Vitamins that may be helpful
Vitamin E has been studied as a possible
add-on to conventional drug treatment for epilepsy. A double-blind trial found that adding 400
IU per day of vitamin E reduced seizure frequency in children without side
effects.22 Other preliminary trials23 24 have reported
similar results, and, while some preliminary research suggested this effect might also be
achieved in adults,25 a double-blind trial found no effect of vitamin E
supplementation on adults with epilepsy.26
Folic acid supplementation (5 mg per day)
was reported to reduce epileptic seizure frequency, though the effect was not significantly
better than with placebo.27 Folic acid supplementation of as little as 800 mcg per
day has also been reported to interfere with the action of anticonvulsant medications,
resulting in an increase in the frequency and/or severity of seizures;28
29 30 31 this effect occurs only in a small number of
cases.32 33 People taking
anticonvulsant medications should consult with the prescribing physician before deciding
whether to use folic acid.
Vitamin B6 has been used to treat infants
and small children who have seizures related to a genetic enzyme defect.34
35 36 37 However, this condition is not considered true epilepsy,
and whether people with epilepsy would benefit from taking vitamin B6 supplements is
Taurine is an amino acid that is thought to play a role in the
electrical activity of the brain; deficits of taurine in the brain have been associated with
some types of epilepsy. However, while some short-term studies have suggested that taurine
supplementation may reduce epileptic seizures in some people, the effect appears to be only
Case reports have suggested that evening
primrose oil may worsen symptoms in people with temporal lobe epilepsy.39 Until
more is known, people with this type of epilepsy should avoid using evening primrose oil
supplements, except perhaps under the supervision of a qualified physician.
In a preliminary study, supplementation with 3.25 grams per day of a mixture of omega-3 fatty acids (primarily eicosapentaenoic acid
[EPA] and docosahexaenoic acid [DHA]) for six months markedly reduced the frequency of
seizures in five severely retarded epileptic patients.40 Additional research is
needed to confirm this report and to identify which people with epilepsy are most likely to
A small, preliminary trial found that 5 to 10 mg per day of melatonin improved sleep and provided “clear
improvement of the seizure situation” among children with one of two rare seizure
disorders.41 More research is needed to determine whether or not melatonin could
benefit other people with epilepsy.
Two elderly individuals with well-controlled epilepsy reportedly developed recurrent
seizures within two weeks of starting Ginkgo biloba extract.42 Individuals with
epilepsy should not, therefore, take Ginkgo biloba without medical supervision.
Are there any side effects or interactions?
Refer to the individual supplement for information about any side effects or interactions.
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