Alternative Treatments for Epilepsy

About 1 in 100 people are affected by epilepsy which is quite a large chunk of the population.  Diagnosis in childhood is common although it can affect anyone of any age.  Over 65 year olds are often diagnosed with it too.  I’m not going to get into the types of epilepsy because it always comes down to one thing, all epilepsies induce seizures or fits.

One visible symptom

brain waves

There appears to be just the one visible symptom and that is recurring seizures which are caused by an excess of electrical activity in the neurons of the brain.   The brain is constantly alive with electrical activity.  The amount of stimulation and suppression necessary to balance a healthy brain is controlled by switches, turned on and off by neurotransmitters.  These neurotransmitters depend on certain nutrients for them to activate, including magnesium, calcium and zinc.  These nutrients play various roles in  supporting the response of the nerve cells to electrical stimulation.

Overexcited nerve cells

If the brain encounters trauma by way of chemicals, emotional stress, physical stress which includes an imbalance of nutrients, then those switches can be permanently switched on making them fire excessively.  These overexcited nerve cells can cause seizures and fits.  Studies have shown that with a magnesium deficiency, this scenario is more likely to happen¹.  On the other hand, if magnesium is at optimum levels, it protects against over stimulation of the nerve cells and keeps them at an equilibrium thus reducing the chance of seizures such as epilepsy.

Dr Carolyn DeanDr Carolyn Dean has written many books on the benefits of magnesium and advocates it for innumerable medical conditions, not least the role of magnesium in reducing and in some cases eliminating seizures. She says “Experimental studies have shown that low magnesium in the body makes seizures more likely to occur. Magnesium sulfate for the treatment of seizures and hypertension in pregnancy is safe and effective and universally accepted.”

Magnesium and epilepsy

Magnesium deficiency and its affects on health and particularly talking about epilepsy has been known for decades.  Why is it that this vital mineral is being ignored by the majority of the medical community with just a few eminent specialists and doctors championing its health benefits?  I think the problem could be money and in this case it is the root of all evil when it comes to putting the public’s health in second place after drugs, money and profit.  I don’t blame the doctors, they are obviously dedicated but they are locked into the system that is putting Big Pharma profits before health.  Profits from drugs like statins which brings in multi billions for just this one class of drug.  This most profitable drug ever, is prescribed to save your heart from high cholesterol.  Did you know that magnesium is a natural statin!  …well, that’s another post.

Dr Lewis B. Barnett’s work

Returning to Epilepsy I want to go back to the last century when a Dr Lewis B. Barnett,Dr Lewis B Barnett head of the Hereford Clinic and Deaf Smith Research Foundation in Hereford, Texas, began a series of experiments.  Barnett was actually looking into the role of magnesium in bone structure and whilst studying this, came across the significance and vital role of magnesium in the physiology of the central nervous system. He looked further into any research done in this field and found a medical investigation done by Martin, Meke, and Wertman, (which I have failed to find anywhere on the web). They evidently reported that those suffering from epilepsy had a deficiency of magnesium in the blood.

One little boy started it

This was when he turned his attention to epilepsy.  He started his research with a little boy who had been an epileptic for 3.5 years, he was only 4 years old.  His parents had come to the realization that their child may have to live with this condition for the rest of his life.  The boy had been prescribed anticonvulsive drugs but they didn’t work.  They did notice though that the boy was more likely to have a seizure if he was under stress.

Dr Barnett started treating the boy with 450mg of magnesium gluconate along with a thyroid extract.  Within two weeks of the start of this treatment, all signs of epilepsy had vanished and the child showed no signs of the condition from then on.

childrenAnother 29 children were treated

He took on a further 29 cases of children of all ages who had not responded or had minimally responded to pharmaceutical drugs and therapy.  After treatment with high oral doses of magnesium they all experienced amazing results.  In his Hereford study he only used children who definitely suffered with epilepsy.  Their blood magnesium levels were assessed and in all cases the levels were very low.  He gave all the children oral magnesium gluconate supplementation to correct their deficiency.  Within a few weeks, their blood magnesium levels were repleted to normal and except for one, there was a definite clinical improvement.  This research was done in 1959!

Even if there is the slightest chance that epilepsy symptoms can be improved by using magnesium supplementation, isn’t it worth using it.  After all it is entirely safe and is naturally needed by the body including the brain.  It is also generally known that the majority of the population is actually deficient in this vital alkaline metal.

I’m perplexed


I’m really quite perplexed.  I’ve gone onto various epilepsy sites and cannot see one mention of using magnesium supplementation.  Perhaps I need to look harder, but I shouldn’t have to, it should be on all epileptic sites.  All I see is pharmaceutical drugs for controlling this condition.  There is a research paper asking the question – Can magnesium supplementation reduce seizures in people with epilepsy?²  They conclude “We hypothesise that magnesium supplementation can reduce seizures in people with epilepsy. This hypothesis can be tested in a controlled randomised supplementation trial. If proven, magnesium supplementation needs to be considered in the overall management of people with refractory epilepsy.”

One mother’s plea

Interestingly though, there is a lot of talk on the forums about epilepsy and magnesium.  I found the following frustrated mother’s plea for help: “I keep asking my sons neurologist about low magnesium associated with his seizures.i just read on this site that low magnesium can cause abnormal electrical activity in brain cells. My son had normal MRI and abnormal EEG showing a small area of abnormal electrical “sparks”. his blood work showed a magnesium imbalance. Every time I mention this to the dr he says  that wouldn’t show on an EEG,which may be true,but the low magnesium could be his trigger. I’m feeling fustrated as I would like to pin point my sons trigger.”

epileptic fit
Child having a seizure

This mother has picked up on something and it appears the doctor in charge of her son’s case is completely ignoring her.  She has a very valid point and if I was the mother of this child I would be supplementing with magnesium despite what the doctor said.  As I keep saying, it is harmless, so what’s the harm?  Trouble is, many of us consider the doctor’s word as gospel.  Most would not go against what a doctor prescribes.  But, doctors are just human like everyone else.  They don’t see your child day in day out suffering from debilitating seizures.  You know your child better than he!

Won’t magnesium react badly with drugs?

I know what you’re going to say…..  what if the magnesium reacts with my drug?  Well, actually it will more likely to be the other way around.  Magnesium deficiency is often exacerbated by taking pharmaceutical drugs.  Drugs are renowned to deplete magnesium levels at an alarming rate so if you are taking drugs, magnesium supplementation and/or a magnesium rich diet would be beneficial.  By the way, has your doctor ever said to you “you must stop taking magnesium with this drug” or “you’d better stop eating any food with magnesium in it when using this drug”.  Of course not.  No more would he say that about any other natural nutrient.  Chances are he knows nothing about magnesium; medical students are not normally taught about nutrients anyway.

To finish and don’t get phased by this!

I don’t want to get technical here but I want to finish with an interesting recent research paper I found called “Seizure activity results in calcium and mitochondria independent ROS production via NADPH and xanthine oxidase activation”³.  Don’t let the title phase you just take note of what was in the paper…  Within the guts of this research paper were the following statements, just read the bold bits if you want…

“To determine the mechanisms and sources of ROS generation and their exact temporal relationship during the initial phase of network hyperexcitability, the well-established low magnesium culture model of seizure-like activity was used”
and further on in the paper:
“In keeping with previous reports, we found that seizure-like activity in the low magnesium model induced oscillatory increases in intracellular Ca2+.”
Both these statements confirm that it is well known that low levels of magnesium can induce seizure-like activity by inducing unwanted excitation of intracellular calcium!

Well known epilepsy sufferers

Susan Boyle - Singer
Susan Boyle
Danny Glover
Danny Glover

Please leave a comment, I will always reply

Ches Power

Ches Power Author

  1. Blaylock RL Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills, Health Press, Sante Fe, NM, 1997
  2. Yuen AW1, Sander JW. Can magnesium supplementation reduce seizures in people with epilepsy? A hypothesis. Epilepsy Res. 2012 Jun;100(1-2):152-6. doi: 10.1016/j.eplepsyres.2012.02.004. Epub 2012 Mar 8.
  3. S Kovac,A-M Domijan, M C Walker, A Y Abramov Seizure activity results in calcium- and mitochondria-independent ROS production via NADPH and xanthine oxidase activation Cell Death Dis. 2014 Oct; 5(10): e1442. Published online 2014 Oct 2. doi:  10.1038/cddis.2014.390
Alternative Treatments for Epilepsy
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Alternative Treatments for Epilepsy
About 1 in 100 people are affected by epilepsy which is quite a large chunk of the population. Diagnosis in childhood is common although it can affect anyone of any age.
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15 thoughts on “Alternative Treatments for Epilepsy

  1. I’m sorry to hear about your daughter and you’re obviously very worried about her. If she were my daughter I would be trying natural treatments first before going down the drug route. But this depends on how often your child has seizures. If you want to get a magnesium test done yourself you can use a testing centre called request a test and they will do a RBC magnesium test which is much more accurate than the normal serum magnesium test. The test used to cost $49 but I don’t know if that price has risen. Whatever you do, start giving your child a good quality magnesium supplement such as Dr Carolyn Dean’s ReMag. Another good one, if you daughter is constipated which is common, is Mg Citrate powder which is easy to dose correctly and is tasteless. You can put it into her food or she can have it in a drink. Please, please, don’t allow her to consume anything with aspartame in it. The only sweetener which is deemed to be safe at the moment is stevia. If possible avoid artificial sweeteners. Make sure your daughter eats as little junk food as possible. Cook as much of her food yourself with natural ingredients. No sodas, as they nearly all contain aspartame.

    Good luck and keep doing research, you will learn so much if you check out research done by independent researchers. Ignore research done by the pharmaceuticals, their priority is to make a profit. Buy Dr Carolyn Dean’s book “The Magnesium Miracle” This will give you all the info you need to know about Mg deficiency and its connection with so many diseases and conditions, including seizures and epilepsy. Check this page out, it expands on the treatment Dr Barnett practiced for epileptic children. Also this site has a plethora of info on Mg. Please get back to me if you have more questions.

  2. Hi my daughter have being diagnosed with primary generalized Epilepsy and she have absence seizures.Im so scared to give her the medicine called Zarontin.They never told me to do a blood test.what can I do?i test her magnesium I’m the blood to see the levels and start giving her magnesium ,she is 10years old.

  3. Great article, I had no idea that Magnesium was good for epilepsy I applaud Dr. Dean and Dr. Barnett for all the great work that they have done in this field of study. I’m a huge advocate for natural medicine because there’s less side effects. All too often the Doctors will prescribe prescription medication for an ailment before considering a healthier alternative.

  4. Hi Wing, Yes I’ve heard about the diet. It is a misconception that fat is the problem with many conditions. We need good fats for good health and this is particularly true for renewal and protection from neurological diseases such as epilepsy. Thanks for your input. Ches

  5. It’s amazing how much magnesium improves our physical health. Never knew about it’s effects on epilepsy but it doesn’t surprise me. Have you heard too that a low carbohydrate and high fat diet helps with epilepsy as well? It’s actually the state of ketosis that the patient would be in that helps reduce a lot of the symptoms.

  6. Hi Chessie. Congrats on your site. I got lost in your site in a good way, there was so many information on your site and easy to navigate and easy to read. The only thing that i would like to see on your site is about me. Throw your writing and information i was no closer to getting to know you.

    Best of luck

  7. Hi there Jeanette and thanks for reading the article and the positive comments. Yes, it is a real shame that the general public don’t know about natural vitamins and minerals. As far as magnesium goes, it is the one nutrient that will do wonders for your health and help to protect you from diseases that can be life threatening such as cardiovascular diseases. This is apart from neurological conditions such as epilepsy. As for medical education, I think the problem could be that Big Pharma is very much in control. They are known to push their drugs onto doctors and give them incentives to use those drugs.

    Good health to you and your family. Ches

  8. Hi Ches! Such a great post! So informative. I would have never known that low magnesium levels can cause epilepsy. I know it’s a very important nutrient. I would definitely agree with you on the perplexion of why isn’t this information readily available to these people who suffer from the condition. More importantly why aren’t doctors taught about nutrition. Food is medicine. Thank you so much for this enlightening post!

  9. Hi there Kevin and thanks for reading the post. Magnesium is a natural substance, it is NOT a drug and is necessary for the mitochondria within our trillions of cells for producing energy. Without it, energy will not be produced. This is absolutely vital for someone who does strenuous exercise or competes at a high level where the body is put under extreme physical stress. His medications are probably depleting his magnesium and having epilepsy would suggest his magnesium levels are low to start with. Look at this Magnesium and Working Out and be aware that this young man is already under stress from his condition, if he is also doing hard physical exercise, he will be depleting his magnesium even more. Best course of action IMHO is to make sure he has magnesium chloride solution in water. You can get it from off this site (ionic magnesium) or you can go to Dr Carolyn Dean’s site for ReMag magnesium chloride. Put 1/2 teaspoon (2.5ml) into a bottle of water – say 500ml bottle – (this will give you 150mg of elemental magnesium) and get him to drink it throughout the day. Make sure he has had magnesium water before he participates in any strenuous exercise. He can up his dose to 1 teaspoon but it HAS to be taken with plenty of water. Good luck to you and your young athlete and good health to you both. Ches

  10. Hi, I have a question, I hope you can answer me this.
    I work as a Sport Psychology and one of my athletes suffers from epilepsy episodes sometimes when he is not on his meds. I would like to point this alternative treatment to him, but because he competes in a international level, he has to be careful with what he takes because of doping in sports and all that stuff.
    My question is – do you think is ok to take it as an athlete?
    Thanks for the great post, I´m looking up for my young boy, hope I can point him in another direction, besides drugs.
    Have a good one!

  11. Hi there Pat and thanks for reading the somewhat long post. You are so right, we do take our body health for granted and we do rely too much on our medics who do their level best but cannot know what we know about our own bodies. I am really gratified that you will be spreading the word to your friends and don’t forget, magnesium is necessary for all parts of the body including all our trillions of cells and our cardio system. Taking magnesium will also lessen the likelihood of getting a stroke which is something all of us fear. Good health to you and yours always, Ches

  12. Hi Evan and thanks for reading the post. The fact that few people know about this essential nutrient is the fault of the medical profession in my mind. Big Pharma would rather you use their ‘super drug’ of course and that could be part of the problem. Luckily, my family and friends all seem to be pretty healthy so I don’t know anyone with epilepsy, if I did, I would certainly be enlightening them. I sincerely hope you will spread the word if anyone you know has this horrible condition. Even so, no matter what your quality of health is, this nutrient is necessary for all parts of the body not least the cardiovascular system and all your cells (of which there are 37.2 trillion). No wonder so many are suffering! Good health to you always, Ches

  13. Wonderful informative. It is amazing to me how a simple deficiency in magnesim can wreak such havoc on the body. We all take our body and health for granted. The more articles I read about nutrients I realize their importance.I have many friends that I will share this informative article with.Thank you for providing this professionally written article.

  14. This is an awesome post!

    I had no idea that magnesium supplementation can be used to treat epilepsy!

    It is so disappointing that people are informed to use pharmaceuticals instead of supplementing with magnesium!

    Do you know anyone who has personally tried magnesium supplementation for epilepsy?

    Great post, keep ’em coming!

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