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Herbal Medicines for Grand Mal Seizures – Are They Really Effective?

There has been an increasing interest in the use of herbal medicines to treat chronic illnesses that do not respond positively to traditional medications, such as seizure disorders. Moreover, people are seeking treatments that are less invasive compared to prescription medicines to guard their body against the adverse side effects of these drugs. Ongoing studies are now being conducted to assess the safety and determine the efficacy of medicinal herbs that are believed to cure grand mal seizures.

Kava Is Believed to Be Helpful in the Treatment of Grand Mal Seizures

Herbal Medicines for Grand Mal Seizures

While many swear by the positive effects of herbal medicines, many are still skeptical about their efficacy. Their skepticism is quite understandable due to the fact that the clear mechanism as to how the components of these herbs act to prevent seizures in humans is still unknown. Published studies that focus on the effects of certain herbs on grand mal seizures are very limited and, most of them have not conducted clinical trials yet. Here are two popular herbs that are believed to treat grand mal seizures:

  • Kava – This plant is native to the islands in the South Pacific region and is known to induce relaxation. Its active components, kavalactones, are found to enhance the function of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that inhibits the transmission of information in the form of electrical signals. However, this anti-seizure effect of kava has only been tested on animal models and thus needs further studies for their effects on humans.
  • Valerian – Valerian’s anti-seizure properties have been utilized since the 16th century to treat epilepsy. It mechanism likewise focuses on GABA but unlike kava, valerian functions by inhibiting the breakdown of the GABA neurotransmitter. On animal models, it had weak anti-seizure properties but there is very little evidence that it has the same effects on humans.

Herbal Stimulants that Exacerbate Grand Mal Seizures

People suffering from grand mal seizures are advised against taking any herbal stimulants as these may worsen their seizure disorder and threaten their life.

  • Ephedra – This herbal stimulant has long been used to treat asthma but has been known to trigger seizures. From the period of June 1, 1997 to March 31, 1999, several physicians had reported to the FDA the occurrence of seizures in several individuals after the ingestion of ephedra. In those cases, the individuals claimed to have taken ephedra along with other stimulants such as caffeine or phenylpropanolamine hydrochloride. Certain monoamine stimulants such as amphetamine and cocaine can similarly worsen and trigger seizure disorders.
  • Caffeine – Some of the most popular caffeine containing food products include coffee, tea, and cocoa. When taken in combination with other stimulants, synergistic effects may develop which can increase the likelihood of the occurrence of seizures. In animal models, the combination of the stimulants caffeine, theophylline, and kainic acid triggered seizures on the hippocampal regions of the brain.

The Conclusion on Taking Herbal Medicines for Grand Mal Seizures

There is no substantial evidence that can prove the efficacy of certain herbs in the treatment of grand mal seizures. In fact, some herbal stimulants can aggravate the conditions of those who have seizure disorders. Extreme caution must be exercised when taking certain medicinal herbs to avoid aggravating your condition.

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