Exploring Natural and Complementary Treatments for Epilepsy | CAC
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Exploring Natural and Complementary Treatments for Epilepsy

Natural and Complementary Treatments for Epilepsy

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Epilepsy is a disorder characterised by seizures due to abnormal brain activity. While medications are often prescribed, they may not be effective for everyone and can have adverse side effects.

This has led to a search for natural ways to treat epilepsy, especially in areas where conventional drugs are hard to obtain, and for patients who are not in the financial position to afford them. Finding alternative treatments that may help reduce seizures is crucial for those affected, as the currently available options simply do not work for all patients.

So, what options are available for natural and complementary treatments for epilepsy? Let’s explore the best of them below.

Key Takeaways

  • Epilepsy is marked by recurrent seizures due to abnormal brain activity, making epilepsy treatment essential.
  • Approximately 80% of those with epilepsy live in lower-income countries with limited access to AEDs.
  • The MHRA-approved Epidiolex provides a cannabis-based option for specific seizure disorders.
  • The ketogenic diet influences brain chemistry to help reduce seizures for those unresponsive to AEDs.
  • Consulting healthcare professionals is imperative for safe and effective epilepsy management.

Natural and Complementary Treatments for Epilepsy

Medical Cannabis and Epilepsy

Here in the UK, medical cannabis became a legal treatment option back in November 2018. This shift in legislation came about after two very high-profile cases where children with a severe form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome showed significant improvement after taking medical cannabis but had to go overseas to obtain it. One boy, Alfie Dingley, had his cannabis medication confiscated at Heathrow Airport, making headlines around the world.

These cases caught the attention of the public and brought to light the potential benefits of cannabis for treating epilepsy. Since then, studies have been conducted on the use of cannabidiol (CBD) – a non-psychotropic component of cannabis – for epilepsy. In 2018, the MHRA approved Epidiolex, a cannabidiol-based medication, for treating specific forms of epilepsy.

Studies have shown that THC can have anticonvulsant effects, but these are often accompanied by psychoactive side effects such as dizziness, cognitive impairment, and mood changes. This has led to a more cautious approach in its medical application compared to CBD. For instance, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation highlighted that while THC showed efficacy in reducing seizures in animal models, the psychoactive effects limited its therapeutic use in humans

Another study published in Epilepsia indicated that a combination of THC and CBD could be more effective than either compound alone, suggesting a synergistic effect that could potentially reduce seizures while minimizing psychoactive side effects. This finding has sparked interest in the development of balanced cannabinoid formulations for epilepsy treatment.

The Ketogenic Diet

The ketogenic diet, which makes the body use fats instead of sugars for energy, may help reduce seizures. This diet is particularly effective for those who do not respond to standard medications. Though strict, it has shown success in reducing seizures 3. Studies from 1998 and 2001 demonstrated that 150 children experienced fewer or no seizures on the diet 4 5.

More than half of the children on the diet saw their seizures decrease by 50%, with 10-15% becoming seizure-free. Over time, some could stop the diet without the return of seizures. Families often continue with the ketogenic diet for years due to its effectiveness. Reviews, such as one from Cochrane in 2018, confirmed the diet’s promise for drug-resistant epilepsy 6.

The modified Atkins diet, a less strict version of the ketogenic diet, also shows promise. However, it is essential to consult a healthcare expert before attempting these diets to ensure they are safe and effective 6.

Herbal Remedies

Herbal remedies have been used in many cultures to treat epilepsy, with herbs like burning bush and valerian being popular choices. Despite their traditional use, scientific evidence supporting their effectiveness is limited 7. In low-income regions, where conventional medication is scarce, herbs are often used. However, combining these with conventional drugs can be risky, so it’s crucial to consult a healthcare provider before use 4.

Natural and Complementary Treatments for Epilepsy

Vitamins and Supplements

Vitamins and minerals are gaining attention for their potential in epilepsy treatment. Vitamin B6, essential for controlling pyridoxine-dependent seizures, should be taken in the following amounts 8:

  • Men (14-50 years): 1.3 mg
  • Men (51+ years): 1.7 mg
  • Women (19-50 years): 1.3 mg
  • Women (51+ years): 1.5 mg

Magnesium, required in doses of 400-420 mg per day for men and 310-320 mg for women, and Vitamin E, with an RDA of 15 mg, may also help reduce seizures 4. However, these supplements should be taken under medical supervision, especially since epilepsy medications can impact nutrient levels in the body.

Biofeedback and Self-Control Techniques

Biofeedback therapy helps individuals recognise and control physiological responses before a seizure. It is particularly useful for those who do not respond to medication. A study on patients with drug-resistant temporal lobe epilepsy found that biofeedback reduced seizures by 43% 9. These non-invasive techniques require focus and training, but more research is needed to confirm their effectiveness for all patients.

Acupuncture and Chiropractic Care

Acupuncture and Chiropractic Care

Alternative treatments like acupuncture and chiropractic care are also being explored for epilepsy management. Acupuncture aims to balance energy flow through fine needles, while chiropractic care focuses on spinal alignment. Both methods have shown some promise in reducing seizure frequency and severity, though further research is needed 10. Consulting healthcare professionals before starting these treatments is essential.


Exploring natural and complementary treatments for epilepsy is vital for improving the quality of life for those affected, especially in underserved regions. While these treatments show promise, their scientific backing varies, and more research is needed. Always consult healthcare professionals before trying new treatments to ensure safety and efficacy.

By considering these alternative treatments, we can enhance the management of epilepsy, offering hope to patients worldwide.

If you have any recommendations based on your experience with medical cannabis and epilepsy, please leave a medical cannabis review for your clinic. Your insights and expertise are invaluable to others considering medical cannabis as a treatment option.


  1. World Health Organization. (2022). Epilepsy fact sheet. Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/epilepsy
  2. Medical News Today. (2022). Cannabis and epilepsy. Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317922
  3. Epilepsy.com. (2022). The ketogenic diet. Available at: https://www.epilepsy.com/treatment/dietary-therapies/ketogenic-diet2024].
  4. Freeman, J.M., Kossoff, E.H., and Hartman, A.L. (1998). The ketogenic diet: one decade later. Pediatrics, 102(6), pp.1358-1363. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1176378/
  5. Freeman, J.M., Kossoff, E.H., and Hartman, A.L. (2001). The ketogenic diet: another decade. Pediatrics, 108(4), pp.898-905. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1176378/
  6. Kossoff, E.H., et al. (2018). Efficacy of the modified Atkins diet in patients with chronic epilepsy. Neurology, 71(4), pp.273-275. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7551815/
  7. Natural Living Windsor. (2022). Herbal treatments for epilepsy. Available at: https://naturallivingwindsor.com/epilepsy-seizures/
  8. Defeating Epilepsy. (2022). Vitamins and epilepsy. Available at: https://www.defeatingepilepsy.org/living-with-epilepsy-series/vitamins-and-epilepsy/
  9. NCBI. (2018). Biofeedback therapy for epilepsy. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5828368/
  10. Accident Care Chiropractic. (2022). Chiropractic care for epilepsy. Available at: https://accidentcarechiropractic.com/manage-epilepsy-seizures-naturally-with-chiropractic-care/