- Last Updated on 29 December 2016
There are countless "vitamins" and "natural supplements" that are widely available and marketed for all sorts of medical disorders, including epilepsy and infantile spasms. By in large, the effectiveness of individual products are seldom evaluated in a rigorous fashion and should be used with extreme caution. These "natural" products are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), safety is generally not established, and most importantly, potential interactions with anti-seizure drugs is typically unknown. Just like conventional medications regulated by the FDA, natural supplements have the potential for side-effects as well, especially at dosages often cited for the treatment of epilepsy. Be sure your physician is aware of any supplements taken by a patient with infantile spasms.
There are at least a few exceptions to this warning. A small minority of patients with infantile spasms suffer from a group of disorders termed pyridoxine-responsive epilepsy. These disorders are best treated with pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and several related compounds including pyridoxal-5-phosphate, and folinic acid. In addition, L-carnitine is a naturally occurring compound which is important for a variety of metabolic processes, including the conversion of fats to energy. The body's supply of natural L-carnitine can be impacted by several epilepsy treatments (i.e. valproic acid and the ketogenic diet). L-carnitine supplementation in this setting is fairly common. But again, only trusted manufacturers should be used.