Evening Primrose Oil for Seizures: An Update
I am epileptic. I started having seizures in my late teens, though I didn't realize that's what they were until I had a grand mal in my early 20s, and was diagnosed with a seizure disorder secondary to a really oddball condition called schizencephaly. It's a little like spina bifida, only it happens in the brain instead of the spinal column.
I took anti-convulsants every day for roughly twenty years. My seizures happen to be related to my hormone levels, so at a certain point I realized that I was taking drugs every single day in order to prevent something that would generally only be a problem for a couple of days in a month – a couple of days out of each two weeks, at worst.
I struggled with the fact that these drugs have some pretty hefty side effects – not the least of which is their potential to damage vital organs. I also had trouble with the common attitude that a single seizure – even a mild focal seizure that happened when I had the flu – was “unacceptable” and a reason for doctors to raise doses higher and higher.
I am no longer dependant on the drugs to stave off a grand mal seizure, but I still have a bit of a bumpy ride with the focal seizures a few times a month. A while ago I looked into taking evening primrose oil (EPO) supplements to balance my hormones and eliminate the last few seizures I do get. A week ago, I took the plunge.
I bought a bottle of 500 mg supplements and I started taking two capsules with a meal, three times a day as per the instructions on the label. The first dose that I took just happened to coincide with the first day that I was likely to have a seizure. I already had the aura by the time I took those first two capsules, and later that night I did have three focal seizures.
I'm not really surprised that I did have the seizures, as most treatments need a bit of time kick in – especially herbal supplements, which tend to work by restoring a balance rather than by any really hefty impact on the body or the nervous system. And once the aura has started my brain really does need to complete the cycle to discharge the build-up of electricity that causes the seizures. The main way for that to happen is – well, to have a seizure!
I had expected another two days of seizures, though, and that never happened. I still felt a bit off balance the next day. And really tired – almost as if I were hungover, which is normal. The third day I was tired, and I had a headache. That was probably a side effect of the supplements, and I had moderately painful headaches for about 3-4 days before I stopped noticing them. I suspect my body has adjusted to the supplement in that short time. And that alone is amazing! If the doctor changed my prescription years ago, I'd be walking around like a drunk for two weeks before my body adjusted to a new drug!
I'm not really at risk right now, so it's hard to tell if the supplements are working. But I have been fighting off a virus that my son gifted me with. I've been really tired over the weekend, and I'm mildly feverish. But no seizures at a time when I might otherwise have had one. So things are looking good! And the joint pain I've had with this flu bug has been a lot less severe than I usually get – an added bonus from taking EPO, I think!
If you have a seizure disorder and you've been thinking about trying evening primrose oil for any condition, do proceed with caution. Do your homework, and inform yourself about the potential risks. If you are taking any medication at all, talk to your doctor and pharmacist first. You may also want to talk to an herbalist. EPO does have some side effects, even though it's generally regarded as safe. And data about both the benefits and risks of taking this supplement are inconclusive. More studies are needed. In the end, you may just have to rely on your gut and on the nest advise of your health care professionals. But do be sure someone knows what you're doing, in case you need emergency care.
Have you ever experimented with a natural remedy that's just a little controversial? I'd love to hear about it!
Disclaimer: The author is not a health expert. The information contained in this article is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a qualified health professional before making any decisions regarding your own condition.
Image Credit » http://pixabay.com/en/pink-evening-primrose-primrose-374755/