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of everyone affected by epilepsy

Complementary Treatments

Complementary treatments include acupuncture, herbal treatments, homoeopathy, and aromatherapy. Some people with epilepsy use complementary treatments to try and lower the number of seizures they have. Or they use them to improve their quality of life.

The research into complemetary therapy as a method of treating epilepsy is limited. There is currently little evidence that complementary treatment can reduce or stop seizures. If you are thinking about trying any, talk to your family doctor or epilepsy specialist first. They can let you know if they are aware of any reason why the treatment might cause any problems for your epilepsy or epilepsy medicine.

If you do decide to use any complementary treatments, you should continue to take your epilepsy medicine a usual. It is also advisable to check that the person who provides the treatment (the therapist) or who advises you on the treatment is registered. Complementary therapy organisations can give you names of registered therapists, and advice about what to look for in a good therapist. You can find details of complementary therapy organisations on the internet or at your local library.

Herbal medicines, supplements and essential oils

Some herbal medicines and supplements can increase the risk of seizures if you have epilepsy. Some examples are ephedra, ginkgo biloba, pennyroyal, star anise and St John’s wort, but there are many more.

Some essential oils can also increase the risk of seizures if you have epilepsy. These are:

  • Fennel
  • Rosemary
  • Sage

If you are thinking about using any kind of herbal medicine, supplement, or essential oil, always check with your pharmacist or family doctor. They can let you know if there are any reasons why they might affect your epilepsy or epilepsy medicine.

Finding a therapist

To find a therapist you could look in the therapy directory.

Sense about Science has published a guide to weighing up claims about cures and treatments for medical conditions.

It’s called “I’ve got nothing to lose by trying it”. It’s available via the Epilepsy Research website.

The Mozart Effect

Some studies have shown that listening to a particular Mozart sonata can reduce the number of seizures someone has. This is often called the Mozart Effect.

Find out more about the Mozart Effect and epilepsy.


Epilepsy Action would like to thank thank Dr John Paul Leach, consultant neurologist, Southern General Hospital, Glasgow for his contribution.

Dr John Paul Leach has declared no conflict of interest.

This information has been produced under the terms of The Information Standard.

  • Updated May 2014
    To be reviewed May 2017

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