Epilepsy is a condition of the nervous system which is characterized by seizures of the brain. Commonly used treatment for epilepsy includes the administration of anti-epileptic drugs, but they are not always effective and sometimes fail to control seizures and other symptoms. These medications have severe side effects such as the development of other psychiatric disorders; therefore now people’s interest is increasing in treatments that are nonmedical and safer. Yoga seems an effective alternative to it, when supported with support from the family. This article describes tips on how to manage epilepsy at home with natural care and yoga practices.
Introduction to Epilepsy
Epilepsy is a condition which is characterized by seizures. A seizure is an episode of loss of consciousness of a person such that they may not remember the seizure even after gaining consciousness. It should be noted that having just one seizure doesn’t mean that a person is epileptic. However, more than two seizures over a short period of time (for example within a month) are considered as confirmed signs of epilepsy. The process of occurrence of a seizure can be different for different people. Some of them do not move or respond to anything and become blank as long as the seizure lasts. Some people may close their eyes tightly while others may not move them at all. Some people may lay or sit or stand still, while others may jerk their hands and legs fast. Some people clench their jaws so badly that their tongue is caught in between. People may or may not remember their own symptoms during the seizure.
Symptoms may vary from person to person. For some people, seizures may disappear on their own. Children who have epilepsy may get rid of this condition with age. Epilepsy can affect any or all functions of the brain. Some symptoms may be confused with other nervous conditions, that’s why symptoms should be closely observed and if needed, a diagnosis should be done.
- Decreased attention
- Lack of cognition
- Unintended movements of the limbs
- Fear of unknown events
- Anxiety and frustration
- Chronic stress
- Loss of consciousness
- Misinterpretation of events
- Loss of overall understanding ability
- Loss of sensory function
- Inability to explain one’s point
- Lack of trust even on the closest people
- Feeling of presence of imaginary people
- Feeling of repetition of false events
Types of Epilepsy Seizures
Depending on the area of the brain that is involved in a seizure, seizures can be understood to be of the following types:
1. Partial Seizures
When just one part or portion of the brain is experiencing abnormal processes, a partial or local seizure happens. It may cause complete loss of consciousness or cause just a decrease in one’s awareness. A person may completely fall unconscious or may stare blankly at a point, and be lost in his own thoughts, or they may do repeated random movements with their body.
2. Complete Seizures
When the whole brain is having abnormal processes, this is called a general or complete seizure. The following kinds of seizure attacks can happen during a total seizure
- Children having total seizures can be blank for some time and may not respond to anything. During this time they do normal activities but absent mindedly, such as continuously blinking their eyes, or smacking their lips, or scratching their head, etc.
- Seizures may specifically affect the muscles of a person. The muscles may be stiffened all of a sudden. The spine can stiff up so much that the person may fall down due to lack of balance. Similarly, the person may fall down due to excess and sudden loosening of the muscles of the back and the limbs. This is called a drop seizure.
- Facial muscles can specifically be affected during a seizure where the person forcefully twitches their neck and face.
- The most serious and dramatic seizures are those causing complete and sudden loss of consciousness, and the person jerks their neck and bites their own tongue. They may also pass urine during this seizure due to loss of control over their urinary bladder muscles. The rest of the body becomes stiffened during such a seizure.
Causes and Risk Factors
The occurrence of epilepsy can be due to a variety of reasons:
- Family History: if poor brain cells are transferred genetically within a family, children are more likely to have epileptic seizures which are considered genetic. Specific kinds of genes may also be responsible for putting more people of the same family at a risk of developing epilepsy and seizures.
- An injury or trauma which could have originated from an accident, a fight (intentional attack), etc. can also lead to damage of brain cells and then lead to epilepsy.
- Other conditions such as malignant or benign overgrowth of tissues in the brain, such as tumors. Brain strokes caused by blood disorders can also cause the condition in adults.
- It is also said that serious infectious diseases such as HIV-AIDS and viral inflammation of the brain can cause epilepsy.
- An injury to the fetus while it is still in the uterus can damage its brain cells already and the baby may be born with epilepsy.
- Disorders like autism can contribute to the development of epilepsy.
How to Manage Epilepsy at Home
- Do not be ashamed of your condition. It is not in your control.
- Normalize nervous health issues and talk about them in the family or social circles.
- Do not tell yourself or the person that a seizure is definitely about to happen.
- Do not pay attention to bad, rude or negative comments from other people.
- Try to depend less on others for small favors and take support from the society or your workplace instead of relying on personal relationships that may go bitter later.
- Do not devoid yourself of sleep. Sleep is very important for the brain.
- Do mild physical exercises.
- Consult a yoga or meditation therapist who can help you with meditation by doing yoga practices with you. DO NOT begin a regime of practices on your own.
- Consume a healthy diet.
- Learn new activities and languages.
- Spend time with children at an orphanage or those in your social circle.
- Adopt pets if you like animals. They can reduce stress and relax the mind.
- Get light head massage therapy.
- Seek therapies such as physiotherapy, sound therapy and aromatherapy.
- Dietary modification can help restore normal function of the brain. But the diet should be created by a medical expert and bio markers should be tested regularly.
Commonly used medications of mental and nervous disorders (such as epilepsy) are extremely harmful since they have shown adverse effects in many people. Also, in some people the seizures are such that they become resistant towards medications. Then stronger medications are administered which are even more harmful. Therefore they should be avoided and more holistic steps should be taken to manage and prevent the occurrence of seizures and for overall reduction in the severity of epilepsy. Care should be taken that meditation cannot be used to treat mental and nervous disorders if physical presence of the guru or the therapist is compulsory. Cases of mental illnesses can worsen if practices are instructed without physical supervision.
Dr. Vikram Chauhan (MD-Ayurvedic Medicine) is an Expert Ayurveda Consultant in Chandigarh (India). He has vast experience of herbs and their applied uses. He has successfully treated numerous patients suffering from various ailments, throughout the world. He is CEO and Founder of Krishna Herbal Company and Planet Ayurveda in Chandigarh, India. He researched age old formulas from ancient Ayurvedic text books to restore health and save human beings from the worst side-effects of chemical-based treatments.