Magnesium as an effective adjunct therapy for drug resistant seizures

Can J Neurol Sci. 2012 May;39(3):323-7. doi: 10.1017/s0317167100013457.


Objective: To explore the use of magnesium (Mg), an endogenous ion and enzymatic co-factor used in a variety of medical applications, for the treatment of epileptic seizures resistant to traditional medical therapy.

Background: For almost a century, Mg has been used as prophylaxis and treatment of seizures associated with eclampsia. Mg is a CNS depressant, with numerous functions intracellularly and extracellularly. However, because of the availability of well studied anticonvulsant drugs, Mg has not been tested widely in the treatment of epileptic seizures.

Methods: A retrospective chart review of 22 cases of drug resistant epilepsy, where a trial of empiric oral Mg supplementation (mainly in the form of Mg-oxide) was conducted.

Results: Oral Mg supplementation was associated with a significant decrease in the number of seizure days per month, from 15.3 ± 13.2 (mean ± SD) to 10.2 ± 12.6 at first follow up (3-6 months, p=0.021), and to 7.8 ± 10.0 seizure days/month at second follow up (6-12 months, p=0.004). Thirty-six percent had a response rate of 75% or greater at second follow-up. Two patients reported seizure freedom. Most patients were well maintained on MgO 420 mg twice a day, or in 2 cases, Mg Lactate, without significant adverse effects, the most frequent being diarrhea (4/22).

Discussion: These results suggest that oral Mg supplementation may prove to be a worthwhile adjunctive medication in treating drug intractable epilepsy.

Conclusions: A prospective, double-blinded, placebo controlled study is warranted to evaluate the potential of Mg for the treatment of drug-resistant seizures.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Anticonvulsants / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Magnesium / administration & dosage*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Seizures / drug therapy*
  • Young Adult


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Magnesium