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  • Writer's pictureAva Thu Nguyen

Can Acupuncture Help Improve Symptoms of Bell's Palsy?

Bell's palsy and acupuncture
Bell's palsy and Chinese Medicine

What is Bell's palsy?

Bell's palsy is known as an idiopathic facial paralysis. A disorder that affects the facial nerves, often with sudden onset accompanied by unilateral symptoms such as weakness or paralysis (Somasundara & Sullivan, 2017). The paralysis causes distortion of facial features, sometimes pain and can interfere with normal functions such as closing of the eye/s and eating (Somasundara & Sullivan, 2017). In addition to these physical side effects, Bell's Palsy can also affect ones confidence and quality of life.

In the Western world, the exact cause of Bell's palsy is unknown (Somasundara & Sullivan, 2017). There is an understanding that inflammation and swelling occurs around the Cranial Nerve VII, but the exact cause is still to be determined. Some suggested triggers of Bell's palsy may include (Somasundara & Sullivan, 2017):

  • Impaired immunity due to stress, lack of sleep, physical trauma and autoimmune syndromes

  • An existing (dormant) viral infection (e.g. herpes simplex, varicella)

  • Infection of the facial nerves resulting in inflammation (e.g. Lyme disease)

Despite not knowing the exact cause, there are different pharmacological methods that can be utilised to help manage the symptoms. These may include steroids and antivirals (Somasundara & Sullivan, 2017).

What is the Chinese Medicine perspective on Bell's palsy?

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, Bell's palsy is due to 'wind-cold' invasion, which blocks the circulation of Qi and blood in the superficial channels or meridians of the face, leading to loss of feeling and movement. When the body's 'Wei Qi', also known as 'defensive Qi' is depleted or compromised, this increases the chances of the 'wind-cold' invasion from occurring. Examples include when we are stressed, ill or overworked - our defensive Qi is weakened which allow pathogens to enter.

What is the Chinese Medicine Approach for Bell's palsy?

The focus from a Chinese Medicine perspective, is to expel the 'wind-cold' pathogen, support building the body's defensive Qi and promote the circulation of Qi and blood through the channels of the face. Qi and blood is what brings energy and nourishment to the channels that have been affected.

There are many tools an acupuncturist can draw from to support the Qi and blood flow in the face, which includes, acupuncture, moxibustion, facial cupping, facial Tuina, and electro-acupuncture. The choice of tools would depend on how the symptoms present

Can Acupuncture help with Bell's palsy?

A systematic review and meta-analysis conducted by Rongchao et al. (2019), assessed the effects of acupuncture and found that acupuncture was associated with an increased cure rate and total effective rate in the treatment of Bell's palsy compared to drug therapy. It should be noted that further studies and trials would be required to reinforce these results.

The systematic review included 11 randomised controlled trials, which assessed the intervention of acupuncture or acupuncture combined with moxibustion compared to oral medication or topical injection without any other therapy (Rongchao et al., 2019). Electro-acupuncture and laster acupuncture was not included in this particular meta-analysis (Rongchao et al., 2019).

Would you like to visit our Brisbane Acupuncture clinic?

Our boutique acupuncture clinic, Lang Acupuncture and Holistic Health is located in the convenient Inner Brisbane City suburb of Highgate Hill. The clinic has an interest in women's Health, fertility and pregnancy support. Clients at our clinic come from all over Brisbane and surrounding suburbs including, Woolloongabba, Brisbane City, South Brisbane, Annerley, Newstead, New Farm, West End, Fairfield, Yeronga.

Our Brisbane Acupuncture Clinic - Lang Acupuncture and Holistic Health


Rongchao, Z., Tao, W., Ruihui, W., Dong, W., & Qi, L. (2019). Compare the efficacy of acupuncture with drugs in the treatment of Bell's palsy: A systematic review and meta-analysis of RCTs. Medicine, 98(19), 1-11. DOI:

Somasundara, D. & Sullivan, F. (2017). Management of Bell's Palsy. Australian Prescriber, 40(3), 94-97. DOI:


Lang Acupuncture & Holistic Health. Brisbane Acupuncture

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