Epilepsy (or recurrent seizures) may be diagnosed if someone has had two or more ‘unprovoked’ seizures in one year, not caused directly by drugs (such as Heroine, LSD etc), alcohol or head injury. Epilepsy is one of the most common conditions affecting the brain.
Western Medical View
The brain consists of over 100 billion nerve cells. These nerve cells all communicate with one another. Some nerve cells make others send further messages (excitation), while other nerve cells block them (inhibition). Too many nerve cells sending messages at once without enough being blocked can produce a seizure. Common causes of epilepsy include brain damage from birth injuries, head injuries, stroke, brain tumors and alcoholism. Rarely, there is a genetic cause.
Chinese Medical View
There are Yin and Yang seizures. Yin seizures are rarely connected with epilepsy. Yang seizures are clenched and spastic. The Liver-Wind syndrome (which usually also involves a large accumulation of phlegm) causes most Yang seizures. In some cases seizures are caused by a deficiency of Yin (in the Yin-Yang medical theory, this means an insufficiency of cooling bodily fluids) in the Liver or Kidney. Sometimes emotional constraint can lead to the Liver overheating, resulting in internal Wind.
The causes of epilepsy can be summarised as congenital (present from birth but not hereditary) and acquired. Congenital causes include an impairment of the transfer of Qi (the body’s essential energy) from the foetus to the baby. Acquired causes include carniocerebral trauma; syncope; blood stagnation in the blood vessels and nerves; cerebroma and parasites in the brain; depletion in the nourishment of the heart and mind; suffocation, etc.
For the purposes of syndrome differentiation, epilepsy is classified as being due to Fright (including chronic fear unsettling the mind); due to Wind (fever); due to phlegm (characterised by a weak mind and dementia) and due to blood stasis (caused by craniocerebral trauma and characterised by headaches).
According to Chinese Medicine theory both acupuncture and Chinese herbs can be used either during or after seizure. Since repeated seizures are often caused by a large accumulation of phlegm according to CM theory, eliminating phlegm is one of the priorities. For patients who experience seizures on rarer occasions, the Chinese Medical treatment focuses on strengthening the Spleen, nourishing the Liver, relieving spasm and also removing phlegm.
Heart, Liver, Spleen and Kidney are all affected and require attention as part of the treatment.
For epilepsy due to Fright, treatment will aim to calm the mind and eliminate fright.
For epilepsy due to phlegm build-up, the focus will be on regulating the body’s Qi, removing the phlegm and resuscitating the patient.
For epilepsy due to Wind, treatment focuses on eliminating the Wind and relieving convulsion.
For epilepsy due to blood stasis, treatment will re-activate blood circulation in order to induce resuscitation and stopping Wind.
For best results, Chinese medicine must be combined with Western medicines.
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