Stroke Prevention

Dr. John Briggs

Stroke Prevention

4 mins
September 15, 2020

Every week I have to ask myself what’s of the most importance to people today. Recognizing one of the hallmarks of the present threat to our health involves blood clots, I figured that focusing on preventing stroke is important to talk about.

After a dear friend and patient contacted me wondering what a mini-stroke was, that was the reason for going this direction.

The fluidity of our blood is critical as the smallest of capillaries are the diameter of just one red blood cell. When they clump together, it can cause a roadblock, resulting in a loss of oxygen to the tissues served by the capillary.


Inflammation of your circulatory system results in swelling of tissue, which can increase the narrowing of the veins, arteries, and capillaries. When there is damage to these tissues, the body releases platelets to cause blood cells to clump together and plug any holes. When this happens, it begins the creation of clots.

Respiratory inflammation seen in COVID-19 infections, causes blood clots affecting the lungs. This is why some doctors have been using a nebulizer with steroids to stop the inflammation and prevent the need for a respirator. In fact, Dr Richard Bartlett in Texas has had 100% success rate treating his COVID patients this way.

Prevention of blood clots is important, but another issue which can set the stage for stoke, and for potential heart attack is that of severe stress. It’s been seen that the majority of stroke and heart attacks come on Monday with far fewer on Fridays. Why is this you ask? Because stress and the sympathetic nervous system controls the diameter of your blood vessels.


When you go into stress, the muscular lining of your blood vessels contract and narrow the lumen of the vessel. Any clumping of blood you may be experiencing has a more difficult time passing through these narrowed vessels, and can obstruct the flow, causing oxygen debt to the tissues served. When this happens, there’s potential of tissue death. If the tissues served are critical nerve pathways, we can then see the resulting damage of drooping face, slurred speech, and even paralysis of entire portions of the body, not to leave out death.

Maintaining free circulation, void of clots is what we need. The major medical response is to turn off the clotting mechanism, which is usually accomplished with things like warfarin, which is what’s used as a rat killer. Minor trauma can cause massive internal hemorrhage. This is why anyone using this kind of medication needs to monitor it closely and avoid excessive blood thinning or any kind of trauma which could precipitate hemorrhage.

Many foods have properties which help keep blood thin, which is why a person on warfarin must be cautious about what they eat, as they can over thin the blood. Among some of the common foods which block platelet aggregation, garlic is one of the most well known. Besides garlic, turmeric and ginger have anti-platelet properties.


Herbs used for many other conditions also can block platelets from sticking together. These include Coleus, Dan Shen, and Dong Quai. Because of this, herbal treatment which is otherwise excellent at addressing health issues can aggravate or amplify the effects of many drugs. This is one reason why it’s important to evaluate any drugs consumed and what beneficial herbal treatments could backfire and cause more problems.

Early on in my education, I wondered why I needed to study drugs that I wasn’t using on my patients. What’s easily seen today is that ignorance about drug and herbal interactions can be huge. This is one reason a google education isn’t necessarily helpful and can be fatal.

Since inflammation is a major cause of clot formation, the underlying cause of inflammation is something we need to be most aware of. In todays world, the most inflammation seen is due to the overload of sugar in the diet. This can be either straight sugar used daily as additives to your food, or just refined foods which have had nutrition removed. Sugar is in so many areas of our life and not always exposed as sugar. Alcohol is sugar and a potent source of inflammation.

Seeing kids sucking down sodas and energy drinks concerns me, as they’re setting the stage for trouble in their future. Teach your children about good nutrition and demonstrate it to them. 

Dr. Briggs

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Dr Briggs is a 1980 graduate of the National College of Naturopathic Medicine and has been practicing naturopathic medicine in the northwest corner of Oregon since his graduation. His practice involves diagnostic and therapeutic modalities which have stood the test of time and the challenges of diverse disease. We believe that each person exists dynamically as a spirit being, possessing a soul made up of their mind, will, and emotions, living in a body which requires specific care and nutrition. To address only the physical needs is to ignore the real person, and frequently, the real issues. We strive to address all your issues (spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical) with compassion and wisdom.

This article was orginally reported by
Dr. John Briggs

Dr. John Briggs is a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine.