Bell’s palsy

We want to share a recent success story, not just to give ourselves a little pat on our backs but also to let you know about the power of acupuncture.

A man came in with Bell’s palsy, which is a condition that causes temporary weakness or paralysis of the muscles of the face. Usually only one side is affected.

How does Bell’s palsy happen?

It can occur when the nerve that controls the muscles of the face becomes inflamed, swollen or compressed. It causes one side of the face to either droop or become stiff. The main things that are noticeable are the drooping mouth, so not being able to smile and the eye not able to close or open.

Other signs and symptoms of Bell’s palsy include:

  • drooling
  • difficulty eating and drinking
  • an inability to make facial expressions, such as smiling or frowning
  • facial weakness
  • muscle twitches in the face
  • dry eye and mouth
  • headache
  • sensitivity to sound
  • irritation of the eye on the involved side

Our patient had a drooping mouth and was not able to close his eye. What bothered him the most was that when he spoke he was hard to understand.  As a public speaker this was difficult.

Luckily he came fairly soon after it happened. He was only in London for about three weeks before flying back home. We suggested he come for 3 treatments a week, which he was able to do. For 1 week he came every other day.

Because of his frequent visits, after the first week there was already a noticeable difference. By the end of his treatments he could talk normally and he could close his eye. There was still a little drooping of the corner of his mouth but if you didn’t know he had Bell’s palsy, you wouldn’t have guessed by looking at him.

He was amazed at the results and very pleased at this significant improvement.

Bell’s palsy in Chinese medicine

From a Chinese medicine perspective, what happens is that wind affects our body. In this case it affects the nerve that controls the face, potentially causing the symptoms described above.

What does it mean that wind affects the body? When it is hot, or you are feeling hot and say you are driving with the window of your car rolled down and the wind blowing in your face. This is actually quite a classic example of how Bell’s Palsy can come about. Despite the warmth of your body,, the wind cools it down which also restricts the blood flow into your face and neck. You could end up just getting a stiff neck or in the worst case, Bells Palsy.

How to avoid it

So try and avoid sitting in a cold draft, or freezing air conditioning, especially when the weather is warm and you are wearing less. Have a light, summer scarf handy to cover your neck and lower part of your face.

If you or anyone you know has Bell’s Palsy, let them begin acupuncture as soon as possible. It will heal much quicker that way.

Example of before and after Bell’s palsy