Alternative Treatments/Therapies for Epilepsy?

Bernard

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At the VNS Therapy seminar, the only treatments that were discussed as being available for epileptics were:
  • drug therapy
  • brain surgery
  • a Ketogenic diet
  • Vagus nerve stimulation
When I asked the nurse practitioner about EEG neurofeedback, she said that the hospital doesn't offer it and she did not appear to know anything about it. She was pleased to hear that my wife had positive results with it though.

After reading a bit on the major non-profit epilepsy organization web sites, it seems that there is little to zero information on alternative therapies. Are you aware of any alternative therapies that may not be officially endorsed/sanctioned by the medical establishment?
 

lindy

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I have found great success with vitamins and supplements, acheiving a control that 20+ years of drug therapy never provided. A great resource book for me was and continues to be [ame]http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?tag=projectmana0a-20&path=tg/detail/-/1583330771/ref=ase_projectmana0a-20?v=glance&s=books[/ame] (the second edition is better than the third but the third has helped me too).

The vitamins and supplements I use for control - B complex, magnesium, taurine, CoQ10 and flaxseed oil - were all gotten out of the second edition but I found 5-HTP which I have been taking for almost a month now for panic/anxiety in the third edition. I also believe, from what I have read and from the information that I got from my doctor about brain function and serotonin, that 5-HTP will help with seizure control.

My internist and I have had a yearly fight over why she believes that I need an antidepressant since 1998. I have constantly told her that I knew that I was depressed but, when there were obvious reasons why I was depressed, I didn't want to take a drug to cover up things that needed to be worked through.

During this year's antidepressant argument, she finally told me about serotonin. The brain needs a certain amount of serotonin to function properly and stress, anxiety and depression lower the body's ability to produce enough so the brain starts to function poorly. She said that that was the cause of my massive panic/anxiety attacks and only an antidepressant could "fix" it.

I told her that the serotonin thing made sense to me in regards to brain function since I know that stress is my greatest seizure trigger. So I look up depression/anxiety and serotonin in Prescription for Nutritional Healing. Also checked it out on WebMD. Both places wrote very highly about 5-HTP (from the seed of an African plant) as a precursor to serotonin and a help with depression/anxiety.

Within 24 hours of starting the supplement, I could tell a difference. I sleep like I haven't slept since I was a child. My dreams are very vivid and easily remembered (serotonin is taken up by the brain during REM sleep). I can't remember the last time I felt this energized, literally hopping out of bed in the morning instead of lying there thinking "oh my God, is it 5 already? (yes, I know I get up really early but I have a horse who is waiting for his breakfast at 5:30). My sex drive hasn't been this great since I had my tubes tied (the joys of sex without fear of pregnancy does wonders on it's own!).

The problems in my life haven't gone away but I am able to deal with them without getting the shakes and running for a valium. Anyway, what really bothers me is that my doctor didn't give me the information that I needed to find a supplement that would work until this year. Every year, she's just tried to force me to take a chemical which I doubt could have done me as much good as this alternative. But then, no doctor ever, no matter what specialty, ever talked about alternatives to drug therapy for my seizures.

It really makes me wonder how many of us are suffering needlessly because of unaddressed nutritional issues. I might not have looked for an alternative earlier than I did because I spent so many years under the mistaken impression that my seizures were caused by a childhood accident. It wasn't until I had another MRI done (when the neuro was pushing me to have the surgery) which provided definitively that there was no scar tissue and no physical reason for why I'm an epileptic that I started to wonder what was going on.

If my mother hadn't had her first grand mal in 60 years and hadn't called me during her postictal spell (when it was impossible for her to lie or hide any longer), I still wouldn't know that I had inherited this. Except for that one conversation with my mother, she has gone back into denial and still refers to me as brain damaged. At least, now I know better.
 

Bernard

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I hope you don't mind that I edited your post to include line breaks - it makes it easier to read. I also added a link to amazon for the book you mentioned.

Fortunately, Stacy's doctor is very progressive. He already recommended Stacy to take B complex, magnesium, taurine and 5-HTP (and a few other things IIRC - Stacy can provide a more definitive list). He is also working with her to lower her heavy metal toxicity.

It's wonderful to hear about the positive results you have experienced with just vitamins/supplements!
 

lindy

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I do have a tendency to run on at the mouth, esp when discussing the need for doctors to be more informative so that we have the ability to make our own decisions. It's also hard to put everything that has gone on in the past five years that led me to the great situation I'm in now in a few words.
 

Bernard

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LOL. I'm not complaining about verbosity. Take your time and, by all means, please share your story. 8)
 

Herb

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Dear Lindy,

First and foremost I am glad to read that you’ve found an effective treatment regimen to control and stabilize your illness into remission.

What caught my eye is the misconception that you illustrate and believe along with many others.

“Every year, she's just tried to force me to take a chemical which I doubt could have done me as much good as this alternative. But then, no doctor ever, no matter what specialty, ever talked about alternatives to drug therapy for my seizures.” – Lindy

Any of the various products you are ingesting are comprised of chemicals and the fact you have achieved wellness through your regimen is not indicative that others will too. In some instances the individual may be vulnerable to quality, quantity and substance issues. Although I am more versed as a long time support person for wife, who suffers from TRD (Treatment Resistant Depression), I am aware that Holistic approaches may work for some but not all. There are also some drawbacks you might be interested in reading about when discussing so called natural approaches.

In any event, it is pleasant to read your thoughts on a number of points and as I stated earliier I wish you continued success and wellness.

Warmly,
Herb
.
 

Bernard

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Herb said:
What caught my eye is the misconception that you illustrate and believe along with many others.

“Every year, she's just tried to force me to take a chemical ....” – Lindy

Any of the various products you are ingesting are comprised of chemicals ...
Herb, you are not seriously comparing vitamins to pharmacological drugs as far as their interactions within the body are you? One works with the body - ie. the body uses vitamins as necessary and excretes the excess. The other works outside of normal systems and interferes with the natural function of the body.

While it is true that a holistic approach that works for one person may not work for another, the same can be said of any pharmacological drug! The key to a holistic approach is to identify what deficiencies exist and then remedy them and bring the system back into balance.

BTW, your link talks about herbs, not vitamins.
 

Herb

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Dear Bernard,

“Herb, you are not seriously comparing vitamins to pharmacological drugs as far as their interactions within the body are you? One works with the body - ie. the body uses vitamins as necessary and excretes the excess. The other works outside of normal systems and interferes with the natural function of the body.” – Bernard

I stated “Any of the various products you are ingesting are comprised of chemicals” and I was not comparing any chemicals only cautioning the user to be educated and understand what it is that one may be ingesting.

I would question your statement about the body excreting excess vitamins. I would also suggest one doing some research on “mineral toxicity” and “vitamin toxicity.”

I have been down this road before with others promoting “Orthomolecular Therapy.” I am an advocate for any treatment option that allows one to achieve wellness but I do caution the patient and/or the support person to be educated and knowledgeable before making an un-coerced and informed medical decision in collaboration with one’s trusted, compassionate, knowledgeable and licensed health care practitioner(s).

Since each individual is unique so too are one’s response to each therapy. Since I am not knowledgeable about epilepsy and I am knowledgeable about TRD (Treatment Resistant Depression) I shall state the following. I question the validity of your statement “The other works outside of normal systems and interferes with the natural function of the body.” One of the theories of depression is the lack of neurotransmitters in the brain. One of those neurotransmitters being serotonin and therefore the use of SSRI’s to compensate for that deficiency and to bring the brain chemistry into balance. I question whether the addition of a SSRI interferes or actually attempts to balance “the natural function of the body” or more precisely the bio-neuro-chemical functioning of the brain.

Warmly,
Herb
 

Bernard

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I am aware of mineral and vitamin toxicity. I did not see anyone recommending taking excessive doses of anything though. I think perhaps you are taking information posted here as medical advice??? No, as I stated before, a holistic approach should identify and monitor what is needed to restore balance.

Your posts read to me as someone who is scaremongering because the items you are warning about are very rare. Check out these statistics from 2003:
More than 100 million Americans regularly use vitamins. ...

... Overall, 57,801 exposures to different types of vitamins were reported to the poison control centers across the US in 2003, accounting for 63 major adverse outcomes and 4 deaths. Of the total exposures, 45,352 exposures occurred in children younger than age 6 years
Vitamin Toxicity

58 thousand people reported with toxicity out of an estimated 100 million taking supplements. That's 0.058%.

I do agree with you that education is key for any patient suffering any condition. Funny thing about education though, you can only learn something when you are exposed to it. That's where discussions like this one can help lead someone to an awareness of alternatives for further research that may not have been otherwise explored through other channels.

I'm not an expert on SSRIs (I had to use Google to figure out what the acronym meant), but the following facts are clear:
  • they are not natural chemicals - they are trying to replace a natural chemical. Ergo, it is not restoring balance, it is a bridge-gap at best.
  • There are side effects to taking SSRI drugs - they work outside the normal function of the body
I really don't want to get into a drawn out semantic argument here. We are not doctors here writing papers for a peer reviewed journal. My point is that if seratonin levels are low, a holistic approach (working with the natural function of the body) would be to increase the levels of seratonin, not substitute the difference with a pharmacological drug.
 

lindy

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One thing that I do know about using vitamins and supplements as opposed to a prescription drug - I don't have to keep going to the lab to have bloodwork done to check for liver and pancreas damage. I am very careful about what I take and only buy my supplements from a reliable source - Puritan's Pride. I guess that one could call anything a chemical but there is a huge difference between a natural chemical and an artificial one. I avoid artificial chemicals as much as possible. I grow my own vegetables organically (having a horse helps in that department) and I buy my dairy, eggs and meat from organic farmers. I believe that our bodies are much more able to deal with a chemical that comes from nature than from an alien source and that we are much healthier as a result. Has your wife tried 5-HTP for her depression?
 

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Bernard you left out homeopathy and the ten homeopathy meds for epilepsy.

I have been using homepathy for almost 2 yrs now with a huge success ,my szs have disappered, as well as my allergies, my balance is better,my eyesight has improved , and I am now weaning off 50 mgs of mysoline. A miracle in itself.
Riva
 

Bernard

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The last time I looked, I was unable to find studies done on homeopathy for epilepsy. It appears that there isn't a specific regimen for it (it's tailored to the patient), so I don't know how anyone could study it in a controlled manner for scientific purposes.

I'd be happy to add it to the chart if I can find enough reference material to support it (similar to what I've done for all the other treatments that are listed).
 
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Atkins diet

Hi,
After experiencing a terrible rash with lamictal and hallucinating and hearing voices on depakote ER . I am experincing considerable relief from seizures with the atkins diet and yoga. I was having some where in the range of 60-100 complex partial siezures a day. It took two weeks before it started working. I have less than 10 seizures a day and some days I have none at all. I have been on the diet for 3 months now . I have had these seizures most of my life . Depakote has worked best for seizure control but the side effects are unbearable.
 

Bernard

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Hi bluematador, welcome to the forum. :hello:

It's amazing how a simple, but permanent change in diet can have such a huge impact on seizure control. I'm glad it's working for you!
 

RobinN

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I personally have never had side effects from Magnesium, CoQ10, Vit B, etc. I could never take the Migraine meds everyday and feel very good.
I have not heard about 5HTP helping. I will do some research and add them to the supplements we already use.
I was interested in reading the post about Seratonin. Especially after reading that a good % of seratonin is made in the "gut". Is it possible that it is not being absorbed properly, and why is that?

Such good reads here.... You all are just what the Dr ordered.
 

speber

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While I'm not tossing the AED's aside any time soon...I'm stepping up my research into music as an alternative treatment for me. It works wonders for me...DOESN'T CURE MIND YOU!....but can keep me down to once maybe twice a year instead of 12-15 times or more...and that's a VERY worthy "alternative treatment" when facing the fact I've built up a tolerance to most of the AED's I could benefit from. I am NOT a good candidate for surgery unless the cut is horizontal below the chin, so...

I can't stop doing net searches for 'neuroscience music epilepsy' and the like...and discovering all the incredible projects that are taking place out there designed to determine just how music\audio affects the brain. I missed that boat (to become a research neuroscientist)unfortunately, but I am COMPLETELY enthralled nonetheless...it is a most worthy avenue of exploration I'm convinced.

Again and finally, MUSIC ITSELF can be a form of 'alternative treatment'...even if it is not a cure.

:twocents:
 
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