Bells Palsy

Chinese Medicine has been used for thousands of years in facial paralysis.

Bell’s palsy is a type of facial paralysis that results in an inability to control facial muscles on one side of the face. It may be mild or severe in nature.  Symptoms involve a loss of muscular function in the face, weakness or twitching of the affected area. Generally, Bell’s palsy is only one-sided and rarely affects both sides. It must be differentiated from stroke, as stroke is a life-threatening condition. 

 

Western medicine considers Bell’s palsy to be caused by trauma to the seventh cranial nerve.  It is more commonly seen in those suffering from diabetes or in those recovering from a viral infection such as the herpes virus, influenza-B or after the Ebstein-Barr virus.  It is believed that nerve inflammation causes its sheath to be compressed in the narrow pathway between the bones through which the nerve trajects from the brain to the face. Hence, post virally in cases where nerve inflammation is present, Bell’s palsy is more common. However, the exact reason for Bell’s palsy is still unclear. Prednisolone hormone is commonly used in the treatment of Bell’s palsy.

From a Chinese medicine perspective, the reason for manifestation and the treatment of this condition vary greatly from the western worldview.  Chinese medicine treats any clinical presentation from within its own holistic and integral approach.  The treatment protocol is strictly governed by the detailed diagnostic process that emerged of its own paradigm. Chinese medicine does not treat a disease as such; it treats people with particular patterns that manifest in specific ways within their individual circumstances. It isn't the Bell’s palsy that we treat. Rather it is the person, the whole person and their unique manifestation that we treat. This is how Chinese medicine has operated successfully for millennia.  

 

Chinese medicine sees facial paralysis of this type as being caused by an external source, in the form of external wind and cold, whether it is air conditioner or naturally occurring wind. External wind attacks the channels of the face and disturbs the natural smooth flow of energy (Qi) and blood. It is precisely that which is treated within the Chinese medicine perspective. The body is seen to have its own unique internal nature.  Like a landscape of rivers through the land, so is the flow of Qi within the channels of the body. Disturb the river and you affect all that lays in and around its path.  Chinese medicine focuses on the expulsion of the invading pathogen that impedes channel flow, as well as the restrengthening of deficient meridians. Thus, the channel system and all that depends upon it is restored to full health. Chinese medicine looks at the post-illness stage with just as much rigor. It works not only to correct the present problems but also to prevent future illness.

 

It is best to get treatment as close as possible to the onset of Bell’s palsy. The faster Qi and blood flow are normalized in the face, the quicker the recovery.  In my own clinical experience, the longer the condition is present, the slower it responds to treatment. 

 

Acupuncture is generally the first point of call.  Very fine, single-use, sterile needles are inserted into specific body

points. The selected points, according to Chinese medicine, have a direct effect on particular facial areas. Points are carefully chosen to enable the best possible response in the shortest time and with the least number of points possible.   

Herbal Medicine is used in chronic cases, where paralysis has been present for some time, or when the body responds slower to treatment than anticipated. This can be due to deeper internal factors – factors such as the deficiencies of the immune system which enabled the entry of a damaging pathogen in the first place.  

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