Bell’s Palsy is manageable with holistic strategies. Illustrations by Syalima Das
“I was unaware of my condition until my sister noticed that the left half of my face had begun to droop,” Hema Shivaji Manthale, 34, of Latur, Maharashtra, tells Happiest Health.
Manthale’s concerns grew when her drooping affected eating, speaking, and drinking. For instance, the water she consumed would drip from the left side of her mouth.
As the spouse of a soldier and frequently the sole caregiver for their two young children, Manthale was worried that the issue would eventually become a permanent disability. She rushed to see a neurologist. She was diagnosed with Bell’s paralysis, which causes an area of the face to become paralyzed.
The root causes The causes that are inherent to HTML0.
“The causes of Bell’s Palsy remain unidentified. But, there may be inherent triggers like trauma, tumours congenital disorders, such as autoimmune diseases,” says Dr Khushbu Goel, neurologist at Manipal Hospital, Delhi. She gives a list of reasons that cause compression of the cranial nerves. These include seven cranial nerves that control facial muscles.
“The nerve can get inflamed or damaged due to viral infections like herpes zoster, HIV or bacterial infection,” she declares. Additionally, those with chronic health issues like diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and respiratory infections and pregnant women suffering from pre-eclampsia (a condition that causes an increase in blood pressure) could be in danger, according to Dr. Goel.
The disorders enlarge the nerve pathways, thus hindering the transmission of signals by the nerves. In the end, the facial muscles become weaker, which causes drooping that manifests as Bell’s Palsy or idiopathic facial paralysis. As per the US National Institute of Health, Bell’s Palsy is the most frequent facial paralysis. It usually affects only one aspect of the face. In rare cases, it could be affecting both sides.
The symptoms of this condition are usually rapidly progressing, appearing in a matter of a week. The weak muscles cause the affected eyelids or lips to close. Drooling and slurred voices follow. There are times when the patient experiences difficulty with taste and smell and irritability when hearing noises, excessive liquids, watery eyes, and an earache.
A recent survey shows Bell’s Palsy is shared across all genders and age groups. But, a higher rate occurs in the middle (in the late 40s) group and is less in children.
Dr. Goel states that a swift medical treatment and intervention that consists of steroids, antiviral, as well as antibacterial medicines can assist the person to recover in 6-8 weeks. Additionally, physiotherapy that involves exercises for the face muscles, such as making the eyebrows higher or frowning, as well as massages, may assist in recovery.
Researchers are also looking at different ways to treat the disease. Biofeedback and electrical stimulation are among the latest treatment methods that are secure and effective in treating Bell’s Palsy.
In one study, 196 patients diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy early received Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) to stimulate muscles and nerves beneath the skin to trigger motion in the affected muscles. Researchers observed statistically significant improvements in the health of the participants.
Another study has shown that children do not require steroids to heal from Bell’s Palsy.
Her medical history did not indicate any critical health issue that could cause the Palsy. However, she did discover that a handful of her relatives were affected by the condition.
The holistic approach
One of Manthale’s close relatives recommended that she undergo Ayurveda therapy with modern medicines for more rapid relief.
Doctor Vijay Kumar Srivastava, a professor from the Banaras Hindu University’s Faculty of Ayurveda, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, throws an insight into how Ayurveda helps Bell’s Palsy. He says the condition is known as Perdita, caused by the flow obstruction through the element of air (vata dosha) within the nerve system. “In addition to the blockage in the nerve pathways (srotas or nadis), an unhealthy lifestyle, old age, and malnourishment could be other contributing factors for Bell’s palsy,” he says.
Ayurveda is a method to bring the disturbed air element back to an ideal state and to improve facial muscles. The treatment program involves lifestyle changes (diet and exercises), Eli, nomination (panchakarma and oil massages), and medications.
Dr. Srivastava praises the advantages of nasyam, which involves administering nasyam oils via the nose. He claims it is because “nasal therapy plays a crucial part in the treatment of this condition and is among the most effective methods of treatment for patients whose brain or nervous system is afflicted. The medication is absorbed by the brain in a short time and works upon the brain’s .”.
In addition to the therapy, pathyam and food restrictions can be helpful in the process.
Best of both
Dr. Santosh Balode from the Siddha Ayurveda Hospital in Hyderabad has put Manthale on Ayurvedic treatments and lifestyle changes. “We advised her to not consume spicy, oily food items, as well as non-vegetarian. The doctor also instructed her to do simple facial exercises such as chewing and puffing the cheeks.” claims Dr. Balode.
Additionally, according to Dr. Srivastava, avoiding prolonged exposure to extreme cold, ensuring good blood pressure, and getting enough adequate sleep can reduce the risk of developing Bell’s Palsy.
The success rate for recovery depends on prompt medical advice and the patient’s determination, as per Dr. Balode. “My doctor’s words of comfort provided me with confidence and a sense of optimism. This helped me heal in one months,” says Manthale.