Epilepsy and Me

Diagnosed with this supposedly incurable condition at the age of 26, I soon found that epilepsy was impacting my life in significant and unacceptable ways. I became determined to fight back. I discovered alternative and complementary treatments that did work, music among them. Being a musician, it was natural for me to experiment with music along my own path to healing. Out of my research and personal experiences, I learned a great deal about this topic.

Music can change EEG (brain wave activity)

Music can be used as a stimulant, energizing and quickening brain activity, helping us to focus and  think more clearly. It can also help us to relax and and ease tension.

Neurologists use EEG tests to diagnose epilepsy. The brain waves of someone who has seizures will typically exhibit less beta (faster brain waves) and have frequent spikes or bursts of slower brain waves (alpha or theta). Changing the brain wave pattern can often lead to reduction or elimination of seizures. This is often accomplished with training in neurofeedback (EEG biofeedback). Listening to music can also be helpful.

Normalizing the EEG

Of course we absorb music through our ears, but the body itself also absorbs it. The body receives messages from the vibrations of sounds, and forwards these messages to the brain. We have billions of brain cells, but we only use a small portion of those cells. It is possible to change the way our brain cells interact and also create  new brain wave activity. The body assists in such a process as you listen to music.

Music at a moderate or moderately fast tempowithout a lot of abrupt changes in dynamics (loud and soft), helps to normalize the EEG. Look for tempo markings that are titled, “Andante,” “Allegretto,” or “Allegro.” The clarity and elegance of classical music by Haydn and Mozart are good examples of this.

Music for Relaxation

Stress can lead to seizures for the person with epilepsy. Stress isn’t the cause of epilepsy, but it can make the person with epilepsy more vulnerable to seizures. An important thing to note is that we don’t have seizures 24 hours a day, even though the abnormal brain wave activity is occurring all the time. Taking some time for meditation or relaxation can prevent many seizures. Again, music can be helpful for this.

For meditation and periods of non-thinking, which can relieve stress, listen to Gregorian Chant or improvised quiet music.

Meditation or completely letting go isn’t helpful, however, when you experience an aura (feel yourself starting to have a seizure) or even when you feel in a vulnerable moodAt times like that use brighter, faster music, and try to focus or concentrate as you listen.

You are unique. You are the ultimate guide and healer, so experiment with different music at different times. Use quiet soothing music when you want to relax or meditate. Listen to music that is faster and more upbeat when you want to be alert and focused. Choose music that appeals to you.

More about my experience with epilepsy—

I have written further tips and information based on my experiences of epilepsy and alternative, complementary healing methods, on a web site that I dedicated to that subject. It is my fervent hope that my experience can help educate others who have been impacted by epilepsy to find their own pathways to reclaim their lives, as I did. I have now lived epilepsy free without medication for going on 20 years.  http://www.epilepsyhealth.com/

I have also written a book: The Challenge of Epilepsy, Complementary and Alternative Solutions, which is available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0961551364