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We’ve all heard that heart attacks and stroke are the leading cause of death in America. We tend to talk a lot about our health here in the US; eating well, getting enough exercise and healthcare, but we aren’t a very healthy bunch, all in all. This is reflected in the fact that we spend twice as much on healthcare (which should literally be called illnesscare) as other countries, but we fall to 24th in the World Health Organization’s ‘Healthy Life Expectancy’ list. This list incorporates our quality of health while we’re alive, rather than strictly the age at death. Living to an old age when your body and/or faculties have failed may certainly be less advantageous than a gentle passing free of pain and indignity.

More than 600,000 people experience a stroke in the US every year. A stroke, when the blood to the brain is interrupted, can cause a wide variety of symptoms with mild to debilitating side effects for survivors. Mild symptoms after a stroke might include numbness, muscle weakness, either a partial or totally altered sense of smell, taste, hearing, or vision, drooping of the eyelid or weakness of the eye muscles. Serious symptoms can involve the ability to speak, understand language or walk; frequent confusion, poor memory recollection and equilibrium problems.

Rehabilitation can take months or years, and a full recovery may never be complete. Physical therapy, occupational therapy or speech and language therapy may be necessary for the individual’s recuperation process. Since nearly half of post stroke patients are believed to experience depression, antidepressant medications are often indicated. The road to wellness can be a long and arduous road for the patient and their family members. But, with a little help from nature, we may be able to speed recovery and feel better sooner.

Eating fish high in the omega 3 fatty acids is believed to help prevent heart disease and stroke. It may also be helpful for recovery after a stroke, as well, but the focus of most of the research has been on the reducing risk of stroke. There are a significant number of studies supporting the use of fish oils for cardiovascular health. Researchers at Northwestern University have reported that omega-3 fatty acids may help to prevent stroke by lowering blood pressure and LDL cholesterol.

There are several excellent herbs and supplements that are believed to support an acceleration of the healing process after a mild or even a serious stroke. Centuries of use for sustaining or regaining brain and nerve health, they may be helpful for recovering after a stroke has occurred.

St. John’s Wort has received considerable attention for its ability to support those with mild to moderate depression. Over the past twelve hundred years or so, St John’s wort has been used to support nerve health and repair damage, including some of the types of symptoms one might experience after a stroke. Rubbing St. John’s Wort Oil onto the affected regions of the body, such as the face, hands, feet, etc could help to speed recovery.

For St John’s wort taken orally, only an organic product should be chosen for optimal results. Some of the best forms used over the centuries are:
Tea (be sure to place a lid over the cup while it steeps for a full 15 min. Traditional use of tea for medicinal use usually called for 4 cups sipped throughout the day.)
Tincture (Herb Pharm, Gaia Herbs and Avena Botanicals are excellent brands.)
Gaia produces a superb St. Johns Wort extract in capsule form. Potent and very convenient.
Dried herb is considered milder in action than a good extract, but more recently has been used in capsule and tablet form.

Several years ago, a woman named Carla came to me for help for her husband. He was in his mid-30’s when he had a stroke and four years later, his right side still had issues of neuralgia, and the right side of his face still drooped considerably. This caused slurred speech and blurred vision. Her husband had become somewhat of a recluse, as he did not like dropping things, needing so much assistance, the stares as he limped and the constant repeating of words and phrases when folks couldn’t understand him. As a result, he hadn’t left their home in more than two years.

We spoke of nutritional foods to support his weakened body. We also thought that he would be wise to do a cleanse when he felt strong enough, since he had needed numerous medications during his recovery. To support nerve health, I taught Carla about the history of use of St John’s wort. She thought that her husband would enjoy taking a tea, but would likely reject the tincture or capsules. She decided to add the tincture to his tea.

Four days after our meeting, I received a call from Carla. Her husband loved the tea and had been drinking about six cups each day. She had added only a small amount of tincture to each cup. I could hear elation in her voice. She blurted out, “Cindy, I can’t believe it! He’s all better!” She went on, “I finally told him this morning that I had met with you and that you had told me about the tea. He said that he wants to drink St John’s wort tea every morning forever! Is that safe?”
“Yes, yes.” I replied. “I think so! I am so glad to hear he is better. It’s great to hear!”
“I think I will continue with the tincture until the bottle is gone. Will that be OK?” she asked.
“I bet it will. Please stay in touch, and let me know if he continues to feel ‘ back to normal’,” I requested.

You will never hear me suggest a ‘standardized extract’, the herbal products produced and promoted by the pharmaceutical industry as having specific quantities of the phytonutrients that some chemists believe to be the ‘active’ ingredients. These products are nearly always extracted with chemical solvents, leaving a small amount of those solvents behind in the herbs. I’m fairly certain that we don’t need a bit of dry cleaning fluid, nail polish remover or other chemical solvents in the herbal products we choose to help heal ourselves.

Lion’s Mane is a powerful medicinal fungus that recent research has shown may help regenerate seriously damaged brain and/or nervous system cells. This early research shows that even when cells are considered dead or permanently damaged, Lion’s mane may indeed work to restore the integrity of the cell by stimulating the production of Nerve Growth Factor. For a high quality product, please check out Fungi Perfecti.

Mental Clarity from New Chapter’s Mycomedicinals line, is formulated by the world renowned mycologist, Paul Stamets. Made predominantly from certified organic Lion’s mane, it also has Cordyceps, Reishi and other mushrooms to support nerve and brain health.

Hawthorn leaf, flower and berry support the entire cardiovascular system. Traditional uses of hawthorn include high or low blood pressure, arrhythmia (irregular heart beat), angina (heart pain), blood circulation and heart failure.

Flora has produced a fantastic Hawthorn Heart Formula, a delicious liquid that supports the entire cardiovascular system. If you prefer capsules, Gaia makes a potent organic product called Hawthorn Supreme/a>. Gaia also produces a Hawthorn Berry Solid Extract, easily added to warm water for a tasty beverage.

Coenzyme Q10, also known as CoQ10, ubiquinone, ubidecarenone, is a substance similar to a vitamin and is present in all human cells. It is responsible for the production of energy within each human cell. It is estimated that 95% of all our body’s energy requirements (ATP) is converted by the mitochondria with the aid of CoQ10. This means that organs that require a significant amount of energy such as the heart, lungs and liverNew Chapter CoQ10+ Food Complex have the highest concentrations of CoQ10.

The only CoQ10 supplement on the market that contains real, complex whole food is the New Chapter CoQ10+ Food Complex. A leading antioxidant researcher has found the CoQ10+ Food Complex to be 20 times (that’s 2000%!) greater antioxidant activity than other CoQ10 products on the market. Another testimony to the power and wisdom of nature. I would only use this superb product rather than a synthetic form or a chemically isolated form, which is what we get in every other product on the market, regardless of the delivery system that they use or marketing concepts used in their advertising.

Reishi is a mushroom used for good health, vitality and longevity for more than four thousand years. Composed primarily of polysaccharides, triterpeniods, proteins and amino acids, researchers have found Reishi to have anti-tumor, immune and blood pressure modulating effects. Look for potent, certified organic Reishi in liquid or capsules from New Chapter or Fungi Perfecti.

It can be a long road to recovery for both the person who suffered a stroke, as well as their family and support team. With a little help from Earth Mother, maybe that road can be a little easier.

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