"Stroke" is the common term for cerebral vascular accident (CVA). The cause of stroke symptoms is the sudden death of part of the brain, either due to obstruction of blood flow or, less commonly, bleeding in the brain. Most strokes are the result of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), which in turn is caused by such factors as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and smoking. Depending on the location and extent of the damage, strokes can cause partial paralysis, and difficulty walking or talking.
A stroke is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical intervention. Emergency medical treatment includes measures to limit the extent of the stroke. After a stroke, gradual improvement frequently occurs with time, although the degree of improvement is often difficult to predict.
Homeopathic treatment has been proposed as a cost-effective possible method of aiding recovery from stroke.
However, two reported double-blind, placebo-controlled studies of homeopathic Arnica did not yield promising results.
The first study enrolled 40 people who had suffered a significant stroke within the prior 7 days.1 Participants were given either Arnica 30c or placebo in a dosage of one tablet every 2 hours, for six doses. They were then followed for 3 months to see if the Arnica group would recover more fully. The results showed no significant difference between the participants receiving Arnica and those who received placebo.
In the second trial, researchers administered Arnica 1M (an extreme dilution of one part in 102,000) to 40 participants.2 Again, no statistically significant improvements were seen in the treatment group as compared to the placebo group.
In classical homeopathy, there are many possible homeopathic treatments for stroke, to be chosen based on various specific details of the person seeking treatment.
Arnica was chosen for the studies described above because of its traditional use for the treatment of acute traumatic conditions. It is typically given as an emergency treatment right after a stroke occurs, as well as for weeks or months into the recovery period.
Belladonna is also sometimes used for stroke “first aid,” especially when the victim’s face is flushed, the eyes are fixed wide open, and there is headache, nosebleed, fever, and sensitivity to sound and light.
Loss of ability to speak after a stroke is a traditional indication for Gelsemium. Other aspects of this remedy’s symptom picture include a sensation of mental dullness, weakness, pain along the spine, dizziness, and headache in the forehead and at the base of the skull.
For herbs, supplements, and other alternative treatments that may be useful for this condition, see the Stroke article.
For a thorough explanation of homeopathy, including dilution of therapies, see the Homeopathy Overview.
1. Savage RH, Roe PF. A double blind trial to assess the benefit of Arnica montana in acute stroke illness. Br Homeopath J. 1977;66:207–220.
2. Savage RH, Roe PF. A further double blind trial to access the benefit of Arnica montana in acute stroke illness. Br Homeopath J. 1978;67:210–222.
Last reviewed September 2014 by EBSCO CAM Review Board Last Updated: 9/18/2014