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Bell’s palsy acupuncture Chinese medicine treatment

General introductionBell's palsy

Bell’s palsy is a paralysis of the facial nerve resulting in inability to control facial muscles on the affected side. It is a peripheral facial paralysis rather than the central nervous system. Several conditions can cause a facial paralysis, However, if no specific cause can be identified (such as brain tumor, stroke, or Lyme disease), the condition is called as Bell’s palsy.

The onset of Bell’s palsy generally come on quickly, often in a matter of hours or overnight, and there may be pain behind/below the ear.

Main symptom:

Paralysis or weakness on one side of the face, along with a sagging eyebrow and difficulty closing the eye.

Other possible symptoms:

  •  Numbness of the face;
  •  Difficulty in speaking;
  •  Loss of taste in the front portion of the tongue;
  •  Dryness or watering of the affected eye, and a turned out lower eyelid;
  •  Dribbling when drinking or after cleaning teeth;
  • Ear pain, especially below the ear;
  • Tearing at the affected eye;
  • Intolerance to loud noises on the affected side.

Rarely, new nerve fibres that grow back after paralysis connect to the wrong facial muscle. This can result in lasting damage, and cause one or several of the following:

  • Blinking when attempting to smile;
  • Involuntary movement of the corners of the mouth when closing the eyes;
  • Twitching;
  • Facial spasms;

Traditional Chinese medicine view of Bell’s palsy

In traditional Chinese medicine, this condition is due to “Qi” deficiency allows pathogenic wind-cold attacking the channels. This can occur when a patient is exposed to wind (e.g.sleeping near an open window, driving with the windows down, going on a boat when the winds are strong).

Often people with Bell’s palsy have a deficient immune system (possibly due to emotional stress, physically over strain, improper diet, unresolved or chronic illness). As a result, they are more vulnerable to external pathogenic factors such as bacteria or virus.

The external pathogens cause inflammation in the affected region resulting in swelling of the surrounding tissues. This swelling can then affect the normal function of the facial nerves. As a result, the facial muscles becomes lax or paralyzed.

The lack of nourishment to the local area can therefore cause symptoms of numbness and tingling, which are common signs of Qi and/or blood deficiency in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Can acupuncture and Chinese medicine treat Bell’s palsy?

Yes. In fact, acupuncture, especially electro-acupuncture has been widely used to treat bell’s palsy in China. In the acupuncture department of any Chinese medicine hospital, you will always find people have acupuncture for their bell’s palsy. It is one of the most common condition treated with acupuncture at the Chinese medicine clinics or hospitals.

Usually your doctor may prescribe medication to reduce inflammation of the facial nerve and other medication for virus. While acupuncture moxibustion or/and Chinese herbal medicine treatment can help:

  • Reduce the inflammation;
  • Prevent facial nerve from further damage;
  • Restore the function of facial nerve.

Electro-acupuncture also help to understand the severity of facial nerve damage and give right judgement of the prognosis.

When should I have Chinese medicine acupuncture for Bell’s palsy?

You should seek acupuncture TCM treatment promptly.

The severity of Bell’s palsy symptoms is depend on how much of the damage of facial nerve. Early treatment can reduce the damage to minimal and help the facial nerve to recover quickly. Usually the facial function is back to normal in the first a few weeks with treatment.

Acupuncture for bell’s palsy treatment principle:

  • expel wind;
  • invigorate Qi and blood flow;
  • nourish muscle and tendons;
  • strengthen Defensive Qi for prolonged or reoccurred cases

Acupuncture for Bell’s palsy common used points

  • Acupuncture points: SJ17, LI4, LI11, ST4, ST7
  • methods include: filiform acupuncture, electro acupuncture, cupping therapy, moxibustion

Common herbal formula for Bell’s palsy:

  • Ying Qiao San
  • Qian Zheng San

Reference

Carnie Wilson’s Disorder: Singer Treating Bell’s Palsy with Acupuncture

Effect of acupuncture in a patient with 7-year-history of Bell’s palsy.

Correlation between facial nerve functional evaluation and efficacy evaluation of acupuncture treatment for Bell’s palsy.

[Article in Chinese] Zhou ZL1, Li CX, Jiang YB, Zuo C, Cai Y, Wang R

Effectiveness of strengthened stimulation during acupuncture for the treatment of Bell palsy: a randomised controlled trial.

Xu SB1, Huang B, Zhang CY, Du P, Yuan Q, Bi GJ, Zhang GB, Xie MJ, Luo X, Huang GY, Wang W.

Herbal acupuncture point sticking combined with electroacupuncture therapy in the treatment of Bell’s palsy: a randomised controlled trial.

[Article in Chinese] Qi QH1, Ni SS2, Wang YL3, Peng K4, Qu HN2, Yang CH2, Wang J3, Xi W3