A stroke is an interruption of the blood supply to your brain that results in the death of brain cells. You may experience symptoms like difficulty walking and speaking, numbness on one side of your body, headache and blurred vision. A stroke can lead to a temporary or permanent disability, so post-stroke care is critical for recovery. Herbs may prevent serious stroke damage and help you recover from a stroke. Consult your doctor before starting herbal treatment if you have suffered a stroke.
Chinese motherwort, or Leonurus cardiaca, is a leafy perennial native to Asia. Practitioners in traditional Chinese medicine use the aerial parts to treat stroke, heart attack, and menopausal and premenstrual problems. The herb acts on the heart, liver and kidney meridians, and relieves qi and blood stagnation. The active ingredients include stachydrine, quercetin, kaempferol, leonurine and apigenin, which are all potent antioxidants. A study by K. P. Loh and colleagues published in the September 2009 issue of the “Journal of Ethnopharmacology” tested an extract on animals with induced stroke damage. The study found that the extract reduced the area affected by the stroke, improved neurological damage caused by the stroke and had a protective effect on brain cells. The researchers attribute these effects to the antioxidants, which counter the oxidative stress on neurons following loss of oxygen to the brain. This study supports the traditional use of motherwort extract for enhancing recovery after a stroke. Do not combine this stroke remedy with other stroke or blood thinning medicines.
Baikal skullcap, or Scutellaria baicalensis, is one of the fundamental herbs in traditional Chinese medicine, where it is also known as huangqin. It affects the lung, heart, stomach, gall bladder and colon meridians and is used to treat allergies, inflammation, arteriosclerosis, skin infections and high cholesterol. The root contains four potent flavonoids: baicalin, norwogonoside, oroxyloside and wogonoside. Skullcap extract may aid stroke recovery by treating cerebral thrombosis and paralysis resulting from stroke. A study by W. Tang and associates published in the 2004 issue of “Phytomedicine” found that the inflammatory and antioxidant actions of skullcap flavonoids can bind to receptors that block neurodegenerative processes after a stroke. This study shows the efficacy of skullcap extract in preventing stroke-related brain damage and aiding stroke recovery. Consult your doctor before using this herb or combining it with other stroke medication or blood thinners.
Ginseng, or Panax ginseng, is a small perennial native to China, Russia, Korea and Japan. Herbalists use the root as an adaptogen, which is an herb used to stimulate your body’s own defenses against disease and stress. Traditional Asian medicine practitioners also use ginseng for its ability to protect against neurodegeneration, improve circulation, dilate blood vessels, enhance memory, and relieve anxiety and depression. The active ingredients include a group of about 30 steroid glycosides and triterpene saponins known as ginsenosides. A study by X. Q. Gao and colleagues published in the November 2010 issue of the “Journal of Ethnopharmacology” tested an extract containing ginsenoside Rb1 on animals with induced stroke. The study found that the extract promoted the recovery of neural behavior and stimulated the production of new brain neurons. This study supports the use of ginseng root extract for stroke recovery. Do not use ginseng if you are taking antidepressants, and consult your doctor before using it if you have heart or blood pressure problems.