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Epilepsy has sometimes been called an "electrical brainstorm" because of the abnormal electrical signals in the brain that occur during a seizure. During a seizure, people with epilepsy may have trouble thinking, moving, seeing and hearing. For thousands of years, people have tried different ways to prevent or reduce the severity of a seizure. Many effective drugs are currently available for people with epilepsy.
A paper by Dr. Harinder Jaseja describes a strange-sounding ancient epilepsy therapy still used in rural areas of India: smelling a shoe! Apparently when a person has a seizure in public, a common first aid practice is to bring the sole of a shoe near the patient's nostrils. This is done to stop a seizure. This method may sound bizarre and unscientific, but Dr. Jaseja suggests a reason why shoe smelling might work.
Aromatherapy is the practice of using smells to treat disease. Although some odors may start seizures, modern research has demonstrated that some strong smells can lessen the severity of a seizure. It may be that strong odors interfere with the abnormal, synchronized electrical activity of neurons during a seizure. Nevertheless, the effectiveness of smelling a shoe to treat epilepsy has not been studied.
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