Background: Despite the availability and use of numerous antiepileptic drugs (AEDs), nearly 15% of childhood epilepsy cases are resistant to treatment. However, in traditional medicine, Nigella Sativa L. ("black cumin seed") has been known for its anticonvulsant effects. This plant is naturally distributed in Iran and has been widely used as a natural remedy for a long time. In this study the efficacy of this agent in reducing the frequency of seizures in childhood refractory epilepsy was assessed.
Material/methods: In this double-blinded crossover clinical trial conducted on children with refractory epilepsy, the aqueous extract of black seed was administered as an adjunct therapy and the effects were compared with those of a placebo. Twenty-three children were entered in the study and 20 remained in the study (13 months to 13 years old, 10 boys and 10 girls). All patients were receiving constant treatment for at least one month before the study. They received extract (40 mg/kg/8 h) or placebo for a period of four weeks and between these periods for two weeks they received only their pre-existing anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs).
Results: The mean frequency of seizures decreased significantly during treatment with extract (p<0.05).
Conclusions: It can be concluded that the water extract of Nigella sativa L. has antiepileptic effects in children with refractory seizures.