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Chinese acupuncture can help facial paralysis

 By Dr. E. Tukmachi, Clinical Director of UK ACUPUNCTURE CLINICS

What is Bell’s palsy?

Bell’s Palsy is a common neurological disease which has a clinical picture of face paralysis (the face muscle on one side drooped). It is mainly affecting one side of the face and thought to be resulted from facial nerve damage which usually controls the facial muscles. The disorder results from damage to the seventh cranial nerve, or "facial nerve" which creates  paralysis of the facial nerve. The main symptoms are the inability to lift or close one eye and the difficulty to move the facial muscles on one side of the face. It is also associated with lacrimation (eye tearing) on the affected side, distortion of taste (especially on the first 2/3 of the tongue) and numbness around the lip area (all on the affected side).  The risk incidence of Bell’s palsy is more in pregnant women, patient with flu virus, cold, respiratory illness, or diabetes. Although the cause of Bell’s palsy is unknown but it is reported that a risk factor of infections (with such as herpes simplex virus) is to trigger it..   

Many patients with facial paralysis (Bell’s palsy) experienced some significant improvements following an intensive course of acupuncture treatment as it has been reported by a Chinese research study which compared a standard Western treatment to acupuncture. The western medicine showed that Bell’s palsy is mainly caused by viral infection and  the common treatment consists of steroid , analgesia, vitamins and some physical therapies. However, the recent research study indicated that acupuncture needling usually induced a sensation called "de qi" and that would lead a great chance restore the full facial function in six months compared to use the needle which were just inserted and left them for certain period of time. Therefore, the De qi "sensations (of achiness, coolness, warmth, and tingling) should always be considered as a clinical guide for a successful acupuncture treatment.  The research study examined 317 adults with Bell's palsy who received five half-hour acupuncture treatments for four weeks.  It found that Bell’s palsy recovery (i.e facial nerves) by acupuncture was not considered as a placebo effect as 94 percent of patients who elicited de qi acupuncture  were completely recovered their facial function after six months,  but only 77 percent did in Placebo acupuncture group.

How does acupuncture treat Bell’s palsy?    

The acupuncture treats Bell’s palsy by stimulating the nervous system through the release of hormones and neurotransmitters. These biochemical mechanisms will activate the body's natural healing which promotes the physical and emotional well-being. Many research trials on Bell’s palsy indicated that acupuncture has a mechanism like the corticosteroids which may improve patient’s recoveryin acute facial palsy. We can summarize the main effects of acupuncture on Bell’s in the following points:

  1. Reduces (or sometimes eliminates) the inflammation.
  2. Increase the circulation to the facial area (or the affected part of paralysis)
  3. Speed up the healing process and improve the general health.

In Chinese Medicine, the main aim of the acupuncture in Bell’s palsy is to eliminate wind, harmonised the energy qi and blood in the Shaoyang and Yangming channels and to remove obstruction. This kind of treatment will lead to restore the facial nerve function.

The initial restoration of facial muscles can be achieved with at least four treatments within 2 weeks and then a full course of acupuncture can be designed to help the patient's facial muscles and facial nerve to regain their full functions. After the completion of treatment course, some patients will have their Bell’s palsy spontaneously resolve within a few weeks. However, in more severe cases of Bell's palsy it may take Longer to recover completely. In order to avoid any future recurrences of Bell’s palsy the patient should adopt a healthy lifestyle , eliminate any possible risk factors to undermine the immune system, to take moderate exercise and to have a balanced and nutritional diet (lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, fish, and reduced portions of red meat, poultry and dairy), and creative outlets for relieving stress. The early diagnosis of Bell’s palsy with continuous and frequent acupuncture treatment the more significant results can be achieved.

If you, or someone you know, is suffering with BELL’S PALSY (FACIAL NERVE PARALYSIS), please contact UK ACUPUNCTURE CLINIC OR the CLINICAL DIRECTOR DR. EMAD TUKMACHI OR or if you want to make an appointment or need further informations, feel free to contact us