Natural approaches to epilepsy

Altern Med Rev. 2007 Mar;12(1):9-24.


This article reviews research on the use of diet, nutritional supplements, and hormones in the treatment of epilepsy. Potentially beneficial dietary interventions include identifying and treating blood glucose dysregulation, identifying and avoiding allergenic foods, and avoiding suspected triggering agents such as alcohol, aspartame, and monosodium glutamate. The ketogenic diet may be considered for severe, treatment-resistant cases. The Atkins diet (very low in carbohydrates) is a less restrictive type of ketogenic diet that may be effective in some cases. Nutrients that may reduce seizure frequency include vitamin B6, magnesium, vitamin E, manganese, taurine, dimethylglycine, and omega-3 fatty acids. Administration of thiamine may improve cognitive function in patients with epilepsy. Supplementation with folic acid, vitamin B6, biotin, vitamin D, and L-carnitine may be needed to prevent or treat deficiencies resulting from the use of anticonvulsant drugs. Vitamin K1 has been recommended near the end of pregnancy for women taking anticonvulsants. Melatonin may reduce seizure frequency in some cases, and progesterone may be useful for women with cyclic exacerbations of seizures. In most cases, nutritional therapy is not a substitute for anticonvulsant medications. However, in selected cases, depending on the effectiveness of the interventions, dosage reductions or discontinuation of medications may be possible.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biotin / therapeutic use
  • Carnitine / therapeutic use
  • Diet / adverse effects
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Epilepsy / etiology
  • Epilepsy / therapy*
  • Fatty Acids, Essential / therapeutic use
  • Folic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Magnesium / therapeutic use
  • Manganese / therapeutic use
  • Melatonin / therapeutic use
  • Sarcosine / analogs & derivatives
  • Sarcosine / therapeutic use
  • Taurine / therapeutic use
  • Vitamins / therapeutic use


  • Fatty Acids, Essential
  • Vitamins
  • Taurine
  • Manganese
  • Biotin
  • dimethylglycine
  • Folic Acid
  • Magnesium
  • Melatonin
  • Carnitine
  • Sarcosine