Complementary & Self Help for Epilepsy and Seizures!

Complementary & Self Help for Epilepsy and Seizures!
Julie Doherty Naturopathic Physician Mount Gambier, South Australia

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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 epilepsy can involve some form of brain injury.

However, for many people the underlying causes can be unknown.

Epilepsy and Seizures

Seizures occur when the brain’s electrical activity rises above the 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, and include violent shaking and loss of muscle control. However, sometimes these seizures can be mild, indicating an underlying medical problem. It is important to recognize them and seek professional medical assistance.

  1. 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.
  2. Epilepsy is a chronic disorder that causes unprovoked recurrence of seizures. Not all people who suffer from seizures have epilepsy.

In few epileptic cases there is a clear cause. Typically, the known underlying causes of a seizure will involve some injury to the brain.

Some of the Known Causes of Epilepsy Include:

  • Low oxygen during birth.
  • Head injuries that occur during birth or from accidents during youth or adulthood.
  • Brain tumors.
  • 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 cases of epilepsy in adults and children, no main 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: This is another type of a 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. 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 the certain factors known to provoke or cause seizures. Reviewing 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.
  • Smoking.
  • Alcohol having an adverse reaction to medication you are taking.
  • Lack of sleep or poor quality sleep.
  • If you are already on seizure or other medications, these may interfere causing problems. Always let your health care professional know of the medications (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, and overeating. Sometimes certain allergies to chemicals and additives added to processed foods may cause seizures.

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 care professional about what can be done different or how your medications could be changed around this time.

How to Identify Triggers and What You Can Do!

Identifying triggers isn’t always easy. A single incident doesn’t always mean something is a trigger. It’s 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.

You can 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 also 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 and every improvement, no matter how small. This will give you confidence and belief that what you are doing is working or of course if it isn't - Why? Then, any further changes can be put into place.

More often than not, if the seizures are chronic and are linked to epilepsy, you will be put on a course of medications. In order to improve your health and cease or minimize the seizures substantially, there is a great deal of natural ways to support your body.

Many Australians are now using naturopathic therapies to complement and improve their health, as well as 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. Do not alter the dose without consulting with your physician, neurologist or 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 has an effect on 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, complementary, herbal or nutritional therapies to consult with their doctor or neurologist first.

Never stop taking antiepileptic medication or attempt to alter the dosage on your own. This can lead to serious or life threatening seizures.

  • A good quality fish oil capsules, such as krill or cod liver oil. Cod liver oil contains both vitamin D and vitamin A.
  • B complex and a B6 supplement. These should be taken separately.
  • 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 definitely plays an important role in helping your body to heal, not to mention your brain to function optimally. Here is a link - “How to Protect your Brain with the foods you eat”
  • Eliminating addictions - 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 an addiction other than smoking, this book will be helpful. Click here to Download your Copy Today!
  • Learning to cope and deal with not just stress, but chronic stress. In this article I help you to understand chronic stress, giving you simple, effective ways to deal with it.

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