Chinese medicine theory recognizes four main pathological factors (agents) of stroke: Wind, Fire, Phlegm, and Stasis. There are also considered to be four leading contributing factors to stroke, related to lifestyle: emotional stress, overwork, poor diet, and excessive sexual activity.
The internal organs most likely to be weakened by these factors are the Kidney and the Spleen, causing deficiencies of Chi, Blood, and Yin. Deficiencies of Chi, Blood, or Yin permit the body to be overwhelmed by the pathological factors of Wind, Phlegm, Fire, and Stasis, resulting in such stroke-related patterns as Liver Yang Rising, Stasis of Chi or Blood, Phlegm combining with Fire, Liver Wind, or Wind in the Meridians.
Treating Strokes with Acupuncture
Chinese medicine distinguishes two general types of stroke: the most severe type attacks the internal organs as well as the energy pathways (meridians); the milder type attacks only the meridians. In treating the severe type, acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas are combined with Western drugs to relax spasm, subdue Wind, open the orifices, resolve Phlegm, and lower blood pressure. Patients with the milder type of stroke are treated primarily with acupuncture to open the meridians and promote Chi and Blood flow.
Acupuncture is the most popular treatment modality for stroke patients in China, used effectively on 85% of the stroke patients there. When Margaret Naeser, a neurology professor at Boston University School of Medicine, went to China in the 1980s, she was surprised to see that acupuncture treatments were considered to be the most important part of stroke rehabilitation at Chinese hospitals. She was even more impressed when she saw how effective such treatment was, and began to study acupuncture scientifically when she returned home. Since then, scientific evidence has been accumulating in the West.
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