Epilepsy Alternative Treatments
Once epilepsy has been diagnosed, the next step is to find a
treatment plan. This may include surgery, medication, and lifestyle changes, or
a combination of all three.
People whose seizures are not completely controlled with traditional
treatments may find success with alternative and complementary treatments.
According to the Epilepsy Foundation, the ketogenic diet can help prevent seizures in children in some cases.
This is a diet high in fat but low in protein and carbohydrates. Each meal
contains four times as much fat as protein or carbohydrates. A child on this
diet gets about 80 percent of their daily caloric intake from fat.
By encouraging the body to use fat instead of sugar (glucose)
for energy, this diet has been shown to reduce the frequency of seizures in
some children. However, research as to why or how this diet helps reduce
seizures is ongoing.
While this diet has been effective for some children it may not
work for every child. According to the Epilepsy
Foundation, about one-third of children on this diet become
seizure-free and another one-third see some improvement but may experience
seizures from time to time. The remaining one-third don’t respond to the diet
at all, or find it too hard to stick with in the long-term.
Effects of a High Fat Diet
Any significant dietary changes should be made under the
supervision of your doctor or a nutritionist. Meals and fluid intake must be
carefully measured to avoid potentially harmful side effects, such as:
- kidney stones due to a buildup of uric acid in the blood
- slowed growth due to vitamin deficiencies
These complications can typically be avoided by working closely
with your doctor to tailor a diet that suits your needs.
A restrictive diet can also be difficult for children to stick
to. Other high-protein, low-carb eating plans such as the Atkins and South
Beach diets may offer less restrictive alternatives. However, their
effectiveness in treating epilepsy is still being studied.
Alternative therapies and herbal remedies rarely
undergo controlled clinical testing. This means their true effectiveness cannot
be proven. However, more and more adults are combining traditional medical
approaches with alternative therapies to better manage their seizures.
Complementary and alternative therapies that may
help with epilepsy include the following.
Self-Control of Seizures
Some people experience certain symptoms as much as 20
minutes before a seizure. The goal of this therapy is to learn to recognize the
warning signs and develop methods to control seizures. This may be done with
certain behaviors or with the help of medication.
This ancient treatment involves sticking thin, solid
needles along various pressure points throughout the body. This can alter brain
activity and may help reduce the frequency of seizures.
This is a suite of options that involves diet, exercise,
massage, breathing exercises, and more.
This non-invasive treatment involves using electronic
instrumentation to train a patient to improve their health by learning to use
signals from the body to control involuntary functions.
of biofeedback focuses solely on the brain electrical activity as a way of
This type of therapy uses specifically trained “seizure
dogs” that can help alert their owners to an oncoming seizure.
Always consult your doctor before beginning any alternative therapies or making
significant changes to your diet. Doing so can help you avoid potential
complications or adverse drug interactions. Your doctor can help tailor a
treatment plan that meets your specific needs.