The facial paralysis known as Bell’s palsy has finally found an effective treatment in the form of acupuncture. At the Anhui Provincial Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, researchers used fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) to find out how acupuncture treatments aid people with Bell’s palsy. The data revealed that acupuncture was a solid choice for improving the sensorimotor cortex by increasing the functional connectivity. Additionally, it showed that acupuncture can restore neurosynaptic function.
The study focused on one distal acupunctural point called Hegu. Prior research had shown it to be effective with those suffering from Bell’s palsy or who had previously suffered a stroke. It was centered on Hegu because in traditional Chinese medicine, it is a point for treating around the mouth and facial disorders. The MRI findings confirmed these ancient practices.
When the researchers at the hospital in Anhui compared the scan results from the fMRI between both healthy subject and the ones with Bell’s palsy, they found that in Bell’s palsy patients, the sensory motor cortex was enhanced. The primary somatosensory cortex processes different input as the secondary somatosensory cortex works on more complex functions. These areas are positively affected with acupuncture, restoring the neural impulses that were once lost, making it an effective cure for Bell’s palsy.
Hegu is a point on the hand in a sector that affects the large intestine, called Yangming. It’s between the thumb and forefinger where the skin is fleshy. Ancient Chinese always believed this area to have incredible powers for healing. In the study, researchers cited this point because it is used for recovery in the lips, gums, and ears. Back during the times of the Yuan dynasty, a book called Yu Long Jing stated that using needles at Hegu could treat diseases for the head and face effectively.
This study used 59 participants split into two groups. One group featured the patients with facial paralysis while the other served as the control. The first group contain 35 officially-diagnosed Bell’s palsy patients (20 men and 15 women; median age 35 years). The control group features 24 patients that were deemed completely healthy (1o men and 14 women; median age 23 years). The Anhui Provincial Hospital of Traditional Medicine ensured that all patients had no history of mental illness or neurological diseases, never took drugs for any of these conditions, and had no major diseases of the heart, liver, or kidneys. Both groups received acupuncture from an experienced and licensed acupuncturist on the Hegu site.
After needling on Hegu, the bilateral S2 decreased for both visual and auditory cortices with functional connectivity. This was due to elevated neurosynaptic activity which contributes directly to reorganization for brain function. Since it is in the synaptic plasticity of the central nervous system, it has been studied quite extensively. It has been proven to be an effective point of recovery for those with Bell’s palsy as well as for those who suffered a stroke.
With acupunctural needling at Hegu, positive results abound for Bell’s palsy patients. This effective treatment can help those with peripheral facial paralysis to gain back functionality. A locally-licensed acupuncturist can help you or someone you love who has Bell’s palsy or suffered a stroke gain back functionality.