If you suffer from seizures, the electrical activity in your brain becomes disrupted, resulting in physical and behavioral changes. For example, you may lose consciousness, experience muscle twitching, have changes in vision or fall during a seizure. The University of Michigan Health System notes that some types of epilepsy, which involves repeated seizures, have a connection to a deficit in the amino acid taurine, which occurs in fish and meat. Taurine supplements may help with your seizures, but always talk to your doctor first before starting an alternative treatment for seizures.
Activity in the Brain
Taurine has several functions in your body, such keeping the stability of your cell membranes and preventing too much activity in your brain cells. The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that taurine may have an involvement with the electrical activity in your brain. Taurine acts like the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, which reduces activity in the brain. GABA can also inhibit epileptic activity. In a 2008 study conducted by Weill Cornell Medical College and published in the “Journal of Neuroscience,” researchers found that taurine is also a strong activator of GABA receptors in the thalamus, which are the areas that the neurotransmitter binds to. Some of the medications prescribed for seizures affect GABA. Examples include vigabatrin, a less commonly used antiepileptic drug that increases GABA, and retigabine, an investigational drug that enhances GABA.
While taurine supplements act like GABA, current research on the effectiveness of the amino acid in reducing seizures is mixed. For example, while supplements may reduce seizures in some people, the effect may only last temporarily, according to the University of Michigan Health System. Before starting taurine supplements, discuss whether it is an appropriate treatment for you with your doctors.
Your doctor will recommend the appropriate dosage of taurine supplements. The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that 500 mg of taurine taken three times a day may help seizures patients, though it warns that you should not take taurine supplements without supervision from your doctor.
While taurine supplements do not have serious side effects, you may not be able to take the amino acid supplements for your seizures if you have another condition. For example, if you have bipolar disorder, a mood disorder characterized by shifts between abnormally low and high moods, you may not be able to use taurine. eMedTV reports that in one case, a bipolar disorder patients had worsening symptoms after ingesting taurine that was in an energy drink, though whether taurine or other factors was the cause is not known. If you are pregnant or are breastfeeding, talk to your doctor first before taking taurine.
- MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: Seizures
- University of Michigan Health System: Epilepsy
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Seizure Disorders
- Cornell University: Scientists Close in on Taurine's Activity in the Brain
- University of Michigan Health System: Epilepsy – Medications
- eMedTV: Safety of Taurine