According to the American Stroke Association, 795,000 strokes occur in the U.S. each year. Every 40 seconds someone has a stroke and every 4 minutes someone dies of a stroke.

On June 24, 2017, my life changed forever when I received a call from one of my younger brothers informing me that my vivacious mother had suffered a major stroke at the young age of just 61.

While it is common knowledge that TCM and acupuncture are beneficial in the recovery following a stroke, there is not a lot of information available on the role these modalities can play in stroke prevention.

Below are the top three risk factors contributing to stroke in the U.S., along with brief explanations as to how TCM and acupuncture can play a role in curbing these risk factors and in turn help to prevent the occurrence of a stroke.

High Blood Pressure

While medications to reduce blood pressure have profoundly affected the lives of many, most do not “cure” patients of the disease. TCM physicians take one step further to determine what outside factors are contributing to a patient’s high blood pressure and then eliminate or improve those factors.

Two examples of outside factors that can lead to high blood pressure are inflammation and auto-immune dysfunction. Clinical research shows that acupuncture reduces inflammation in the body by stimulating cytokines. Acupuncture also promotes the release of certain proteins, chemicals, and hormones in the brain, which in turn boost the immune system.


Auricular acupuncture (or ear acupuncture) is used extensively in prisons, substance abuse programs, hospitals, and VA clinics across the U.S., in conjunction with education and counseling to curb addiction and help promote smoking cessation. If you’re ready to quit, ask your TCM physician about the NADA protocol and quit smoking today!

Diet and Physical Activity

Newsflash: These two are related! According to The American Heart Association, a Mediterranean-style diet that is high in both nuts and olive oil is associated with a reduced risk of stroke. In addition to herbal formulas created specifically for each individual patient, I prescribe supplements such as calcium and magnesium to lower blood pressure and improve circulation. I also encourage patients to replace their morning coffee with a cup of green tea, which has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol and prevent blood clots.

Regular physical activity is a must. I encourage my patients to get in at least 30 minutes of “move-time” per day. I also encourage little daily decisions that make a big overall impact: take the stairs, park farther away, stretch for 10 minutes every morning…

As author and motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said, “Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”

Ashley Humston L.Ac., MTOM, is a licensed acupuncturist and TCM physician with the Live Well Clinic in La Quinta and can be reached at (760) 771.5970

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