Seizure Disorder / Epilepsy

Epilepsies are a group of disorders characterized by sudden, recurrent and episodic changes in neurological function caused by abnormalities in the electrical activity of the brain. These are measured by an EEG. Each episode is called a seizure. Seizures are associated with excessive neuronal activation in the brain. 6% of the U.S. population will develop at least one seizure in their lifetime. Epilepsy may be due to a neurologic injury, infection, structural brain lesion, toxicity to the brain or other undetermined causes. The course of a seizure disorder is often marked with remissions, periods of 2 to 5 years without a seizure. This generally occurs while the patient is taking an anti-seizure medicine. Relapses may happen even while on medication or when the medicine is withdrawn.

Standard medical treatments:

Anti-seizure medicines –

Dilantin, Tegretol, Depakote, Lamictal, Neurontin, Topomax

Benzodiazepenes, especially for alcohol withdrawal

Treat concurrent medical problems – electrolyte disorders, alcoholism

Ketogenic diet

Vagus nerve stimulation

Brain surgery

 

Supportive and alternative treatments:

Nutritional – assess and balancing of minerals – magnesium, zinc, manganese, calcium

Glutathione infusions – strong anti-oxidant

Vitamin B6 and folic acid

Taurine, GABA calms – promotes GABA levels

Vitamin E – anti-oxidant

Melatonin – regulates brain sleep cycle

Herbal –

Coleus forskolii – decreases cAMP

Bupleuri radix – decreases cAMP

Skullcap – muscle relaxant

Brainwave biofeedback

Detoxify neurotoxic chemicals –

Heavy metals

Acupuncture

Homeopathy – aconitum

 

Seizure Disorder and Cannabis 

Anti-seizure medications are always preferred by neurologists, yet some patients prefer to use cannabis to treat seizure disorder due to reduced side effects compared to the medications. If this is the case, it’s important to take it regularly as with any medication. In a  June 8, 2004 article, “Marijuana Use and Epilepsy; Prevalence in Patients of a Tertiary Care Epilepsy Center,” published in Neurology, it states,

“Twenty-one percent of subjects had used marijuana in the past year with the majority of active users reporting beneficial effects on seizures. Twenty-four percent of all subjects believed marijuana was an effective therapy for epilepsy. Despite limited evidence of efficacy, many patients with epilepsy believe marijuana is an effective therapy for epilepsy and are actively using it.”

It is not only THC, but Cannabidiol (CBD), a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis has also been noted to have antiepileptic properties. As yet no clinical trials have been done to test the efficacy of cannabis or CBD compared to other medications in the treatment of seizure disorder.