Women's Health Doctor: Bell's Palsy, Hormones + Nutrition

October 4, 2020

Women's Health Doctor: Bell's Palsy, Hormones + Nutrition

"Is Bell’s Palsy related to menopause or hormones since it often happens in women?"

Women are especially susceptible to Bell's Palsy when they are pregnant. The most common age range for this condition according to John Hopkins University is 15-60 with it typically occurring in middle age.

The age range for Bell's Palsy leads me to wonder if there is hormone imbalance or a mild thyroid deficiency. In either thyroid extreme of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism such as Hashimoto's, the nerves are irritated.

The thyroid aids in nerve stimulation so a variety of neurological conditions can be made better or worse by a woman's thyroid being out of whack. Women can experience depression from hypothyroidism as T3 aids serotonin production.

The typical age range does lead me to wonder as a hormone doctor that if estrogen dominance is behind many cases of Bell's palsy. Since the nerve is damaged and inflamed, a hormonal state that predisposes a woman to inflammation is certainly not helping anything.


Bell's palsy is a very frustrating typically benign medical problem that causes one side of the face to temporarily droop. Most patients with Bell’s Palsy are terrified they are having a stroke, however they are instead experiencing a temporary paralysis or weakness of the muscles of the face resulting from inflammation of the seventh cranial nerve, commonly referred to as the facial nerve.


Associated risk factors for Bell’s Palsy are exposure to cold, diabetes, pregnancy, upper respiratory infections, and being over the age of 30.


Physical Therapy modalities such as Acupuncture, Diathermy and Taping were demonstrated by research to be helpful for recovering muscle function in Bell's Palsy. [1,2, 3]

Diet for Bell's Palsy: Reducing Inflammation is shown to be beneficial for Bell's Palsy with steroids. [4, 5]

As a Naturopathic Doctor, of course I prefer we reduce inflammation with nutrition. Especially increasing Omega-3 fatty acids!

Although initially scary, this frustrating condition is typically not of much concern except cosmetically, and usually without long term negative outcome. However, it is possible to not completely recover function of the muscles of the face, or end up with annoying long term consequences like facial spasms and crocodile tears. Typical recovery time ranges from two weeks to several months. In order to have the best prognosis it is therefore important to provide the patient with natural complementary supportive and regenerative measures such as diet, herbs, supplements, and stress management.

A simple naturopathic cure to speed the recovery process is injectable B-12. Most doctors’ offices keep B-12 on hand for their patients with pernicious anemia, so it is a simple treatment for just about any medical office to implement. The recommendation according to the randomized trial listed below, is a 1000 mcg B-12 injection 3-7 times weekly. The injections can be tapered as the patient’s temporary paralysis of the face improves. Patients can come in to the office for injections, or can be sent home with a prescription for B-12 (methylcobalmin) as well as syringes and needles.

B-12 for Bell's Palsy: Natural, not synthetic in the injectable methycobalamin form is most likely helpful because it’s role in the body is to aid the production of myelin in the nervous system. Myelin is the fatty coating that surrounds our neurons (pictured above) and speeds the conduction of electrical signals in the nervous system.

Antivirals for Bell's Palsy: Recent evidence supports a viral etiology to Bell’s Palsy, either by herpes simplex, herpes zoster, or an upper respiratory infection. Using antiviral and steroid medication demonstrated improvement in Bell's Palsy research. [6]

Patients may therefore respond well to an herbal anti-viral protocol along with the B-12 injections. I would prescribe Glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice root) for its steroidal anti-inflammatory benefits, pending that the patient does not have high blood pressure or is not pregnant. It is very common for pregnant women to develop Bell’s Palsy, especially in the third trimester, which in my mind just further supports the suppressed immune system theory, as the body’s elevated progesterone levels in pregnancy naturally suppress the immune system so that the woman’s body does not attack the developing fetus. This is why women tend to get sick with colds and flus more often while pregnant, and unfortunately upper respiratory infections are common culprits causing Bell’s Palsy.

Stress is most likely a precipitating factor as it also suppresses our immune system. I would strongly recommend some simple stress management techniques such as “Square Breathing.” 


Many herbs can be helpful to boost the immune system, work as an antiviral, help heal and repair the nervous system, and restore facial muscle function. I have seen many patients improve with their Bell's Palsy using nutritional changes, herbs like ginger, licorice, and cinnamon. Please work with a skilled Naturopathic Doctor when using herbal medicine for Bell's Palsy as this is a very serious condition that does require a great deal of effort to fix. I don't see it improving when patients are not on board with working hard along with me to improve their health.

Bell’s Palsy can be a tough hit to a patients vanity, so it is extremely important to get the condition resolved as quickly as possible using the most effective Naturopathic treatments. Primarily we want to ensure the fastest recovery time, that the nerves and muscles recover in entirety, and that there is no long term negative sequalae such as crocodile tears, permanent paralysis, or facial tics.

Need my help testing hormones and using Naturopathy to treat your Bell's Palsy? Simply visit my SCHEDULE page to treat yourself to a Naturopathic visit. I would be happy to help!

Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD

(480) 837-0900

Dr. Sundene is a Naturopathic Doctor in Scottsdale, Arizona, and is considered a Female Hormone Expert  in Women's Health and Bioidentical Hormones. She specializes in Holistic Women's Health for MenopauseThyroid, Hashimotos, PMS, PerimenopauseAutoimmune, Postpartum, Chronic Fatigue, Depression, Anxiety, Food Allergies, Digestion, Dermatology , Acne, Psoriasis, Eczema and Adrenal Hormonal Conditions. In 1999 she began working for a Hormone Doctor prior to starting Naturopathic Medical School. With over 22 years of experience in both Prescription and Natural women's health and hormones she presents to women the best integrated health solutions for their Chronic Disease. She has been an Herbalist for over 27 years and enjoys teaching women how to use herbs to balance their hormones, nutrition and optimize their health. Dr. Sundene relies on blood testing for her hormone metrics. The hormone testing is covered per the patient's insurance plan and conducted at certain points in the woman's menstrual cycle. To learn more about Hormone Testing for Women Visit: Bioidentical Hormones. Follow Dr. Sundene on InstagramTwitter and Facebook for more tips on Women's Health, Female Hormones and Naturopathy!


  1. Di Stadio A, Gambacorta V, Ralli M, Pagliari J, Longari F, Greco A, Ricci G. Facial taping as biofeedback to improve the outcomes of physical rehab in Bell's palsy: preliminary results of a randomized case-control study. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2021 May;278(5):1693-1698. doi: 10.1007/s00405-020-06193-3. Epub 2020 Jul 17. PMID: 32681234.
  2. Marotta N, Demeco A, Inzitari MT, Caruso MG, Ammendolia A. Neuromuscular electrical stimulation and shortwave diathermy in unrecovered Bell palsy: A randomized controlled study. Medicine (Baltimore). 2020 Feb;99(8):e19152. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000019152. PMID: 32080092; PMCID: PMC7034718.
  3. Li M, Zhu SS, Ruan JG, Wang YJ, Xu TS. [Clinical observation on time-effect of electroacupuncture for idiopathic facial paralysis]. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2019 Oct 12;39(10):1059-62. Chinese. doi: 10.13703/j.0255-2930.2019.10.007. PMID: 31621257.
  4. Khedr EM, Badry R, Ali AM, Abo El-Fetoh N, El-Hammady DH, Ghandour AM, Abdel-Haleem A. Steroid/Antiviral for the treatment of Bell's palsy: Double blind randomized clinical trial. Restor Neurol Neurosci. 2016 Nov 22;34(6):897-905. doi: 10.3233/RNN-150605. PMID: 27689547.
  5. Inagaki A, Minakata T, Katsumi S, Murakami S. Concurrent Treatment With Intratympanic Dexamethasone for Moderate-Severe Through Severe Bell's Palsy. Otol Neurotol. 2019 Dec;40(10):e1018-e1023. doi: 10.1097/MAO.0000000000002377. PMID: 31469789.
  6. Khedr EM, Badry R, Ali AM, Abo El-Fetoh N, El-Hammady DH, Ghandour AM, Abdel-Haleem A. Steroid/Antiviral for the treatment of Bell's palsy: Double blind randomized clinical trial. Restor Neurol Neurosci. 2016 Nov 22;34(6):897-905. doi: 10.3233/RNN-150605. PMID: 27689547.
  7. Kwon HJ, Choi JY, Lee MS, Kim YS, Shin BC, Kim JI. Acupuncture for the sequelae of Bell's palsy: a randomized controlled trial. Trials. 2015 Jun 3;16:246. doi: 10.1186/s13063-015-0777-z. PMID: 26037730; PMCID: PMC4507312.
Location: 14300 N Northsight 
Blvd Ste 124
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Ph: 480-837-0900
Fax: 480-409-2644
© Copyright 2024 | Scottsdale Naturopathic Hormones 
map-markersmartphone linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram