According To-Bell’s palsy: Ringing in relief through holistic ways , T he cause of Bell’s palsy is unknown, but modern medicine and holistic approaches may offer quick relief
By Dr Chetana BS and Seetha Lakshmi Venu
Palsy of Bell
Holistic methods can be used to treat Bell’s Palsy | Illustration by Syalima Das
I did not realize I had a condition until my sister noticed that the left half of my face had begun to droop,” Hema Shivaji Manthale, 34, from Latur, Maharashtra, tells Happiest Health.
The drooping affected Manthale’s speech, eating, and drinking. For example, when she drank water, it would dribble out of her left side.
As a wife of a soldier and often the only one to take care of her two children, Manthale worried the condition would become a permanent disability. The neurologist diagnosed her with Bell’s palsy, a condition in which a part of the face becomes paralyzed.
The factors that trigger Bell’s palsy are not known. However, it is possible that there are intrinsic triggers, such as injuries, tumours, congenital disabilities, or factors and autoimmune conditions, according to Dr Khushbu Goel, a neurologist at Manipal Hospital, Delhi. In her article, she discusses some causes of facial nerve compression – specifically the 7th cranial nerve.
A viral infection like herpes zoster, HIV infection or bacterial infection can cause the nerve to become inflamed or damaged. In addition, people with underlying health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension and upper respiratory infections, as well as pregnant women with pre-eclampsia (a condition with increased blood pressure), are at risk, says Dr Goel.
The conditions constrict the nerve’s pathway, thereby hampering the signal transmission of the neurons. As a result, the facial muscles weaken, leading to drooping, which manifests as Bell’s palsy or idiopathic facial palsy. Generally, Bell’s palsy affects only one side of the face, but it is rare for both sides to be affected.
A sudden onset of illness
There is often a rapid and progressive onset of symptoms, manifesting within a day or a week. Weak muscles make it difficult for the affected eyelid or lip to close, resulting in drooling and slurred speech. A person may experience difficulties tasting and smelling, irritability to noise, excessive salivation, watery eyes, and earaches at times.
A recent survey found that Bell’s palsy affects both genders and all age groups, but is more prevalent in the middle-aged (in their 40s) group than in children.
Options for treatment
In six to eight weeks, Dr Goel says, a quick medical intervention and treatment consisting of steroids, antiviral, and antibacterial medications can help the individual recover. As well as physiotherapy, massages and exercises for the face muscles can help with recovery.
Biofeedback techniques and electrical stimulation are emerging treatment methods that are safe and effective for Bell’s palsy.
In one such study, 196 participants with Bell’s palsy were given transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) to activate nerves and muscles below the skin and stimulate movement in affected muscles. A statistically significant improvement was found in participants’ conditions, according to researchers.
Children with Bell’s palsy do not require steroidal medicines to recover.
There was no significant health condition in Manthale’s medical history that could cause the palsy, however a few of her relatives had been affected. Also Read-Bell’s palsy: Ringing in relief through holistic ways
Manthale’s relative suggested she seek Ayurvedic treatment along with modern medicine.
Vijay Kumar Srivastava, a professor at Banaras Hindu University’s Faculty of Ayurveda, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, discusses how Ayurveda treats Bell’s palsy. In the nervous system, ardita is caused by obstructions in the passage of the air element (vata dosha). The blockage of nerve pathways (srotas or nadis) is one of the factors contributing to Bell’s palsy, but an unhealthy lifestyle, old age, and malnutrition can also be contributing factors.
The treatment plan includes lifestyle changes (diet and exercise), detoxification (panchakarma and oil massages), and medicines to restore the disturbed air element to a normal state.
The benefits of nasyam, administered through the nose, are also extolled by Dr Srivastava. “Nasal therapy plays a key role in reversing the condition and is a preferred method of treatment when the brain or nervous system is affected. It reaches the brain quickly and is effective.”
In addition to the therapy, he recommends a pathyam or diet restriction.
The best of both worlds
Ayurvedic medicine and lifestyle modifications were prescribed to Manthale by Dr Santosh Balode at Siddha Ayurveda Hospital in Hyderabad. She was asked to avoid spicy, oily, and non-vegetarian foodstuffs. She was also instructed to chew and puff up her cheeks, according to Dr Balode.
As well as avoiding prolonged exposure to extreme cold, maintaining healthy blood pressure, and getting adequate sleep can reduce the incidence of Bell’s palsy, says Dr Srivastava.
A person’s recovery rate depends on early medical consultation and their willpower, says Dr Balode. “My doctor’s reassuring words gave me strength and positivity. That helped me recover in a month,” says Manthale. Bell’s palsy: Ringing in relief through holistic ways