Cerebral Vascular Insufficiency

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Cerebral vascular insufficiency


Cerebral vascular insufficiency is defined as insufficient blood flow to the brain. The most common cause of decreased blood flow is atherosclerosis of the arteries that supply blood to the brain.


Cerebral vascular insufficiency is a common condition in the older population of developed countries due to the high prevalence of atherosclerosis. The artery affected in most cases of this disease is the carotid artery, which carries most of the brain's blood supply.

Causes & symptoms

A stroke , caused by reduced blood and oxygen supply, may be an indication of severe blockage in the carotid artery. Less severe blockage may still cause "mini-strokes" or transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), which can cause symptoms of dizziness , ringing in the ears, blurred vision, and confusion. Any of these problems could indicate cerebral vascular insufficiency.


Diagnosis of cerebral vascular insufficiency is based upon the presence of one or more of the following symptoms:

  • blurred vision
  • depression
  • vertigo (dizziness)
  • headache
  • lack of vigilance
  • senility
  • short-term memory loss
  • ringing in the ears (tinnitus)

The diagnosis is confirmed by using an ultrasound exam to analyze blood flow to the brain.


EDTA chelation therapy

EDTA (ethylene-diamine-tetra-acetic acid) chelation therapy involves intravenous or oral administration of EDTA, a compound which pulls out plaque components and helps to break it down. EDTA can improve blood flow and relieve symptoms associated with athero-sclerotic vascular disease. It may be necessary to take vitamin and mineral supplements during EDTA therapy to avoid certain deficiencies, so a health practitioner should be consulted before beginning therapy, and a qualified EDTA chelation specialist should be consulted for intravenous therapy.

Aortic glycosaminoglycans (GAGs)

A natural medicine which can be helpful is an extract of aortic glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), a mixture which is naturally present in the human aorta. Significant improvements in both symptoms of cerebral vascular insufficiency and blood flow have been noted when aortic GAGs are added to the diet. An effective dosage of aortic GAGs is 100 mg daily and should be used for at least six months after a stroke or TIA, after consultation with a health practitioner.

Ginkgo biloba

In well-designed studies, ginkgo biloba (Ginkgo biloba ) extract (GBE) has displayed an ability to reduce major symptoms of cerebral vascular insufficiency, including short-term memory loss, vertigo, headache, ringing in ears, lack of vigilance, and depression. A consultation with a practitioner or doctor is recommended before beginning a ginkgo biloba regimen.

Properties of GBE helpful for cerebral vascular insufficiency:

  • neutralizes free radicals
  • makes blood more available in ischemic areas through dilation
  • inhibits platelet-activating factor (PAF) as an alternative for those allergic to aspirin
  • increases the rate at which information is transmitted at the nerve cell level, improving vigilance and mental performance

Coleus forskohlii

Many of the properties of coleus (Coleus forskohlii ) prove helpful for this condition. Coleus is a vasodilator, an agent that widens or dilates blood vessels to allow more blood flow. The use of coleus as a treatment for high blood pressure indicates its usefulness in cerebral vascular insufficiency and resulting stroke. Its ability to retard platelet activation and accumulation indicate that it may be helpful in preventing atherosclerotic events.

Spinal manipulative therapy

In one study, some patients receiving soft tissue therapy, trigger point therapy , postisometric relaxation of spasmed muscles (a technique used for relaxation of muscle tension), and spinal manipulation to partially dislocated vertebrae experienced improvement of cerebral vascular insufficiency symptoms such as vertigo, fatigue , and sleep disturbances, and improved cerebral circulation. However, patients who were initially diagnosed with an early form of cerebral vascular insufficiency with vascular disturbances in the neck area or vertebral artery syndrome had their symptoms worsen during manipulative treatment. A person with these diagnoses should not undergo spinal manipulation.

Allopathic treatment

Vasodilators help to treat the symptoms of cerebral vascular insufficiency and arteriosclerosis by increasing the blood flow in veins and arteries. Isoxsuprine is a vasodilator which relaxes blood vessels, making them wider and allowing blood to flow through them more easily. Other treatments which are becoming more common are carotid angioplasty (surgical repair of the arteries that pass up the neck and supply the head) and stenting. (A stent is a device that is used to keep open a tubular structure, like a blood vessel.)

If a person has severe cerebral vascular insufficiency, including frequent TIAs or past stroke and severe (about 70%) blockage, carotid endarterectomy may be necessary. This surgery involves the surgical removal of the atherosclerotic plaque from the carotid artery.

Expected results

Physicians who use EDTA chelation treatment claim great success; however EDTA chelation therapy has not been FDA approved for treatment of atherosclerosis. People considering this therapy may want to do some research and talk with their doctors or an EDTA chelation specialist.

Carotid endarterectomy is a surgery which may have serious complications, including strokes, which may cause permanent neurological damage or death. However, for people with severe cerebral vascular insufficiency this may be the best option. A person with this condition should talk with his or her doctor about the risks and benefits of surgery.

Any treatment for vascular disease caused by atherosclerosis should include an evaluation of diet and other factors to prevent re-blocking of the arteries. Improved diet and exercise can help a person's long term outlook for this condition.


Measures taken to prevent hypertension and reduce cholesterol and atherosclerosis will also help prevent cerebral vascular insufficiency. Proper diet and lifestyle may not only protect against atherosclerosis, but may also reverse blockage in the arteries. A low-fat diet including vegetables, grains, legumes, and soybean products along with cold water fish and some poultry (no red meat) along with stress reduction techniques and exercise can reduce atherosclerosis. Other important factors are controlling high blood pressure and diabetes and avoiding tobacco. Homocysteine, an amino acid the human body produces that is related to atherosclerosis, may be reduced through dietary reform as mentioned above and supplementation of folic acid , B6 (pyridoxine), and B12. Gingko biloba may also be taken as a supplement for its properties mentioned above.



Goldberg, Burton. Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide. Tiburon, CA: Future Medicine Publishing, Inc., 1999.


American College for Advancement in Medicine. 23121 Verdugo Drive, Suite 204, Laguna Hills, CA 92653. http://www.acam.org.

Life Extension Foundation. 995 SW 24th Street, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33315. (954) 766-8433, (877) 900-9073. http://www.lef.org.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Bethesda, MD 20892. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/index.htm.


Oral chelation for improved heart function. http://www.kirlian.org/life_enhancement_products/oralchelation.html. July 25, 2000.

Melissa C. McDade