Stroke management: Expert suggests alternative therapies

Stroke is one of India’s leading causes of death, with 1.8 million people suffering a stroke every year, says Dr G Prakash, Deputy CMO, Jindal Naturecure Institute. He adds that post-stroke, a person may experience “cognitive deficits, motor deficits, fatigue, and sleep disorders”. “While standard medical care such as medication and therapy is often prescribed to stroke survivors, research has shown that CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine) therapies can significantly improve the quality of life and functionality during the recovery phase from a stroke. Though modern medicine has an important part in stroke recovery, using different naturopathic approaches, the process of recovery from stroke can be enhanced and sped up,” he continues.

Stroke can occur at any age to any person. However, the chances of a stroke significantly increase if a person has either of the following risk factors:

Heart disease
High blood pressure
High blood cholesterol/Triglycerides
Excessive alcohol use
Lack of exercise
Genetic or heredity factors

Alternative therapies for efficient recovery from stroke

“Post-stroke, patients may opt for CAM therapies to get relief from various physical symptoms like immobility or pain as well as relief from psychological conditions such as depression, anxiety, or grief. Here we look at various alternative therapies for stroke survivors for a better outcome in recovery,” the expert says.

Stroke survivors often face issues with coordination and balance, and yoga proves beneficial to improve those impairments. “According to a study by the American Journal of Recreation Therapy, yoga can increase stability, improve range of motion and emotional regulation, as well as bring positive changes in participation and activity in people with chronic stroke. The stretching, strengthening, balance, and body awareness exercises involved in yoga can produce a plethora of advantages for stroke patients,” he shares.

Yoga and meditation can be extremely helpful. (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

The Chinese complementary medicine – acupuncture – involves skin penetration with fine needles at certain points. “Research and studies have shown that acupuncture improves issues with spasticity, pain, physical functions, cognitive functions, and quality of life if administered after a stroke. Apart from facilitating recovery of function, acupuncture assists in the improvement of the nervous system functions, which is highly desirable in stroke patients. The therapy works by stimulating the nervous system, which releases chemicals into the brain, spinal cord, and muscles. This stimulates the natural healing ability of the body and promotes physical and emotional well-being,” he explains.

Massage therapy
Massage therapy can manipulate the tissues in the body to enhance overall well-being and health. The Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine published a study in 2012 “revealing that herbal treatments and Thai massage can improve mood, daily function, pain, and sleeping patterns in stroke survivors. Researchers have also pointed out that certain massages can aid in improving fine motor skills in stroke patients,” he says.

Herbal supplements
There are a variety of herbal supplements available that improves blood circulation and prevents another stroke. Some of the popular herbal supplements, according to the expert, are:
Asian Ginseng – This Chinese herbal supplement enhances memory.
Ashwagandha – Ashwagandha or Indian Ginseng is loaded with antioxidant properties that may treat and prevent stroke.
Gotu Kola – Gotu Kola or Centellaasiatica is a staple ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine. This herb which is commonly found in the wetlands of Asia, boosts cognitive function and also acts as an antidepressant.
Bilberry – This nutrient-rich fruit helps to lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Turmeric – Turmeric contains a compound, Curcumin which not only assists in preventing blockages in the arteries but also reduces fatty deposits known as plaques in them.

Hydrotherapy, also known as aquatic therapy, is a treatment that makes use of water to treat different types of clinical conditions, including stroke. “Hydrotherapy offers a safe environment for stroke patients to increase their mobility and strength, reduce pain and improve overall cardiovascular health. When aqua therapy is combined with specific exercises, it serves as an excellent way to regain physical skills without putting too much stress on the body,” hesays.

Fasting therapy
Naturopathy considers fasting therapy as one of the most efficient methods to get rid of toxins from the body. Studies have shown that fasting reduces homocysteine, IL6 and C-reactive protein in the body that may form atherosclerotic plaques, which increases the chances of stroke. Other than reducing the risk of stroke, fasting therapy also fosters the development of neurons and new neuronal connections during recovery from stroke. Fasting therapy further enhances the body’s inflammatory response system and lowers the risk of tissue damage after stroke.

For stroke recovery and prevention, CAM treatments come with numerous benefits. “Other than important lifestyle changes, alternative treatments like acupuncture and supplements can make a huge difference in the outcome of stroke recovery. While these treatments are not meant to replace traditional, modern medical treatment protocols in stroke management, they have the potential to help achieve faster recovery and better prevention through their natural approaches,” he says.

The above article is for information purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional for any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.
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