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Strokes

Agatha M. Thrash, M.D.
Preventive Medicine

There are four possible patterns which can result in a stroke. An embolism is a clot that breaks loose and travels up toward the brain. There, the clot gets stuck in a smaller artery leading to (or in) the brain. This cuts off blood flow to a portion of the brain. An aneurysm is a portion of an artery that balloons outward, and is filled with blood. This weak spot can break open. A hemorrhage results from a damaged artery within the brain, which bursts. Sometimes a tumor, not a clot, is blocking an artery supplying the brain.

Whatever the cause, the result is local brain tissue death from lack of oxygen and food. If the damaged area is small enough, the brain will reroute the affected brain functions to other areas of the brain, as a period of relearning and compensation occurs.

Symptoms

Stroke symptoms may develop within a few minutes to over several days. Symptoms are loss and or impairment of movement, sensation, and specific functions controlled by the part of the brain that is damaged. For example, damage to the speech center of the brain results in loss or slowing of speech. Also associated are headaches, dizziness, confusion, difficulty swallowing, and visual problems. About 30% of cases of stroke are fatal, about 30% result in partial loss of function, and about 30% completely recover. Many people who become paralyzed by a stroke learn to walk again; however, loss of intellectual function tends not to recover as well.

Although strokes tend to occur very suddenly, they usually have some kind of warning signs. Transient ischemic attacks (TIA) are like small reversible strokes. They cause similar signs of confusion, difficulty speaking, dizziness or visual problems, but disappear again within minutes to hours.

Risk factors

The most common causes of strokes are arteriosclerosis (thickening of living arteries) and high blood pressure (hypertension), or both. Other risk factors are old age, smoking, a recent heart attack, elevated blood fats (hyperlipidemia), diabetes mellitus, blood platelet stickiness associated with raised levels of red cells (polycythemia) or low levels of nutrients that prevent stickiness such as vitamin B6, irregular heart beats (especially atrial fibrillation), oral contraceptives in women under 50 years of age, and history of a damaged heart valve.

Treatment

Nutrition: Animal fat is a major cause of strokes. Eliminating saturated fats, red meat, eggs, ice cream, fried foods, gravies, and processed foods, such as margarine, butter, or cooking oils, will drastically reduce the risk of strokes. These fats plug arteries, which restricts circulation and destroys brain cells due to lack of oxygen.

After a stroke, nutrition is paramount and provides a foundation for recovery. Refined foods such as white rice, white flour products, and sugar should be avoided. Do not use stimulants such as coffee, soft drinks, and tea, which contain caffeine. Also avoid spicy foods, tobacco, and alcoholic beverages.

No salt should be used in meal preparation or added at the table. Read all labels and avoid those food products that have "soda," "sodium," or the symbol "Na" on the labels. These indicate that the product contains salt.

Make sure your diet is well-balanced and contains plenty of fiber. Eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains daily, to protect against future strokes by boosting the immune system with enzymes. Eat raw foods daily. Garlic, onions, and lecithin are good additions to your diet.

To prevent blood clots from forming and to improve circulation, vitamin E and garlic are most helpful. Dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, soybeans, wheat germ, and whole grains are good sources of vitamin E. The omega-3 essential fatty acids in flax seed oil are natural blood-thinning agents that improve circulation, and prevent platelets in the blood from sticking together and clogging arteries. The gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) in evening primrose oil reduces the stickiness of blood clotting agents and prevents clots from developing.

Maintain a healthy weight for your height. Obesity causes unfavorable changes in serum lipoprotein levels.

Reduce stress and learn techniques to help you handle stress that cannot be avoided.

Get regular moderate exercise. A daily walk is good.

Periodically monitor your blood pressure and take steps to lower it if necessary.

Herbal Remedies

The silica in horsetail maintains the elastic connective tissue of the arteries. It prevents the deposition of harmful lipids in the arteries. Take 1 cup of horsetail tea or 1 tablespoon of horsetail juice three times daily.

Ginko biloba tea increases blood flow to the brain. Drink 2 cups daily.

REFERENCES

Siegfried Gursche, MH and Zolton Rona, M.D., MSc. Encyclopedia of Natural Healing 2nd edition.

Goldberg Burton, Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide.

Balch James F., M.D. and Phyllis A., C.N.C. Prescription for Nutritional Healing

For more information, contact:

Uchee Pines Lifestyle Center
30 Uchee Pines Road #75
Seale, Alabama 36875

Tel. 334-855-4764

www.ucheepines.org