Bells palsy is a sudden onset of facial paralysis that is usually temporary and resolves within weeks or months but it can sometimes be permanent.
A trial of 338 patients in 11 hospitals in China which involved 15 experienced acupuncturists found evidence that the acupuncture improved the condition.
Patients’ facial expressions – a marker of nerve function – were rated on a six point scale and videotaped to ensure consistent findings across the hospitals.
Six months later the facial nerve function, level of disability and quality of life was significantly better in the acupuncture group.
The type of acupuncture – de qi – is a strong stimulation of the acupuncture points.
“We found evidence that acupuncture with de qi improved facial muscle recovery, disability and quality of life among patients with Bells palsy.
“Stronger intensity of de qi was associated with better therapeutic effects.
“De qi and its related techniques should be properly appreciated in acupuncture practice and research, and should be considered for inclusion in clinical guidelines for acupuncture,” the authors conclude.
Details of the study are puiblished in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.