Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) for Individuals with Epilepsy

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) for Individuals with Epilepsy

Individuals with epilepsy manage the clinical manifestations of the condition, primarily seizure-related activity, with daily use of pharmacologic agents, making it one of the most common neurological conditions treated with drug therapy for symptom management. Pharmacologic agents for epilepsy, also known as anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs), are commonly prescribed to treat seizures and neurologic conditions associated with epilepsy but can lead to a reduced quality of life and many unwanted side effects. Complementary and alternative treatments can also provide relief from seizures associated with epilepsy. The purpose of this literature review was to evaluate the effectiveness of complementary and alternative treatments compared to pharmacological treatment for individuals with epilepsy. A literature review examining different alternative treatments, such as physical activity, medical cannabis, neurostimulation, and various diets, and their benefits on seizure reduction, seizure frequency, and the quality of life was conducted from various online databases. Research articles published from 2003 to 2020 that focused on the benefits of complementary and alternative therapies in controlling the clinical manifestations of epilepsy were included for synthesis. Results from 10 studies that used a complementary or alternative therapy as a treatment for epilepsy, alone or in combination with pharmacological therapy, were compared for effectiveness on clinical manifestations. Seventy percent of the studies analyzed show at least a fifty percent reduction in seizure frequency. The studies suggest that complementary and alternative therapies can be effective as monotherapy or as adjuvant agents for reducing seizure frequency, reducing seizure duration, and improving quality of life. Although benefits were found in each study, many studies were performed on animals or had small sample sizes, indicating the need for further research.

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