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Epilepsy: Causes, Symptoms & Natural Remedies

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder in which the nerve cell activity in the brain is disturbed causing seizures [1] , [2] . It is estimated that more than 65 million people in the world have epilepsy. People with epilepsy have various treatment options including alternative home remedies.

What Causes Epilepsy?

The causes of epilepsy vary from person to person and can happen at any age according to the Epilepsy Foundation.

Causes in newborns

  • Lack of oxygen during birth
  • Brain malformations
  • Low blood sugar, blood calcium, blood magnesium and low electrolytes
  • Maternal drug use and intracranial haemorrhage

Causes in infants and children

  • Infections
  • Brain tumour and fever

Causes in young children and adults

  • Genetic factors
  • Congenital conditions
  • Head trauma
  • Progressive brain disease

Causes in older adults

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Trauma
  • Stroke

Symptoms Of Epilepsy

  • Headache
  • Blurred eyes
  • Changes in sensation
  • Dizziness and nausea
  • Anxious feelings
  • Numbness, loss of awareness, confusion and unconsciousness
  • Hallucinations
  • Lack of movement
  • Convulsions
  • Bladder or bowel incontinence
  • Increased sweating
  • Difficulty in breathing

When a person experiences at least two unprovoked seizures occurring more than 1 day, then he or she is known to have epilepsy. There is no cure for epilepsy, but it can be managed through natural ways.

Natural Remedies For Epilepsy

1. Herbal treatments

Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri) is a herb used in Ayurvedic medicine to help manage epilepsy symptoms. The ethanolic extract of bacopa leaves has significant anticonvulsant activity that reduces epileptic seizures [3] , [4] .

Other commonly used herbs which are used in managing the symptoms of epilepsy are burning bush, groundsel, hydrocotyle, mistletoe, mugwort, lily of the valley, tree of heaven, peony, scullcap, and valerian. All these herbs have anticonvulsant effects and are used in traditional Indian Ayurvedic, Chinese, and Japanese medicine [5] .

2. Magnesium

Research has shown that magnesium deficiency in the body triggers seizures [6] and magnesium taken in the form of supplements and foods can help control seizures [7] , [8] . Eat foods rich in magnesium such as dark chocolates, almonds, spinach, cashew nuts, etc.

3. Rue

Rue is a herb which has powerful medicinal properties. It contains an active compound rutin, an antioxidant that prevents free radical damage. A study showed the effects of ethanol extract of rue on the central nervous system and reduced seizures [9] . The herb has anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, antifertility and antihistamine properties.

4. Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is used to manage a rare form of epilepsy known as pyridoxine-dependent seizures. This type of epilepsy occurs in the womb or after birth [10] . It is mainly caused due to the body's inability to metabolize vitamin B6 in a proper manner [11] . Consume vitamin B6 foods such as chicken, turkey, fish, bread, vegetables, eggs, oatmeal, etc.

World Epilepsy Day: Can A Good Diet Help Those Who Have Epilepsy?

5. Vitamin E

Vitamin E deficiency is also common in people with epilepsy. A study conducted in 2016 found that increasing the intake of vitamin E can help decrease seizures in people with epilepsy [12] . Eat more of vitamin E rich foods such as almonds, sunflower seeds, green leafy vegetables, pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts, pistachios, etc.

6. Ash gourd

Ash gourd (Benincasa hispida) is a commonly eaten vegetable in India. This vegetable has anticonvulsant activity and can reduce the severity of epileptic fits or other convulsions [13] . Ash gourd contains essential nutrients like vitamin B6, vitamin C, iron, manganese, magnesium, etc. Drink the juice of ash gourd daily to control and prevent seizures.

7. Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays a role in central nervous system disorders and most epilepsy patients have a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency increases the chances of continuous seizures. A study showed the effectiveness of anticonvulsant activity of vitamin D supplementation in reducing seizures by 40 per cent [14] . Consume vitamin D rich foods like eggs, fatty fishes, cheese, nuts and seeds.

8. Folic acid

Folic acid is beneficial for proper nerve functioning and prevents neural tube defects in babies [15] . Folic acid plays a role in proper functioning and development of the brain and nerve cells. Folic acid intake reduces the risk of seizures in epileptic patients [16] , [17] . Consume foods rich in folic acid like green leafy vegetables, beans, rice, cereal, bread, citrus fruits, broccoli, etc.

9. Basil

Basil has powerful medicinal properties. It is used in reducing seizures in epileptic patients. According to a study, the hydroalcoholic extract of basil has the ability to prevent the attacks of epilepsy [18] . Another study also showed the effectiveness of anticonvulsant activity of holy basil [19] . Add basil in soups and salads.

10. Epsom salt

Epsom salt, commonly known as magnesium sulfate, can help prevent seizures caused by eclampsia and preeclampsia [20] , [21] . The anticonvulsant activity of magnesium sulfate can reduce the severity of seizure or fits in epileptic patients. Take one tablespoon of Epsom salt mixed with a glass of water for managing epilepsy.

11. Coconut oil

Coconut oil can treat various disorders including epilepsy. The fatty acids in coconut oil can raise the level of ketones in the blood which are said to benefit epileptic patients and reduce the rate of seizures in epileptic children [22] , [23] . Use pure coconut oil for cooking or as a salad dressing.

12. Omega 3 polyunsaturated fats

Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids have been found to be effective in the treatment of epilepsy. These fatty acids found in fish oil have been shown to reduce the severity of seizure attacks in epileptic children [24] . Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids have been linked to reducing brain cell excitability among epileptic patients as well [25] . Consume fishes like salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna, herring and sardines.

13. Licorice

Licorice root is also known as sweet root because of its usage as a sweetener in candies and beverages. It provides medicinal benefits like: soothing the stomach, reducing stress, preventing cancer, etc. Also the antioxidant flavonoids in it have neuroprotective effects thereby preventing seizure attacks [26] . Grind some licorice powder and add it to a tablespoon of honey and have this mixture daily.

14. Yoga

An increase in stress can lead to the severity of seizure attacks. And yoga is considered a beneficial natural remedy for reducing stress and relaxing the nerve cells, thus improving your nerve and brain health [27] . Practising yoga every day in the morning or evening can prevent seizure attacks [28] .

15. Anise essential oil

Anise essential oil has antibacterial, antioxidant, expectorant, and antifungal properties. A study has shown the anticonvulsant and neuroprotective effects of anise oil in reducing the severity of seizure attacks[29] .

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View Article References
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