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How many people each year suffer some type of preventable harm that contributes to their death after a hospital visit?
from 46,000 to 78,000
from 78,000 to 132,000
from 132,000 to 210,000
from 210,000 to 440,000

 Naturopathic Medicine: Stroke 

  • Allium sativum (good old garlic; eat one clove daily). Garlic is high in the two amino acids that contain organic sulfur compounds (Cysteine and Methionine) which help render fat soluble toxins more water soluble. Thus, garlic helps rid the body of toxins through the channels of urination, defecation and perspiration. Garlic also helps dissolve fatty stores in the body, where toxic wastes are more likely to accumulate.

  • Arnica montana (toxic in high doses internally, use the homeopathic mother tincture, a 10:1 dilution of alcohol to plant material) 25 drops three times daily for shock or brain tissue changes, and to prevent further coagulation.

  • Capsicum frutescens (Cayenne pepper) following stroke. This remarkable culinary herb is a classic, and powerful, "alterative" which means that it regulates an imbalance which has gone awry in either direction. In this case, if your stroke is ischemic (due to a clot cutting off proper blood flow to the brain) the Cayenne will stimulate the return of blood to the cerebral tissues. If, on the other hand, your stroke is hemorrhagic (a bleed inside the skull), the Cayenne will act as a local styptic (stenching blood flow). The best way to take Cayenne for maximizing your circulatory power is a hearty pinch in a small glass of water first thing each morning. You may want to find a small jar with a lid to shake up this firy-hot and tasty little toast. Especially great on cold days; it will keep your feet and hands warm for hours. Try to find organic (non-sprayed, non-irriadiated) Cayenne at your local health food store, and buy several ounces in bulk.
  • Crataegus spp. (Hawthorne, white and black). This botanical is perhaps the most useful of the heart tonics, and works particuarly well to strengthen connective tissue, which is needed post-stroke for damage repair. It also works very well to digest fat, and will lower cholesterol if taken regularly. Eat the berries raw, or use a teaspoon daily of the tincture.

  • Ginkgo biloba (standardized extract of Gingko leaves) is used all over the world to increase circulation, particularly to the brain. Because of this action, Gingko is widely used to promote long and short-term memory capacity. It does this by dialating cerebral blood vessels.

  • Trifolium pratense (Red clover) is high in natural coumarin, a blood-thinning agent. Do not use in hemorrhagic stroke or if you are already on a prescription anticoagulants. However, you may want to switch to clover if your aspirin a day is bothering your stomach, or if you object to being maintained on pharmaceutical medication. Fresh Red clover sprouts work as well (you need at least a handful daily, in a salad or sandwich) as the tincture form. Please do NOT wean yourself off prescription drugs without consulting with a qualified healthcare professional. Can Chinese Medicine Help After I've Had A Stroke?
    There are varying diagnoses of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that could describe what we in the West call "stroke." In TCM, the doctor or acupuncturist looks at the interaction between your constitution -- that is, what genetic/physical characteristics you were born with that impinge on your total health -- and the disease complex. In conventional medicine, the doctor is more likely to focus solely on the disease. Therefore, the first order of business with a Traditional Chinese Medical treatment is to arrive at the correct diagnosis, and select acupoints and/or herbal medicine accordingly. The following "patterns" are some of the more common TCM diagnoses which cover the symptoms of stroke: Penetrating Wind; Liver Fire; Phlegm, esp. Heart Misted by Cold Phlegm; Yang Shi (Excess); Yin Xu (Deficiency); Liver Yang Rising Causing Liver Wind; Stirring of Liver Wind. These perhaps do not mean much to someone who has not studied TCM, but are given to begin to familiarize you with a new vocabulary, and so that you can recognize that these unfamiliar concepts are not mumbo-jumbo, but thoughtful assessments of your condition, based on a tradition over 3,000 years old.

    Some of the best known points to restore consciousness after a stroke are:
    • Gall Bladder-20. This very important point is called "Wind Gate" and is located at the nape of the neck, on either side of the big muscles that hold the head onto the shoulders. This is an area of the body that is especially important to protect during a change of seasons. The term stroke is transliterated in Chinese as "Wind Stroke." The Chinese believe that all evil external influences that could disrupt our health come into the body through "Wind." Gall Bladder-20 is a point at the back of the head which is particularly susceptible to being penetrated by Wind. So, wear a scarf on a windy days and don't sit in a draft. By needling these points, one on each side of the top of the spine, pathogenic "Wind" may be cleared. In addition, the Spirit can be awakened, the Brain function clafiried, the "Heat" rising from the Liver cooled and the balance between the Qi (vital energy which runs through the meridians; a Yang substance) and the Blood (a Yin substance) can be restored. A powerful point.

    • Governing Vessel-20 is located right at the top of the head and is often "pecked" with the thin needle to draw a tiny drop of blood to revive consciousness.

    • Governing Vessel-26 is also on the midline of the body, and in this case directly above the upper lip. This point is famous for restoring consciousness after an epileptic seizure, but works well for shock of any kind. You can even work this point very effectively by pushing with your little finger into the horizontal groove between the bottom of the nose and the upper lip, firmly, at a 45 degree upward angle, until the stroke victim wakes up. In terms of Chinese Medicine, this point works by dispelling Wind, calming the Spirit, clearing the senses and eliminating "Mist" (can be psychological cloudiness or excess fat) around the Heart.

    • Heart-5 is another point, located in the soft crook of the elbows, which pacifies the Spirit, regulates the Qi of the Heart, brings "Fire" down from the head and relieves stiffness of the tongue and slurred speechfrom Wind-stroke.

    • Kidney-1, the beginning of the Kidney merdian, is located on the bottom of the foot, where the pads of the toes meet the arch. Although not the most comfortable point to needle, it works well to pacify the Spirit, restore collapsed Yang, revive consciousness, clear Fire and Heat (especially in the head), and nourish Kidney Yin (and thereby suppresses Liver Fire).
    Just a few of the major points are being given here. Many more may work for you, depending on your TCM diagnosis, the style of the doctor, and your sensitivity to needle stimulation. After consciousness is regained, the following points may be additionally considered:
    • scalp acupuncture is excellent for restoring physical function post-stroke. The limbs are affected on the opposite side of the brain from where the stroke occurred. So, if your right leg is paralyzed or partially paralyzed, you need to get scalp acupuncture on the LEFT side of your head, in the leg area. If you have a sensory deficit in the leg (that is, you can't feel pain or temperature) you will need to be needled in the leg sensory area. If your deficit is motor (can't control muscle function in the leg, a much more serious problem) you need to get a needle in the leg MOTOR area of the scalp. Scalp acupuncture is an entire TCM subspecialty. In China there are numerous doctors who specialize in this scientific art, particularly because it is one of the most effective tools known to TCM for restoring nerve function. Other points, on the body, to help minimize post-stroke sequellae are:

    • Heart 7, near the inner wrist, as a general sedative -- it has a regulating effect on the inner organs and nourishes Heart Xue (Blood).

    • Kidney 6, below the inner ankle pacifies the Shen (Spirit) and stabilizes the Will; nourishes the Heart; cools and clears Heat; clears Xu (Deficiency) Fire; and stimulates adrenals.
    One of the most interesting treatments to come out of the more modern Chinese approach to stroke rehabilitation, is the acupuncture technique used to restore normal speech function. Although this may sound disconcerting, be open minded and consider the following: as soon as possible after the stroke, the sufferer who has resulting speech impairments (aphasia) will receive a course of 10 or more treatments of TONGUE acupuncture. The doctor or acupuncturist will grasp the patient's tongue with a piece of gauze, and lift it up gently to insert a long needle quickly and momentarily deep into the underside of the tongue at two points just outside the big veins that run under the tongue. Often the beginning of improvement will occur after the first treatment.

    Another, extremely potent, aspect of TCM is the use of Chinese medicinal herbs, either loose and brewed into "soup" or formulated in pill form, and sold as "patents." Specific for stroke are:
    • Ren Shen Zai Zao Wan (Tsaitsuowan) (patent) combined with Da Huo Luo Dan (patent) treats Liver Wind Stirring which refers to strokes with symptoms such as facial paralysis, limb paralysis, hemiplegia, numbness of limbs, pain, limb contractures, poor articulation and speech output problems. Administer as soon as possible after the stroke, once bleeding is stabilized.

    • Xiao Huo Luo Dan to treat numbness, paralysis, muscle spasms.

    • Bu Yang Huan Wu Tang for hemiplegia, deviation of mouth & eyes, difficult speech, salivation, frequent or incontinent urination.

    • Zhen Gan Xi Feng Tang to treat thrombosis due to Liver Wind Stirring.

    • An Gong Niu Huang Wan (patent) for the TCM diagnosis Fire Toxin with Heart Agitated by Phlegm Fire.

    • Salvia Shou Wu (patent) plus Styrax 14 (patent)
    How Can Homeopathy Help With Stroke?
    Please read the section on Homeopathy in the Introduction to Modalities. Homeopathy is a complex medical science in which minute doses of plant, mineral and animal substances are used, effectively, to treat many types of illness. Homeopathic remedies that may be choosen for the stroke patient are described below. Please consult with a qualified homeopath or naturopathic doctor to help select the best remedy for you.
    • Arnica montana for the stroke which gives a cerebral lesion similar to a bruise, or a frank hematoma (for post acute crisis survival).

    • Belladonna is given when the face is flushed and you have a throbbing headache, the pain of which is worse with light, noise, any jarring movement, lying down and in the afternoon, but better in a semi-erect posture.

    • Kali muriaticum can absorb the clot (for post acute crisis survival).

    • Natrum muriaticum for when the face is pale and you have a throbbing headache, nausea, and vomiting.

    • Nux vomica is the remedy for when the stroke occurs after a heavy meal or too much alcohol; and you feel vertigo followed by a momentary loss of consciousness.

    • Opium for when the patient is unconscious, breathing heavily; when the face is dusky and cyanosed (blue, due to lack of blood.)

    • Sulphur is for the heavy red-faced beer-drinking type, who complains of feeling heat on top of his head.

    • Veratrum album is given when the clinical picture is one of collapse; shock, sweating and cold; with a cold sweat on the forehead.
    What Are Some Subtle Energy Medicine Approaches To Help Before, Or After, A Stroke?
    Many people have derived great comfort from a series of remedies developed by a British physician, Edward Bach. These remedies are similar to homeopathic remedies, but are made exclusively from flowers. Some of the flower essences commonly chosen post-stroke to minimize central nervous system damage are:
    • chaparrel
    • red clover
    • dill
    • mallow
    • mugwort
    • clematis
    Other people choose to work with color, either by wearing clothes of certain colors, or by using colored plastic gels in front of light sources in the home or office environment. Immediately after stroke, the following colors have shown therapeutic benefit:
  • purple (helps to lower blood pressure by three pathways: vasodilation, slows heart rate, and helps to calm kidney and adrenals) applied to the face, neck and chest.
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     About The Author
    Emily Kane NDA graduate of Bastyr University in Seattle, she completed both the Naturopathic and Acupuncture/Oriental Medicine programs. Her preceptor work (similar to residencies) took place in Seattle, West Virginia and China,......more
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