Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) may help with stroke prevention and recovery. Examples of CAM treatments include massage, dietary supplements, or acupuncture to manage stress.

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and lifestyle changes may help reduce your stroke risk factors, which may help reduce your risk for stroke or secondary stroke. The American Heart Association (AHA) estimates that 80% of strokes are preventable with lifestyle changes.

Evidence doesn’t suggest that CAM treatments are better than medical treatments for stroke, so they shouldn’t replace any treatments a doctor has prescribed. If you think you’re having a stroke, call 911 or your local emergency services.

Adding certain CAM treatments to your routine may help you reach health goals, such as lower blood pressure.

Check with a doctor first before trying CAM treatments.

An important aspect of stroke prevention is understanding which risk factors can be managed.

You can’t change or reduce certain risk factors, like:

But making lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of others. Risk factors that can increase your risk of stroke include:

Learn more about stroke risk factors.

Your doctor may prescribe medication for lowering cholesterol and may recommend a heart-healthy lifestyle. The foods you eat can also help lower your risk of stroke by helping reduce risk factors like high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Coffee or black or green tea

A 2021 study found drinking either coffee and tea alone or in combination was associated with a lower risk of stroke and dementia. Researchers followed over 350,000 UK Biobank participants for 10 years or more.

Tea and coffee both contain plant nutrients called flavonoids, which can help decrease cholesterol and blood pressure. According to the 2021 study, drinking at least 3 cups of black or green tea per day may help reduce your risk of stroke.

A heart-healthy diet

The American Heart Association recommends eating more whole foods, including:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • lean, minimally processed cuts of animal protein
  • plant-based protein, such as nuts, seeds, and legumes
  • healthy fats, such as olive oil
  • whole grains

They also recommend avoiding:

  • excess salt
  • foods high in added sugar
  • ultra-processed foods
  • fatty cuts of meat

Learn which foods can help prevent stroke and which to avoid.

Foods high in necessary nutrients

Little scientific evidence exists that indicates certain nutrients can prevent stroke directly.However,t some research suggests that they can help reduce stroke risk and improve recovery. You may find benefits from taking the following:

The AHA recommends getting your vitamins and nutrients primarily through food rather than supplements.

Regular physical activity may help reduce your risk of stroke and support your overall health. Some low impact options include:

  • yoga
  • walking
  • swimming or water aerobics

Some people believe that tai chi may support stroke prevention and recovery. Tai chi is a Chinese exercise consisting of slow and graceful movements practiced in a semi-squatting position. One review of research suggests it may have benefits, such as:

  • balance
  • limb motor function
  • walking ability
  • sleep quality
  • mood
  • mental health
  • other motor function

The authors noted that more high quality studies are still needed to support these benefits.

A 2017 study suggests that tai chi has a role as a protective measure against ischemic stroke in older adults.

Maintaining a moderate weight can help manage many risk factors for stroke. If you have overweight or obesity, weight loss may help lower your risk of stroke by reducing risk factors like:

  • high blood pressure
  • cholesterol
  • body fat
  • type 2 diabetes risk

A doctor can help you determine an ideal weight for your body.

High levels of stress are linked to an increased risk of stroke. Learning relaxation techniques may help reduce tension in your mind and body and lower your stress levels.


Massage can help increase blood flow to an affected area, especially for stroke-related muscle problems. In one study, therapeutic massage improved motor function and reduced muscle spasticity in people who had a stroke.

Other techniques

Other ways you can relax include:

A 2023 clinical study protocol suggests that external counterpulsation (ECP) treatments may encourage recovery in people who’ve had an ischemic stroke.

ECP treatments involve wrapping cuffs around the hips, thighs, and calves. These cuffs inflate and deflate, creating a massage-like sensation and helping blood flow to the brain.

Acupuncture involves a practitioner inserting small needles into specific points of the body. It’s known to help ease pain and manage other muscle problems affected by stroke. A similar therapy is acupressure, which uses pressure instead of needles on the same points as acupuncture.

There isn’t enough scientific evidence on acupuncture’s effectiveness for stroke prevention.However,t some research suggests overall improvements in people’s daily living following a stroke, though more research is needed.

Acupuncture is considered safe when an experienced and licensed practitioner applies it.

Check your acupuncturist’s certifications if you’re interested in this therapy. A licensed acupuncturist will have a Master of Acupuncture, Master of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, or Doctor of Oriental Medicine certification. Look for the title licensed acupuncturist (LAc) too. Licensed acupuncturists have the training and skills to use acupuncture for health issues, such as:

  • certain chronic diseases
  • pain
  • rehabilitation
  • injured muscles

You can check your doctor’s certification by searching for their membership in the American Academy of Medical Acupuncturists (AAMA) or the American Board of Medical Acupuncture (ABMA).

Herbal supplements are a popular choice for people who prefer natural remedies. The following herbal supplements may improve blood circulation in the brain and help prevent another stroke:

  • Ashwagandha: Also known as Indian ginseng, ashwagandha has antioxidant properties and may support neurological health.
  • Garlic: Garlic has neurotropic effects and may help support ischemic stroke recovery.
  • Asian ginseng: A staple of Chinese medicine, many people believe Asian ginseng may improve memory and may have a neuroprotective effect, but more research is still needed.
  • Gotu kola: This herb may help support cognitive function in people who’ve had strokes.
  • Turmeric: Curcumin, a compound in the spice turmeric may have neuroprotective effects for ischemic stroke, including supporting blood flow in the brain.
  • Pomegranate: Pomegranate concentrate is high in antioxidants and phytosterols, which are plant steroids that lower cholesterol. It may support stroke prevention and recovery.

Some supplements may cause negative side effects when used with certain medications. Check with your doctor before taking any extra nutritional or herbal supplements.

It’s best to avoid supplements if you’re taking warfarin (Coumadin), aspirin, or any other blood-thinning medications. They may thin your blood even more. Always ask your doctor first before taking any additional supplements.

Using CAM treatments to manage controllable risk factors can be helpful for stroke prevention and recovery. Along with important lifestyle changes, treatments such as acupuncture or diet changes may help support your overall health and provide benefits including a lower risk of stroke.

These treatments shouldn’t replace medical or surgical treatments, but they have the potential to help you reach certain health goals, such as lowering blood pressure. Tell your doctor if you’re considering CAM treatments. Some treatments may interact negatively with your medication.