Having Bell’s palsy? acupuncture can help.

Bell’s palsy is a rare condition and about 1 in 5000 people in the UK develop the condition each year. Bell’s palsy is facial nerve paralysis caused by facial nerve inflammation with unknown cause. Virus infection is a possible cause. The symptoms include acute unilateral paralysis of all facial muscles. Numbness and pain may be present. They are from mild muscle weakness on side of the face to completely loss of the facial muscle movements of that side. It could affect the eyelid and mouth and make them difficult to open. Other symptoms include irritation of the affected eye, pain underneath the affected ear, increased sensitivity to sound or ringing in the affected ear, drooling from the mouth on the affected side of the face, dryness of the mouth, changed sense of taste, pain around the jaw, difficulty of eating and drinking, impaired speech and headache, dizziness. There is no specific treatment for Bell’s palsy. In most cases of Bell’s palsy, the symptoms will begin to improve within two to three weeks. 70% of patients recover with or without treatments. 30% of patients will continue to have facial muscle weakness in the affected side of the face. 20% will have long term complications including speech problems, reduced sense of taste and permanent tension of the facial muscles. Corticostroids are commonly used to reduce swelling of facial nerve. Acupuncture is used to treat Bell’s palsy in China. How acupuncture help you? Acupuncture can help reduce inflammation by releasing vascular and immunomodulatory factors; acupuncture also help increase local microcirculation by relaxing vascular smooth muscles; acupuncture can stimulate facial nerve and muscles to help nerve recovery.

Many recent researches showed that acupuncture could be effective. For example, Zhou ZL et al studied acupuncture in treating Bell’s palsy. They treated 68 patients using acupuncture and 53 of them were cured. Another example is from Wang Y and Yang J. They studied effects of acupuncture on different stage of Bell’s palsy according to their onset time: active stage, resting stage and recovery stage. They found that acupuncture is effective for all three stages of Bell’s palsy. The best effect is seen in active stage which means the earlier it is treated the better effect it could get. Furthermore, Liang F et al treated 439 patients with Bell’s palsy using acupuncture and moxibustion in four different hospitals in China. They found that acupuncture plus moxibustion had better effects for patients with Bell’s palsy. From thes researches, we can see acupuncture is an treatment option for patients with Bell’s palsy.


Zhou ZL et al Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Xue Bao (2012) 10: 997-1002

Wang Y and Yang J Zhongguo Zhen Jiu (2010) 30:23-6

Liang F et al J Tradit Chin Med (2006) 26:3-7

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