This cross sectional hospital based study, carried out simultaneously in Khartoum and in Wad Madani, Al Gezira State, aimed to study the impact of spiritual beliefs on explanation of the epilepsy etiology and the choices and methods of spiritual and traditional medicine used in the management of epilepsy in Sudan. The study included 180 care givers of whom 165 (91.7%) were mothers. Their ages ranged between 30-40 years. The majority (88.8%) were educated and 60 (33.3%) of them live in rural areas. Fifty eight (32.2%) attributed epilepsy to supernatural causes while 41 (22.8%) and 90 (50%) thought that epilepsy is an untreatable and contagious disorder, respectively. Traditional and spiritual medicine for the treatment of epilepsy was used by 70.5%. The common spiritual technique used was incantations (45.6%), spitting cure (37.2%) and ritual incensing (36.7%). Herbs, black cumin (Nigella sativa), honey and olive oil were mentioned among others as a traditional treatment for epilepsy. About two fifth (42.5%) started traditional or spiritual treatment before seeking any medical advice. Nevertheless, only 2.4% stopped the medical treatment as advised by the traditional healer. Fifty five (43.3%) thought that spiritual and/ or traditional treatment were effective in the management of epilepsy, 60(47.2%) found no difference while 12(9.45) got worse. The majority of patients with epilepsy, although on medical treatment, used traditional and spiritual methods as well. Traditional and spiritual healers may be involved positively in the management of epilepsy and extensive public educational programs are needed.
Key words: Alternative medicine; Child; Epilepsy; Sudan; Traditional and spiritual medicine