Natural Remedies for Stroke Recovery

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  • December 17, 2012
natural treatment stroke

When a person suffers a stroke, it is quite common to try all of the conventional methods to aid in your stroke recovery, such as physical therapy, speech therapy, and medications.  However, for some people, these measures don’t work very well.  In fact, many times the conventional methods of recovering from a stroke may not fully restore function.  This leads patients to consider other methods to get their abilities back, and most of the time the remedies are natural or alternative medicine practices.

Natural remedies should not be used as a replacement for the more conventional or standard methods of stroke recovery.  This is because the research into these methods is either inconclusive or negative.  Some patients do find benefits with natural remedies, though, and they should not be discounted quickly.  When used in conjunction with standard stroke recovery methods, natural remedies can increase the likelihood of regaining back abilities lost after a stroke.


Acupuncture is an alternative treatment that has been used for centuries.  Although it is not often used on stroke victims in the United States, it is an accepted practice on stroke victims in countries such as China.  The main idea behind acupuncture is that everyone has a life force that flows through us called chi.  In cases of disease or dysfunction, the chi is blocked.  When needles are placed in the skin over certain lines that carry chi, called meridians, the chi becomes unblocked and normal function returns.

In the case of stroke victims, acupuncture is thought to increase the blood flow to the areas that do not have function.  For this reason, it is often used in cases of paralysis, where the increase in blood flow helps to bring function to the muscles.  It is also used in cases of balance problems and language problems.  Although some research has proven that acupuncture is helpful, often these studies are small or skewed.  More research needs to be conducted to fully recommend acupuncture as a standard treatment for stroke victims.


Massage is a special type of touch therapy that has been shown to promote relaxation, help improve depression, and lower blood pressure.  Some research has shown that it is beneficial to stroke survivors because it helps to decrease the amount of anxiety and depression they feel over their limitations.  It can also bring increased blood flow to muscles that are either paralyzed or spastic.

However, certain limitations should be kept in mind.  For instance, muscles will not receive benefit when they are massaged without full relaxation.  In some cases, stroke victims cannot fully relax a muscle, and this could lead to less than optimal results in that muscle.  In addition, the pressure should not be a deep and penetrating touch.  The purpose of massage is to flood the muscle with blood flow and pressing deep can only lead to damaged muscles.  Furthermoer, it may cause serious bruising in some patients who are taking blood-thinning medicines for stroke prevention. The research into massage assisting with stroke deficits is still in its early stages, but it can help with the mental aspects of coping with a stroke’s aftermath.  For this reason, it may be of use to some stroke victims.

Herbal Remedies

Many herbal remedies are used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat the disabilities resulting from  ischemic stroke.  Most herbal supplements attempt to increase blood flow to the regions of the brain that were harmed during the cerebral accident.  A few supplements are known for their neuroprotective effects, which mean they protect the brain cells from any further harm.

A common herb used in ischemic stroke is danshen, and it helps to improve circulation.  In stroke recovery, such may help restore function.  However, much of the research into this herb is inconclusive.  Another herb used is Siberian ginseng.  This herb is used to protect brain cells, and it does have some action on improving the blood vessels in the body, not just the brain.

Finally, one of the premier neuroprotective and neurorestorative natural supplements for stroke recovery is NeuroAiD.  It stimulates the release of a chemical in the brain called Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), and this factor protects brain cells from dying off and encourages the growth of new cells.  It has also shown promise in increasing the differentiation of neural stem cells and encouraging the creation of new neurons in the brain.

References; Acupuncture for Stroke; Cathy Wong; May 2012

Massage and Bodywork; Stroke Rehab, Part 2; Dietrich W. Miesler, MA, CMT; June/July 2000

WebMD; Ischemic Stroke Herbs and Supplements

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