Bell's palsy is the common name for a condition in which paralysis strikes the seventh cranial nerve, which controls much of the face. Only one side of the face is affected. Symptoms usually come on suddenly and painlessly, and are first noticed as a droop in one corner of the mouth and an inability to smile properly. Other symptoms may include drooling, an inability to close the eye on the same side, tearing, impairment of taste, and occasionally pain. While anyone can develop Bell's palsy, it occurs most often in pregnant women and people who have diabetes, hypertension, or a respiratory infection.
Conventional treatment for Bell's palsy currently involves corticosteroid drugs (such as prednisone) and sometimes the anti-viral drug acyclovir. However, according to a review published in 2002, there is no reliable evidence that either treatment provides any benefit. 1,2
Useful supportive measures for Bell's palsy include patching the affected eye at night and using artificial tears. Surgery or electrical stimulation of the nerve are used rarely.
Note: Medical evaluation is essential because, in rare cases, Bell's palsy may be caused by an underlying condition that requires specific treatment, such as a tumor.
Proposed Natural Treatments for Bell's Palsy
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves breathing 100% oxygen at increased pressure. It is used both by conventional and alternative practitioners. A placebo-controlled study
Many alternative practitioners recommend the use of injected
Last reviewed April 2009 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
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