Epilepsy and Seizures: Complementary Medicine & Self-Help!
Epilepsy is a diagnosed medical term used when a person has had more than one Seizure. Quite often during the diagnostic phase the cause of the epilepsy can involve some form of brain injury. However, for many people the underlying causes can be unknown. There is a great deal that can be done with complementary medicine, lifestyle changes, self-help strategies to reduce and often eliminate these frightening events.
Epilepsy and Seizures
Seizures occur when the brain’s electrical activity rises above normal electrical impulse limits. These changes are transmitted to muscles and can cause dramatic, noticeable symptoms such as twitching or convulsions. These symptoms can be severe including violent shaking, loss of muscle control. However, sometimes these seizures can be mild indicating and underlying medical problem, so it is important to recognize them and seek professional medical assistance.
Seizures can be non-epileptic resulting from an injury, such as a blow to the head, a fall or an illness. When professional treatment is sought for the condition, the seizures tend to cease and go away. Epilepsy is a chronic disorder that cause non-provoked recurrence of seizures. Not all people who suffer from seizures have epilepsy.
In a minority of epileptic cases there is a clear cause, typically, the known underlying causes of the seizure will involve some injury to the brain.
Known causes of Epilepsy include:
- Low oxygen during birth
- Head injuries that occur during birth or from accidents during youth or adulthood
- Genetic conditions that result in brain injury, such as tuberous sclerosis
Infections such as meningitis or encephalitis
- Stroke or any other type of damage to the brain
- Abnormal levels of substances such as sodium or blood sugar
In up to 70% of all case of epilepsy in adults and children, no cause can be discovered.
Depending on the individual person seizures fall into these categories –
- Non-epileptic seizures: These result from an injury, such as a blow to the head, a fall, or an illness. When you get professional treatment for the condition, the seizures go away.
- Partial seizures: These seizures can occur if you have epilepsy. As mentioned epilepsy is a condition that causes repeated seizures. This type of seizure happens on only one side of the brain. As a result, one side of the body is affected during a seizure. Other names for partial seizures include focal, Jacksonian, and temporal lobe seizures.
- Generalized seizures: These seizures occur on both sides of the brain and affect both sides of the body. Generalized seizures include grand mal or tonic-clonic seizures, these often occur when you have been diagnosed with epilepsy.
- Petit mal seizures are another type of generalized seizure. These are also known as absence seizures. These seizures have few physical symptoms but may involve staring off into space for several seconds, sometimes minutes with no recollection of what is being stared at.
If you have an absence seizure, other people can’t get your attention during the seizure. These are still important to note and report to your Health Care Professional.
Possible Causes of Epilepsy!
- Traumatic brain injury
- Scarring on the brain after a brain injury (post-traumatic epilepsy)
- Serious illness or very high fever
- Stroke, which is a leading cause of epilepsy in people over age 35
other vascular diseases
- Lack of oxygen to the brain (can be after a drowning incident, where the person has survived, leaving this underlying issue)
- Brain tumor or cyst
- Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
- Maternal drug use, prenatal injury, brain malformation, or lack of oxygen at birth
- Infectious diseases such as AIDS and meningitis
- Genetic or developmental disorders or neurological diseases
Possible Causes of Seizures!
Here are a few of certain factors known that may provoke or cause seizures – looking at these triggers may help you to avoid seizures and live a better quality of life.
- Missing medication doses
- Heavy alcohol use
- Alcohol or drug withdrawal
- Alcohol just in normal quantities may have an adverse reaction to medication you are taking
- Lack of sleep or poor-quality sleep
- If you are already on seizure or other medication these may interfere causing problems. Always let your Health Professional know any other treatments (even natural ones) that you are taking.
- High fever or Chronic illness
- Head trauma
- Very low blood sugar
- Trauma, Shock, and Stress
- Bright lights, flashing lights and strobe lighting
- Excessive intake of caffeine
- Eating disorders, skipping meals, overeating and sometimes certain allergies to chemicals and additives added to processed foods
No matter whether your seizures are epileptic related or not, they are an indication that there are some improvements that you can put into place to help support your overall health and wellbeing. In doing this, this will also benefit and relieve if not all, but many of your symptoms.
For about one out of every two women with epilepsy, seizures tend to occur more around the time of menstrual periods. If this is happening to you, then speak with your health professionals about what could be done different or how your medicines could be changed for around this time.
How to identify triggers and what you can do!
Identifying triggers is not always easy. A single incident does not always mean something is a trigger. It is often a combination of factors that trigger a seizure. A good way to find your triggers is to keep a seizure journal. After each seizure, note the following:
- Day and time
- What activity you were involved in
- What was happening around you, how do you feel
- Unusual sights, smells, or sounds
- Unusual stressors or circumstances
- What you have been eating or how long it had been since you’d eaten
- Your level of fatigue (normal or excessive) How well you slept the night before or maybe even days
- You can also use your seizure journal to determine if your medications or support therapies are working. It is important to note how you felt just before and just after your seizure, and any side effects or changes.
It is important to take your journal with you when you visit your Health Care Professional. It may be useful in adjusting your medications and seeing what other changes you have put into place and how they are working. It is important to note each improvement, no matter how small. This will give you confidence and belief that what you are doing is working or of course if it is not – Why? Then any further changes you can put into place.
Often if the seizures are chronic and are linked to epilepsy, you will be put on a course of medications. However, these medications are not designed to help you to become well, to improve your health and either cease or minimalize the seizures substantially there is a great deal of natural ways to support your body.
Many Australians are now using Naturopathic Therapies to compliment and improve their health, combat illness and disease, to give them a better quality of life
It is of vital importance if you are on anti-epileptic medication that you never stop taking it suddenly or altering the dose without consultation with your Medical practitioner, Neurologist, and your Naturopathic Practitioner.
Antiepileptic medication can cause nutrition deficiencies
Antiepileptic medications have been shown to induce nutrition deficiencies, such as vitamin B6, calcium, vitamin D and folic acid. It is well known that long-term use of AEDs affects bone density and increases the risk of bone fractures.
For this reason, many people with epilepsy prefer to take vitamin supplementation. This is generally not a problem, but it is important for people planning on trying alternative, complimentary, herbal or nutritional therapies to consult with their doctor or neurologist first.
Never stop taking antiepileptic medication suddenly or attempt to alter the dosage on your own. This can lead to serious or life-threatening seizures.
- A Good Quality Fish oil capsules eg Krill or Cod Liver Oil. Cod Liver oil contains both vitamin D and Vitamin A.
- B Complex and a B6 Supplement the B6 to be taken as a separate nutrient to the B Complex
- Folic Acid – Food sources high in folic acid – Dark Leafy vegetables, pumpkin, asparagus, avocado, broccoli, citrus fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and berries.
- Herbal medicines such as Bacopa help with brain and nerve function, Black Cohosh and Chaste Tree herbal with hormone support.
- Dietary Improvements: The Food you eat plays an important role in helping your body to heal, not to mention your brain to function optimally.
Read Next: How to Protect your Brain with the Food you EAT!
Making Positive Lifestyle Changes
Eliminating Bad Habits – If you are wanting to give up any addictions the eBook – “Why Can’t I give up Smoking will be helpful”, even if it is a different addiction to smoking, this book you will find this book helpful.