Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) use in Children with Epilepsy

Zahra Zhu, Rea Mittal, Sarah A. Walser, Erik Lehman, Ashutosh Kumar, Sita Paudel, Gayatra Mainali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use by the pediatric population with epilepsy in rural Pennsylvania was studied to characterize the prevalence, perceived effectiveness, and reasons for CAM use. This study additionally assessed the adequacy of parent-physician communication regarding CAM usage. A telephone survey was administered to 200 parents/caregivers of children with epilepsy followed at Hershey Medical Center. Thirteen percent of respondents indicated CAM use by their child. Common types of CAM used were cannabis-related products such as CBD oil and medical marijuana. Forty-eight percent of CAM users chose to initiate CAM owing to dissatisfaction with the outcomes of antiseizure drugs. Fifty-nine percent noticed a decrease in seizure frequency with CAM use, and more than 11% of CAM users reported side effects from CAM. Eighty percent of CAM users had discussions regarding CAM with their child's neurologist. CAM use was found to be associated with increased seizure severity (P =.004) and the prior use of cannabidiol (Epidiolex) (P <.001) or the ketogenic diet (P =.001). Increased seizure severity and the prior use of Epidiolex or the ketogenic diet may be used as predictors for the identification of patients with a higher likelihood of using CAM. Interest in future CAM use, especially cannabis-related products, was expressed in a large percentage of non-CAM users. Given the high parental or caregiver interest in CAM, providers are encouraged to be proactive in initiating discussions about CAM and collaborate with parents/caregivers to ensure the safe usage of CAM among pediatric patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)334-339
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Child Neurology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Neurology


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