Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases) is/are designated as the #5 leading cause of death in the US, killing about 150,000 Americans per year.
Searching the phrase “mindfulness practice improves stroke outcomes” on Google gets 785,000 hits, so I ask, how could a healthcare consumer ever suffer from, or be at risk of, any common medical or psychological disability, including Stroke and cerebrovascular diseases, and NOT be at least offered chance to engage into mindfulness practice?
A corollary to that question is; once informed about how effective the outcomes of mindfulness training is for any common psychological or medical disability, introduced by a clinician or some other information source, why are relatively few Americans NOT taking advantage of the opportunity to live longer, happier, less symptomatic lives.
Activate the Healing Power of the Brain
A Google search of “Thanatos and Freud” gets almost as many websites as “mindfulness practice improves stroke outcomes.” In classical Freudian psychoanalytic theory, Thanatos, AKA the “death drive,” is the compulsion toward death and destruction, often expressed through behaviors such as aggression and self-destructiveness. I propose a better explanation for Thanatos is my recent book, Awaken Your Godly Brain. However, perhaps this question invites a deeper one: Despite the science-proven facts about the actualization of 1/6th of our brain – the most distinctly human part of our anatomy – the prefrontal cortex, which confers the unique faculty of mindfulness, do most people prefer to not activate its healing benefits and instead to submit to Thanatos, the Freudian death drive?
Alcohol Increases the Risk of Stroke
Some of my alcoholic and addicted patients ask this question every day, which is why the skull and cross-bone imagery often appears on alcoholic beverages. The phrase “skull and crossbones on alcoholic beverages” gets over 2.5 million Google hits, so now we are getting into far more popular and interesting subjects on the internet. I bring up to topic of alcohol use and abuse here as there are few more important risk factors causative of stroke and cerebrovascular diseases than alcohol abuse. In fact, a recent study found that one to two drinks a day can increase the risk of stroke by 10 to 15 percent. Four or more drinks a day increases the risk of stroke by up to 35 percent.
Behind the statistics of the 10 leading causes of death are addictions, especially tobacco and alcohol use and abuse, and we will get to these in a future mindfulness article. Tobacco addiction as a risk factor for cancer and heart disease (the first two leading causes of death) is well known. Suffice it to say here that the 11th step in AA is; “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.” Mindfulness is sometimes thought to be one type of “meditation,” a word that I try not to use as it has degenerated into meaninglessness. Nevertheless, we should applaud Alcoholics Anonymous for bringing us incalculable improvements in stroke and other mortality statistics.
Join me for Mindfulness & Healing
If you have a strong family history of stroke and cerebrovascular disease, or you know someone in your circle of friends or family who is susceptible to this #5 cause of death in the US, and you want to keep them alive longer (that could be a big “if”!), please send them this brief article and invite them to the next Mindfulness and Healing Group this Sunday at 7 PM.
Mindfulness and Healing, every SUNDAY evening at 7 pm
Everyone is invited.
To join, simply call 712-770-4340 and when prompted, enter the code 566853# (pound)
Charles Gant MD, PhD, is a physician, author and teacher and has practiced Integrative and Functional Medicine for over three decades. He specializes in getting to the root cause of health issues to support healing at the molecular level. Areas of interest include ADHD, chronic diseases, metabolic, hormonal and immune disorders, infectious disease (Lyme and co-infections), genetic testing and more. He is an expert in interpretation of functional medicine testing to diagnose precisely what is deficient in each patient, and then replenish those missing, essential items.
 Or Her! Let’s be politically correct and “woke” here.