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
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 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, 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.
Another 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 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.”
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
Please leave a comment, I will always reply
- 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