Stroke Prevention in Chinese Medicine – Because Knowing is Half the Battle!!

Did you know??

For every minute of delay in treating a stroke, the average patient loses 1.9 million brain cells, 13.8 billion synapses, and 12 km of axonal fibres?And
For Each hour in which treatment does not occur, the brain loses as many neurons as it does in almost 3.6 years of normal aging?

This is why it’s so important to know and recognize the right signs and symptoms of stroke. It’s ESPECIALLY important because stroke can be difficult to detect, and getting to the hospital within a three-hour time frame is crucial to avoid long-term irreversible damage.

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the 5 signs of stroke include:

1. Weakness, sudden loss of strength or sudden numbness in the face, arm or leg, even if temporary.
2. Trouble speaking – Sudden difficulty speaking or understanding or sudden confusion, even if temporary.
3. Headache  – Sudden severe and unusual headache
4. Vision problems. – Sudden trouble with vision, even if temporary
5. Dizziness – Sudden loss of balance, especially with any of the above signs

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, there is one more VERY important symptom that can indicate Stroke – and that is the sign of a deviated tongue. For thousands of years, Traditional Chinese doctors have been using the tongue to diagnose patterns of illness.  The tongue can give us an idea of what is going on inside the body- how energy is flowing, how blood is circulating, and if there are any imbalances in temperature and body fluids that need to be corrected. In stroke, a deviated tongue can indicate that there is an imbalance of blood and energy circulation in the body.

When I first learned about this, I was a little skeptical, and wasn’t sure how reliable tongue deviation in detecting stroke could actually be.  It wasn’t until I encountered it myself in my own practice that I knew for sure that this TCM observation was legit! The story goes like this.

I was only a couple of months into starting my Acupuncture and Chinese medicine practice, when a patient came to me to treat his shoulder and rotator cuff. He said it was caused by consistent injury to his shoulder from playing volleyball.  After asking him a series of questions I discovered he was going through a recent divorce, stressed from studying for his MCATs, and had a history of chronic headaches.  Aside from that he was a fairly healthy individual who worked out 4-5x a week and ate very healthy and well-balanced meals.  When I felt his pulse (another major diagnostic tool in Chinese Medicine), his hand was shaking and the pulse was very fast, and very strong- as if there was a drum beating from inside his artery.  When I saw his tongue I saw that his tongue was slanted towards the left side of his mouth and was quivering. He asked me what I was seeing and I explained that he was showing signs of someone predisposed to a stroke, or in Chinese medicine diagnosis, we call it Liver-Yang Rising causing Liver-wind.

He thought I was crazy. I thought I was being crazy too, as it seemed to be a ridiculous assumption. He was a 30 year old, perfectly healthy young man.   I saw him a couple of times but his headache and shoulder pain didn’t’ go away (which is what he came in for). He eventually stopped coming in to see me. 😦

A little over a month later, I found out he had a stroke. It was caused by a cerebral hemorrhage, otherwise known as a brain bleed.  He had admitted himself to emergency because he had started feeling numbness in his face and tingling in his arm.  As soon as he felt that, he remembered my TCM diagnosis and knew right away he was having a stroke. The doctor was shocked that he was even walking and talking in his office. He predicted his brain had leaking for at least 2 months. It turns out he had a concussion possibly from playing volleyball or from working out.
They performed an emergency surgery to remove the blood in his brain and he is back to being a healthy 30 year old. Zero complications and currently studying Medicine in Australia.

After this experience, I knew for sure that Chinese medicine prevailed in preventative medicine. It saved his life! This experience taught me a great lesson and I hope you too, and that is “Knowing REALLY is half the Battle!” Knowing the right signs and symptoms and catching it at the right time can SIGNIFICANTLY reduce, or PREVENT the amount of damage and the amount of time it’ll take to recover from a stroke. That being said, to prevent stroke from happening or recurring, it’s important to know that tongue deviation can be an early warning sign that can show up far before the other signs and symptoms of stroke.

So remember, important warning signs to look out for if you suspect a stroke:

1. Tongue deviation
2. Weakness, sudden loss of strength
3. Trouble speaking,
4. Headache,
5. Dizziness and
6. Vision problems.

And for our fighters and stroke survivors, my next blog is for you:

How Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can Aid in the Recovery and Rehabilitation of Stroke.

Till next time.
Regine Gorospe

**Disclaimer: If you experience any signs and symptoms of stroke, see your doctor immediately**

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