Sometimes for no particular reason it seems, some people suffer from temporal weakness or facial paralysis of the muscles in the face. It happens when the nerves that control the facial muscles become inflamed and swell up. Sometimes it also has to do with some sort of compression that results in swelling of the muscles. When this happens, one side of the face droops or become stiff. It might be difficult to smile or close your eye on the side of the paralysis. Most of the time it is just a temporary paralysis and the symptoms go away after a few weeks. Bell’s palsy can occur at any age but is most frequent between the age of 16 to 60 years of age. Sometimes, it can even affect both sides of the face, but it seldomly happens.
What is Bell’s Palsy?
Bell’s Palsy, or idiopathic facial paralysis, is a form of facial paralysis because of a dysfunction of the seventh cranial nerve. As a result, the facial muscles are affected and influence the mobility of the face. The exact cause is unknown, but it is likely caused by a viral infection. Bell´s palsy is one of the most common acute mononeuropathy conditions responsible for acute facial nerve paralysis.
The seventh cranial nerve runs through the skull in a narrow bone canal beneath the ear. Nerve swelling and compression in the narrow bone lead to nerve inhibition, damage, or death. There is mostly a spontaneous recovery of the condition, but some patients might take weeks for it to turn back to normal. When this happens, it is very degrading and frustrating to the one suffering from that. This is where cannabis can play a role.
Probable Causes of Bell’s Palsy
Virus infection is most likely the cause of Bell’s Palsy. Some of the viruses/ bacteria likely causing Bell’s Palsy are:
Herpes simplex – the cause of cold sores and genital herpes
HIV – damaging effect of the immune system
Sarcoidosis – the cause of organ inflammation
Herpes zoster virus – responsible for chickenpox and shingles
Epstein-Barr virus – causes mononucleosis
Lyme disease – a bacterial infection caused by ticks
The risk of Bell’s palsy increases when a person is pregnant or has diabetes. People suffering from lung infections might also be at risk. A family history also could trigger Bell’s palsy.
What are the Symptoms of Bell’s Palsy?
Often a person suffers from a cold just before the symptoms of Bell’s palsy begin. Symptoms could start suddenly, but it could also take 2 to 3 days before it shows up. There is a sudden weakness or paralysis on one side of the face that causes it to droop. It is almost always just on one side of the face and could be mild to severe. The face feels stiff and is pulled to one side. Other symptoms include:
Difficulty eating – food falls out on one side of the face
Loss of sense of taste
A sound that is louder in one ear
Twitching in face
How Cannabis Can Help
Medical cannabis can help to treat the symptoms of Bell’s palsy in many ways. Some of the most likely ways to treat the symptoms include:
Neuroprotective antioxidant – Cannabis has neuroprotective antioxidant properties to reduce free radical damage like stress, pollution, and other toxins impacting nerve cell damage.
Anti-inflammatory – When the facial nerve is compressed and swollen, symptoms of Bell’s palsy might develop. Medical cannabis has anti-inflammatory properties. It furthermore also helps to treat degenerative conditions.
Headaches – people suffering from Bell’s palsy often also suffer from headaches. Medical marijuana for Bell´s treatment has positive results for different types of headaches. It might not eliminate headaches completely, but there is a certain reduction in the severity of the headache.
Pain relief – People suffering from Bell’s palsy also complain about facial and jaw pain related to the disease. THC in low doses is a potent analgesic.
Because there are inflammation and edema of the affected facial nerve at the level of the geniculate ganglion, cannabis is highly effective. The interaction with then phytocannabinoids on the endocannabinoid system is effective in reducing inflammation. Both THC and CBD are effective in reducing inflammation.
In many cases, Bell´s palsy does not need treatment as the symptoms clear up right away. But in a study done on 83 adults, 23 different medications were used to treat the symptoms. Medical marijuana was included in the study. Five percent of people never used marijuana before. Out of all the medications, marijuana showed the most promise and brought the most relief.
As with many cases, cannabis for medicinal purpose is proven to be very effective to treat the symptoms of Bell’s palsy. Apart from pain related to the disease, it is also effective in releasing stress that could very well trigger Bell´s palsy.
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