Bell’s Palsy Supplements, Vitamins and Essential Oils

I was recently diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy, which is damage to a facial nerve which causes facial paralysis – among other symptoms.

I have been frustrated to find there are not a lot of great resources for people dealing with this.  My doctor was initially particularly unhelpful and dismissive of my concerns. It seems that a lot of people heal quickly and don’t have a lot of symptoms beyond the paralysis. I don’t think my doctor realized the severe nerve pain that can accompany Bell’s Palsy and I think she might have thought I was being overly vain or over-dramatic about my symptoms. I have had to do a lot of research and advocating for myself.

I have had a lot of pain, fatigue, hearing and eye issues associated with mine. These symptoms may be less common, but they are perfectly normal. Nerve damage is strange and unpredictable. Since my research has taken over my life the last two weeks! I will probably post a series of blogs with my research into Bell’s Palsy, but here is my first.

The majority of this information is gleaned from online support groups, most notably this excellent facebook group, which I recommend you join asap if you are new to Bells Palsy!

Here is a list of vitamins, herbs, supplements, etc. that are commonly tried by people who have Bell’s Palsy – compiled for convenience. Please comment with any suggestions, questions, corrections you may have.

I pulled most of this information and other bells palsy forums – just regular people suggesting what they tried – not medical journals. THESE SUPPLEMENTS SHOULDN’T REPLACE STANDARD MEDICAL TREATMENT such as a course of steroids and anti-virals which you should seek out as soon as possible after symptoms begin.

Caveat #1: This is not medical advice! I am a quilter, not a doctor! Taking a supplement is a medical decision that can have a wide variety of side effects and are best taken under doctor supervision. Your doctor can test you for any potential vitamin deficiencies and come up with an according treatment plan. If you are breastfeeding, pregnant, or have any prior health issues, take that into consideration. There is little to no medical evidence to prove improvement from supplements so proceed at your own risk. Any dosage noted is anecdotal.

Caveat #2: Time is the only known healing remedy. Time is also free and supplements can get expensive! Lots of people have tried every supplement and not had results, and there is no proof that people who took supplements and healed quickly wouldn’t have healed just as quickly without. Be wary of “snake oil” salesman and people trying to make money off of your condition.

Caveat #3: While most of these are generally considered safe on their own, taking high doses of multiple supplements can have unforeseen interactions, so be on alert for adverse reactions and of course, again, talk to your doctor. Also, taking high doses of multiple supplements will most likely mean your body is not capable absorbing all of the supplements. Excess supplements your body can’t absorb generally get urinated out and at some point you will be flushing them (and your money) down the toilet.

All caveats aside, many of us are going to try supplements anyway for our own personal reasons, so here is a compiled list of commonly tried ones, to save you the trouble of doing all the research (since research is especially difficult with one eye closed!). Feel free to comment with corrections, suggestions, questions. I haven’t tried all the products linked below, I just dropped in the links to provide more information about what the supplement is and dosage.

Most commonly taken:

B12 supplements– Methylcobalamin B12 – Sublingual (dissolves under the tongue). An example dose some try is 2500-5000 mcg per day. There are several kinds of B12 supplements and the general consensus is this is the best format. Another type of B12 vitamin, cyanocobalamin B12 is not recommended. People with heart or blood conditions should discuss with a doctor. Methyl B12 is one of the few supplements that have actual scientific data to support it’s use for BP. An article explaining the benefits can be found here.

An example Methyl B12 product is here.

B12 Shots – people have B12 injections (some even directly into the affected nerve area) as an option to possibly explore with your doctor. There have been some studies showing some potential benefit to this therapy.

Astaxanthin – is an anti-oxidant found in some seafood which is considered good for inflammation, eye health and fatigue. A standard dose is around 12 mg per day. Here is an article that outlines potential health benefits of this.  Here is an example product.

Vitamin D – Many people have a Vitamin D shortage and don’t know it. This vitamin can help with healing and fatigue. An example product.

Lions Mane Mushroom – This mushroom has been experimentally linked to nerve repair. An example on the benefits of Lions Main for nerve damage article is here  and here is an example product. 

Lysine – is thought to help with viral infections. Example dosage is two 500 milligram doses per day. An article can be found here.  and example product is here 

Magnesium – is thought to be good for nervous system health, and can help with insomnia (which I got during steroid treatment!) I got hooked on this magnesium drink when I was pregnant –   though it is available in pill form for much cheaper.

MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) has been shown to assist in the repair of nerve damage, some say it helps with inflammation, and is popularly taken for connective tissue problems like arthritis. It can cause gassiness or other issues. Dosing recommendations vary between 500-1000mg. Here is an example product.

Multivitamin: If you aren’t already taking a standard daily multi-vitamin that is something you might consider. Many of the supplements listed on this list will be included in a single daily pill, though at lower dosages.

Niacin aka Vitamin B3: Has been linked to nerve health. Suggested dose of 100-250 mg. Can cause facial flush in high doses. Here is a link to a “flush free” variety: 

Turmeric / Curcumin – is a spice (common in curry etc.) used in cooking that many studies have shown helps with inflammation. You want to find a variety that includes black pepper as that increases effectiveness. 1,000-1,800 mg a day are a range of doses some people take. Here is an example product 

Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids found in products like fish oil or flax seed oil can help with inflammation and nerve damage among other health benefits. These supplements are very commonly available.

Reishi mushroom is a mushroom taken for immune system health sometimes taken to help with viral infections. These mushrooms are linked to several side effects including blood pressure and blood clotting issues and it is recommended they aren’t taken for more than a month. Warnings listed here.

Zinc – is considered to be good for the immune system and may help fight viral infections; it is also taken to support eye health. High doses over 100mg daily are considered unhealthy. Here is an example product 

Essential Oils: Frankincense and helichrysum are most common used and recommended essential oil for bells palsy, generally applied topically to the front and back of the ear, massaged into the face and/or the back of the neck several times per day.

Other essential oils recommended include peppermint, rosemary, juniper, clove and copaiba. If you find a place that sells oils they can create a custom mix for you for as little as $10.

I have never used essential oils before and was, admittedly a bit dubious but decided I was willing to drop some a few dollars The yoga studio in my neighborhood actually mixed up a blend for me. They put in Frankincense, clove, bergamot, rosemary, lemongrass and peppermint in a little bottle which I dab onto my ear, face and neck multiple times per day. It smells really good and very calming. Sometimes I feel like it helps soothe my throbbing ear pain, but in either case it distracts from my throbbing ear pain, it was cheap and supported a small business and isn’t hurting anything!

Essential Oils can have serious side effects so be sure to use with caution and preferably with support from a skilled practitioner. http://drgaglioti.com/natural-remedies-for-balls-palsy/

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