Acupuncture for Bell’s Palsy

Bell’s palsy, or a paralysis of facial muscles of one side of the face, often appears with little warning.  Sometimes only after the symptoms appear do patients remember a headache or sinusitis like issues that happened before the paralysis.  Droopy facial muscles around the mouth and eyes, tingling in the tongue, even inability to close the eyelid are common result from Bell’s palsy.  It can feel painful and/or numb.  The cause is unclear according to western medicine. Most agree there is a viral cause perhaps the same virus that causes cold sores.  Happily, most people recover on their own from Bell’s palsy, but it can take 2 months for pain and droopy facial muscles to be eliminated.
Acupuncture is an effective tool to decrease Bell’s palsy, it has been researched and proven.

What Is Acupuncture for Bell’s Palsy Treatment Like?

It feels like I have more strength in my mouth, less droopy“, a patients said as five, fine acupuncture needles from his cheeks.

Acupuncture is sending a message to the brain to tell the facial massages to tighten up, it’s like doing mini sit ups in the cheeks.  It makes them more toned and increases circulation.  The procedure takes about 30 minutes, after the initial intake time to gather information.  Acupuncture needles especially made for the face can be used for a painless insertion.  These needles may also be use with points on his arms, legs, and back of the head to eliminate wind.

acupuncture to abdomen
What is Wind?

Chinese medicine, a 4,000 year old science, has used nature to explain balance and lack of balance in the body for its history.  In the case of Bell’s palsy, exterior wind is usually the cause for the symptoms.  It can be an exposure to the elements that an otherwise healthy system would manage just fine.  But in the case of Bell’s palsy, the body was already weakened and could not handle the exposure.  The liver, in Chinese medicine, is responsible for handling wind exposure.  In the case above, years of a stressful job weakened the body’s liver and its function of controlling the free flow of Qi and eliminating wind was compromised, it allowed the external wind to invade inside the body.  This internal wind caused paralysis of the facial muscles.

How Do We Eliminate Wind?

Ever spent time on the top of a mountain and been exposed to cold, cutting wind?  What was is natural response? To take cover and try to keep warm, right?  This how internal wind  is treated as well.  In addition to choosing acupuncture points that have the function of expelling wind, we may warm the points with moxibustion  and advise the patient to avoid exposure to wind by covering the effected muscles with a scarf.  Acupuncturists look at the underlying issue, the issue of the liver that allowed the wind to invade and Qi to stagnate. Acupuncture works to soothe and relax the liver.  Stress reduction techniques like tai chi and meditation and returning acupuncture visits may also be recommended.
At the next visit, one week later, the same patient reported a decrease in tearing of his eyes and numbness to his lips.  Overall he was more comfortable and less numb.  And, bonus, he noticed a decrease in feeling stressed for the whole week!

Looking for a mediation technique to get started?

Try this Square Breath Technique with Kerry Boyle, Doctor of Acupuncture

Consult the acupuncturists at Integrative Acupuncture to try acupuncture for Bell’s palsy or find an acupuncturist in the US in our National Directory.