Epilepsy

Epilepsy Overview:

A disorder characterised by disturbances in neuroelectrical activity, resulting in unprovoked seizures.

 

Aetiology

There are many different causes for epilepsy. The most common cause in infancy includes hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy. This accounts for roughly 40-60% of cases. Ischemia results with injury to the grey and white matter of the brain.

Other causes include head trauma, strokes, vascular dysfunctions, cortical dysplasia, CNS infection, cancer, and Ammon's horn sclerosis [1]. It's a disorder of the excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters in the brain (glutamate/aspartate & GABA).

+ Jacksonian Seizures

Localised seizure in one part of the brain. this often results in a single limb or muscle group spasming for a few moments.

+ Petit-Mal Seizures

Also known as an abscence seizure. It involves a sudden loss of attention, causing someone to stare off blankly for a few moments to a few minutes. this type of seizure may remain in one hemisphere of the brain, and the patient may remain conscious.

+ Grand-Mal Seizures

Involves full-body convulsions and a loss of consciousness. This type of seizure always affects both hemispheres of the brain.

 

Symptoms:

Muscle spasms, often very severe

Loss of consciousness or attention

Temporary confusion

Fear

Anxiety

Deja Vu

 

Diagnostic Considerations:

  • Electroencephalogram (EEG)
  • High-density EEG
  • Scans
    • Computerized tomography (CT) scan
    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
    • Functional MRI
    • Positron emission tomography (PET)
  • Neuropsychological tests

 

Other Tests and Protocols

  • Statistical parametric mapping (SPM).
  • Curry analysis. 
  • Magnetoencephalography (MEG).
 

Therapeutic Aims:

1. Support Cognitive Function

  • Nervines (Bacopa monieri, Schisandra chinensis)
  • Adaptogens (Eleutherococcus senticosus, Panax quinquefolius)

2. Reduce Sympathetic Nervous System Dominance

  • Nervine Relaxants (Scutellaria lateriflora, Avena sativa, Stachys betonica)

3. Reduce Risk Of Hepatocellular Damage From Anticonvulsant Medications

  • Hepatoprotectives (Silybum marianum, Cynara scolymus)

4. Manage Allergies & Sensitivities

  • Diet (Elimination diet)
 

Differential Diagnosis:

  • Stroke
  • Brain Tumor
  • Brain or CNS infection
  • Cardiovascular disorder
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Drug toxicity
  • Drug withdrawal symptoms
  • Fever (especially in children)
 

Comorbidities:

  • Depression
  • Lowered cognitive functioning
  • Autism
 

Cautions:

Be very cautious of drug interactions between antiepileptic medications and herbs/nutrients, they are very common.

Avoid any herb containing camphor, this constituent has been shown to cause seizures. (Rosemarinus officinalis).

The treatment of grand mal seizures should always remain under the supervision of a specialist.

 

Herbs For Epilepsy:

  • Cannabis sativa/indica
  • Ginkgo
  • Scutellaria baicalensis
  • Melissa
  • Artemesia,
  • Zingiber
  • Passiflora
 

Nutritional Considerations For Epilepsy

  • B12
  • B9
  • Antioxidants
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • Amino Acids
  • Tryptophan
  • Taurine
  • Carnosine
  • Vitamins A, C, & E
  • Zinc
  • GABA
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Linoleic acid
  • Selenium
 

Author:

Justin Cooke

The Sunlight Experiment

Updated: March 2018


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References:

  1. Beghi, E. (2004). Aetiology of epilepsy (p. 61). Blackwell Science, Oxford.