Naturopathic Medicine for Stroke Prevention
Working with a practitioner of naturopathic medicine can help you reduce the risk of having a stroke, a serious life-threatening medical emergency. During an ishemic stroke, blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off. Without blood, brain cells begin to die. When a hemorrhagic stroke occurs, blood vessels within the brain burst causing the cranium to fill with blood and compress the brain. Immediate medical attention is called for when a person suffers either form of stroke. Because naturopathic medicine treats the whole person and emphasizes the prevention of illness, the guidance of a naturopath can be helpful to reduce the risk of stroke and help you lead a healthier life.
How Can Naturopathic Medicine Help Avoid a Stroke?
A naturopathic practitioner can help you learn to live a healthful life. If you smoke, the naturopath would urge you to quit and help you develop a plan to do so. Quitting smoking removes a major risk factor for stroke. A naturopath would also discuss improving your diet to further reduce the risk. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables, oatmeal and other whole grains, beans, and low in saturated fats have shown to be beneficial in cutting down high cholesterol, another risk factor for stroke. Eating blueberries is also excellent natural snack for maintaining vascular health.
The naturopathic doctor also will discuss your level of exercise. If you have not been active, you should begin gradually, especially if you are overweight. The naturopath might encourage low-impact exercises, such as swimming.
Walking is another low-impact, high-result exercise. As with swimming, begin slowly, and gradually increase the amount of walking you do. Wearing a pedometer can make you more aware of how much walking you do during a single day and give you a sense of accomplishment.
Bike riding, horseback riding, skiing—even using a push mower—are all enjoyable ways to become more active. Exercise with a friend or even a pet can make it seem more like fun than work. If you’re walking alone, take along a music player to make the time pass quickly. Exercise can lower your weight, lower your blood pressure and HDL cholesterol, reduce stress and help control diabetes if you have it.
Vitamins and Supplements to Reduce the Risk of Stroke
Naturopaths suggest the following vitamins and supplements for reducing the risk of stroke:
- Vitamin E (400-1600 I.U. daily)
- Vitamin C (3g daily)
- Coenzyme Q 10 (10-50 mg daily)
- Omega-3 fatty acids (1 tsp. of flaxseed oil daily)
Naturopathic Doctors often incorporate other forms of alternative medicine in their treatments, including Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Therefore, it is also common for a naturopath to recommend a variety of Chinese herbs that have been classically used for stroke prevention, including Shan Zha to reduce cholesterol. Traditional Chinese herbal formulas, such as Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin, can also be used adjunctively to reduce hypertension, and consequently your risk of having a stroke.
Some naturopathc recommend Chelation Therapy to help prevent strokes. Chelation Therapy involves the absorption of ethylenediamine-tetraacetic acid (EDTA) either orally or through an intravenous (IV) drip. Chelation therapy has been in use since the 1940s, primarily for heavy metal detoxification. Proponents also suggest the therapy can cleanse the entire circulatory system of the body, cleaning out clogged arteries and veins of the dangerous fatty deposits, or plaque, preventing stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.
Is Naturopathic Medicine Safe?
Naturopathic practitioners cooperate with other members of the medical community, and they will refer patients to other practitioners if the patients’ conditions do not respond to naturopathic treatment. Further research is being done regarding naturopathic medicine, analyzing its effectiveness and safety.
What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathy’s roots go back to Germany. Benedict Lust, who is widely regarded as the founder of naturopathy, immigrated to the United States in 1872 but returned to his native Germany after becoming ill with tuberculosis. Lust became interested in naturopathy after Father Sebastian Kneipp cured him of tuberculosis by using a naturopathic modality called hydrotherapy (hot and cold water application). Lust developed naturopathy in 1896, and organized the Naturopathic Society of America in 1901. After widespread popularity during the 1920s and 1930s, naturopathy was later overshadowed by allopathic medicine after the introduction of antibiotics.
Naturopathy has grown to include other treatments besides hydrotherapy. Naturopaths often use homeopathy, herbal medicine, nutrition, bodywork, Chinese medicine, and other natural remedies. They are not limited by the term “natural” however: they commonly use diagnostic tools such as blood tests and MRIs as well.
Specific principles govern naturopathic medicine:
- Promote nature’s healing power
- Identify and treat the cause, not the symptoms
- Do no harm
- The doctor is a teacher, helping patients learn how to live healthful lives
- Treat the whole person
- Prevent disease
What is Stroke?
During a stroke, the flow of blood to part of the brain is interrupted. The most common type of stroke, called an ischemic stroke, result from a blood vessel that has been blocked by a clot that has formed within the vessel or elsewhere in the body, broken loose, and become lodged. About 20 percent of strokes are caused by a blood vessel rupturing or leaking within the brain; these are called hemorrhagic strokes. A third type of stroke is a transient ischemic attack (TIA), which is a temporary cutoff of blood to the brain. Unlike the other types of strokes, TIAs do not cause lasting damage.
You may be at risk for a stroke if you:
- Are age 55 or older
- Have a body mass index of 30 or higher
- Have a family history of stroke, heart attack or TIA
- Have cardiovascular disease
- Have diabetes
- Have had a stroke or TIA previously
- Have high blood pressure
- Have high cholesterol
- Have high levels of the amino acid homocysteine in your blood
- Smoke cigarettes
- Use birth control pills or other hormone therapy
Kane, Emily, ND. An article on “Stroke” by a Naturopathic Doctor.
“Stroke” information from the Mayo Clinic.
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine on Naturopathy.