Waking up one morning to a half paralyzed face likely ranks at the top of any of our ‘worst day ever’ lists, but for 40,000 Americans each year, this is reality. Bell’s Palsy is an idiopathic paralysis of the face, usually causing drooping of the mouth and eyelid due to infringement on the Facial Nerve, symptoms mimic a stroke, but with no neurological impairment. (1) Due to the unknown causes of this condition, treatment options are limited, consisting usually of a course of steroids like Prednisone and in some cases an antiviral like Valacyclovir. Patients are sent home with these medications and told to ‘wait it out.’ I don’t know about you, but if half of my face was paralyzed, waiting it out would not be a prescription I would be on board with.
The root of the paralysis in Bell’s Palsy is the 7th Cranial Nerve - The Facial Nerve. This nerve travels through a narrow bony canal in the skull, beneath the ear to the muscles in the face and is responsible for facial movements such as blinking the eye, smiling and frowning, it also carries nerve impulses to the tear and salivary glands, and transmits taste sensations from the tongue. In Bell’s Palsy cases it is thought that the nerve has been subject to some sort of inflammation or impingement which disrupts the function of the nerve resulting in this paralysis and other facial deficiencies.(1) Because of the unknown etiology, or cause, of this impingement, the modern medical treatments for the disorder are rather limited in their scope and approach.
Dr. Kim Peirano, DACM, LAc is the Owner and Acupuncturist at Lion's Heart Wellness, the San Francisco Bay Area and Marin's #1 Cosmetic Acupuncturist and #1 Holistic Healer.