This abstract is based in a post-graduation revision paper, that had the aim to identify in scientific publications the contribution of homeopathy in the treatment of epilepsy in individuals in the autism spectrum disorder as well as other neurodiversity conditions in order to improve quality of life.
As a homeopath that works with epileptic patients (many of them autistic), I have already seen many good results, as well as I have read and heard about it from other homeopaths too. So, I decided to research the publications to check about results and to bring light to possible improvement in quality of life to this population, when applying homeopathy.
In addition, I am comparing the allopathic and homeopathic systems regarding the efficiency, cost benefit (low cost/non-patentable) and “side effects” of each one. While – according to CDC – the general population has an incidence less than 1% between children, an ASD study has found 26% epilepsy diagnoses in autistic children aged 13 and over1.
A Norwegian study on comorbidities in cerebral palsy showed a 39% incidence of epilepsy in these patients 2. Looking at Down syndrome in Brazil, Nóbrega et al. found that 20, 71% of the electroencephalograms had some alteration3.
Refractory epilepsy is the term used to describe conditions in which, despite the use of 2 or more anticonvulsant drugs, a total control of the seizures is not achieved. Epidemiological data indicate that between 20 to 40% of epilepsy diagnoses are prone to become refractory4.
Cognitive functions, visual memory and language are greatly impaired in patients with refractory epilepsy. Executive functions were impaired in almost all patient’s refractory to conventional allopathic treatment5. Refractory epilepsy can have devastating consequences, such as status epilepticus, hospitalization, and even premature death6.
In an important report of emergency homeopathic treatment, a 5-year-old girl in status epilepticus arrived at the clinic cyanotic, with horizontal nystagmus, unconscious, unresponsive to pain. She was having frequent seizures, lasting 30 – 60 minutes, with 30 minutes between them.
According to information, the seizures have progressively worsened, since the beginning – at 6 months of age – when organic epilepsy secondary to intracellular brain damage of unknown origin was diagnosed.
She had not been responding well to anti-epileptic drugs, even at their maximum therapeutic dosage. She already had chronic spasticity of the limbs, having delay in all developmental milestones, and also had not developed speech, only unintelligible sounds7.
A review of 37 studies following patients in the long term after the occurrence of status epilepticus, showed that the recurrence of this state ranges from 10% to 56% in children, thus having, as one of the consequences, a lower probability of remission of the seizures after the event (55%).
Regarding the damage caused to cognition, studies report that it ranges from 10 to 60% of affected children, and further studies are needed to assess the real damage, best treatment approaches and also to avoid mortality, which may arrive, according to some authors, up to 22%8.
Improving the research in homeopathy and epilepsy is of great relevance regarding the low cost and health and disability prevention, as some studies have shown that regression to autism and mental retardation were most frequently seen between epileptic children, and abnormal development during the first year of life was associated with electroencephalogram abnormalities9,10,11.
It is important to note that the first difficulty here is: we have the challenge “to compare” two almost opposite systems, as homeopathy is a non-ponderable, energetic power, and allopathy is based in ponderable substances, sometimes in large amounts.
And, the worst in my point of view: the scientific community still wants to judge these different systems with the same measure12. As an example, we already have a literature review evaluating in vitro studies, which clearly expressed the biological activity of ultra-dilutions above Avogadro’s number, confirming and supporting the action found in homeopathic clinical practice, so it is heading the right direction13.
Even so, it could have economic relevance, as several studies have demonstrated the low cost of homeopathic treatments, due to being generic, produced at low cost and not patentable14. It is still relevant for health, since epilepsy is refractory to conventional treatments15, and also considering the various adverse effects of conventional medications16,17,18,19.
Multicentric study carried out in 4 countries, by 30 professionals, evaluated homeopathic treatment compared to conventional treatment of respiratory problems, including allergies and otitis, with 456 patients, 281 having received homeopathy and 175 of the patients, allopathy, having presented 82% success results with homeopathy versus 68% with allopathy. Improvements were observed in less than 1 day, or in up to 3 days, in 67.3% of those who used homeopathy, against 56.6% of those who received allopathy.
Regarding side effects, allopathy caused adverse effects in 22.3% of patients, against only 7.8% of those who received homeopathy. The study concludes that homeopathy is at least as effective as conventional medicine for treating patients with the conditions studied20.
Another important factor is the abundance of remedies that can be useful compared with allopathic medicines. On the website of the Epilepsy Society21, for example, we can find a list of medications recommended for the treatment of epilepsy: there are 30 chemical compositions – generic names, with their respective possible commercial reference that can be seen in Annex.
Several studies report the side effects of the use of anticonvulsant medications, such as skin reactions, Steven-Johnson syndrome, irritability, hostility, mood swings22,23. “Antiepileptic drugs produce global changes in excitatory levels of the central nervous system and often lead to cognitive and behavioral deficits”16. Cognitive side effects of antiepileptic drugs are common and may negatively affect tolerability, compliance and long-term permanence in treatment17.
Clinical research, randomized, double-blind, compared EEG and cognition in healthy volunteers after 12 weeks of use of Gabapentin and Carbamazepine, whose result demonstrated that the use of these anti-epileptic drugs produced slowing in the EEG with cognitive complaints24.
A review article draws attention to the side effects of anti-epileptic drugs on mitochondria, and suggests avoiding some drugs that may cause more side effects than benefits for the treatment of epileptic seizures related to mitochondrial diseases, notably valproic acid, which can intoxicate the liver and mitochondria25, which led to death as a result of this intoxication in 2 patients26. Another recent study provides guidance on the risks of hepatotoxicity in epileptic patients27,28.
A review of 14 studies on valproic acid reveals changes in the absorption of 25-Hydroxy – vitamin D and bone mineral density19. Insomnia, difficulty concentrating, tiredness and memory problems are cited as common effects of several anticonvulsants. Levetiracetam has been associated with anger/aggression, nervousness/agitation, upset stomach, depression, and sleep disturbances; lamotrigine to nervousness/agitation, upset stomach, and difficulty concentrating; valproic acid with upset stomach and hand tremor18.
On the other side, it is found in the literature – even if under this bias – several studies proving the effectiveness, efficiency and economic advantage of homeopathy in the treatment of various diseases20,29,30. In relation to treatment of epilepsy, we have studies of very effective and promising case reports, and it is still necessary to carry out more research in the area, to scientifically demonstrate what is already perceived by both patients and homeopaths, in the offices and hospitals where homeopathy is offered and used7,31,32,33.
Systematic reviews on the adverse effects of homeopathic medicines indicate that homeopathic medicines produce more adverse effects than placebo in randomized controlled studies, although these are mild and transitory. The implementation of an efficient online system for monitoring the adverse effects of homeopathic, conventional or herbal medicines can be of great importance, facilitating data collection and impartial evaluation of information generated by consumers or health professionals34.
Work on homeopathic possibilities for the treatment of epilepsy advocates the use of homeopathy to treat epilepsy due to the fact that homeopathy does not have known side effects and also as a possibility for the individual not to need to take medications throughout his life.
The article describes a summary of the clinical picture pertaining to 33 homeopathic remedies that are very useful in the treatment of epilepsy, having as references the main characteristics of the crises and causal situations associated with the individual clinic32.
Although homeopathy proves to be promising in the treatment of epilepsy, there is a clear need for more studies and more publications in the area of epilepsy that can confirm the excellent results experienced in clinical practice.
The biggest limitation of this study was to find scientific publications of case studies on homeopathy in the treatment of epilepsy in journals that have as a scientific basis chemical, weighting and action principles opposite to those found in the practice of homeopathy, with all the specificities that the individualization method and repertorization of symptoms requires on the homeopathy.
A Swiss study received 3126 questionnaires completed by users of the health system, concluding that satisfaction was significantly higher among homeopathic patients than conventional ones. The homeopathic treatment had 2 to 3 times fewer side effects than the conventional one29. It was observed in the research that homeopathy offers a huge range of possible appropriate medications for the treatment of all types of seizures – with their peculiarities – which must be researched in detail by the homeopath; and the advantage of not offering known side effects, already well established by research.
As for allopathy, in addition to the smaller number of medications available, the side effects of anti-epileptic drugs are well known and described by science. Some studies have already demonstrated that there is an excellent cost-benefit ratio in the use of homeopathy in pathologies in several areas, and further scientific validation is needed, for the fact that is already known by every family that uses homeopathy as a choice in their homes: huge economy from a financial point of view, with excellent health in the short, medium and long term29,34.
Table II – Generic name of the medications indicated for the treatment of epilepsy
|Eslicarbazepine acetate||Phenobarbital||Valproic acid|
- Viscidi, Emma W., Elizabeth W. Triche, Matthew F. Pescosolido, Rebecca L. McLean, Robert M. Joseph, Sarah J. Spence, and Eric M. Morrow. 2013. “Clinical Characteristics of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Co-Occurring Epilepsy.” PLoS ONE 8 (7): e67797. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0067797. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0067797.
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