Every day, an estimate of 87 people are diagnosed with epilepsy, and there are over 500,000 cases of epilepsy just in the UK alone. On a worldwide scale, around 60 million people suffer from the disease. This life-long, non-communicable brain disease, although the most common neurological illness, has not yet been found with a cure up to this day.

On the flip side, modern science has still made epilepsy manageable. Seizures can be prevented with consistent daily use of anti-epileptic drugs or AEDs. These medicines alter the chemical levels in the brain and take its electrical activity under control.

There are a lot of available AEDs in the market; that is why it is important to consult with a specialist first before trying one out yourself.

Generic AED Names

  • Cannabidiol
  • Carbamazepine
  • Carbamazepine
  • Clobazam
  • Clonazepam
  • Eslicarbazepine
  • Ethosuximide
  • Gabapentin
  • Lacosamide
  • Lamotrigine
  • Levetiracetam
  • Oxcarbazepine
  • Perampanel
  • Phenobarbital
  • Phenytoin
  • Pregabalin
  • Primidone
  • Rufinamide
  • Sodium Valproate
  • Tiagabine
  • Topiramate
  • Vigabatrin
  • Zonisamide

Sodium valproate is the most commonly prescribed treatment for all forms of epilepsy. However, since April 2018, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the UK no longer recommends that women with plans of conceiving, use sodium valproate, unless the Pregnancy Prevention Programme is considered and other treatments are deemed ineffective by the specialist.

The Pregnancy Prevention Programme consists of the following:

  • The patient must be fully aware and understands the associated risks in using valproate in pregnancy and must sign the Risk Acknowledgement Form.
  • The patient must be on a highly effective contraceptive.
  • The patient must check with her specialist regularly.

If you are looking to find alternatives in natural medicine, Epidiolex, a CBD drug, has been recently approved for use by the U.S FDA. This drug consists of 99% pure cannabidiol, and it works by reducing the severity and seizure frequencies in patients with severe epilepsy such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

Researches in CBD oil and drugs show promising results in reducing brain inflammation and serving as a highly effective anticonvulsant. However, it is still premature to conclude that CBD treatments have lasting effects as more studies need to be done to fully grasp the therapeutic capacity of both CBD oil and drugs in treating epilepsy.

Considerations in Taking AEDs

Being diagnosed with epilepsy is complex enough on its own, and more often than not, each case differs than the next— hence, the variability in AEDs available in the market. In deciding which medicine fits a specific case, it is important to take note of the following considerations:

  • Patient’s age
  • The type of epilepsy
  • Other medications being taken for other conditions
  • Possible side effects
  • Whether the patient is pregnant or has plans to conceive

As much as possible, medication will start with a low dose. It is only when further seizures occur that a higher dose is prescribed. It is important to take note that there is a limit to which each medicine can only be consumed. As each case is different, some cases might need more than one medication, and some others might only need a single medication to treat all kinds of seizures.