Treating Epilepsy Naturally with Turmeric
Research suggests turmeric is a natural herbal remedy for epilepsy, a chronic condition that causes recurring seizures. Some types of seizures, and the drugs to treat them, can also result in learning and memory problems. Studies show that turmeric compounds can also help improve the effectiveness of anti-epileptic drugs. Turmeric could allow lower doses of these drugs too, which would reduce their negative side effects. (iv.3, 161)
Causes of Epilepsy
Epilepsy is a common neurological disorder worldwide. Environment and genetics can both play a role, but the underlying mechanisms of epilepsy are still not thoroughly understood. This may be why conventional anticonvulsant drugs to control seizures are often only minimally effective. (iv.3, 164)
Similar to other brain disorders, overexcited brain cells are an important factor in triggering seizures. Conditions or injuries can cause overexcitement and imbalanced neurotransmitter chemicals in the brain. These include: (iv.3, 165)
The excitotoxicity in the brain makes multiple neurons abnormally send out electrical impulses all at once—causing a seizure. Epileptic seizures create further imbalance neurotransmitters in the hippocampus and cortex regions of the brain and can cause neuron brain cells to die. (iv.166)
WHAT ARE NEUROTRANSMITTERS?
The brain uses compounds such as amino acids to transmit signals between cells in the brain called neurons. These chemical signals are how the cells communicate with each other, and are necessary for the brain to function. (iv.162-163)
When the amino acids act as signaling molecules they are called neurotransmitters. Some, such as glutamate, are considered excitatory neurotransmitters. Excitatory means when they bind to receptors on the neuron receiving the signal they activate an electrical impulse. This impulse triggers the receiving neuron to release more neurotransmitters. (iv.162-163)
Other neurotransmitters (such as GABA) are inhibitory. When they bind to neurons they stop them from producing an electrical impulse and releasing more neurotransmitters. In effect, inhibitory neurotransmitters naturally regulate the activity of excitatory ones. (iv.162-163)
However, sometimes chronic disease or injury creates a potentially harmful chemical imbalance. In epilepsy, the brain produces too much glutamate and not enough GABA. This creates an excitotoxic state in the brain, and can induce seizures (and other conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases). (iv.162-163)
How is Epilepsy Treated?
Conventional treatment drugs, such as valproate, normalize the neurotransmitter balances and reduce brain damage. However, anti-epileptic drugs cause toxic side effects. Long-term use of some of these medications can even impair brain functioning. (iv.167)
Which Turmeric Compounds May Help?
Results of many research studies suggest that taking turmeric supplements or adding the spice to your diet could protect your brain from seizures. According to study evidence, the compounds in turmeric may also provide benefits similar to conventional drugs—but without the potential toxic side effects. (iv.166, 168)
In fact, in animal studies pretreatment with many of the antioxidant compounds found in turmeric helped prevent epilepsy developing after injury or from heavy metal (such as iron) accumulation in the brain. Some turmeric compounds have anticonvulsant properties and may also work to protect brain cells from the harmful chemical changes in the brain caused by seizures. (iv.166, 168)
|TURMERIC COMPOUND||STUDY RESULTS|
(an omega-3 fatty acid)
ALPHA- AND BETA-TURMERONES
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