NOTE: This post was written by my colleague, Kevin Wrathall. He'll be writing more posts in the weeks and months to come. Welcome to the Portland Acupuncture Blog, Kevin! 19 placing second scalp needle close

Photo by: graceycat

People who survive a stroke often face debilitating effects with serious impact on their lives. Last year, my mother in-law suffered her second stroke and now finds it difficult to talk, with a fair amount of slurring and misspoken words. Allopathic medicine saved her life but the doctors told her they could do nothing to help with the speech problems. This formerly gregarious woman now acts subdued and quiet.

Neither acupuncturists nor acupuncture schools advocate using acupuncture and herbs as the only treatment modality for a stroke. Allopathic medicine provides life-saving, treatment for strokes that would have claimed many lives in prior years. However, acupuncture and herbs also offer effective treatment for patients recovering from strokes.

Dr. Ming Qing Zhu, a well-known acupuncturist practicing in San Jose, California, specializes in using scalp acupuncture to treat patients recovering from strokes. In theory, inserting acupuncture needles in the scalp stimulates neural connections that restore functions of the central nervous system. It would be great if research money were available to investigate this, but for now we can look at the anecdotal evidence from his very popular clinic, where patients show significant improvements through his treatments. Check out a scene in the movie “Fierce Grace” where Dr. Zhu treats the guru Ram Dass, helping him to walk for the first time after suffering a stroke.

Patients seem to find their way to an acupuncturist through word of mouth or research, as many allopathic practitioners are unaware of the significant effects of acupuncture in treating strokes. In addition, many acupuncturists do not have experience in doing this type of treatment. OCOM offers a short course that teaches the basics to students. Despite this, more and more stroke patients do receive effective acupuncture care in the Portland area.

If you or anyone you know is a recovering stroke patient, the sooner you get treatment (whether acupuncture, herbs or other modalities) the better the results.