More people with epilepsy are using alternative therapies in conjunction with the prescribed treatment by their neurologist. Alternative therapies are rarely subjected to careful scrutiny through rigorous double-blind controlled studies (that is, a study in which neither the doctor nor the patient knows which patients are receiving the “active” and which are receiving the “inactive” treatment.)
Acupuncture is used in China and by some practitioners in the West to treat seizures. Although its mechanisms are not understood, acupuncture can act to alter brain activity.
Self-Control of Seizures
Many epilepsy patients have warnings of their seizures and have learned techniques to “fight off a seizure.” The warnings may take the form of certain symptoms that occur 20 minutes to several days before a seizure. Such symptoms may include irritability, depression, fatigue, “not feeling right,” or a headache.
Examples of self-control of seizures appear in a book, Epilepsy A New Approach
Nearly 20% of patients who take prescription drugs also take herbal supplements. Herbal therapy is ancient, dating back to prehistoric times. Texts from the 18th and 19th centuries describe many herbal therapies for epilepsy. In isolated cases, some herbal products were reported to cause seizures.
The herbal medicines that are alleged, but not proven, to have a beneficial effect on seizures include:
Ailanthus altissima (Tree of Heaven)
Artemisia vulgaris (mugwort)
Calotropis procera (calotropis)
Cannabis sativa (marijuana)
Centella asiatica (hydrocotyle)
Convallaria majalis (lily of the valley)
Dictamnus albus (burning bush)
Paeonia officinalis (peony)
Scutellaria lateriflora (scullcap)
Senecio vulgaris (groundsel)
Taxus baccata (yew)
Valeriana officinalis (valerian)
Viscum album (mistletoe)