Bell’s palsy is a form of facial paralysis resulting from a dysfunction of the cranial nerve VII (the facial nerve) causing an inability to control facial muscles on the affected side.
Symptoms appear suddenly and are at their worst about 48 hours after they start. They can range from mild to severe and include
• Drooping eyelid or corner of mouth
• Dry eye or mouth
• Excessive tearing in the eye
• Impaired ability to taste
Pathology of Bell’s Palsy
• Bell’s palsy occurs due to a malfunction of the facial nerve (VII cranial nerve), which controls the muscles of the face. Facial palsy is typified by inability to control movement in the facial muscles. The paralysis is of the infranuclear/lower motor neuron type.
• It is thought that as a result of inflammation of the facial nerve, pressure is produced on the nerve where it exits the skull within its bony canal, blocking the transmission of neural signals or damaging the nerve. Patients with facial palsy for which an underlying cause can be found are not considered to have Bell’s palsy per se. Possible causes include tumor, meningitis, stroke, diabetes mellitus, head trauma and inflammatory diseases of the cranial nerves (sarcoidosis, brucellosis, etc.). In these conditions, the neurologic findings are rarely restricted to the facial nerve. Babies can be born with facial palsy. In a few cases, bilateral facial palsy has been associated with acute HIV infection.
• In some research the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) has been identified in a majority of cases diagnosed as Bell’s palsy.
Causes of Bell’s Palsy
It is thought that inflammation develops around the facial nerve as it passes through the skull from the brain. The inflammation may squash (compress) the nerve as it passes through the skull. The nerve then partly, or fully, stops working until the inflammation goes. If the nerve stops working, the muscles that the nerve supplies also stop working.
The cause of the inflammation is not known but, in most cases, it is probably due to a viral infection. There is some evidence that the cold sore (herpes simplex) virus or the chickenpox (varicella-zoster) virus causes most cases of Bell’s palsy.
In some cases, the ‘re-activated’ virus is thought to cause inflammation around the facial nerve to cause Bell’s palsy.
Complication of Bell’s Palsy
In majority of cases, the prognosis is very good. Complete facial paralysis or starting medications very late are commonly associated with complications.
• Permanent contractures and spasms of the facial muscles
• Persistent loss in taste sensations
• Chronic eye (corneal) infections
• ‘Crocodile tear syndrome’ in which tears are involuntarily shed while eating
Homeopathic treatment of Bell’s Palsy
When one side of a person’s face becomes paralyzed, especially after being exposed to wind or cold air, this remedy may be helpful. A feeling of fear and agitation and a sudden onset of symptoms are strong indications for Aconitum napellus.
This remedy may be indicated in Bell’s palsy when the facial muscles on one side are stiff, and grimacing or twitching occurs in other parts of the face. People who need this remedy are often excitable, with senses that are overacute. Many people who need this remedy have deep anxiety about their health.
right-sided; dilated pupils, flushed face; grimace; pain comes and goes quickly; pressure, stabbing pain comes and goes in a few seconds; cycles every few seconds. Facial neuralgia with twitching muscles and flushed face.
Facial paralysis (usually left-sided) that starts after exposure to wind, and is accompanied by chilliness or overwhelming weakness, suggests a need for this remedy. The person’s mouth may look distorted, and completely closing one of the eyes often is impossible.
This remedy can be helpful when facial paralysis has developed gradually (most often on the right side). Opening and closing the mouth can be difficult, and the person may accidentally bite the tongue or the inside of the cheek. The person may be weak but restless, and tends to feel best when keeping warm.
One-sided facial paralysis, with pain or tension felt in the other cheek, especially when opening the mouth, suggests a need for this remedy. Weakness, dizziness, or numbness are other indications. The person may feel worse from lack of sleep or from being emotionally upset.
This remedy may be indicated when a person has one-sided facial paralysis that makes it difficult to speak. Dulcamara is indicated in many conditions that develop after exposure to cold and dampness, especially after chills in rainy weather. People who need this remedy are often inclined toward sinusitis, allergies, and back pain.
One-sided facial paralysis (more often on the left) in a person who is irritable, impatient, and hypersensitive to odors, sounds, and light may indicate a need for this remedy. Cramping and constricting feelings may be felt, and problems may be worse from cold.
This remedy may be indicated for painless paralysis of the face, with facial distortion that raiWashington
ebrow or creates a “haughty” look. The person may also experience numbness in the lips and cheeks, or other body parts.
suffering look on face. Intense itching; tension, tearing on left side of cheek; facial neuralgia and toothache; mostly right-sided; shooting or eclectic pains.
Exercises to Help Bell’s Palsy
Facial exercises and physical therapy for Bell’s palsy help to increase muscle strength and to regain facial coordination from this temporary facial paralysis. Most exercises should be done three or four times a day in short sessions, with up to 30 repetitions per exercise.
Before you begin the facial exercises, it’s important to warm up and stimulate your muscles first.To correctly do these facial exercises, experts suggest sitting in front of a mirror so that you can clearly see your face and watch your muscle movements.
• Step 1: Begin by trying to move every part of your face slowly and gently.
• Step 2: Use your fingers to gently lift your eyebrows. One side will lift higher than the other, but don’t apply too much force to the side that is drooping.
• Step 3: Using your fingers, gently massage the different parts of your face, including your forehead, nose, cheeks, and mouth.
Nose and Cheek Exercises
After warming up, you can work on the area of your cheeks and nose. This area is important since any stiffness or weak muscles in this zone can affect the strength of the entire face as you recover.
• Step 1: Using your fingers, gently push up the skin next to your nose on the affected side while trying to wrinkle your nose.
• Step 2: Try to scrunch up your face, focusing on the cheeks and nose.
• Step 3: Flare your nostrils and try to take some deep breaths through your nose. You can cover your unaffected nostril to force the affected muscles to work harder.
• Step 4: Puff up your cheeks and blow the air out. Repeat this 10 times.
The next area that you can work on is your mouth, including your lips and tongue. Many people with Bell’s palsy find it difficult to eat and drink since muscle movements are limited. Some also find that they dribble or aren’t able to control their saliva, which can be stressful.
These exercises for Bell’s palsy can help you to regain better control of your mouth. You can repeat them 30 times each, up to 4 times a day.
• Step 1: Open your mouth as if you are going to smile and then close it. Then do the opposite and practice frowning.
• Step 2: Gently pucker your lips and let them relax.
• Step 3: Try lifting each corner of your mouth individually, one at a time. You can use your fingers to help lift up the affected side.
• Step 4: Stick out your tongue and then aim it down toward your chin.
People with Bell’s palsy may have difficulty closing their affected eye, which can be bothersome and makes it difficult to sleep. These facial exercises help you to regain control and function of the muscles surrounding the eyes.
• Step 1: Practice raising your eyebrows up and down. You can use your fingers to lift the affected eyebrow.
• Step 2: Look down and close your eye while gently massaging the eyelid and eyebrow.
• Step 3: Alternate opening your eyes wide and then gently squeezing them shut.