“Bell’s Palsy is a temporary condition where the facial muscles are paralyzed or weakened due to an inflammation of the facial nerves.
Causes and Risk Factors
While the exact cause of Bell’s Palsy is unclear, the result is an inflammation of the facial nerve, which triggers reduced use of muscles on the affected side of the face. It is highly unusual for both sides of the face to be affected.
Some believe that Bell’s Palsy is the result of another condition, especially viruses such as meningitis, the common cold, chicken pox, shingles, and mononeucleosis. It has also been associated with influenza, diabetes, high blood pressure, facial injury, and Lyme Disease.
Approximately 40,000 people are diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy each year. It can strike at any age, but is less common among people ages 15 to 60 years old. With some, it’s fairly mild and has a rapid recovery. With others, it can be quite severe and never fully gain full use of the affected facial muscles.
Women who are pregnant or have just given birth, people with diabetes, or people who have an upper respiratory infection are known to be more susceptible to Bell’s Palsy.
People afflicted with Bell’s Palsy may show one ore more symptoms, including:
- Twitching on one side of the face
- Drooping of an eyelid
- Drooping of the mouth
- Excessive tearing in one eye
- Change in how things taste, especially on one side of the mouth
- Jaw discomfort and/or headache
- Ringing in an ear or hypersensitivity to sound
- Difficulty eating or drinking
A combination of therapies is usually used to treat Bell’s Palsy, including medication, physical therapy, facial massage, acupuncture, electrical stimulation of the nerve, and vitamin therapy. Medications most commonly prescribed include corticosteroids and antiviral drugs.
People experiencing milder forms of Bell’s Palsy may see improvement within two weeks of starting treatment, with a complete recover within six months.
When the eye is affected, it is usually recommended to use a lubricating eye drop to protect the surface of the eye.
Taking medications is one way-but not the only way-to decrease inflammation and the resulting pain. Other treatments include applying moist heat to the affected area, using topical natural anti-inflammatories such as ginger, turmeric, rosemary, willow bark extract, Omega-3 oils, jojoba oil, aloe vera, saw palmetto, licorice, slippery elm, lemongrass essential oil, and mint essential oil.
Some foods can contribute to inflammation, so if you experience Bell’s Palsy, consider loading your diet with foods known to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Foods you’ll want to eat are:
- Wild caught Alaskan Salmon
- Shitake mushroom
- Green tea
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Sweet Potato (which is different from a yam)
Foods you’ll want to avoid are:
- Sugars (processed, natural and raw sugars included)
- Cooking oil (except for extra virgin olive oil)
- Trans fats
- Dairy from cows
- Meat and poultry raised on a feed lot (free range is OK)
- Red meat
- Processed meats (such as lunch meats, salami, etc.)
- Refined grains such as flour
- Artificial food additives
Supplementing an anti-inflammatory diet with high doses of Vitamin B-12, Vitamin B-6, and zinc have also been known to help alleviate symptoms of Bell’s Palsy.