Background: Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders worldwide,
with about 80 percent of cases thought to be in developing nations where it is mostly linked to superstition.
The limited supply, high cost as well as low efficacy and adverse side effects of antiepileptic
drugs (AEDs) is a matter of major concern. Herbal medicine has always been traditionally
part of treatment of epilepsy. Herbal medicines are generally well tolerated, with fewer side effects.
Method: To highlight some herbal extracts that have been studied for their anticonvulsant activity
in animal models, literature search from PubMed and Science Direct, was performed. The keywords
for the search consisted of combinations of the following terms: Herbal antiepileptic and/or anticonvulsant,
botanicals + epilepsy. Literature published in the last five years was considered.
Results: Eighteen (18) anticonvulsant herbal agents are reported and discussed. Experiments mostly
consisted of phenotypic screens in rodents, with little diversity in screening methods. In most experiments,
the tested extracts prolonged the time to onset of seizures and decreased their duration.
Most experimenters implicate potentiation of GABAergic activity as the mode of action of the extracts,
even though some experimenters did not fully characterise the bioactive chemical composition
of their extracts.
Conclusion: Potential herbal remedies have shown positive results in animal models. It remains
unclear how many make it into clinical trials and eventually making part of the AED list. More
rigorous research, applying strict research methodology with uniform herbal combinations, as well
as clinical studies are urgently needed.