Like all parts of the body, the brain needs a continuous supply of oxygen to function properly. When that oxygen supply is cut off, brain tissues begin to die within minutes, never to regenerate. This tissue death is what happens during a stroke. A stroke occurs when blood carrying oxygen and other nutrients to the brain is blocked or interrupted; the extent of the damage to the brain usually depends upon the length of the interruption and the speed with which treatment is received. As most of us know, strokes are extremely serious and often fatal. They are the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind only heart disease and cancer.
An overwhelming percentage of strokes are caused by arteriosclerosis, a condition in which fatty deposits build up inside the arterial walls and obstruct blood flow. An artery leading to the brain may become so thick with plaque that the passage of blood is effectively blocked. The blood supply may also be shut off if a clot lodges itself in an artery that's already damaged and narrow. In a few cases, a cerebral blood vessel will actually rupture. High blood pressure is also a major predisposition to strokes, which damage the arteries and may cause a rupture; it, too, can often be managed with proper diet, exercise, supplementation, and stress management.
Although we've been conditioned to think of strokes as tragic but unpreventable accidents that occur in old age, the truth is that arteriosclerosis is often a condition caused or made more probable by controllable lifestyle factors. Although arteries do tend to weaken, as we get older, poor diet and lack of exercise, along with uncontrolled stress, are reasons that plaque builds up in the arteries in the first place. Genetic cardiovascular risk factors also play a role for many people.
A few other factors also increase the risk for stroke. If you have an irregular heartbeat or a damaged heart valve or have suffered a recent heart attack, you should be especially vigilant about your health and should be monitored regularly by a doctor. Women who take oral contraceptives and who smoke also have a greater chance of developing blood clots, as so women on certain types of synthetic hormone replacement.
If you have a stroke, you have a significantly greater chance of surviving and even fully recovering when you receive medical treatment within three hours after symptoms begin-the earlier, the better. Call an ambulance or get to an emergency room immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms: weakness or numbness along one side of the body; difficulty talking or understanding speech; blurred vision; confusion; a sudden, intense headache; unexplained dizziness or loss of balance; or loss of consciousness. These symptoms may come on suddenly, within a matter of seconds or minutes, or they may develop over the course of a day or two. If you have arteriosclerosis or are over fifty, you should be aware of these stroke warning signs so that you know when to get help, should it ever be necessary.
It's difficult to say exactly what the consequences of a stroke will be. The damage largely depends upon which brain tissues are deprived of oxygen and how long the interruption of blood flow lasts. If the blood flow is suspended for only a few seconds, you may experience visual and speech problems, weakness, trembling, or confusion, but it's likely that you'll soon return to normal. People who survive longer periods of oxygen deprivation may suffer lasting damage to their vision, speech, coordination, or movement, although physical therapy may restore some or even total functioning.
** All of these prescriptions below have been proven effective; level of effectiveness depends on the individual. Please consult your doctor when taking any and all supplements.
The top 7 vitamins and supplements shown to
Prescription for Natural Cures by James F. Balch and Mark Stengler
Super Prescription A-1 Multivitamin –
High Potency – LifeSource Products - See All of our
Take as directed on the container.
It contains a variety of antioxidants, as well as minerals that are
associated with reducing the risk of stroke.
Super Prescription #1 Potassium - LifeSource Product
Take as directed on bottle. This
has been shown to help thwart Strokes.
Super Prescription # 2 Garlic - LifeSource Product
Take 2,000 mg of aged garlic
daily. It reduces cholesterol levels and increases HDL cholesterol.
Super Prescription #3 Omega 3 - LifeSource Products - See All of our Omega 3 – Fish Oil Products.
Take a daily dosage listed on the
bottle. Fish oil reduces inflammation in the arteries and lowers cholesterol
and triglyceride levels.
Super Prescription #4 Policosanol - LifeSource Product
Take 10 to 20 mg each evening.
Numerous studies show that policosanol reduces total and LDL cholesterol and
increases the good HDL cholesterol.
Super Prescription #5 Vitamin E - LifeSource Product
Take 400 IU daily of a mixed
complex. It prevents cholesterol oxidation and is a natural blood thinner.
Super Prescription #6 Ginkgo Biloba - LifeSource Products
Take 180 to 240 mg daily of a 24
percent flavone glycoside extract. Ginkgo has blood-thinning and antioxidant
Super Prescription #7 Green Tea
Extract - LifeSource
Take 400 to 1,200 mg of the
capsule form. Look for a product standardized to between 80 and 90 percent
polyphenols and between 35 and 55 percent epigallocatechin gallate. Green tea
contains a rich source of antioxidants and substances that assist
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· Paralysis or numbness on one side of the face or the body
· A sudden, severe headache
· Blurred vision or blindness
· Impaired speech
· An inability to understand others' speech
· Loss of balance
· Loss of consciousness
· Poor diet
· Genetic cardiovascular risk factors (elevated fibrinogen, homocysteine, etc.)
· High blood pressure
· Blood that clots too easily
· Irregular heartbeat
· Damaged heart valve
· Oral contraceptives (especially in women over thirty-five)
· Synthetic hormone replacement
If you experience any of the symptoms listed previously, get medical help immediately. The following treatments will assist in the recovery from strokes or will prevent future strokes from occurring, but they cannot substitute for emergency care by doctors.
Follow a diet consisting of whole, natural foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, fish, nuts, and seeds. This eating plan, which is high in nutrients and fiber, will reduce your risk of forming blood clots. The antioxidants in these foods will also counteract free-radical damage, making you less likely to develop arteriosclerosis.
Fish are high in essential fatty acids and decrease your risk of stroke. They contain "good" fats that improve circulation and act as natural blood thinners. The Nurses' Health Study found a significant decrease in the risk of thrombotic stroke among women who ate fish at least two times per week, when compared with the risk in women who ate fish less than once per month. Although you should eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, try to have a couple of servings of those that are blue-red or purple in color at least twice a day. Purple grapes, berries, red cabbage, and eggplant are all high in anthocyanidins, a substance that lowers the risk of stroke and heart disease.
Potassium helps to reduce blood pressure and thereby decreases stroke risk. Good sources include leafy green vegetables, tomatoes, potatoes, and citrus fruits.
Consume green and white tea, which contains powerful antioxidants.
Foods to Avoid
A diet that's high in saturated and trans-fatty acids is thought to be a leading cause of both arteriosclerosis and high blood pressure. Eliminate red meat, butter, fried and greasy foods, and all junk food from your diet. You must also avoid margarine and shortening, as well as products made with these items. This includes many sweet baked goods. Vegetable oils should not be used for frying. The exception is canola oil.
Although we don't tend to think of sugar as a cause of heart disease, high amounts of it will increase the inflammation in artery walls. Decrease the amount of simple sugars in the diet, such as those from white breads, pastas, candy, and soda pop.
Sodium can send blood pressure levels soaring in many people. Don't use table salt, and avoid processed food, which is the leading source of sodium in the American diet.
If you've had a stroke, do not undergo any kind of fasting program until your doctor has told you that your condition is stable. Fresh vegetable juices are excellent for detoxification. Make them fresh or buy super green food powder drinks.
· Pantetheine is a metabolite of vitamin B5 that has been shown in studies to reduce total and LDL cholesterol, as well to increase HDL. It can be particularly effective for people with diabetes. Take 600 to 900 mg daily.
· Soy protein has been shown in studies to reduce total and LDL cholesterol and to increase HDL. Take 25 to 50 grams daily.
· Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) is a mushroom extract that reduces cholesterol. Take 800 mg two to three times daily.
· Vitamin E prevents LDL oxidation. Take 400 to 800 IU of a mixed blend daily.
· Vitamin C reduces total cholesterol and LDL levels and acts to prevent their oxidation.