Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and acupuncture can contribute an important part of the treatment plan for a patient recovering from a stroke. Use of a range of conventional and traditional treatment provides the patient with the greatest chance for recovery of function, minimization of disability, and can also reduce pain and help the patient cope with frustration and other adverse emotional reactions to their illness. TCM approaches may also be used to lessen the side-effects of conventional medicines which may include lethargy and nausea.
Acupuncture has been shown to increase blood flow in areas of the brain immediately around lesions caused by a stroke, and so may facilitate brain repair and re-organization to compensate for areas of organic damage. Clinical trials indicate that acupuncture is a low cost treatment with few risks of side-effects. The absence in TCM of toxicity, which can result in side-effects is a quality that allows acupuncture to be safely used in conjunction with any conventional therapies.
Traditional herbal medicines such as Ginsing Zai Zao Wan and Di Huang Yin may also assist in the recovery from a stroke by thinning the blood and reducing platelet aggregation. Other treatments that may contribute to recovery include massage and electrical stimulation of acupoints. Electro-stimulation is a technique where small electrical currents are passed through acupuncture needles to add additional stimulation to acupuncture points. Electro-acupuncture has been shown to decrease pain, accelerate tissue healing, and significantly reduce inflammation.
TCM approaches are increasingly being incorporated into Western healthcare, and often the best care is a result of the full circle approach: taking into account a person’s mind and spirit as well as the body. Stress reducing massage and Asian Body Therapy can aid in recovery as well, taking the emotional stress of a person’s recovery into account.