According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), more than 795,000 people have a stroke every year in the United States. Furthermore, strokes are the leading cause of long-term disability, as they reduce mobility in more than half of stroke survivors who are older than 65. (1) Because of the prevalence of strokes, it is quite possible that you or a loved one have had one, are recovering from one, or taking care of someone who had one. That’s why I put together this handy guide on strokes, how to heal from them, and an herb worth considering to help speed the process.
What Is A Stroke?
A stroke, also known as a brain attack, happens when a blood vessel in the brain bursts and bleeds or gets blocked. In both cases, blood and oxygen can not reach the brain’s tissues causing brain damage, long-term disability, and sometimes death.
Your brain is the source of thoughts, emotions, and language. It stores memories and controls movements. The brain is also in charge of functions like breathing and digestion.
For it to function correctly, oxygen-rich blood must be carried through the arteries. When a stroke occurs and blocks the blood flow, brain cells start dying because they do not get enough oxygen.
What Are Signs of A Stroke?
Every minute counts during a stroke. Timely treatment can minimize the damage that the stroke may cause. Therefore it is crucial to detect any signs of a stroke happening to act promptly.
Thus you should pay close attention to signals like:
- The face, arm, or leg becomes numb or weak suddenly, especially if it only happens on one side of the body.
- An unexpected feeling of confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech.
- Abrupt vision problems in one or both eyes like blurred, blackened, or double vision.
- Sudden inability to walk, dizziness, lack of coordination, or loss of balance.
- Intense, sudden headache without an apparent cause.
- Sudden dizziness, nauseous or vomiting.
If you or someone else present any of the symptoms, call 911 right away.
What Are The Types Of Stroke?
There are three types of stroke:
- Ischemic stroke
- Hemorrhagic Stroke
- Transient ischemic attack (TIA)
The majority of strokes fall into this category; according to the CDC, 87% of strokes that occur are ischemic strokes. (2)
An ischemic stroke occurs when blood vessels supplying the brain are constricted or blocked. Blood clots, plaque (fatty deposits), or a significant reduction in blood flow to the brain can cause these blockages. Moreover, an ischemic stroke can be caused by two types of blockages: cerebral embolism and cerebral thrombosis.
A cerebral embolism, also referred to as an embolic stroke, occurs when a blood clot is formed in a different part of the body. Then, it moves throughout the bloodstream until it encounters an artery too thin to pass. The clot causes a stroke when it becomes stuck and blocks blood flow. In most cases, these blood clots appear in the heart or the blood vessels located in the upper part of the chest and neck.
A cerebral thrombosis, also called a thrombotic stroke, happens when the blood clot emerges at the fatty plaque inside the blood vessel.
When a blood vessel bursts or leaks, it seeps into the brain, causing a hemorrhagic stroke. The leaked blood from the artery puts too much pressure on the skull, causing swelling in the brain and injuring brain cells and tissues. There are two types of hemorrhagic strokes: intracerebral and subarachnoid.
The most common type of hemorrhagic stroke is the intracerebral hemorrhagic stroke which occurs when brain surrounding tissues fill with blood after a rupture of an artery.
Less common is the subarachnoid hemorrhagic stroke, which is characterized by bleeding in the area between the brain and the tissue around it.
Conditions like aneurysms (vascular balloons that can stretch and burst) or high blood pressure are conditions that can cause hemorrhagic strokes.
Transient ischemic attack (TIA)
TIA is also known as a ministroke. However, it presents similar symptoms to the other two types of strokes because its temporary nature is not considered a full stroke. A blood clot usually causes a transient ischemic attack. They last a few minutes or hours until the obstruction can move and the blood flow is restored.
TIA is a warning sign, and those who experience them are urged not to ignore it. Seek emergency medical help and treatment as if it was a major stroke. According to the CDC, between 10 to 15 percent of individuals that experienced a TIA have a significant stroke within three months.
Herbal Post Stroke Recovery
Within a day or two after a stroke, rehabilitation starts at the hospital. This rehab eases the transition from the hospital to the home and can prevent a future stroke. Every individual will recover differently. It may take weeks, months, and sometimes years. In the same way, some people can fully recover while others can experience long-term or lifelong incapacities.
Stroke rehabilitation is carried out by physical, speech, and occupational therapists and covers:
- Speech therapy to help with issues of producing or understanding speech
- Physical therapy aims at relearning movement and coordination lost by the stroke
- Occupational therapy targets the improvement of daily activities like dressing, eating, drinking, bathing, etc.
Best Supplements for Stroke Recovery
Added to this, I found periwinkle extremely helpful in the stroke recovery process. When doing my clinical after my doctorate degree in naturopathic medicine, I came across periwinkle and have used it in patients after their strokes with successful results. Periwinkle is an herb mostly known for its brain health benefits as it can:
- Encourage brain blood circulation
- Support brain metabolism
- Increase mental productivity
- Prevent memory and concentrations problems
- Improve memory and thinking ability
- Impede the early aging of brain cells
Also, because of its ability to lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation, periwinkle has shown to be beneficial after a stroke. It acts as a vessel dilatator that helps open the vascular channels allowing oxygen to infiltrate the brain and nourish brain tissue.
Here you can find the periwinkle tincture. As with any other supplement, I recommend looking at the contraindications, and if there are any questions or concerns, talking with your local healthcare professional to see if periwinkle is a good option for you. If you would like my help in your recovery, you can schedule an online tele-med appointment here.
If you are looking to heal your brain, lower inflammation and restore neuron health and rejuvenate your brain cells – my patients enroll in my on-demand hour long BioHack Your Brain Masterclass.