Preliminary studies suggest that biotin supplements may help counteract the biotin-reducing effects of antiepileptic medications. These drugs (e.g., carbamazepine, phenobarbital, phenytoin, primidone, and valproic acid) administered orally to help prevent seizures can significantly decrease available biotin levels in the body and cause biotin deficiency. This is a common side effect of some anticonvulsant medications (occurring in over 80% of epileptic patients) and is believed to be caused by the drugs and not the condition (the deficiency only occurs after the drug is taken).5, 43
The structural similarity of these pharmaceutical formulations to biotin may explain this adverse effect, since the drug molecules compete with biotin to attach to molecules in the intestine that transport biotin into the blood. Anticonvulsants in this category also accelerate the breakdown of biotin to its inactive form, decreasing the time biotin has to perform the physiological functions our bodies rely on to maintain optimal health.43
In an effort to determine whether biotin supplementation could prevent the negative side effects of these drugs, researchers conducted a study on rats. The 55 test rats were randomly divided into either a control group, carbamazepine-only group, or one of two biotin-supplemented, carbamazepine-treated test groups (at different doses). The group treated with carbamazepine by itself showed the same biotin-depleting reaction to the antiepileptic drug found in humans. Adding biotin to the treatment regimen prevented the drug-related decreases in available (active) biotin levels in both the blood and liver. Biotin functioning was also maintained at control (non-drug treated) levels with biotin supplementation to carbamazepine treatment (as measured by either biotinylated carboxylase enzymes or their known activities).43
Interestingly, evidence suggests that biotin supplementation may itself reduce the frequency of seizures in patients with biotin deficiency caused by inborn metabolic disorders. Patients with these recessive genetic disorders exhibit a number of neurological symptoms - including seizures, varying degrees of deafness, and vision problems - as well as hair loss. Biotin treatment has been shown to result in partial to full recovery in these patients.44
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With a biotin molecule attached.9