Alternative Medicine for Seizures

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
Conventional medication may not work for all people with seizures. And so, they might turn to alternative therapies to try and control their seizures. This lesson goes over some of them.

What Are Seizures?

Abnormal electrical activity can fry your computer, stall your phone and even take out an entire neighborhood's lights. And if it can do that, you better believe that abnormal electrical activity in your brain is going to cause issues as well. If the neurons, brain cells, in a person body suddenly become abnormally over-excited with electrical activity, a seizure may be the end result. There are different kinds of seizures, from almost imperceptible ones to ones that cause violent shaking.

And just like there are different kinds of seizures, some believe there are different kinds of alternative therapies for them. Most have little to no scientific backing. And because seizures are serious, you must consult with a doctor before trying any of them out.


Most of Western medicine focuses on using anticonvulsant drugs to treat seizures. They include phenobarbital and gabapentin among others. However, some believe various supplements may be of help.

One such supplement is called melatonin, which is actually a type of hormone that our body normally produces to regulate the sleep/wake cycle. Some believe that melatonin might improve a person's seizure control in some kinds of seizures. However, it should be noted that another study found that melatonin might actually worsen a person's seizures. So great care must be taken if someone is going to take this as a supplement.

Another supplement commonly touted to help with seizures is pyridoxine, or vitamin B6. Pyridoxine is used to treat a very rare kind of recurrent seizure called pyridoxine-dependent epilepsy. In other words, it's unlikely to be helpful for every kind of seizure.

Like vitamin B6, treatment with another vitamin called biotin is sometimes useful for very particular seizures. These seizures stem from the body's inability to recycle biotin. Again, there's no evidence to suggest taking biotin will help in other types of seizures.

Some other vitamins people believe might help reduce seizures include vitamin D, vitamin E, and folic acid. Magnesium deficiency might increase a person's risk of seizures so magnesium might be supplemented in some cases as well.

What should be noted is that some of the supplements noted in this section aren't used so much to try and treat seizures but rather the negative effects some seizure medications may have on the person's body.

Diet & Herbs

People with seizures might consider eating on a regular basis to minimize their chances of having a seizure and avoiding alcohol and caffeine. In addition, some very specific types of diets have been suggested as being beneficial for some types of seizures. For example:

  • The ketogenic diet. This diet is high in fat and low in carbohydrates.
  • Atkin's diet, a diet low in fat and high in protein.
  • Oligoantigenic diet, a diet with few varieties of foods. For example, there may be only one kind of meat, one kind of fruit, one kind of vegetable and so on.
  • A diet fortified with omega-3 fatty acids, like those found in fish or flaxseed oil.

There are also numerous herbal remedies that might supposedly help a person with seizures. They include:

  • Burning bush
  • Mugwort
  • Peony
  • Scullcap

But not all herbs are beneficial. Some herbs might actually be bad for people with seizures either because they increase the risk of seizure or interact poorly with seizure medication. Herbs to avoid include:

  • Gingko and St. John's wort
  • Garlic
  • Chamomile
  • Kava
  • Schizandra

Other Considerations

Besides diet and supplements, a person with seizures might want to consider some additional things to better manage their seizures. For example, proper sleep hygiene is important. This means getting enough sleep and sleeping at regular intervals. If a person goes to sleep later than usual, they should get up later as well.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account