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Magnesium as an Effective Adjunct Therapy for Drug Resistant Seizures

  • Peter A. Abdelmalik (a1), Nina Politzer (a2) and Peter L. Carlen (a1) (a2) (a3)

To explore the use of magnesium (Mg), an endogenous ion and enzymatic co-factor used in a variety of medical applications, for the treatment of epileptic seizures resistant to traditional medical therapy.


For almost a century, Mg has been used as prophylaxis and treatment of seizures associated with eclampsia. Mg is a CNS depressant, with numerous functions intracellularly and extracellularly. However, because of the availability of well studied anticonvulsant drugs, Mg has not been tested widely in the treatment of epileptic seizures.


A retrospective chart review of 22 cases of drug resistant epilepsy, where a trial of empiric oral Mg supplementation (mainly in the form of Mg-oxide) was conducted.


Oral Mg supplementation was associated with a significant decrease in the number of seizure days per month, from 15.3 ± 13.2 (mean ± SD) to 10.2 ± 12.6 at first follow up (3-6 months, p=0.021), and to 7.8 ± 10.0 seizure days/month at second follow up (6-12 months, p=0.004). Thirty-six percent had a response rate of 75% or greater at second follow-up. Two patients reported seizure freedom. Most patients were well maintained on MgO 420mg twice a day, or in 2 cases, Mg Lactate, without significant adverse effects, the most frequent being diarrhea (4/22).


These results suggest that oral Mg supplementation may prove to be a worthwhile adjunctive medication in treating drug intractable epilepsy.


A prospective, double-blinded, placebo controlled study is warranted to evaluate the potential of Mg for the treatment of drug-resistant seizures.

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Corresponding author
Toronto Western Hospital, 5W-442, 399 Bathurst St., Toronto, Ontario, M5T2S8, Canada.
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Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences
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