1 in 100 people are affected by epilepsy, quite a large chunk of the population. Although it can effect anyone of any age, diagnosis in childhood is common. But there are alternative treatments for epilepsy, so why aren’t they being used? I’m not going to get into the types of epilepsy here because all epilepsies induce seizures or fits.
One visible symptom
There appears to be just the one visible symptom and that is recurring seizures. These 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. So these neurotransmitters depend on certain nutrients for them to activate, nutrients including magnesium, calcium and zinc. Nutrients play various roles in supporting the response of the nerve cells to electrical stimulation.
Overexcited nerve cells
The brain can encounters trauma by way of chemicals, emotional stress, physical stress which includes an imbalance of nutrients. These switches can be permanently switched on making them fire excessively. The overexcited nerve cells can cause seizures and fits. Studies have shown that with a magnesium deficiency, this scenario is more likely to happen¹. When magnesium is at optimum levels, it protects against over stimulation of the nerve cells and keeps them at an equilibrium. This in turn reduces the chance of seizures such as epilepsy.
Dr Carolyn Dean has written many books on the benefits of magnesium. She 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.”
Epilepsy and Magnesium
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. Just a few eminent specialists and doctors championing its health benefits? Alternative treatments for epilepsy are ignored by mainstream medical practices and I think the problem is profits. There’s no money for pharmaceuticals in a natural nutrient. 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 alternative treatments for epilepsy, I want to go back to the last century. 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. They evidently reported that those suffering from epilepsy had a deficiency of magnesium in the blood.
One little boy started it
This was when Dr Barnett 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 took anticonvulsive drugs but the drugs didn’t work. They did notice though that the boy was more likely to have a seizure if he was under stress.
Epilepsy symptoms disappeared
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. The child showed no signs of the condition from then on.
Another 29 children were treated
Following this success, 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.
All the children’s Mg levels were very low
The children’s 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! Alternative treatments for epilepsy worked then, so why is it not being used now?
Magnesium is natural and safe
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.
Alternative treatments for epilepsy not on the sites
I’ve gone onto various epilepsy sites and cannot see one mention of alternative treatments for epilepsy 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.”
Mother’s know their child!
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. Furthermore, 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!
Will magnesium react badly with drugs?
I know what you’re going to say….. what if the magnesium reacts with my drug? Well, actually it’s more likely to be the other way around. Taking pharmaceutical drugs exacerbates a Magnesium deficiency. Drugs are renowned to deplete magnesium levels at an alarming rate. So if you are taking drugs, magnesium supplementation and a magnesium rich diet will always be beneficial.
I want to finish with an interesting recent research paper. It’s 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… The following statements were found in the text of this paper, 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
Alternative treatments for epilepsy? Why not try Magnesium!
- Blaylock RL Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills, Health Press, Sante Fe, NM, 1997
- 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.
- 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
19 thoughts on “Alternative Treatments for Epilepsy”
My 28 year old son has epilepsy that started when he was 22yo. Dr’s say it is most likely related to brain surgery he had to remove a non cancerous tumor as an 11yo. the seizures have been worsening in the last 6 months, and he is taking more and more medication. Do you think Magnesium would help? If so what type?
Definitely! Your son will benefit from taking this mineral. Why? Because the stress his body is under to counteract his seizures, will deplete his Mg stores, especially as he is taking more medication. Most pharmaceutical drugs deplete Mg stores. This article will give you most of the different Mg salts available and some which you should leave alone. Your son may not like the taste of Mg Chloride but you can put a little cordial in his glass to hide the taste. We have tried many different ones and elderflower cordial really does disguise the bitter taste. Do get a cordial that has no artificial sweeteners such as aspartame. We use Belvoir Farm but this is from UK. If your son suffers from constipation, which is often the case, you could use the Mg Citrate powder which is tasteless and can be put in soups and foods etc.. It’s a case of what suits him and only you and he can work that one out. Good luck and I hope it improves his condition.
Very interesting. I am a big believer in alternative treatments as a first stop for many things and have had quite a bit of success with it over the years.
The main issue I find is getting someone to take the alternative options seriously enough and make the time to review everything holistically.
I know a few people who suffer from epilepsy and will point them in the direction of this article.
I get leg aches in my knees – I have had them since i was a child and people often suggest magnesium deficiency as a reason but I have never had this confirmed. Do you have any articles on this type of thing?
Thanks for your input Allie and by the way, you will likely benefit with your leg aches by taking a good quality Mg supplement, at the same time limiting your calcium intake to make Ca and Mg intake 1:1 ratio.
There are numerous articles on aching legs, restless leg syndrome and other aches and pains. Be assured that Mg will help those aches and pains and help you relax. It will also help you sleep if you have any insomnia problems from your aching knees. Here is an article from another site you may like to read. Mg deficiency symptoms are manyfold and often mistaken for fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.
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.
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.
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.
Thanks for your comments and input WMP. Ches
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.
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
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
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!
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
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!
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
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.
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
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!
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