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Epilepsy

Parts of this were taken with permission from Essential Oils Overview and Reference Guide, published by: The Family Tree, 2008

Summary

see also Seizures

BrainEpilepsy is a disorder within the brain wherein repeated seizures occur.  Seizures vary from a glassy stare for a few seconds (petit mal) to severe convulsions (grand mal).  The cause of such seizures is related to unusual electrical signals generated in the brain.  The causes of this unusual brain activity includes congenital defects, injury during birth, dietary deficiencies, some suggest food allergies, illnesses in later life, trauma to the brain, etc.  A single seizure does not constitute epilepsy but repeated seizures are diagnosed as epilepsy.  For children with epilepsy they may outgrow the episodes with age.

 

[search helps: Temporal lobe epilepsy; Seizure disorder, grand mal, petit mal]

Oils, blends & products recommended:

Primary: Balance, BergamotC, FrankincenseC, Jasmine, Lavender, Life Long Vitality supplements, SerenityC, Ylang Ylang

Secondary: AromaTouch Technique (adjust if necessary, see precautions below)

Also consider: Clary SageC, CloveC, ThymeEC

Note: to understand the E and C superscript go to Home and scroll to New Helps.

Special Precautions.  Avoid the use of Basil, Rosemary, and Wintergreen oils for those that suffer from epilepsy.  [Also mentioned from other sources and experiences are these oils to avoid or to use with care: Camphor, Eucalyptus, Fennel, Galbanum, Hyssop, Nutmeg, Pennyroyal, Sage, Savin, Spike Lavender (not the common Lavender augustifolia), Tansy, Tarragon, Thuja, Thujone, Turpentine, Wormwood.]

Note: Deep Blue blend has Camphor and Wintergreen and On Guard blend has Eucalyptus.

Suggested protocols:

Life Long Vitality supplements to assure nutritional balance.

Topical application of Frankincense (and Bergamot) morning and evening to bottom of feet and at brain stem.

For calming and balance: Balance blend in the morning, Serenity in the evening.  Weekly AromaTouch Technique. (With the ATT consider replacing On Guard with a blend of Cinnamon, Clove and Wild Orange and Deep Blue with a blend of Helichrysum and Peppermint.)

These oils can be rotated with oils of similar properties to avoid the body "tiring" of a particular oil or where someone finds an oils odor too pungent.

Experiences and Testimonials of others

KelliDonna - I am an active member in the Epilepsy community. I myself do not suffer with this however I have been using doTERRA essential oils for 2 months now and I have had such amazing results that I would love to know as much as I can about using these for the millions of people that suffer with Epilepsy. I need to know if there are any possible reactions or interactions with certain medications? Are there certain oils that people with Epilepsy should avoid?  I know that Frankincense is helpful, but I don't know the details on how to they should use it. Thank you.

Kristina - Epilepsy and Frankincense are the reason we started using doTERRA essential oils and are now part of the doTERRA family.  My husband is epileptic and had reached a point where he was having petit-mal seizures every day and a grand-mal nearly every week, in spite of several medication changes.  A friend brought us a bottle of Frankincense and asked my husband to put it on his feet every day.  The petit-mals stopped abruptly and completely, and he has had only two grand-mals since starting the oils.  His regimen for epilepsy now includes the LLV pack, Balance in the morning, Serenity in the evening, and Frankincense and Clary Sage morning and evening.  He puts the oils either on his feet or at the base of his skull and down his spine.  He likes to carry a small bottle of Frankincense in his lunch container at work as well, both for epilepsy and other health benefits.  It is my understanding that Frankincense acts as a powerful anti-inflammatory and regulatory agent in the nervous system, and many seizures are caused by sudden inflammation in the brain causing over-activity of the nervous system.

He is still on medication.  We also have had questions regarding possible interactions.  So far any oils experts, doctors or Naturopaths we have spoken with have said it is not a concern, but I am still looking for more information.  As far as what oils to avoid, most usage guides will have cautionary information listed under the individual oils and blends that include epilepsy (under safety).  Off the top of my head, Basil, Wintergreen, Rosemary and Deep Blue are no-no's. 

Pat - Yes the Life Long Vitality supplements are a great addition to the Frankincense. The Frankincense seems to help when applied to the spine, the crown of the head, and/or the bottom of feet. The Aroma Touch Technique is also helpful. You can use the oils with medications and I would suggest any change in medications come from their doctor.

Natureworks1 – I just had the privilege of hearing Dr. Hill speak an interestingly he addressed the epilepsy issue.  He mentioned 6 specific oils for a variety of reasons.  I will list them here. Dr. Hill suggested: Frankincense, Sandalwood, Thyme, Clove, Balance, Serenity, and the LifeLong Vitality pack.  Hope this helps a little.

 

Brianna - Has anyone had personal experiences with using Frankincense (or ANYTHING else) for seizures? My friends little boy who is only four has been diagnosed with epilepsy. I have sent all the information I feel I have learned (which feels so little in regards to this topic) but wonder if there is more that I could offer. Thank you!

Julie Ann - Since Frankincense crosses the blood brain barrier in 4 seconds it is the #1 oil that I personally used to pull a girlfriend out of a grand maul seizure.  It also worked for my niece's 3 year old.   Fabulous!!   

Ceri - My four year old is having similar issues.  I recently got to speak with Dr. Hill.  He recommended Frankincense as well as any calming oils.  He explained that seizure activity is hyperactivity in the brain and any of the calming oils should be helpful.  His favorite calming blend is equal parts Frankincense, roman Chamomile and Bergamot.  When I first started using the oils my boy did not like the smell of Frankincense.  We mixed it with Lemon because he loved Lemon.  We discovered the we all love Frankincense combined with any of the citrus oils.

Also, my boy was having episodes of behavior issues for about a week before the actual seizures occurred.  It took a couple of seizures for us to realize this pattern.  Dr. Hill said that the behavior stuff proceeding the seizures made him think of food allergies. We have an appointment with an allergist to see if anything turns up there. We have also begun giving Frankincense under the tongue twice a day and diffusing it regularly. The behavioral issues have greatly reduced when we do these things which leads me to believe the activity of the brain is now "better", more "normal"

Debbie – Frankincense and Lemongrass work amazingly well together for seizures.

Pat – My experience is also to use Frankincense and/or Coriander for seizures.

Rob - Frankincense, and Lemongrass are listed for seizure and epilepsy in the Essentials of the Earth Reference Guide. Many books on the market have not had a quality enough Frankincense to glean it's efficacy for neurological conditions. Essentials of the Earth's recommendation came from Dr. Hill and the success with David Stirling's little girl... Lacy.

Apply drops of Frankincense to the crown on the head, base of the neck and bottom of the feet.  Experiment with amounts and most effective places to put the oil.  Some do it upon the start of a seizure.  Some are able to see signs that one is coming on.  Others apply as a matter of precaution.

Study up on the importance of diet too.  And take the LLW!!

 

John - I am an Epileptic i have had Epilepsy since i was 12 years of age and I have a hard time at night falling asleep, my brain just does not want to shut down which causes me to have more and more problems.  Can some one give me some help or advice? Thank you.

Melissa - Have you tried Lavender or Serenity? I have had a lot of sleep issues in the past and these 2 oils have helped me tremendously to get good restful sleep. I rub it on my feet as well as put a drop on my pillow at night. You can also try including some Balance as well. Even with oils sometimes my mind doesn't want to shut off yet. I will usually focus on my breathing, try to slow it down. and I will focus on relaxing each muscle. While I go through this my eyes and body feel heavier and before I know it I'm out. Still, using Lavender or Serenity has not only helped but really increased the quality of sleep for me.

Arin - Have you had an AromaTouch treatment? I have met multiple people that suffer from sleeplessness and one treatment let's them sleep like a baby.

CeriAnn - My son is epileptic. He is five and started having seizures a year ago.  We started using the oils because we were looking for a way to help him.  When first using the oils we would put Frankincense and Balance along his spine and on the crown of his head (directly over the part of his brain that is involved) every night.  Shortly after that we started using On Guard because flu season was upon us.  He started having more seizures closer together and finally a cluster of seizures.  We ended up in the hospital, medicating to get that stopped.  After we got home, two days later, I put On Guard on him and he seized about ten minutes later. I had looked up contraindications for essential oils and seizures before and had failed to come across Eucalyptus and Rosemary, This time the first site I brought up had both of those at the top of the list.  I felt pretty certain I had been triggering seizures by using On Guard on him.

I did get to speak with Dr. Hill about it.  He gave the, "DoTerra's oils are so pure they won't cause a problem like other oils" answer (which I thoroughly believe). But again, this is where I get to use my "mom sense" and decide what is best for my family.  Dr. Hill agreed that based on my observation it did sound like On Guard was not a good choice for my son at that time. He recommended looking into possible food allergies and candida.  I also learned that I was not using enough oil on him to be effective.  We have since begun using Frankincense several times a day topically as well as under the tongue and also diffusing. 

Dr. Hill recommended using Frankincense, Bergamot and Roman Chamomile as a relaxing blend. My boy's favorite is Bergamot.  He loves it! ( Bergamot has similar properties with the other citrus oils, but it is calming as well as uplifting!)  We are also applying antifungal oils to his feet.  I can't wait until he will take a capsule!

After the cluster of seizures I gave my neighbor my On Guard and any other possibly contraindicated oils.  At this point we have returned those oils in our home.  I have diffused them occasionally and use them on other members of the family.  But I wasn't comfortable with that until several months after using a more intense oiling schedule with our epileptic son. I am grateful to know about these oils and to know low quality versions are in a lot of commercially available products and are important to avoid. At this point we use strictly home made cleaning products and mostly homemade personal products.

Anyway, to help my son calm down we love the Bergamot. And if you use the blend Dr. Hill recommended, so much the better!  Also, I do an AromaTouch Technique about once a week on him.  I skip the On Guard and add another oil I feel good about.

 

Ashlie -  I had a friend call me tonight and ask me if there were any oils that would help for epilepsy.  She said hers has been acting up lately.  I am fairly new to the oils, and I don't really know what epilepsy does to a person.  Any suggestions?? 

Lynda - I've heard that Frankincense can be very helpful.  It can be applied along the spine and I've also heard that a drop of Frankincense under the tongue can help.

Rob - Frankincense has shown effectiveness with people who suffer seizures.  Our CEO, David Stirling has a small girl that had been having serious seizures and they greatly reduced them with daily application to her feet.

One thing to consider, as you have success with Frankincense, remember that the body can some time "tire" of the oil, and its good to change things up now and then.  Consider applications of Lavender, Sandalwood and Helichrysum to the big toes, (reflexology points for the brain), and the application to the spine, under the tongue, brain stem as well as the crown of the head.

Protocols folks recommend for children

 

 

Diet and Nutritional complements to essential oils

 

What Science & Research are saying

Submitted by Loryjean on 22 Sep 2009

So far, Swine flu, H1N1, has killed thirty-six children in U.S. and analysis of CDC data indicates Vitamin D deficient children at higher risk of death. The CDC did not realize they discovered this. However, anyone familiar with the Vitamin D literature will recognize it.

Almost two-thirds of the dead children had epilepsy, cerebral palsy, or other neurodevelopmental conditions like mental retardation. All of these neurological conditions are associated with childhood Vitamin D deficiency. Exacerbating the problem further, many of these kids take anticonvulsant drugs, which lower Vitamin D levels. 58 million American children are Vitamin D deficient; 7.6 million are severely deficient.

When researchers looked at more than 6,000 American kids (age one to 21) who were carefully selected to be representative of the average American child. 9 percent of the kids had 25(OH)D levels less than 15 ng/mL and 70 percent had levels less than 30 ng/mL.

Aromatherapy & Epilepsy

By Dr. Tim Betts & Victoria Jackson – Birmingham University Seizure Clinic and Epilepsy Liaison Service, Queen Elizabeth Psychiatric Hospital, Mindelsohn Way, Birmingham, B15 2QZ  

This article appeared in Epilepsy News Issue 6 (Summer 1998)  

Dr. Tim Betts is a Neuropsychiatrist and consultant in charge of Birmingham University Seizure Clinic and Epilepsy Liaison Service. He is trained in two alternative therapies which are used in the clinic alongside the full range of medical and surgical treatments, and is continuing research into the effect of some of the alternative therapies on epilepsy.  

Ms. Vicky Jackson is a trained aromatherapist who is also a person with epilepsy. She provides aromatherapy treatment in the Birmingham University Seizure Clinic and is involved in its research programme in the alternative therapies.  

Aromatherapy is one of the complementary therapies which has a long history, a tradition of practice which is beginning to be understood on a scientific basis and which is becoming increasingly popular. In the United Kingdom and Ireland it is practiced mainly by therapists with a professional qualification in aromatherapy (although depth of experience and training in order to qualify varies). In some European countries such as France it is often practiced by the medically qualified although in the United Kingdom and Ireland, unlike with acupuncture and hypnoisis, medical interest in the technique is small.  

Aromatherapy is a practice of health care which uses the properties of aromatic oils extracted from plants. Pure oils are used so their constituents remain fairly constant and so have predictable properties. These pure oils are, of course, a mixture of aromatic oils extracted from plants. Pure oils are used so that their constituents remain fairly constant and so gave predictable properties. These pure oils are, of course, a mixture of various plant derived chemicals, many of which do have a pharmacological effect (many of older, and most effective drugs have been derived from plants, i.e. alcohol, morphia, aspirin, quinine, digitalis) many plant chemicals gave profound effects on bodily or brain function. Most commonly these oils ate diluted with a base or carrier oils and diluted with a base or carrier oil and massaged into the body (usually a whole body massage, although limited areas of the body may sometimes be massaged). The oils can also be used in vaporisers and burners or undiluted may be applied to specific body parts particulary for their anti bacterial role: oils, undiluted, may also be taken by mouth although use of this route is not suggested for personal use. Aromatic oils are fat soluble: fat soluble: fat soluble oils are easily absorbed by the skin, get into the blood stream and swiftly travel to the particular organ (usually the brain) on witch the oil has an effect. Since they have got directly into the blood stream the oils are more potent. If a diluted oil is taken by mouth it is broken down by the liver before it gets into the blood stream and therefore has less effect so a bigger dose is needed. Many aromatic oils are actually quite poisonous if swallowed, and their oral use is very restricted, and should only be taken on the advice of someone fully qualified in their use.  

Pure aromatherapy oils have distinctive properties: some act on the body (as in Juniper oil acting on the kidneys or Tea‐tree oil acting as an antiseptic when applied locally) or may work on the brain having alerting effects (Rosemary or Lemon Grass) or a calming or antie depressant effect (such as Ylang Ylang, Camomile, Jasmine, Lavender, Mellisa etc).  

Most aromatherapists blend oils so that mixtures of oils with varying properties are used to produce particular effects in the ptient. This blending is usually done according to the aromatherapist’s experience although individual oils have recognised properties.  

An aromatherapist’s knowledge of the use and properties of oils is based largely on empirical observation although scientific measurement is starting to be used to assess the effects of oils properly. Great pains are taken to ensure that aromatherapy oils are pure: they are extracted in a standard way so that the constituents of a particular oil do not vary form bottle to bottle so that the same general effect is obtained: although the same plant grown in different countries or in different locations may produce an oil with quite different properties so that, sometimes, it is important for the aromatherapist to know exactly where the particular oil came from. It is possible now to analyse the detailed chemical constituents of oils and some aromatherapists are beginning to use this knowledge to further refine their techniques.  

An aromatherapist must have some knowledge of human physiology and anatomy, the pharmacology of the oils that he or she will use and good empirical knowledge of their effect. All aromatherapists are also trained in massage techniques. If you consult an aromatherapist and the aromatherapist is properly qualified then you can be assured that you will be consulting somebody with good empirical training who is unlikely to do you any harm and who will have the knowledge to the effect that his or her chosen oils will have on your condition and the contraindications to the use of any oils that your condition may impose.  

Having said that some aromatherapists are reluctant to treat people with epilepsy partly because some textbooks for aromatheapists suggest that some oils may increase seizure frequency (this is largely untrue and will be discussed later) and partly we suspect because of the fear of the patient having a seizure during the treatment. Our own experience is that seizure occurrence during an aromatherapy massage is very rare (in fact we have only seen it once) and providing the aromatherapist is trained in the first aid of a seizure, in particular how to deal with a seizure occurring in a massage couch, then there should be no problem.  

Our own experience of aromatherapy in treating people with epilepsy now extends over several years and to a large extent our enthusiasm for this form of treatment has grown as our experience has developed and is audited and evidence based.  

Some years ago one of our team members was training in aromatherapy and suggested gaining experience in the treatment of epilepsy with aromatherapy, whilst trying to measure its effect. Ten patients were treated in the original study having two massages a month apart with their seizure frequency being measured before, during and after the treatment. Most patients had, for two of three months during and after treatment a significant reduction in seizure frequency (one patient had mild seizure increase; one patient stopped having seizures during the course of the treatment her seizure control continuing for the next two years). Most patients’ seizure frequency returned to its usual level within two to six months after the treatments. Patients were allowed to choose their own massage oil: most chose Ylang Ylang (a relaxing oil). Ylang Ylang is rich, heavy and sweet and not an oil that many people would choose: why do many of our patients choose it, particularly because in the choosing of it they do not know its name? There is good evidence that people with epilepsy have an altered sense of smell (particularly in time relationship to their seizures). Some aromatherapists believe that the brain unconsciously recognises what it needs. A more prosaic reason may be that until recently we were unable (due to its heavy cost) to offer Jasmine oil: since we have been able to do so, most patients have chosen this oil!  

People with epilepsy lead stressful lives: for many, fear of seizures is part of that life. We postulated that the seizure reduction we had seen had related to a transient decrease in stress and arousal which aromatherapy can cause. We wondered whether the relaxing effect of the oil, which clearly did seem to reduce seizures in some patients, could be continued after the massages were over (massage is a labour intensive time consuming technique which is difficult to arrange in a busy National Health Service Clinic). Our department has always been interested in teaching self control techniques for people with epilepsy: trying to help people with epilepsy develop techniques which they can use to abort oncoming seizures either when they get an aura or some other warning signal or at times when the patient knows that a seizure is likely to occur. Could we use the aroma of the oil to help patients abort the seizure? The mechanism that had caused seizure reduction in our patients could, of course, have been just a general treatment effect, a specific pharmacological effect of the oil or it might have been related to the aroma itself. Our technique had been unusual in that we had used single oil rather than a blend.  

We embarked on a treatment programme in which some patients had up to six massages with their chosen oil (again a single oil) and then, by using a simple auto hypnotic technique, associated the smell of the oil with being relaxed. They then carried the oil with them and if they felt a seizure coming or were in a situation where a seizure was likely they could smell the oil and stop the seizure. We contrasted this technique in a group of patients who merely had the auto hypnotic technique taught them, to associate the smell of the chosen oil with being relaxed: they again used the oil as a counter measure against an on‐coming seizure.  

In almost all the patients in this study a relaxing oil was used, but occasionally some patients are better able to stop a seizure if they do not relax but actually increase tension and arousal: a few patients used an oil that will do this (such as Lemon Grass oil).  

50 patients were treated with these two techniques: 25 with massage followed by the auto hypnosis and 25 just with the auto hypnosis. Some patients became seizure free using this technique and some have continued to be seizure free providing they practise the technique even though they are seizure free.  

After a while the majority of patients who became seizure free did not need to carry the bottle of oil with them and smell it when they felt a seizure coming on, but could use the memory of the smell of the oil to get the same effect: they needed only to think of the smell of the oil to abort the seizure. There is a biological difference between men and women here: women are much better at creating a smell memory than men: this may explain why most of the patients who have wanted to try this technique and have succeeded with it have been women.  

Our results suggested that patients who had massage followed by auto hypnosis were much more likely to become seizure free of get a significant reduction in seizures than those who merely used the auto hypnotic effect. This seems to be a true empirical observation but we are uncertain as to why this should be: it is possible that we are producing a conditioned pharmacological effect.  

Our present experiments with aromatherapy have been to try to explore the reasons for the massage technique being superior and we are beginning to study a group of patients who have a definite and quantifiable epileptic activity in the electroencephalogram (EEG), studying the effect of massage with various oils on their EEG (it is possible to record and EEG during a massage). We are also looking at a group of people who not have epilepsy and the effect of oils on their EEG.  

Our preliminary results suggest that at least one oil (Jasmine) may actually have anti consultant properties. Jasmine is a very expensive oil which we therefore did not use it in early studies, but, thanks to the generosity of a particular group of aromatherapists who have supplied us with some, we are using it more and more and are continuing to explore its properties. We are just starting to study its effect on patients with photosensitivity and are continuing to use the massage plus auto hypnosis technique on patients who seem suitable for it. Interestingly some of our patients seem to develop the association between aroma and control of seizures without the use of auto hypnosis.  

At the moment we are confining treatment to patients who do have a recognisable prodrome, aura or trigger for their seizures; but we would have to admit the technique also seems to work on some patients who do not have this. We use the technique as an adjunct to medical treatment; we do not advocate its use of its own (although one or two of our patients who became seizure free have subsequently withdrawn form medication this is not something we encourage until we are certain that the effect of the technique is long lasting and, on its own, would be sufficient to give seizure freedom).  

We have been sufficiently encouraged by the results of this largely self help technique to employ an aromatherapist as part of our clinical team to do the bulk of the work although several of us are experienced enough in the technique to be able to use it.  

Since is time consuming we do not use it unless we feel it is justified and will give our patient an extra dimension of self control. The technique is not a miracle cure and requires time commitment and hard work for the patient and may not work: we have to discourage people who think that it is an instant fix. We try to give advice to aromatherapists and their clients about how to use this technique, in particular to advise about those oils that should be avoided. Some aromatherapists use aromatherapy oils internally but it is not something that we would personally recommend for people with epilepsy. The use of diluted aromatherapy oil in massage is unlikely to give rise to harm although we avoid oils which contain camphor in large quantities as these may be convulsant. This means particularly avoiding Rosemary and Hyssop. Anyone who has doubts about a particular oil they would like to use are advised to consult “Essential Oil Safely” by Tissarand & Balacs, Churchill Livingstone, 1995 which gives very sensible advice, and they also should always consult a qualified aromatherapist.  

For many people with epilepsy aromatherapy will help with the stresses that having epilepsy brings: a few may be able to develop use of the technique to give them better self control of seizures, which will have a beneficial effect on their morale. For those seriously interested a training videotape “Seizing Control” is available from the Birmingham University Television Service, which introduces the concept of self control of seizures and looks at the smell memory technique in some detail. The videotape is in several parts and is meant to give a detailed model of how the technique can be used so would be of most use to therapists intending to try the techniques, and who need to understand how to help their patients to think psychologically about their epilepsy, rather than to see it in purely medical terms. It is relatively expensive so should only be purchased BY those seriously interested.

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NOTE: The advice shared in this site has not been evaluated by the FDA. The products and methods recommended are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease, nor is it intended to replace proper medical help. As members offer or look for answers, kindly understand that essential oils work to help to bring the body into balance - thus helping the body's natural defenses to restore homeostasis. Essential oils are not used to "treat" medical problems.