Bell’s palsy affects approximately 40,000 Americans every year. Could CBD provide some relief?
This article explains how CBD could help those with Bell’s palsy and how to use it for optimal results. Here’s all you need to know.
What Is Bell’s Palsy?
However, Bell’s palsy does not have a clear underlying pathology. Therefore, it is sometimes called idiopathic facial paralysis. Idiopathic means the condition occurs without any apparent cause.
It affects the facial nerve, also known as cranial nerve VII. This nerve controls the muscles in the face, such as those responsible for blinking, closing the eyes, and smiling. It also plays a role in tear and saliva production and taste.
When this nerve becomes inflamed, it swells and causes pressure in the bony canal that leads it to the face. This pressure can damage nerve cells by restricting their supply of blood and oxygen.
Bell’s Palsy Symptoms
The symptoms of Bell’s palsy can range from mild to severe. They include:
- Drooping eyelid or mouth
- Inability to close the eye fully
- Excessive tearing
- Drooling or dry mouth
- Abnormal facial sensations, including pain
- Altered sense of taste
- Aversion to loud noises
These symptoms generally appear rapidly over 48–72 hours. They are usually one-sided but, in rare cases, may affect both sides of the face.
What Triggers Bell’s Palsy?
The exact cause of Bell’s palsy is unknown. Some scientists believe that it is the result of a virus lying dormant in the patient’s system. A stressful experience or illness could trigger the infection to become active, thus stimulating an immune response.
As the immune system tries to neutralize a virus, it generates inflammation. One of the many side effects of the inflammatory response is swelling. When it occurs in the facial nerve, it may lead to Bell’s Palsy.
Traditional Bell’s Palsy Treatments (Not CBD)
Bell’s palsy usually begins to improve spontaneously within a few weeks. However, it can take up to six months to recover fully. Furthermore, some people experience permanent nerve damage. Therefore, some patients may benefit from taking certain medications to minimize the effects.
The most common treatment for Bell’s palsy is a short course of steroid medications, such as prednisone. These drugs work by reducing inflammation. They are most effective if the patient starts taking them within 72 hours of the condition’s onset.
Other treatments include antiviral medicines, painkillers, physical therapy, massage, and acupuncture. Patients may need to tape the eyes shut at night and use eye drops to protect them from infection. In severe cases, surgery may be beneficial, although it is rarely necessary.
Can CBD Help Bell’s Palsy?
CBD is becoming recognized as a natural remedy, and some people are wondering whether it can help Bell’s palsy.
There is currently no research on the subject, so it is impossible to draw firm conclusions. However, there are plenty of studies that explain how CBD influences the human body. They suggest that CBD could potentially help Bell’s palsy in several ways.
How Does CBD Work for Bell’s Palsy?
CBD interacts with several different physiological systems within the body. One of these is the endocannabinoid system or ECS.
The ECS is believed to have a regulatory function over many aspects of health and wellbeing, including immune function and inflammation. Research suggests that one of the primary ways CBD works is by enhancing this aspect of the ECS.
CBD also works on several cell receptors outside the ECS, including PPAR and TRP receptors. Both of these are crucial in regulating the inflammatory response. Because CBD influences these three distinct pathways, it has potent anti-inflammatory effects.
Since Bell’s palsy results from inflammation in the facial nerve, CBD may offer some benefits. By reducing swelling, it could help to alleviate Bell’s palsy symptoms and speed up recovery. But again—there is no research actually to support this hypothesis.
There is also evidence that CBD has neuroprotective properties, meaning it helps to protect nerve cells. It has powerful antioxidant activity and reduces the impact of harmful molecules called free radicals. Therefore, CBD could minimize the risk of residual damage from Bell’s palsy too.
Unfortunately, we cannot say for sure how effectively CBD works for Bell’s palsy without more research. However, it seems possible that it could provide some degree of relief.
Using CBD for Bell’s Palsy
Anyone wishing to try CBD for Bell’s palsy should be aware that it can interact with various medications, including steroids. This is because the body metabolizes many different substances using the same enzymes.
For example, both CBD and prednisone rely on an enzyme called CYP3A4 to break them down. Therefore, taking both substances together could cause a problem. CBD could slow down the metabolism of prednisone, thus increasing the risk of side effects.
Individuals taking steroids for Bell’s palsy can avoid this situation by using topical CBD, such as a cream or balm. These products absorb through the skin and break down differently from those that pass through the digestive system.
Furthermore, topical CBD preparations frequently contain other soothing ingredients that may enhance their effects. Finally, the act of massaging something into the skin can be helpful in itself. Massage stimulates local circulation and accelerates the healing process.
Although applying CBD topically for Bell’s palsy should be safe, it is still worth consulting a physician first. Consumers should also buy from a reputable brand that publishes lab reports for all their products. This will ensure that the CBD is not only effective but safe too.
Does CBD Help Bell’s Palsy? Final Thoughts
Although there is no clinical evidence that CBD can help Bell’s palsy, there is some support that it has anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties. It may, therefore, be worth a try. Anyone taking prescribed or over-the-counter medication can opt for topical CBD to reduce the risk of drug interactions.
To learn more about these products and see some of our favorite brands, check out our recent review of the best CBD creams available.