Phenytoin is an anticonvulsant agent used primarily to prevent seizures in conditions such as epilepsy. Drugs similar to phenytoin are ethotoin (Peganone) and mephenytoin (Mesantoin).
The amino acid glutamine is converted to glutamate in the body. Glutamate is thought to act as a neurotransmitter (a chemical that enables nerve transmission). Because anticonvulsants work (at least in part) by blocking glutamate pathways in the brain, high dosages of the amino acid glutamine might theoretically diminish an anticonvulsant's effect and increase the risk of seizures.
Ipriflavone, a synthetic isoflavone that slows bone breakdown, is used to treat osteoporosis.
Because anticonvulsants are known to contribute to the development of osteoporosis, a concern is that the use of ipriflavone for this drug-induced osteoporosis could result in higher blood levels of the drugs, with potentially serious consequences.
People taking either of these drugs should use ipriflavone only under medical supervision.
The herb kava (Piper methysticum) has a sedative effect and is used for anxiety and insomnia.
Other herbs having a sedative effect that might cause problems when combined with anticonvulsants include: ashwagandha , calendula , catnip , hops , lady's slipper , lemon balm , passionflower , sassafras , skullcap , valerian , and yerba mansa.
Because of the potentially serious consequences, you should avoid combining these herbs with anticonvulsants or other drugs that also have sedative or depressant effects, unless advised by your physician.
The herb white willow (Salix alba) , also known as willow bark, is used to treat pain and fever. White willow contains a substance that is converted by the body into a salicylate similar to aspirin.
Anticonvulsants may deplete biotin, an essential water-soluble B vitamin, possibly by competing with it for absorption in the intestine. It is not clear, however, whether this effect is great enough to be harmful.
Biotin supplementation may be beneficial if you are on long-term anticonvulsant therapy. To avoid a potential interaction, take the supplement 2 to 3 hours apart from the drug.
Note: It has been suggested that the action of anticonvulsant drugs may be at least partly related to their effect of reducing biotin levels. For this reason, it may be desirable to take enough biotin to prevent a deficiency, but not an excessive amount.
Folate (also known as folic acid) is a B vitamin that plays an important role in many vital aspects of health, including preventing neural tube birth defects and possibly reducing the risk of heart disease. Because inadequate intake of folate is widespread, if you are taking any medication that depletes or impairs folate even slightly, you may need supplementation.
For this reason, folate supplementation during phenytoin therapy should be supervised by a physician.
Anticonvulsant drugs may impair calcium absorption and, in this way, increase the risk of osteoporosis and other bone disorders.
Carnitine is an amino acid that has been used for heart conditions, Alzheimer's disease, and intermittent claudication.
People regularly taking anticonvulsants, especially those taking combination therapy and those with limited exposure to sunlight, may benefit from vitamin D supplementation.
Mothers who take these anticonvulsants may need vitamin K supplementation during pregnancy to prevent these conditions in their newborns.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 08/2013 -
- Update Date: 08/22/2013 -