Please note that what follows is not a prescription–I am not a doctor–it is a report of what worked for me during my three-week engagement with Bell’s palsy. After two weeks, I was nearly 90% healed, with a wee bit of muscle loss remaining on one side of my mouth. After three weeks, 100% fine.
History: I’m 54, an author/publisher/community volunteer and lay-healer. I’ve had insulin dependent diabetes for about seven years and chronic neck pain for a much longer time than that. For over twenty years I’ve experienced pain in the facial nerve on the left side of my face when I’m out in a cold wet wind. Before its onset the morning after Thanksgiving, I never had Bell’s palsy. Two days before Thanksgiving, I noticed a cold sore in the corner of my mouth. I don’t usually have cold sores. Without any treatment, the cold sore was gone in about an hour. On Thanksgiving day, I went for a twenty minute walk without a hat. That Maine day was cold and snowy and windy.
When the palsy began, my lip felt swollen, but didn’t look that way. I couldn’t purse my lips normally, but I didn’t think much of it. My lip felt the way it does when I’m coming out of novacaine–not numb, but huge and uncontrollable. (Note: I’d had dental work a couple of months before this. I think the dentist injected novacaine (Lidocaine?) in that “hinge” between my left upper and lower wisdom teeth. If I’m remembering right, the novacaine didn’t take and he gave me another injection.) Over the next three days the palsy began to come on. I didn’t have a huge droop. However, I couldn’t move/control the muscles on the left side of my face at all. I was unable to smile at all on the left side and I couldn’t close my left eye all the way. Off and on, my glands and lymph nodes in my neck and face and under my jaw swelled painfully. And my facial nerves (the seventh cranial?) were inflamed as well.
The day I realized what was going on, I scoured the Internet for information. I was particularly interested in what folks who actually had had Bell’s palsy were saying. From all the treatments that were mentioned, I intuitively selected what I would begin with, and then I evolved from there. I did not use allopathic drugs of any kind (eg. steroids, prednizone. Nor did I ever consider using them.) After speaking with people in my town, and consulting my own best wisdom, here’s what I came up with. I’ve starred* what feels like it’s done the most good.
1) acupuncture (plus laser light) –helpful, but painful. Less painful when points used were not on the head, ear or face.
2) chiropractic–Our chiropractor’s highly skilled, and he was gentle, yet the adjustments he made early on (the third day) resulted in a lot of pain.
3) *Reiki–very helpful and soothing. The intention was to increase circulation, while at the same time, to calm the inflamed facial nerves.
4) Vitamin B-12 shots I gave myself in the muscle of my thigh each day, 1cc. Now I’m tapering off. Make sure someone shows you how to do this so you don’t hit a blood vessel. This was helpful, though I can’t tell for sure how helpful, considering all else I did.
5) *facial massage–first gently and then more vigorously–this, several times a day. In addition I puckered and smiled and raised my eyebrows (even though I had to lift the left side of my face manually.
6) frequent applications of Young’s Living Oils, in particular *Thieves and Pain Away. (Young’s Living Oils is located in Payson, Utah. They’re one of the best essential oil companies around) I also used *geranium and juniper from another fairly good company. Also, plenty of vitamins and “green” from Young’s.
7) tinctures: antiviral and nerve soother, *St. Johnswort; to help with inflammation and mucous drainage (I still have waves of gland/lymph swelling on the left side), *Echinacea with Goldenseal; to calm the painful nerves and also to calm the rest of me, *skullcap.
8) *a teaspoon each of raw honey and organic apple cider vinegar mixed into a cup of water–this for general wellbeing and to reduce mucus. As with the B-12 shots, can’t be sure, but I sensed this was very helpful.
9) I ate lightly to leave my body energy to heal the palsy.
10) Once in a while, I used warm ginger tea compresses to increase circulation, and I drank ginger tea.
11) I visualized my face back to normal and asked friends not to fret over me, but to send me healing energy. I also did this for myself.
12) As for my eye, when it wouldn’t close, I used Duolube at night to protect my cornea and Bion teardrops at least every hour during the day. During walks in the Maine winter, I now wear ski goggles, also a fleece hood and plenty of scarves to cover my cheek, ear and neck.
I hope this was helpful. If you adopt this regimen or any variation thereof, and heal quickly, please let me know. How wonderful if, from all the treatments people adopt, we could find one we could share that works consistently. As always, I invite you to tell your own caregiving/caregetting story on our site. These times call to us to reach out to one another. Doing so, we comfort and inspire.