Natural Remedies for Bell's Palsy

In This Article

Bell's palsy is a type of temporary paralysis that affects the facial muscles. The condition is believed to be related to nerve damage and can be treated with medication or alternative approaches. Most cases will go away on their own, but treatment may help symptoms resolve faster.

Person's face with Bell's palsy
Koshy Johnson / Oxford Scientific / Getty Images

Symptoms

Bell's palsy symptoms typically appear suddenly and reach their peak about 48 hours after they start. In most cases, only one side of the face becomes paralyzed. The condition may vary in severity, from mild muscle weakness to complete paralysis.

Facial distortion is common among people with Bell's palsy. Symptoms may also include:

  • Twitching
  • Excessive tearing in the affected eye
  • Dry eye
  • Drooping of one eyelid
  • Drooping in the corner of the mouth
  • Drooling
  • Dry mouth
  • Impairment of taste

Causes

Bell's palsy is generally the name given when there is no clear cause for a facial nerve palsy. However, scientists suspect that a viral infection—such as herpes simplex (the virus that causes cold sores. or herpes zoster—may trigger swelling and inflammation in the facial nerves, which in turn may cause Bell's palsy to set in.

Facial nerve palsy is also the most common cranial neuropathy associated with Lyme disease (and sometimes the only symptom), with studies suggesting anywhere from 10% to 50% of Lyme patients experiencing this. 

Risk Factors

The following people may be at an increased risk for Bell's palsy:

  • Pregnant women
  • People with diabetes
  • People suffering from a cold or flu

This condition is most common between the ages of 15 and 60, but it can happen at any age.

Treatment

In treating Bell's palsy, doctors focus on the source of the nerve damage. This may include the use of anti-viral medications, as well as the use of anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce the swelling believed to be associated with Bell's palsy.

A 2013 Clinical Practice Guideline recommends:

  • Oral steroids within the first 72 hours
  • Antiviral therapy for some cases along with steroids, but not alone
  • Eye protection in cases where an eyelid won't close properly

Even without treatment, most cases improve on their own within two weeks. In rare cases marked by extremely severe nerve damage, however, nerve fibers may be irreversibly impaired.

Natural Remedies

Very few scientific studies have explored the use of alternative medicine in the treatment of Bell's palsy. However, preliminary research suggests that the following therapies may benefit Bell's palsy patients:

  • Biofeedback: Biofeedback is a practice that involves learning to control vital functions that are usually unconscious (such as breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure) through the use of specialized electronic devices. Some studies have suggested that biofeedback, alone or combined with facial exercises, may promote recovery from Bell's palsy, but results have been inconsistent. A 2018 study found that facial biofeedback rehabilitation may prevent people with Bell's palsy from later developing something called oral-ocular synkinesis, in which smiling causes one eye to close.
  • Acupuncture: This needle-based Chinese therapy may help lessen facial paralysis and facial disability in people with Bell's palsy, according to a review of the scientific literature published in 2015. However, reviewers concluded that existing studies were hampered by poor design and that the evidence is insufficient to recommend this treatment.

A Word From Verywell

Due to the limited research, it's too soon to recommend natural remedies for Bell's palsy. It's also important to note that self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. If you're considering using natural remedies for Bell's palsy (or any other condition), make sure to consult your doctor first.

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