Q. My friend is 19 years old. One night she was watching TV with her mother and the right side of her face went numb. Her doctor diagnosed it as Bell’s palsy and said she would just have to suffer with the paralysis for eight weeks, until the problem ran its course. She was relieved it wasn’t a stroke, but she had to tape her right eye closed every night since she couldn’t move the lid.
I heard that stinging nettles could be used to help palsy, and thought immediately of her. She bought a small bottle of stinging nettle tincture and placed one eyedropper-full twice a day under her tongue.
She felt sensation in her face with that first dose and continued to take it until the bottle was empty. Then she went to see her doctor and greeted him with a huge smile! He concluded that her eye muscles were still a bit slow, though Jenny had not even noticed. She was smiling and winking long before he’d said she would be. I hope this helps someone else with Bell’s palsy.
A. Bell’s palsy is a sudden weakness or paralysis of the muscles on one side of the face. The cause is unknown, and there is no specific test or treatment. A doctor’s diagnosis is needed to rule out other more dangerous conditions, such as a stroke.
Symptoms of Bell’s palsy, in addition to the weakness or paralysis, can include numbness, excessive tearing of the affected eye, loss of taste, and drooling. Treatment is controversial. Corticosteroids like prednisone may reduce the likelihood of chronic problems, but most patients do recover within a few months without medication.
Stinging nettle extracts have been studied for symptoms of prostate enlargement as well as for allergies. We had not heard that this herb could be helpful in Bell’s palsy, but your friend’s tale is fascinating. We heard this story several years ago that is equally unusual:
“I read an article you wrote about celery easing blood pressure. I don’t have high blood pressure but I swear that celery helped cure my Bell’s Palsy.
“Several years ago I was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy and was horrified when my specialist told me that it could last for 3 months to 3 years. The first few days I rarely slept because I was searching online for a cure. (There isn’t one.)
“About a week into my search I found an article about a lady who ate celery several times a day. Her symptoms got better every day.
“I ate celery several times a day for two weeks and noticed things getting better. I continued this for two months and my symptoms stopped altogether. I can’t explain it (nor could my doctor) but I am convinced this cured my Bell’s Palsy.”
We suspect that many health professionals would say that the condition was getting better on its own regardless of the celery. On the other hand, celery certainly can’t hurt and if it helps, so much the better.
We welcome other stories about treatments for Bell’s palsy. This condition largely remains a medical mystery.
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