Research progress on the treatment of epilepsy with traditional Chinese medicine

Phytomedicine. 2023 Nov:120:155022. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2023.155022. Epub 2023 Aug 14.


Background: Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) system is a medical system that has been expanding for thousands of years that was formed by the extensive clinical practice experience of many physicians and the accumulation of personal medication habits in China. In TCM, there is a history of long-term medication for epilepsy, the main treatment for epilepsy is TCM drugs and its prescription, supplemented by TCM modalities such as acupuncture therapy, moxibustion therapy, tuina, emotion adjustment therapy, etc. PURPOSE: With the modernization of TCM, the active ingredients and molecular mechanisms of TCM for epilepsy treatment have been gradually revealed. This review aimed to comprehensively summarize the TCM treatment of epilepsy, focusing on the current TCM drugs and some TCM formulae for the treatment of epilepsy, and to discuss the research progress of TCM for the treatment of epilepsy, and to provide a reference to develop future related studies in this field.

Materials and methods: The mechanism of action of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) was interpreted from different perspectives by searching online databases and querying various materials identify drugs used in both modern medicine and TCM systems for the treatment of epilepsy. We collected all relevant TCM for epilepsy literature published in the last 30 years up to December 2022 from electronic databases such as PubMed, CNKI and Web of Science, and statistically analyzed the literature for the following keyword information. The search terms comprise the keywords "TCM", "phytochemistry", "pharmacological activity", "epilepsy" and "traditional application" as a combination. Scientific plant names were provided by "The Plant List" (

Results: Epilepsy is a complex and serious disease of the brain and nervous system. At present, the treatment of epilepsy in modern medicine is mainly surgery and chemotherapy, but there are many serious side effects. By summarizing the treatment of epilepsy in TCM, it is found that there are various methods to treat epilepsy in TCM, mainly TCM drugs and its formulae. Many TCM drugs have antiepileptic effects. Now found that the main effective TCM drugs for the treatment of epilepsy are Curcumae Longae Rhizoma, Scorpio, Acori Tatarinowii Rhizoma, Uncariae Ramulus Cum Uncis and Ganoderma, etc. And the main compounds that play a role in the treatment of epilepsy are curcumin, gastrodin, ligustrazine, baicalin and rhynchophylline, etc. These TCM drugs have played an important role in the treatment of epilepsy in TCM clinic. However, the chemically active components of these TCM drugs are diverse and their mechanisms of action are complex, which are not fully understood and need to be further explored.

Conclusions: TCM treats epilepsy in a variety of ways, and with the discovery of a variety of potential bioactive substances for treatment of epilepsy. With the new progress in the research of other TCM treatment methods for epilepsy, TCM will have greater potential in the clinical application of epilepsy.

Keywords: Combination of Chinese and modern medicine; Epilepsy; Mechanism of action; Seizures; TCM.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy*
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use
  • Epilepsy* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional


  • Anticonvulsants
  • cat's claw extract