Acupuncture Treatment for Bell’s Palsy

Bell’s palsy is the sudden development of unilateral paralysis in a person’s face. The 7th brain nerve is the nerve responsible for normalizing the muscles of one side of the face and it is the nerve that also is responsible for facial expressions and movement. A lot of Bell’s palsy sufferers have experienced a problem with their nervous system. Any side of the face can be affected and Bell’s palsy symptoms manifest in about 10% of these sufferers.

According to traditional Chinese medicine or TCM, Bell’s palsy is known as the “invading wind” that can develop in pregnant women and in both young and old people.

Symptoms and Signs

-Complications of mild dysarthria, ulceration and corneal drying
-Dribbling or drooling food often when eating.
-Inability to form tears, blink, salivate and smile in the problematic side of the face.
-Sudden paralysis in one side of the face and difficulty in shutting the eye in the affected part of the face.

Other Symptoms

-Salivary gland disorder
-Lachrymal gland disorder
-Sensitive hearing
-Lowered sensation of the tip of the tongue
-Pain in the back of the ear

Causes

-Lyme disease, syphilis or herpes simplex virus
-Surgery, an external wound or another physical disorder
-Guillain-Barre Syndrome (issues with the immune system)
-Too much exposure to cold (sleeping with the window open or too much air-conditioning)
-Diabetes

Treatment

Quick recovery and faster improvement are usually the case for Bell’s palsy sufferers if they have their condition treated within the first two weeks of the first symptoms. To help treat the patients much better, it is recommended that patients bring along diagnostic test results such as MRIs, HSV or herpes virus results or Lyme disease tests.

A lot of the patients are given antiviral medications like Acyclovir as well as topical cream for the problem eye. Still, in spite of these medications, a lot of patients do still suffer from this condition. It is best to seek additional therapies immediately since the longer the wait, the longer the time body needs to heal.

Acupuncture – the needles used in acupuncture treatment for Bell’s palsy are to help clear the blocked meridians and stimulate the nerve. Acupuncture is not just to help improve blood flow to the problem area it also provides benefits to the immune system that then help speed up the healing process.
It is very important to identify and address anything that causes stress to the immune system. Along with herbal therapy, acupuncture will immediately restore the patient’s Qi.

Herbs – Based on the patient’s manifested symptoms, the Chinese herbalist will prescribe a unique concoction of herbs. Thee herbs enable the body to rejuvenate itself and at the same time lessen the chances of relapse and side-effects.

Treatment Period

Most Bell’s palsy patient may need a month to two months of treatments with some patients reporting visible results within the first few treatment sessions. Acupucture works very well on Bell’s palsy conditions.

 

 

Acupuncture for Bell’s Palsy

Interestingly, China has one of the most cases of Bell’s palsy in the world. One Chinese province, Guangzhou, has so many people with this condition forcing the local physicians to come up with truly good treatment strategies. Chinese physicians utilize different modalities of traditional Chinese medicine that they have adopted in the successful treatment of their patients.

Traditional Chinese Medicine Perspective View of Bell’s palsy

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine of TCM, the well-being of a person is often grounded in the normal flow of vital energy the Chinese term as Chi or Qi. This vital energy travels throughout the body via vessels of energy known as meridians – obstructions or blockages that develop in them disrupt the flow of Chi resulting in pain and/or disease. Acupuncture, which is the use of ultra thin needles inserted into determined acupuncture points, help to restore the normal flow of Chi.

Bell’s palsy is termed Zhong Feng in China. This literally means “Wind Attack.” According to practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine, Bell’s palsy is the result of Cold and Wind invading the tendons, muscles and meridians of the face. This condition often occurs when a deficient immune system exists (when a person has the flu or cold, for example). The healthy flow of Blood and Chi in the face is disrupted leading to the nourishment of the facial tendons and muscles. TCM symptoms of Blood and Chi include tingling, numbness and paralysis or weakness of the muscles. These symptoms are caused by irritation of the 7th cranial (facial) nerve.

The objective of acupuncturists and TCM practitioners in treating Bell’s palsy is to take out the Cold-Wind from the meridians, better the flow of Blood and Chi to strengthen and nourish the muscles and bring back the normal function of the facial muscle and nerve. Along with the improvement of the facial muscle function, treatment also is geared into strengthening the defense mechanisms of the body particularly the immune system of the person.

Bell’s palsy treatment firstly needs to needle acupuncture points on the back of the patient’s head and face to remove the Cold and Wind. The acupuncture points on the face that are chosen for treatment correspond physiologically to the muscles of the face that are paralyzed. Additional acupuncture points may be treated based on the symptoms manifested and the medical history of the patient.

Besides acupuncture, other TCM treatments like cupping and electro acupuncture can be also chosen to treat Bell’s palsy. Electro acupuncture is a modern version of traditional acupuncture stimulates needles to boost the effect of acupuncture. Electro acupuncture is usually utilized in more severe or chronic instances of Bell’s palsy.

Who gets Bell’s palsy?

Based on statistics coming from the National Institutes of Health, there are about 40,000 Americans suffering from Bell’s palsy each year. This disorder affects both women and men equally although the risk is higher in diabetics, pregnant women, and those who have the common cold, influenza or other upper respiratory disorder. Recent clinical studies have proven more and more that Bell’s palsy is caused by Chicken Pox (herpes zoster virus), herpes simplex virus type 1 and other types of herpes virus.

Symptoms of Bell’s palsy

Bell’s palsy usually initially develops suddenly with maximal weakening of the facial muscles within a couple of days. Its main symptoms may include wrinkling in the nose or brow, puffing of the cheeks, difficulty in closing the affected eye. Excessive decrease or increase in drooling and tearing may also happen. There occasionally may be hypersensitivity to sound, ringing in the ear or ears and pain behind the jaw or ear. Because of possible numbness and muscle paralysis, functional activities such as drinking and eating can become quite hard to do. Although the severity of the paralysis and the eventual impairment is based on the magnitude of compression or irritation of the facial nerve – all of these impairments are undoubtedly so distressing to the sufferer.

Bell’s Palsy Lifestyles and Home Remedies

To help relieve the discomfort and symptoms generated by Bell’s palsy, you can try a number of home treatments listed below.

Eye Protection

Because of the weakness and paralysis in the muscles of the affected part of the face, some people may experience problems in shutting the eye completely or in blinking. The affected eye may lose lubrication because of a problem in tear production. One good way to address this is to use an eye patch to safeguard the eye from any type of harm particularly if the eye does not completely shut.  At night during sleep, it is best to wear an eye patch to help you get some sleep and to obviously protect the eye. Other remedies for shutting the affected eye include taping it closed or by closing it from time to time with your finger. When going outdoors, you can wear sunglasses to shield your eye from the sun. Applying ointment or eye drops to lubricate and protect your eye helps address discomfort to your drying eye and helps clean out harmful foreign materials.

Heat Therapy

Symptoms of Bell’s palsy may be relieved by applying heat therapy to your face. You can use heated gel packs or a heating pad set to a low setting that can soothe the weak and swollen nerves to dispel the pain.   A wet, warn washcloth applied on the affected part of the face can also provide some relief. Bell’ palsy patients who feel pain behind their affected ear can find relief with the aforementioned heat therapy applied on that specific site. After the application of heat therapy, massaging the affected area may improve blood flow to it.

Physical Therapy

Getting physical therapy on the affected part of your face can lead to the stimulation of the problematic nerve and help maintain or better muscle tone.  Furthermore, besides improving circulation, when you massage the affected muscles in your face, the muscles can be soothed and relaxed. A therapist can recommend exercises for the facial muscles which can be done at home in order to preserve the tone of those muscles.

Vitamin Therapy

Vitamin therapy for Bell’s palsy is in lessening the duration of the paralysis.

Vitamin B-12 (Cobalamine)

This vitamin is important in the preservation of biological function. Cobalamine is vital for the body’s metabolic process as well as for the development of your central nervous system and the production of red blood cells. The effect of Vitamin B-12 on the nervous system can be an important factor in the treatment of Bell’s palsy. Bell’s palsy patients can find relief from their facial paralysis by taking the right amounts of vitamin B-12 every day. Regular vitamin B-12 intake can likewise lead to the improvement of the integrity of the facial nerve.

Vitamin B-1 (Thiamine)

Bell’s palsy patients can experience temporary facial paralysis that can last a month to up to six months. With the intake of thiamine, the duration of the paralysis can be reduced substantially. One study reports that three subjects with Bell’s palsy given injections of vitamin B-12 exhibited diminished facial paralysis symptoms after just a few days or up to a few weeks after treatment.  Furthermore, thiamine has shown to prevent the development of far worse symptoms of Bell’s palsy. You need to talk to your doctor before boosting your vitamin B1 intake to your daily therapeutic regimen.

Vitamin B-6 (Pyridoxine)

Pyridoxine is used by the body to turn the food you digest into glucose – glucose is the body’s primary source of energy. One other important role of vitamin B-6 is to assist the nervous system into functioning optimally which is what a person suffering from Bell’s palsy needs. Pyridoxine is very important in healing the facial nerve in people experiencing Bell’s palsy.