Epilepsy is a disorder of the nervous system. It causes unpredictable changes in the electrical activity of the brain known as seizures. They can range from mild to severe, rare or frequent.
Treatment can help to prevent seizures. Medicine is the most common treatment but others may need diet or lifestyle changes. Some may still have seizures even with treatment. Natural therapies may help to control and prevent seizures when used with standard treatments.
- Cannabinoids are chemicals in marijuana plants that may ease seizures.B3, B6, B7, B9-B15
May Be Effective
- Acupuncture uses fine needs in specific parts of the body. It may be more effective than a standard medicine to ease seizures.A1
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids are found in foods and available as pills. They may ease seizure frequency.B1, B4, B8, B16
- Xylaria nigripes is a fungus that may ease depression in people with epilepsy.B5
- Yoga uses poses, breath control, and meditation. It may reduce the frequency of seizures.A2
Herbs and Supplements to Be Used With Caution
Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some may get in the way of treatment. They can also make illness worse or cause new problems.
Mind Body Therapies
A1. Cheuk DK, Wong V. Acupuncture for epilepsy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014 May 7;(5):CD005062.
A2. Panebianco M, Sridharan K, et al. Yoga for epilepsy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 May 2;(5):CD001524.
B1. Bromfield E, Dworetzky B, Hurwitz S, et al. A randomized trial of polyunsaturated fatty acids for refractory epilepsy. Epilepsy Behav.2008;12:187-190.
B2. Li Q, Chen X, et al. Traditional Chinese medicine for epilepsy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009 Jul 8;(3):CD006454.
B3. Gloss D, Vickrey B. Cannabinoids for epilepsy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014 Mar 5;(3):CD009270.
B4. DeGiorgio CM, Miller PR, et al. Fish oil (n-3 fatty acids) in drug resistant epilepsy: a randomised placebo-controlled crossover study. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2015 Jan;86(1):65-70.
B5. Peng WF, Wang X, et al. The anti-depression effect of Xylaria nigripes in patients with epilepsy: A multicenter randomized double-blind study. Seizure. 2015 Jul;29:26-33.
B6. Press CA, Knupp KG, et al. Parental reporting of response to oral cannabis extracts for treatment of refractory epilepsy. Epilepsy Behav. 2015 Apr;45:49-52.
B7. Hussain SA, Zhou R, et al. Perceived efficacy of cannabidiol-enriched cannabis extracts for treatment of pediatric epilepsy: a potential role for infantile spasms and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Epilepsy Behav. 2015 Jun;47:138-141.
B8. Sarmento Vasconcelos V, Macedo CR, de Souza Pedrosa A, Pereira Gomes Morais E, Porfírio GJ, Torloni MR. Polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation for drug-resistant epilepsy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016;(8):CD011014.
B9. Tzadok M, Uleil-Siboni S, et al. CBD-enriched medical cannabis for intractable pediatric epilepsy: The current Israeli experience. Seizure. 2016 Feb;35:41-44.
B10. Devinsky O, Marsh E, et al. Cannabidiol in patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy: an open-label intervention trial. Lancet Neurol. 2016 Mar;15(3):270-278.
B11. Wong SS, Wilens TE. Medical Cannabinoids in Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Review. Pediatrics. 2017 Nov;140(5). pii: e20171818.
B12. Devinsky O, Patel AD, et al. Effect of cannabidiol on drop seizures in the Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome. N Engl J Med. 2018 May 17;378(20):1888-1897.
B13. Devinsky O, Cross JH, et al. Trial of cannabidiol for drug-resistant seizures in the Dravel Syndrome. N Engl J Med. 2017 May 25;376(21):2011-2020.
B14. Abrams DI. The therapeutic effects of Cannabis and cannabinoids: An update from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report. Eur J Intern Med. 2018 Mar;49:7-11.
B15. Thiele EA, Marsh ED, et al. Cannabidiol in patients with seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (GWPCARE4):a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 3 trial. Lancet. 2018 Mar 17;391(10125):1085-1096.
B16. Ibrahim FAS, Ghebremeskel K, et al. The differential effects of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) on seizure frequency in patients with drug-resistant epilepsy - A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Epilepsy Behav. 2018 Oct;87:32-38.
Last reviewed May 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Last Updated: 6/14/2019