Use of complementary and alternative medicine in an urban county hospital epilepsy clinic

Epilepsy Behav. 2014 May;34:73-6. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2014.03.011. Epub 2014 Apr 12.


We examined self-reported complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use among a largely indigent population with epilepsy. Overall CAM use was 70%, with the most frequently reported complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs) being medical marijuana (33%), prayer/spirituality (31%), meditation (19%), vitamins (19%), and stress management (16%). Forty-four percent of patients reported improved seizure control with CAMs. Stress management accounted for perceived seizure reduction in 74%, followed by marijuana (54%), prayer (49%), and yoga (42%). Among the most commonly used and helpful CAMs, stress management was not associated with specific demographic or clinical variables; marijuana use was significantly associated with lower age (users=35.2±10 years vs. nonusers=41.6±12; p<0.01) and lower income (under $15,000 40% use vs. 14% over $15,000; p<0.05); and prayer was significantly associated with female gender (male=21% vs. female=45%; p<0.01) and Black ethnicity (Black=55% vs. Hispanic=30% vs. White=23%; p<0.05). Taken together, our study was notable for the high rate of CAM utilization in a largely indigent population, with high rates of perceived efficacy among several CAM modalities.

Keywords: CAM; Complementary and alternative medicine; Epilepsy; Indigent; Marijuana; Seizure; Underserved.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Complementary Therapies / methods*
  • Epilepsy / drug therapy
  • Epilepsy / psychology
  • Epilepsy / therapy*
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Hospitals, County*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Marijuana / therapeutic use
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Sex Factors
  • Spirituality
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vitamins / therapeutic use
  • Yoga


  • Medical Marijuana
  • Vitamins