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  • Writer's pictureAku Energija

Acupuncture and TCM for Bell’s palsy

Bell’s palsy is a neurological disorder that manifests as a paralysis of the face. This disorder often affects only one side of the face. Bell’s palsy is thought to be a result of damage to the facial nerve that controls the muscles on one side of the face, which then causes those muscles to droop. People with Bell’s palsy can experience difficulty with multiple facial functions including closing their eyes, eating, smiling, and their speech can also become slurred.

This condition is often a shock, as it comes on overnight. The majority of patients wake with the facial muscles in paralysis. Most patients either have no symptoms beforehand, or they miss the warning signs, which are subtle and can include neck pain, pain behind the ear, or pain in the back of the head. The condition may cause considerable emotional distress because of its characteristic appearance drooping appearance around the eye and mouth thus adversely affecting self-esteem and life experience. [Read more: 7 Habits For Managing Chronic Illness]

Bell’s palsy is most common in young adults, the elderly, diabetics, and pregnant women, but it can affect anyone. It is seen in approximately 2 to 3 people per 10,000. It may resolve by itself within a few months with severe cases taking up to one year. Unfortunately, up to 10% of patients will experience some degree of permanent paralysis. Conventional treatment includes corticosteroids, antiviral agents, massage, painkillers, botulinum toxin, and surgery.

TCM for Bell’s palsy

Bell’s palsy is known as “Zhong Feng” in Chinese Medicine, which translates to “Wind Attack”. “Wind” is a type of pathogen that acts quickly. It could enter the body and attack different parts of the body, in the case of Bell’s palsy, the face meridians are the most affected. This results in Qi and Blood energy stagnation which block the signal of controlling the muscles.

While it is a sudden pattern that correlates to modern theories of pathogenic viral attack, according to TCM theory, one of the main implications of the condition is an underlying Qi (a person’s inherent energy) deficiency. That means while the “Wind pathogen” might be a stronger attacker, the patient’s immunity might also be too weak to fight in the first place. [Read more: Strengthen your Wei Qi for better immunity] [Read more: TCM vs Western Medicine]

Treating Bell’s palsy with Chinese Medicine and acupuncture

TCM therapy has shown effectiveness in treating the condition both empirically and within clinical trials. A Turkish research team conducted a clinical trial and found that acupuncture treatment is effective in improving Bell’s palsy sequelae. Acupuncture can be used as a safe method in the treatment of Bell’s palsy sequelae. [1]

The principle of treatment for Bell’s palsy is to eliminate the Wind pathogen and promote the movement of Qi and Blood by expelling stagnation in the vessels and meridians. Consistent acupuncture treatments (usually recommended once or twice per week), can help soothe a patient and expedite resolution of paralysis, and enhance nerve function.

Chinese herbs that will expel the wind and cold from the body and stop headaches include wild angelica, sage, and cinnamon twigs. There are many other Chinese herbs that can also be used to treat facets of Bell’s palsy affecting the nervous system.

Massage can also help ease the symptoms of Bell’s palsy. Gently massaging the affected areas of the face, or practicing daily facial exercises can help the condition.

Some patients with Bell’s palsy may want to take several weeks of recovery time in which they may choose to stay at home and take some time off from their normally rigorous daily routines.

Reference:

  1. Canan Ertemoğlu Öksüz, Ahmet Kalaycıoğlu, Özlem Uzun, Şahi Nur Kalkışım, Nihat Burak Zihni, Ahmet Yıldırım, Cavit Boz, The Efficacy of Acupuncture in the Treatment of Bell's Palsy Sequelae, Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies, Volume 12, Issue 4, 2019, Pages 122-130, ISSN 2005-2901, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jams.2019.03.001.

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