Recently I’ve become interested in Alternative Treatments for Epilepsy. Why? When I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2006, I made it my mission to research every neurological disorder under the sun. This investigation helps me to better understand the brain and its path back to health.
What is Epilepsy
Like multiple sclerosis and celiac disease, the term “epilepsy” is a garbage can diagnosis for a condition the medical field cannot pinpoint. The term “epilepsy” simply refers to seizures, and a patient is diagnosed with the condition if they have two or more.
Who Suffers from Epilepsy
Four percent of people in the US suffer from this chronic disorder of the brain at some point in their lives. Incidence is highest among the very young and the very old. After migraine, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy is the fourth most common neurological disorder in the US.1
Traditional Pharmacologic Treatment for Epilepsy
The success of medications in treating seizure disorders is compelling. While 60% of epilepsy cases are controlled with the administration of 1-2 anti-seizure medications, the remaining 40% of patients who suffer from drug-refractory epilepsy are not as lucky. Of this cohort, only 4% become seizure-free with the continued application of drugs.2
Alternative Treatments for Epilepsy
When pharmacological therapies work in treating epilepsy it’s fantastic. However, many children are put on drug after drug until they become zombies. Worse yet is when seizures continue after the child is medicated into a depressive state. Thankfully, a number of alternative treatments are successful for those with drug-refractory epilepsy. They range from diet to supplementation of seizure calming nutrients such as magnesium, and much more.
1. Ketogenic Diet
The Ketogenic Diet is one of the top alternative treatments for epilepsy. It is a high-fat low-carb diet that reduces inflammation in the brain. According to Dr. Dominic D’Agostino:
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What the Ketogenic Diet does in a very elegant way is it helps to restore the natural metabolic state of the brain and the neuro-pharmacology of the brain. Ketones have a profound anti-convulsant effect.
My friends at the Charlie Foundation were kind enough to provide me with this video on treating drug-refractory epilepsy with the Ketogenic Diet.
Physicians everywhere from Johns Hopkins to the Mayo Clinic recommend the Keto Diet for the treatment of drug-refractory epilepsy. Many even find the Keto Diet is a fantastic first line of treatment. If you’re looking for low-carb high-fat recipes check out my Keto Diet page.
2. Charlotte’s Web High CBD Oil
When on book tour I’ve met families who have used CBD oil as a natural treatment for epilepsy for their children. In fact, a number of families have moved to Colorado so their children could get CBD oil called Charlotte’s Web. If you are one of those families please leave a comment below sharing your experience!
Magnesium therapy can reduce muscle and nerve spasticity. It also calms down the brain and reduces pain perception. I’ve personally had great success with high dose magnesium and have seen anecdotal evidence that it may be used to treat epilepsy as well. A group of scientists now hypothesize that magnesium supplementation can reduce seizures in people with epilepsy.
Studies suggest that the modern Western diet may lead to magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is a potential modulator of seizure activity because of its ability to antagonize excitation through the N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor. Some studies have shown that people with epilepsy have lower magnesium levels than people without epilepsy. There are case reports of seizures being controlled with magnesium supplementation in people with specific conditions.3
4. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)
My colleague, Dr. Barry Miskin, a neurologist who has been treating patients with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) for over two decades states, “I have seen success in reducing seizures with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. I had the privilege of observing multiple treatments by Dr. Richard Neubauer treating children with intractable seizure disorders. His treatments significantly reduced the rate of seizures and on occasion stopped them completely.” Dr. Miskin is running an FDA approved clinical trial for HBOT. For more information on HBOT, check out my write up, The Complete Guide to Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy.
5. Reduce EMF Exposure
The rise in seizure disorders during the same period as the increased use of wireless technology merits analysis. There are studies indicating that microwave radiation can interfere with brain signaling4 and excitability and increase seizures.5 I know people who notice increased neurological symptoms in high radio-frequency radiation (RFR) environments such as an airport or subway car.
Anecdotal experiences of individuals with epilepsy also offers support for this theory.6 I experienced severe neurological symptoms living in a smart house filled with RFR which I discuss in The Green House that Almost Killed Me. To deal with this issue in your home environment, read Simple Steps to Reduce EMFs.
Lack of Research Into Alternative Treatments for Epilepsy
Unlike pharmaceuticals, there are no economic drivers for the majority of alternative treatments for epilepsy. This means that clinicians in the medical world are not kept-up-to-date on alternative therapies. But if we look at the brain as a car and look at seizures as excitability of the brain, or the gas pedal of the car, we see that calming the brain down and turning on the brakes is common sense in epilepsy treatment. That’s a feature of each of the alternative treatments I mention, whether the Keto Diet, magnesium, CBD oil, HBOT, or the elimination of EMFs.
Your Tips for Epilepsy Treatment
Please leave a comment and let us know which alternative treatments have worked if you have a child or loved one with epilepsy or a seizure disorder.
We used magnesium, high dose B6 and high dose folinic acid for my son’s seizure disorder as a child. He had folate-receptor antibodies and that can cause some issues.
Anne Pierce says
I am on 2 medications for epilepsy after many trials of different types these have eliminated seizures where I lose consciousness. About every 6 weeks I have partial seizures.
I follow the paleo diet, I take the strongest CW CBD oil, and I take magnesium glycinate . I haven’t tried the keto diet yet but I can’t afford to lose anymore weight. I am 5’4” and I weigh 100 pounds. Would I lose more weight on the keto diet? Thanks for your help!
Anne, we’re all bio-chemical individuals so have different responses to the same stimuli. If you wanted to try a KD and do not want to lose weight you would need to increase one or all of your macronutrients accordingly, to adhere to keto that would be fat from any variety of sources.
I can attest to the effectiveness of CBD oil to control seizures! A couple years ago, I started experiencing myoclonus (a type of seizure activity that causes quick, electric-shock like involuntary muscle movements, without losing consciousness). Anti-seizure medication had limited success at controlling my condition without making me increasingly groggy. I switched to CBD and found immediate relief with no side effects or addiction. I also find taking magnesium bisglycinate and calcium pills throughout the day helps with pain and tingling.
Thank you so much for sharing! How much do u take? I hear that dosage is everything in the success of CBD but is impossible to know how much to to take for it to work
I have tried it with out success and I’m sir that’s is the dosage that is off
This article just popped up on my feed, although it is several years old. My daughter, 9 now, and myself both have “episodes.” Her episodes started at 3. They are terrifying because in addition to losing consciousness, she sometimes vomits and aspirates and also turns blue and stops breathing. We call them seizures, although neither of us are officially diagnosed still. Despite years of inquiry, doctors do not know why we have these, they suspect POTS or a cardiac induced syncope. Anyway, a year and a half ago we were advised through our neurology team to try Keto. We did strict Keto for 3 months only, thank you, as we used many of your recipes. At that time, as an 8 year old she found Keto very difficult to stick to, HOWEVER, there seems to have been something fundamental that changed for her. Even though we do not do Keto any longer as our primary diet, she has been “episode” free since. Keto has life changing and will be our first step if the episodes reappear, as I am sure they will since they have been life long for me.
Kim, thanks so much for this amazing testimonial about the Keto Diet, and so glad to hear that my recipes have supported you and your family on this journey. Hugs to you all :-)
Wow! How wonderful!