I was talking with a patient today whose daughter has epilepsy.
The mother has tried a variety of natural therapies with varying success but was finally forced by her daughters worsening condition to put her on anti-seizure medication.
In the mother’s words the daughter became a zombie. Her personality disappeared. She was told by the MD that there was nothing that could be done.
Coincidentally for some other issues the mother began using a magnesium gel (that is absorbed through the skin) for the patient and within a few days of starting this the mother reports that her daughters personality came back.
‘It was like a miracle!’ the mother gratefully told me. A few weeks later the positive changes remain.
Could it be a coincidence? Sure, but obviously, the mother doesn’t care. Magnesium is cheap, virtually non-toxic (without trying really hard) and most Americans are deficient in it)
A Quick Look for Evidence
Curious, I decided to do a little searching to see if I could learn more about the relationship of magnesium to epilepsy.
I found this fascinating reference (bolding mine):
‘Magnesium is needed in over 300 chemical reactions in the body and depletion is known to cause marked irritability in the central nervous system which eventually results in seizures. Low levels correlate with increased frequency, poor control and longer duration of seizures. Status epilepticus and EEG abnormalities are also related to low cerebral spinal fluid magnesium levels. Additionally, there is a negative correlation between the serum magnesium level and severity of the epilepsy, with the lowest levels seen in status epilepticus. Moreover, 29 out of 30 epileptic children with grand mal or petit mal seizures who received magnesium and stopped their anticonvulsants showed marked improvement (Barnet). Magnesium is a natural calcium channel blocker and it is known that serum calcium and CSF levels may be elevated and remain so for at least 24 hours. Supplementation with magnesium to correct the deficiency is therefore clearly indicated.’
What I did find was that the research around using magnesium to treat epilepsy looks like it primarily came out of India in the 1970s and early 80s.
I also found agreement that low levels of magnesium can cause seizures, and debate about the use of magnesium in the treatment of seizures caused by preeclampsia/eclampsia.
One Exciting Discovery
Br Med J. 1974 May 4;2(5913):258-9.
‘Anticonvulsant action’ of vitamin D in epileptic patients? A controlled pilot study.
Christiansen C, Rodbro P, Sjo O.
The frequency of epileptic seizures was observed in a controlled therapeutic trial on 23 epileptic inpatients before and after treatment with vitamin D(2) or placebo in addition to anticonvulsant drugs. The number of seizures was reduced during treatment with vitamin D(2) but not with placebo. The effect was unrelated to changes in serum calcium or magnesium. The results may support the concept that epileptics should be treated prophylactically with vitamin D.
We’re left with a fascinating personal story about how magnesium helped one girl with epilepsy, a lot of biochemistry that says magnesium deficiency causes seizures, and a vague report that at least in 30 kids treatment with magnesium significantly reduced their seizures.
Given how safe and inexpensive magnesium is, I would certainly add it to the treatment protocol of someone with epilepsy (unless other medical conditions prevented it). At worst it does nothing, at best it may allow someone to reduce or come off their meds.
NOTE: Please do NOT come off your meds without adequate medical supervision. I know most epileptics HATE their meds because of the side effects and want off of them, but please work with your doctor. If you don’t have any other serious underlying medical conditions, try adding magnesium and see what happens.
The one study I found on vitamin D and epilepsy also suggests that making sure your vitamin D levels are adequate might help too, in addition to all of the other benefits it will have for you. I personally like to see people achieve blood levels of vitamin D around 50 ng/dl, which typically means around 4-5000 IU of vitamin D3 for an average sized adult.
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