven't proved that any herbal remedy prevents seizures.

Your doctor should be consulted before you try any supplement. Some herbal remedies can make your seizures worse. Some herbal remedies can cause side effects and affect epilepsy medications.

Ketogenic Diet

Your body usually uses carbs to get energy. Ketogenic eating is high in fat, and low in carbs. This means that your body will burn more fat to get energy. Your body produces ketotones when it burns fat to produce energy.

Nearly 100 years ago, the ketogenic diet was used for epilepsy treatment. Studies show it helps prevent seizures in children whose epilepsy isn't well-controlled with medicine. It may also be helpful for epileptic adults, although more research is required. Stomach upset is the main side effect.

Stress Relief

You may find that a tough day at work or problems at home set off your seizures. While doctors don't yet know exactly what causes epilepsy or stress, it is possible to reduce your stress level and feel better.

Use these methods:

Exercise. Exercise, whether you're walking, swimming or playing tennis, can help increase your body's levels of mood-enhancing chemicals known as endorphins. Exercise can also calm the abnormal electrical brain activity that triggers seizures.

Before you begin any exercise program, let your doctor know. Avoid activities that could be dangerous if you have a seizure -- like scuba diving or skiing. And wear a medical alert bracelet, just in case you do have a seizure while you work out.

Yoga. Yoga combines deep breathing, meditation and exercise to calm the mind and strengthen the body. Some studies show yoga could help cut the number of seizures you get and improve your overall well-being. But more research is needed before it can be recommended to treat seizures.

Meditation. You can relax by taking deep breaths and sometimes repeating the same word or phrase. Meditation can help you to let go of stress-inducing thoughts. Mindfulness meditation is one form of stress relief. Because stress can be a trigger for seizures, it could help reduce them. More research is necessary.

Biofeedback

Biofeedback uses imagery or relaxation to alter body functions like breathing, heart beat, blood pressure, and heart rate.

These functions are measured by a biofeedback specialist using electrodes and an monitor. After describing a stress situation, the practitioner will teach you relaxation techniques.

The monitor can show you the difference between relaxed and stressed situations. These relaxation techniques will allow you to be more relaxed and help control your body's functions.

Biofeedback has been shown to help people with high blood pressure, migraine headaches, and pain. Researchers have investigated whether biofeedback can help control seizures, but the results have not been encouraging. However, people who have problems with anxiety or dealing with stressful situations may benefit from this therapy, in addition to their seizure medications.

Music Back in the 1990s, researchers discovered that children with epilepsy had less abnormal brain activity and fewer seizures when they listened to music. A Mozart sonata, K448 was the only type that worked. The phenomenon has been called "The Mozart Effect".

You should be careful what music you listen too. Some people find that certain musical styles, like jazz or pop, can trigger their seizures.

Melatonin

Your brain's pineal cells make melatonin, a hormone. The benefits of melatonin include sleep enhancement, anti-aging, and antioxidant properties. However, studies into the claims haven't been conclusive.

As for epilepsy, one study showed that melatonin may reduce seizures in children. Another study found that melatonin raised the risk of seizures. At this time, it is believed that melatonin does not significantly help prevent seizures.

Cannabidiol

CBD (Cannabidiol or CBD) oil is the nonpsychoactive portion of the marijuana plant. It is much lower in THC (the component that gets you high). They react to your brain differently. CBD oil has proven beneficial in some medical treatments, including seizures, especially those which are considered severe.

FDA approved Epidiolex, a synthetic CBD oil that can be used to treat two severe and rare forms of epilepsy. It's not approved specifically for treating epilepsy in general, but some people who take it as a part of their epilepsy medication regimens have reported fewer side effects with their other seizure medications and improvement in quality of life.