Seizures cause violent muscle contractions and loss of consciousness. It is not often a great sight to behold when it happens. People with seizures often treat them with anti-seizure medications. Although they can be helpful, these medications may not be effective for everyone since some medicines can come with a risk of side effects.
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Some people with seizures consider natural treatments and alternative therapies to help complement their treatments or relieve their symptoms. From vitamins and herbs to acupuncture and biofeedback, there is a number to choose from.
Even though a modest amount of research backs some natural treatments, many treatments have no research to back them up. There is less evidence supporting natural remedies for seizures than conventional medicine, but herbal remedies have proven effective.
You will learn the following from this post:
- Meaning of seizures
- Symptoms of seizures
- Causes of seizures
- Risk factors and complications associated with seizures
- Personal safety against seizures
- Natural remedies for seizures
What is a Seizure?
A seizure is a result of abnormal and irregular electrical activity throughout the brain. Epilepsy is the primary cause of seizures; however, other health problems like extremely low blood sugar, stroke, or a high fever can trigger seizures. Many people who experience seizures for the first time never have another one and do not need treatment. However, a person with recurrent seizures may require daily anti-seizure medicines to prevent and control future seizures.
According to CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), seizure affects around 470,000 children and 3 million adults in the United States. The most effective and standard treatment for seizures is prescription anti-epileptic medications, such as carbamazepine.
There are different types of seizures, and only around two-thirds of cases of seizures respond well to medication. Some people may require surgery, but it is not always possible. Anti-epileptic drugs can also result in side effects for some people; therefore, a doctor may need to adjust a person’s medication dosage or type over time. In addition, about 80 percent of seizure sufferers live in lower-income countries where these drugs may be too expensive for them or even unavailable.
Because of these and other reasons, some sufferers seek alternative, non-drug, and complementary therapies, such as essential oils, cannabidiol (CBD) products, supplements, and herbs. However, a seizure is a complex condition. Therefore, it is crucial to discuss any natural remedies for seizures with your doctor before using them, as some options may not be practical or safe for some sufferers.
Symptoms of Seizures
There are two stages of seizures, including the following:
- Tonic phase. There is a loss of consciousness, and the muscles suddenly contract and make the person fall. This phase can last about 10 to 20 seconds.
- Clonic phase. The muscles suddenly go into rhythmic contractions, flexing and relaxing alternatively. Convulsions that usually follow last about one to two minutes.
The following are signs and symptoms of seizures:
- Severe headache. Headaches may follow a seizure.
- Sleepiness is a common symptom after a seizure.
- There is often a period of disorientation that accompanies a seizure. This disorientation is called postictal confusion.
- Unresponsiveness after convulsions. A person may experience unconsciousness for several minutes at the end of convulsion.
- Loss of bladder and bowel control. A person may experience urination or bowel movement during or after a seizure.
- A scream. Some people may cry out suddenly when a seizure begins.
Causes of Seizures
Seizures occur when the electrical activities on the surface of the brain synchronize abnormally. For example, the brain’s nerve cells usually communicate with each other by sending chemical and electrical signals across the synapses that join the cells.
In people suffering from seizures, the brain’s regular electrical activity is altered, and many nerve cells fire simultaneously. The exact cause of the changes often remains unknown. However, some underlying health problems are sometimes the cause of seizures. These problems include:
Infection or injury
- Injury due to previous lack of oxygen
- Infections, such as meningitis or encephalitis, or a history of any of the two infections
- Traumatic head injuries
Developmental or congenital abnormalities
- Brain tumors
- Genetic syndromes
- Blood vessel malformation in the brain
- Using or withdrawing from addictive drugs, including alcohol
Risk Factors and Complications Associated with Seizures
The risk factors associated with seizures include the following:
- Heavy alcohol use
- Illicit drug use
- Sleep deprivation
- Any injury to the brain from the previous infection, stroke, trauma, and other causes
- A family history of seizure disorders
Having a seizure at a particular time can result in circumstances that may be dangerous to you or others. For example, you might be at risk of the following:
- Emotional health issues. Seizure sufferers are more likely to have psychological challenges, such as anxiety and depression. The challenges may be a result of difficulty dealing with the condition itself, including medication side effects.
- Pregnancy complications. Seizures experienced during pregnancy pose not only a danger to the mother but also the unborn child. Furthermore, certain anti-epileptic drugs increase the risk of congenital disabilities. If you have epilepsy and plan to become pregnant, work with your doctor for medication adjustment and pregnancy monitor.
- Car accidents. A seizure that results in losing control or awareness can be dangerous if you are behind the wheel or operating other equipment that requires full attention.
- If your seizure surfaces while bathing or swimming, you may be at risk of accidental drowning.
- If you fall in the moment of a seizure attack, you may break a bone or injure your head.
Personal Safety against Seizures
Seizures do not always result in serious injury if you are not in a complicated situation. However, if your seizure is recurrent, injury is possible. Take these steps to help you avoid injury during a seizure:
- Display seizure first aid tips in places where people can easily notice them. You can include any important phone numbers there, too.
- Modify your furnishings. Purchase furniture with rounded edges, pad sharp corners, and select chairs with arms to keep you from falling off the chair during the seizure. Choose a carpet with thick padding to protect you during a fall.
- Take showers instead of a bath, except if there’s someone near you.
- Take care near the water. Do not relax in a boat or swim alone; make sure there are people nearby.
First Aid for Seizures
Knowing what to do whenever you witness someone having a seizure is crucial. If you are a seizure patient, it would be best to pass this information to co-workers, friends, and family so that they know what to do if you have a seizure.
To assist someone during a bout of seizure:
- Carefully roll the person onto the side
- Place something soft under their head
- Loosen tight neckwear
- Remove eyeglasses
- Avoid putting objects or your finger in the person’s mouth
- Do not try to stop someone from having a seizure
- If the person is moving, it is prudent to clear away dangerous items around
- Stay with the person until medical personnel arrive
- Carefully and closely observe the person so that you can provide essential details when help arrives
- Time the seizure
- Check for ID or medical alert bracelet
- Stay calm
6 Natural Remedies for Seizures
Working with your doctor to identify the right treatments for your seizure can help you assess the potential risks and benefits, including getting the right advice on the next step. Below are some of the natural remedies for seizures.
1. Herbal Treatments
With increasing public and market interest, herbal medicines have become popular. There seems to be an herb for almost every ailment. Some of the most commonly used herbs for seizures are:
- Tree of heaven
- Lily of the valley
- Burning bush
However, there have not been proper studies for these herbs’ interactions, side effects, and safety. Some of the herbs listed above can actually cause illness or death. Even though some herbs might help seizures, others may worsen the condition. Therefore, you should discuss their use with your doctor first.
The following are herbs you should probably avoid:
- Mint tea
- Herbal supplements containing caffeine or ephedra, such as kola and guarana
- Valerian, passionflower, and kava
- John’s wort and Gingko Biloba
Certain vitamins may reduce the rate of some seizures. However, you should understand that vitamins do not work alone. Their function is to help some medications work more effectively. Follow your doctor’s instructions before taking vitamin supplements to avoid a possible overdose.
This vitamin is effective for treating pyridoxine-dependent seizures. This particular seizure usually develops in the womb or soon after birth. It is due to your body’s inability to metabolize vitamin B-6 properly.
Some people suffering from incessant seizures may have vitamin E deficiency. Vitamin E helps reduce seizures in people whose symptoms are not controlled by conventional drugs.
3. Dietary Changes
Certain changes in diet may also help reduce seizures. A ketogenic diet is the best-known diet that focuses on eating a higher ratio of fats. The Keto diet has a low-carb and low-protein diet. Children who suffer from seizures often take the ketogenic diet. This type of diet can complement other treatment measures to help decrease seizures. With a ketogenic diet, you do not need any fasting or counting of calories.
4. Biofeedback and Self-control
Some epileptic patients try to control their brain activity to decrease seizure rate. The theory is that if you can identify the symptoms of an impending seizure on time, you may be able to keep it from happening. Most epileptics experience aura symptoms about half an hour before a seizure occurs. With the symptoms, you may have blurry vision, see strange lights, or notice unusual smells. Some symptoms leading up to the event may last for several days. These symptoms include:
- Bad headaches
Self-control methods are also effective for preventing or decreasing the intensity of the seizure as soon as it arrives. There are various techniques, all of which demand focus and good concentration. Examples include:
- Literally telling the seizure ‘NO!’
- Sniffing a strong odor
- Immersing yourself in a task
5. Chiropractic Care and Acupuncture
Chiropractic and acupuncture treatments can be alternatives to conventional treatment for seizures. We do not understand the exact way acupuncture works in this regard, but it is an ancient Chinese practice for easing chronic pain and other medical conditions. Therefore, acupuncture may change brain activity to decrease seizures.
Spinal manipulation during chiropractic care may help the body heal itself. In addition, some chiropractors use specific manipulations to control seizures regularly. However, acupuncture and chiropractic are not proven effective natural remedies for seizures.
6. Avoiding Triggers
Seizures occur when an imbalance happens in the neurotransmitter levels, such as the inhibitory neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and stimulant glutamate. Scientists refer to the imbalance in these chemicals as an electric paroxysmal depolarization shift (PDS). This shift is the cause of epileptic activities.
Certain activities and events can trigger such a shift. The knowledge of their trigger may help reduce the risk of experiencing a seizure. Some common triggers include:
- Not taking medication for seizure
- The use of drugs or alcohol, including some medications
- Exposure to virtual reality, 3D films, flashing light, especially with people with photosensitive epilepsy
- A lack of sleep
Some seizures, however, can occur without any apparent trigger.
Non-drug, alternative, and complementary natural remedies for seizures range from understanding as much as possible about the condition to faith healing and herbal remedies. Some of these remedies have research to support them, but others may not be effective. Some remedies (especially the misuse of these remedies) may even prove dangerous.
It is crucial to talk with a doctor before trying natural remedies for seizures to help ease your symptoms.