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Latest Edit: Iva Lloyd, ND 2017-05-05 (EDT)

Up to 10% of individuals will experience at least one seizure in their lifetime, and recurrent seizure disorder known as epilepsy occurs in about 3% of the population. Seizures involve a disruption in cortical neuron activity, leading to a varied presentation of the following symptoms: clonic movements, paresthesia, sweating, deja vu, lip smacking, repeating phrases, visual hallucination, loss of consciousness, and convulsions.[1]


Causes Dietary Factors, Alcohol, Environmental Toxins, Infections, Stress
See Also Neurological Conditions, Hypoglycemia, Fever, Sleep deprivation
Books Books on Neurological Conditions
Articles Articles on Neurological Conditions

Naturopathic Assessment

Causal Factors

Article Natural Approaches to Epilepsy , Alt Med; 2007;Vol12(1)

In order to stimulate the innate ability of the body to heal the causes of disease must be identified and addressed. With seizures, the causes are variable and include lifestyle, environmental, medications and other external factors. A detailed assessment is required to determine which factors are causing seizures.


  • Hypoglycemia is associated with seizures. Low glucose levels often precedes seizures, and epileptic individuals have high rates of low blood sugars and abnormal glucose tolerance.[2]
  • High sugary drinks and energy drinks have been found to cause dehydration, accelerated heart rates, anxiety, acute mania as well as seizures and in some cases stroke.[3], [4]
  • There is some evidence that food allergies or food intolerances may be linked to epilepsy, with a small collection of studies demonstrating benefit in epileptic children on oligoantigenic diets.[5]
  • Although controversial, food additives such as aspartame have been associated with increased seizure activity in some individuals.[6]
  • Alcohol and drug withdrawal may lead to seizures. [7]
  • Intense exercise can trigger seizures, yet typically exercise is beneficial in reducing the severity and frequency of seizures.


  • Strong emotions and stress can trigger a seizure.[8]
  • A stressful incident, whether physical, emotional or environmental, commonly precedes most seizures.


  • Substance Abuse
  • Drug withdrawal may lead to seizures. [7]
  • Trauma
  • Head trauma severe enough to damage the brain can lead to seizure.[7]
  • Other factors
  • Flashing lights and loud music can trigger a seizure.[8]
  • Spending a lot of time on video games and other electronic devices is associated with increased risk of ADD/ADHD.[10]


  • Several infective agents and conditions can lead to central nervous system dysfunction and subsequent seizures. Meningitis, encephalitis, brain abscess, neurosyphillis, rabies, tetanus, malaria, toxoplasmosis, and cysticerosis may all lead to seizures. [7]

Medical Interventions

  • Prescription Medications
  • Seizures can be caused by prescription medications.


  • Studies suggest a genetics play a role in the risk of developing epilepsy. Individuals with a relative suffering from seizures is three times more likely themselves to have a seizure.[7]

Diagnostic Testing

  • Epilepsy is not typically diagnosed after one seizure as the rate of recurrence of seizure is only 27% within 3 years.[7]
  • It is important to differentiate between focal and generalized seizures as focal seizures often indicate a brain disorder such as a tumor, while generalized seizures more often have an undefinable etiology.
  • Other diagnostic tests include: radiography, EEG, CT scan, MRI and examination of cerebrospinal fluid

Related Symptoms and Conditions

Conditions related to seizures include:[7]

  • Hypoglycemia
  • Fever, primarily only a concern in children
  • Hypocalcemia
  • Hypoparathyroidism
  • Phenylketonuria
  • Stroke
  • Traumatic brain injury and degenerative brain diseases
  • Birth defects and brain damage during, before, or shortly after birth
  • Alcohol and drug withdrawal
  • Brain neoplasms
  • Toxic conditions


  • The underlying physiology of seizures is complex. Defects in GABA, GABA receptor inhibition, and increased NMDA receptor activation are a few of the processes implicated in seizure development. Essentially, there is reduced inhibition couples with increased excitation in the central nervous system, and based on the location a variety of symptoms can arise.[11]

Common Symptoms

Seizures typically involve a collection of the following symptoms:[7]

  • visual, auditory, and taste manifestations
  • muscle rigidity
  • loss of consciousness
  • altered consciousness
  • convulsion, involuntary movement
  • eye flickering
  • repetitive movements, sounds

The following are the common classifications for seizures:

Simple Partial- occur commonly in older children and adults, and commonly present with functional disturbance of sensory, motor, or autonomic systems without any impairment of consciousness. Hallucinations may occur, as well as cognitive disturbances.

Complex Partial or Focal Cortical- similar to simple partial but with loss of consciousness. Repetitive purposeless movements often occur.

Absence Seizure (Petit Mal) - occur in individuals under 20 and are typified by loss of awareness but not consciousness.

Tonic-clonic - the most common seizure in epilepsy in adulthood involving muscle contraction with clonic contraction, lasting usually 2-3 minutes accompanied by loss of consciousness.

Febrile seizure - elevated fever can lead to seizures in children under 6. This is not an epileptic condition and should not be treated as such.

Secondary seizure- any seizure caused by an identifiable organic cause. [12]

Naturopathic Treatment

The goal of naturopathic treatment is to support and work in tandem with the healing power of the body and to address the causal factors of disease with individual treatment strategies. Repetitive seizures are typically chronic and require individual treatment plans coordinated with an individual's neurologist.

It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor before engaging in any treatment plan.

Home Care

Home Care strategies include:

  • Track food, activity, environmental exposures and any other stressors that may contribute to a seizure. Identifying the unique triggers for each individual is extremely beneficial in reducing the severity and frequency of seizures.
  • Caregiver Education
  • Family members and caregivers should be properly educated regarding the appropriate acute response to an individual undergoing a seizure.[8]


Lifestyle recommendations include:

  • Engaging in regular physical activity can decrease the frequency and severity of seizures. There is very little risk of seizures during physical activity unless the activity is extreme without adequate electrolyte or blood sugar regulation.[13], [14]
  • Due to the connection between breathing disorders and risk of seizures it is beneficial to learn how to breathe effectively and to address any underlying breathing problems.
  • Establishing and maintaining regular sleep patterns is very beneficial.[15],

Naturopathic Therapies

The prescribing of naturopathic therapies requires the guidance of a naturopathic doctor as it depends on a number of factors including the causal factors, a person's age, prescription medications, other conditions and symptoms and overall health. It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor prior to taking any natural therapies.

Naturopathic Therapies for seizures include:

Traditional Chinese Medicine recognizes the different disease patterns associated with seizures and the following strategies are commonly employed based on individual presentation:

  • Expel Empty Wind from the Interior [18]


Reviewed by Iva Lloyd, BScH, RPE, ND [1]

  1. Duvier E. Pollack CV (2009) Marx: Rosen's Emergency Medicine Chap 100-Seziures. Mosby.
  2. Allen RB (1983) Nutritional aspects of epilepsy. Int Clin Nutr Rev;3:3-9.
  3. Duchan E, Patel ND, Feucht C (Jun 2010) Energy drinks: a review of use and safety for athletes. Phys Sportsmed.;38(2):171-9. PMID: 20631477.
  4. Pennington N, Johnson M, Delaney E, Blankenship MB (Oct 2010) Energy drinks: a new health hazard for adolescents. J Sch Nurs.;26(5):352-9. PMID: 20538866.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Egger J, Carter CM, Soothill JF, et al. (1989) Oligoantigenic diet treatment of children with epilepsy and migraine. J Pediatr;114:51-58.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Humphries P, Pretorius E, Naudé H (Apr 2008) Direct and indirect cellular effects of aspartame on the brain. Eur J Clin Nutr.';62(4):451-62. PMID: 17684524.
  7. 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 7.11 Pizzorno Joseph E, Murray Michael T (2006) Textbook of Natural Medicine 3rd ed, Elsevier.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Schachter S (2009) Seizure Disorders Medical Clinics of North America:93(2) Accessed online Feb 7 2012.
  9. Miano S, Bachiller C, Gutiérrez M, Salcedo A, Villa MP, Peraita-Adrados R (Nov 2010) Paroxysmal activity and seizures associated with sleep breathing disorder in children: a possible overlap between diurnal and nocturnal symptoms. Seizure.;19(9):547-52. PMID: 20729099.
  10. Piccioli M, Vigevano F, Buttinelli C, Kasteleijn-Nolst Trenité DG (Nov 2005) Do video games evoke specific types of epileptic seizures? Epilepsy Behav.;7(3):524-30. PMID: 16194628.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Prousky Jonathan (2008) Principles and Practices of Naturopathic Clinical Nutrition CCNM Press.
  12. El-Hashemy 2007. Naturopathic Standards of Primary Care. CCNM Press
  13. Arida RM, Cavalheiro EA, da Silva AC, Scorza FA (2008) Physical activity and epilepsy: proven and predicted benefits. Sports Med.;38(7):607-15. PMID: 18557661.
  14. Arida RM, Scorza FA, Terra VC, Scorza CA, de Almeida AC, Cavalheiro EA (Nov 2009) Physical exercise in epilepsy: what kind of stressor is it? Epilepsy Behav.;16(3):381-7. PMID: 19836311.
  15. Kwan SY (Dec 2011) Sleep in patients with epilepsy. Acta Neurol Taiwan.;20(4):229-131. PMID: 22315172.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Kurn S, Shook S (2008) Integrated Medicine for Neurologic Disorders. Health Press NA Inc
  17. Morrison R (1998) Desktop Companion to Physical Pathology. Hahnemann Clinic Publishing.
  18. Maciocia G (1994) The Practice of Chinese Medicine: The Treatment of Diseases with Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs. Churchill Livingstone