Reduce Risk of Stroke (CVA) and Restore Brain Health After a CVA

Test to determine if you have genetic predispositions for strokes with a 23andMe saliva kit, and if you do, learn how to compensate for them.  For instance, you may have “sticky blood” or anti-cardiolipin antibodies which places you at risk for a stroke at a young age. (Appendix Two)

“If you had an “ischemic” stroke (too little blood flow from clogged arteries), see the different treatments outlined in the section on Heart Disease.  Also look at Dr Phillip Miller’s protocol or natural anti-coagulation as outlined below.

Caution: Do not use these substances unless under the care of a health professional. You do not want to “over-thin” the blood and possibly cause bleeding.

It is very helpful to get an objective reading of the state of atherosclerosis you may have in your arteries to the brain with:

Ultrasound to measure the possible calcification of your carotid arteries if you are older, and;

Use a Digital Pulsewave Analyzer for detection of peripheral artery flexibility and health–Watch your progress as you and your health professional try different interventions.

One useful “natural anticoagulation regimen” that blocks and may reverse atherosclerosis for stroke and heart disease has been described as below by Dr. Philip Lee Miller, a pioneering anti-aging physician who is the author of Life Extension Revolution and regularly writes blog posts at blog.antiaging.com: He recommends four simple but powerful naturals:

1) Nattokinase (or Lumbrokinase or Serrapeptase): Nattokinase is a well-known fibrinolytic agent. In other words, it helps to prevent soluble fibrinogen from converting to insoluble fibrin molecules that crosslink with each other and add a kind of mesh over the clot. It is important to reduce this process by decreasing the conversion of fibrinogen to fibrin, and it is also important to increase the body’s plasmin (which degrades fibrin clots). In a 2009 study, two months of nattokinase reduced fibrinogen, as well as two clotting factors known as factor VII and factor VIII. A 2014 study found that a single oral dose of nattokinase improved fibrinolysis and blood flow. Nattokinase stimulates the conversion of plasminogen to plasmin which degrades the fibin clots, and it reduces plasminogen activator inhibitor I (PAI-1), which is very important in the clotting cascade.  The thrombolytic power of nattokinase may be stronger than plasmin.

2) Ginkgo Biloba: exerts its action primarily as an anti-platelet and anticoagulant. It inhibits platelet aggregating factor. It is also an antioxidant, may have vasodilatory effects, and has been used for cognitive enhancement. A high dose can cause excess blood thinning and bleeding. Because of its action, Ginkgo should not be combines with aspirin or NSAIDs. It will have an unwanted synergistic effect.

3) High Potency Fish Oils: These prevent the aggregation of red blood cells with the formation of a clot. One image to describe them is that they act like Teflon to prevent this aggregating effect. The dose he recommends is aggressive: one tablespoon daily. You will rarely achieve these doses with oral capsules, so he relies on fish oils in liquid form. One tablespoon of high potency fish oil will yield approximately 4300 mg of EPA, approximately 3000 mg of DHA and 1000 mg of other Omega-3 fish oils. In addition to their anticoagulant effect, they: a) Enhance brain function–cognitive enhancement; b) Prevent cardiovascular events; c) Are antidepressant; d) Improve skin elasticity; and e) Lower blood pressure.

4) Vitamin E isomers: like fish oil, vitamin E prevents red blood cell aggregation. It also lowers blood viscosity or “stickiness.” Vitamin E exists as a family of tocopherols and tocotrienols, and he recommends mixed tocopherols including the alpha, beta, gamma and delta from of vitamin E. He prefers “natural” over synthetic vitamin E. Synthetic vitamin E is a tocophery, while natural vitamin E is a tocopherol.

Other Naturals by which you can reduce the risk of stroke and rebuild damaged brain cells include:

There is very good evidence that and 81 mg dose of aspirin will help reduce stroke. Again, if your stroke was ischemic, aspirin thins your blood  to make it less “sticky”: Low dose aspirin and other anti-platelet naturals and medications may help to reduce stroke risk.

Fish oils will reduce your stroke rish as they act as natural “anti-coagulants–they, too, make your blood less “sticky.”  Not as well studied are herbs that may be helpful to thin the blood such as Bilberry , feverfewgarlic , ginger , ginkgo , quercetin ,           vitamin E , and white willow. However, the supporting evidence for these supplements remains weak and needs further study, and the mere fact that they may thin the blood does not prove that they will reduce stroke risk. An exception is policosanol which has good studies on its effects preventing strokes. See Appendix One

Take Ginseng (and other Nrf2 stimulators–See Nrf2 stimulators along top row of Home Page) to protect against further strokes. You can see below that Nrf2 stimulators decrease inflammtion, restore redox homeostasis, improve neurovascular coupling and reinstate the nerve cells “steady state.”

Ginseng Nrf2 Stroke Protection

Optimize your Vitamin D levels. The majority of patients with acute stroke are deficient in Vitamin D.  Vitamin D deficiency is also associated with post-stroke hip fractures.

Increase Brain Nerve Growth Factors: Diet, exercise supplements, herbs and medicinals can stimulate brain cells to release NGFs  from brain receptors: For example, studies showed a 140% increase in BDNF – a brain growth factor – from Whole Coffee Fruit Concentrate Powder. (Ref: DMID: 23312069)

For your Omega-3 fatty acids, make sure the fish (or oil) is free of high levels of mercury and PCB’s, and/or consume more walnuts:  Scientists noted stroke induced brain damage was lessened by a diet rich in DHA type Omega-3 fatty acids. Your brain needs oil — in the form of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids — to run smoothly. If you eat a typical modern diet, you have too many Omega-6 oils through safflower, corn, soybean, and other oils in processed food.  And studies have demonstrate that those important omega-3 oils are often far too low in patients. 

If you had an ischemic stroke, increase brain blood flow and reduce free radical damage to the brain with ginkgo or vinpocetine.

The brain and the GI tract are closely connected and can create a vicious cycle of inflammation.  See Gut and Immune Deficits.

Decrease Inflammation in your brain arteries: Measure (with an am lipid peroxide level test) and reduce free radicals. Other helpful tests include: Food sensitivities, heavy metals, and imbalances in brain fat (high omega 6 to omega 3 ratios in your cell membranes.

Restore healthier brain membranes and nerve signals with citicholine. See Memory Loss.

Measure and Optimize the Nutritional Status of Your Cells: Deficiency in essential nutrients including vitamins C, E, D, carotenoids, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, folate, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and minerals (especially potassium and magnesium) can contribute to conditions known to increase the risk of experiencing a stroke.

Reduce “Non-Dipper” Hypertension: Almost all studies have shown that non-dippers had a significantly higher frequency of stroke than dippers. In contrast, too great a fall in nocturnal BP may be responsible for more marked cerebral ischemia.

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is related to a certain type of magnet therapy (repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation or rTMS). With tDCS, electrodes deliver a constant, low current. In one small study, 20 people who were in a rehabilitation program after having a stroke were randomized to receive tDCS to the head or sham treatment.  Those in the tDCS group experienced an improvement in their motor function, suggesting that it may be a beneficial addition to an overall rehab program.

Other, more controversial naturals include:

Galantamine Postischemia Provides Neuroprotection and Memory Recovery against Transient Global Cerebral Ischemia in Gerbils. J. Pharmacol. Exp. Ther., August 1, 2007; 322(2): 591 – 599.

Dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) treatment reduces infarction volume after permanent focal cerebral ischemia in rats.  Neurosci Lett. 1997 Dec 19;239(2-3):125-7. Shimizu S, Simon RP, Graham SH.

Appendix One:

Several double-blind, placebo-controlled trials indicate policosanol significantly reduces the blood’s tendency to clot. In one such study of 43 participants, use of policosanol at 20 mg per day proved approximately as effective as 100 mg of aspirin; in addition, when the two treatments were taken in combination, the effect was greater than with either treatment alone. Furthermore, as described in other citations on policosanol, this supplement appears to reduce cholesterol levels, making it potentially an all-around stroke-preventing treatment.

In an interesting study investigating the effects of music therapy, stroke patients who listened to music of their own choosing in the early stages of their recovery demonstrated more improvement in memory and attention than those patients who listened to language (books on tape). Music listeners were also less depressed and confused than subjects who neither listened to music nor language.

Appendix Two:

Hypercoagulability and anticardiolipin antibodies as risk factors for ischemic stroke in patients aged 46 or younger

M. Amiri, L.A. Kennedy, P.L. Sanders, L.M. Fink, S.M. Nazarian and J.W. Schmidley

Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases

Volume 8, Issue 4, July-August 1999, Page 276

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