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of everyone affected by epilepsy

New research into epilepsy and complementary treatments

16 December, 2004

Most people with
epilepsy are using some kind of complementary treatment, but many are
not telling their doctor, which may lead to their epilepsy medication
being less effective, according to research from the University of California in San Francisco.

Of
the 187 people with epilepsy or their carers surveyed, 56 per cent were
using some kind of complementary or alternative treatment, but only 68
per cent had reported the use of the treatment to their doctor.

Presenting the findings to the annual congress of the American Epilepsy Society,
lead researcher Marie Plunkett said that many people taking epilepsy
medication and using complementary treatments would probably be
surprised to learn that some products might cause an increase in
seizures or affect the effectiveness of seizure medication.

Almost
14 per cent of people using complementary treatments took products
containing ingredients that had the potential to increase seizure
occurrence, according to the study, including ephedra, ginseng, evening
primrose, and ginkgo, the researchers report.

In
addition, almost a fifth of complementary treatment users took products
that could interfere with the metabolism of their epilepsy medication.
The researchers said that St John's Wort, echinacea, and garlic might
affect liver enzymes that influence the body's response to medicine,
say the researchers.

Vitamin
and mineral supplements were the most popular products, with 83 users
in the survey group. The researchers assured people that there were no
known interactions between these supplements and anti-epileptic
medication.