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Herbs for Seizure Support During Lyme Treatment

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Over the years, I have dealt with both epileptic seizures and “Lyme-induced” seizures –I put the latter in parentheses because I consider Lyme-induced seizures to be a broad term for the non-epileptic seizures experienced by individuals with Lyme disease, as there are many other factors in the Lyme disease complex that can cause seizures besides the Lyme bacteria itself. These include, but are not limited to: Lyme disease co-infections, ammonia build up in the brain from parasites or genetic mutations, heavy metals, nutrient deficiencies, and mold toxicity. As you can imagine, having both epileptic and non-epileptic seizures while I underwent studies in the hospital, confused my doctors. And my efforts to receive help typically proved fruitless, ending with the doctors telling me that the non-epileptic seizures that I was having were purely psychological in nature and that I needed to see a psychiatrist for them.

Since I knew that was not true, I began a long journey of figuring out how to manage my seizures using herbal supplements, and how to reduce the non-epileptic ones altogether by figuring out what was causing them. Some of the culprits turned out to be parasites, heavy metals, mold toxicity, genetic mutations causing ammonia build up in the brain and—believe it or not—one of the anti-epileptic pharmaceuticals that I had been placed on.

Treating the culprits of the non-epileptic seizures dramatically reduced their occurrence in the long run, and the following herbs helped to reduce them during treatment. They also proved useful in managing epileptic events, so much so that I continue to take them and have opted to take them on a long-term basis instead of the antiepileptic pharmaceuticals that I was originally prescribed. 
 
Chinese Skullcap: Chinese Skullcap has long been hailed for its neuroprotective, anticonvulsant, and antispasmodic properties. In vitro studies show that Baicalein, a chemical component found in Chinese Skullcap, is largely responsible for its profound anticonvulsive properties. [1] This herb is an excellent nervine, specific for epileptic seizures, convulsions, nervous irritability, involuntary muscle movements, muscle spasms, and infections that impact the central nervous system like Lyme disease and Lyme disease co-infections.

Chinese Skullcap is probably my absolute favorite herb for seizures. I have found its effects to be fast acting and nothing short of miraculous, and I now do not go anywhere without a few capsules of it stored away in my purse. However, it can make you drowsy, interact with certain pharmaceuticals, and there has been debate about whether long-term use can cause liver problems. I personally have not experienced any liver problems, and I used to take it 6 times daily. However, to err on the side of caution, I have reduced my intake and supplement with the seizure reducing herbs listed below, as well. 

Bacopa: Bacopa is a great herb for helping to manage both epileptic and non-epileptic seizures, as well as common cognitive deficits experienced by those with Lyme disease and Lyme disease co-infections. Such cognitive deficits include memory loss, brain fog, mental impairment from oxidative stress; brain inflammation, and more. Studies show that Bacopa reduces seizures due to its positive effect upon GABA functioning in the brain. Thus, Bacopa may prove highly beneficial in those with Lyme disease, since GABA receptors are often impaired in people with Lyme and there is typically a GABA deficiency alongside an increase in excitatory neurotransmitters, which means that the brains of people with Lyme are constantly hyper-aroused, leading to a lower seizure threshold. [2]
  
Even more promising is a study published in Biomed Central’s Journal of Biomedical Science, which concluded that Bacopa can actually reverse epilepsy almost entirely. What makes the findings of this study particularly significant is that it also shows that, unlike pharmaceutical agents used to treat seizures which may further harm the brain in the long run, Bacopa actually enhances brain function. [3]

Indian Pipe: Indian pipe is used for intervention during epileptic fits. [4] In my experience, it works exceptionally well when used for this purpose. Thus, I find it to be more beneficial as a rescue herb for seizures instead of an herb taken daily for seizure maintenance. For example, whenever I would have epileptic fits, my caretaker would give me some Indian Pipe after I would regain a little consciousness, before the next seizure could hit, since I tended to have several consecutive ones. However, in cases where that was not possible because I was having a severe grand mal seizure for a prolonged period, my caretaker would put approximately 3-5 drops in my mouth during the seizure, either if and when my mouth opened, or manually by pulling it apart enough to get the drops in. She did this after turning me on my side, of course, as a precaution to prevent choking. Although a few drops of liquid is not necessarily a major choking hazard, taking all safety precautions in situations such as this is strongly advised.
      
Furthermore, seizures, whether epileptic or Lyme related, are often triggered by external stimuli such as loud noises, blinking lights, or unexpected touches. Indian pipe is especially great for these types of seizures or overwhelmed states, as it works to decrease brain overwhelm from an excess of incoming sensory data. This, of course, also makes the herb highly beneficial for other problems caused by too much sensory input, such as anxiety attacks. 
Cannabis: The anticonvulsant properties of cannabis are among the most ancient of its known benefits. It was used as an antiepileptic and anticonvulsant in the ancient societies of China, Africa, India, Greece, and Rome; and was recorded as an effective antiepileptic and anticonvulsant in western scientific and medical journals as early as the 19th century. [5,6]
        
In present day society, the use of cannabis for managing seizures is well known. There are countless claims of the herb completely reducing people’s seizures and fully restoring their quality of life, as well as scientific studies to back up such anecdotal evidence, including a recent one published in the British Journal of Pharmacology which concluded that the components found in cannabis do indeed display highly effective antiepileptic and anticonvulsive properties. [7]
The aforementioned herbs are merely the ones that I have found most beneficial for managing seizures to date. However, there are countless other herbs and supplements with anticonvulsive properties out there that many other people have had success with in treating their own seizures. So, doing further research and exploring all your options to select the herb(s) or supplement(s) best suited to your specific needs is strongly encouraged. As always, please remember to consult with your healthcare professional before starting any new herb or supplement.
 
References:
1.     Buhner, Stephen H. Healing Lyme Disease Coinfections: Complementary and Holistic Treatments for Bartonella and Mycoplasma. Rochester: Vermont, 2013. Print
 
2.     “Common Herb, Water Hyssop, Reverses Epilepsy, Treats and Prevents Other Brain Disorders.” Gaia Health. Accessed December 27, 2016 from http://gaia-health.com/diseases/alzheimers-disease/common-herb-water-hyssop-reverses-epilepsy-treats-prevents-brain-disorders/
 
3.     Mathew J., et al. (2012). “Decreased GABA Receptor in the Cerebral Cortex of Epileptic Rats: Effect of Bacopa Monnieri and Bacoside”-A. Journal of Biomedical Science, 19(25). Published online Feb 24, 2012. doi:10.1186/1423-0127-19-25
 
4.     “Indian Pipe Or Ghost Plant Is Not A Fungus”. Snaplant.com. Published on October 25, 2015. Accessed on December 27, 2016 from http://snaplant.com/flowers/indian-pipe-or-ghost-plant-is-not-a-fungus/
 
5.      White, Shelley M. Cannabis for Lyme Disease and Related Conditions. South Lake Tahoe: California, 2015. Print
 
6.     Bud, M. “Dr. O’Shaughnessy: Cannabis Was Medicine Before Prohibition.” MARIJUANA. Published on August 19. 2013. Accessed January 2, 2016 from http://marijuana.com/news/2013/08/dr-oshaughnessy-cannabis-was-medicine-before-prohibition/
 
7.     Hill, D., et al. “Cannabidivarin-rich cannabis extracts are anticonvulsant in mouse and rat via a CB1 receptor-independent mechanism.” British Journal of Pharmacology. 2013. 170 (3):679-92. doi:10.1111/bph.12321


Shelley M. White is trained in herbalism and nutrition, and is the author of 'Cannabis for Lyme Disease and Related Conditions: Scientific Basis and Anecdotal Evidence for Medicinal Use' (visit www.cannabisforlyme.com to learn more). She has written for various websites, including Collective Evolution, Mind Body Green, Natural News, The Mind Unleashed, and the Examiner. Her work has also appeared in print publications, such as 'The Townsend Letter', 'SKUNK Magazine', and 'Public Health Alert'.

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2 thoughts on “Herbs for Seizure Support During Lyme Treatment”

  1. khassan says:

    I have an adult son with seizures and anxiety due to Lyme. He is currently on Depakote, Lamictal and Klonipin daily. He uses Midazolam nasal spray as a rescue. The only things that sometimes work are the nasal spray and once in a while the Klonipin. He also takes CBD, but that also has not helped. I’m wondering if taking any of the herbs mentioned in your article is contraindicated with the above meds?

    1. ShelleyWhite says:

      Hi,

      The only contraindication I can see right off the bat is skullcap, which increases blood levels of klonopin. As far as Lamictal goes, I have taken all the above herbs with it. And I am not 100% sure about the others.

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