New & Notable: Epilepsy: Nutrients and Herbs

There are around 60 million epileptic patients worldwide. Patients who suffer from epilepsy often seek natural alternatives to traditional treatment. Dr Maria Shapoval ND reviews three natural herbs that impact the severity and frequency of seizures.

The Canadian Journal of Naturopathic Medicine is a peer reviewed publication for naturopathic doctors and other health professionals. Today, we are talking to the editor, Dr Philip Rouchotas, ND and contributor, Dr Maria Shapoval ND about her article describing new treatments for epilepsy. Her article appeared in the June 2022 edition of the Journal. 

The review “Epilepsy: Nutrients and Herbs”, focuses on preclinical data consisting of animal and in vitro studies. The review explores the latest clinical developments in nutritional and herbal approaches for epilepsy; including paeonia officinalis, ganoderma lucidum, vinpocetine, probiotics, melatonin omega-3 vitamin d vitamin d and acetylcysteine and coenzyme Q10.

Read the full article here

 

Key Take-Aways

 

Defining Epilepsy
Epilepsy, which is sometimes called a seizure disorder,  can be caused by traumatic brain injury, loss of oxygen, stroke or genetic abnormality. Patients who suffer from this debilitating condition often seek natural alternatives to traditional treatment.

Conventional Treatments
Antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) include carbamazepine, levetiracetam, phenytoin, sodium valproate, clobazam, and others. However,  conventional treatments are not without significant side effects. As such, any natural product that mitigates or treats the process can be very valuable.

Three Natural Alternatives
Three herbs/plants have clinical data behind them. Some studies focused on seizure intensity and some also looked at quality of life. All of these interventions have been tried in combination with standard pharmaceuticals.

The studies focused on these three herbs/plants:

  • Common Peony: Studies supporting the efficacy of Paeonia officinalis are limited in number. 
  • Reishi Mushroom: Studies reveal that Ganoderma lucidum may help to reduce the weekly seizure frequency in patients with epilepsy.
  • Vinpocetine: a synthetic derivative of a naturally-found compound called vincamine. Vinpocetine effectively reduced the frequency of epileptic seizures and proved to be well tolerated.


Dosages
It is best to prescribe these three plants independently and to introduce them one at a time in limited dosages to be on the conservative side, and to avoid interactions. Efficacy studies are still fairly new and fairly limited in number, so practitioners should be cautious.


Interactions with Medications
These nutrients have not been fully tested in this context and may be interacting with medications. Some antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin possess their own anti-seizure effectiveness.


Use of Probiotics
Considerable research is popping up using different probiotic components for different pathologies. Probiotics have been used in a clinical trial on epilepsy. In this instance, it was eight strains at 2 billion units per day of this combination product that was being tested, and they showed a reduced seizure frequency.
 

Key Quote  


“Several nutrients and herbs have demonstrated significant reductions in seizure frequency when provided in addition to standard anti-epileptic drugs. While several studies demonstrate the capacity for nutrients and herbs to provide additional benefits to medications, there is a significant need for further clinical trials to examine the maximum potential for these treatments, particularly in patients who are unable to tolerate anti-epileptic drugs." Dr Maria Sharapova ND
 

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