An initial study conducted at the Henry Ford Hospital suggests that a common B vitamin may help improve neurological function after a stroke.
Researchers at the facility have recently found that when lab rats with ischemic stroke are given vitamin B3, or niacin, their brains experience new blood vessel and nerve cell growth, which significantly improves cognitive function. Additional research is currently being conducted to investigate the effects of an extended-release form of niacin on human stroke patients.
"If this proves to also work well in our human trials, we’ll then have the benefit of a low-cost, easily-tolerable treatment for one of the most neurologically devastating conditions," said Michael Chopp, scientific director of the Henry Ford Neuroscience Institute.
Niacin is currently recognized as the most effective natural supplement for increasing high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), or "good" cholesterol. Separate studies have found that HDL-C is abnormally low in patients who have recently suffered a stroke.
The researchers also believe that the discovery may open another avenue of treatment for patients suffering from brain injury and impaired neurological function.